Mendeley, the-Last.fm-of-research, rolls out premium packages to steady customer nerves

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Mendeley, “the Last.fm of research”, has rolled out new premium packages after customers requested features such as more storage and expressed a willingness to pay. If only to see the longevity of the London-based startup.

Mendeley offers a secure online database for scientists, academics and researchers to store their research papers in the ‘cloud’, making it easier to share those documents with peers. The system also helps researchers find and connect to like-minded academics in similar fields by looking at and extracting relevant meta-data from the millions of research papers stored in its database.

While the basic version of Mendeley remains free – re-badged the “Earth” plan and providing 1GB of combined ‘personal’ and ‘shared’ storage – for those needing to house and collaborate on a greater number of research documents, three paid-for plans are now available. Users can upgrade to “Solar System” ($4.99/€4.99 month), which features 3.5GB of personal and 3.5GB of shared storage, or “Milky Way” ($9.99/€9.99 month) giving 7.5GB of each. And if that’s not enough, customers can get in touch about custom “Big Bang” plans.

Victor Henning, Co-Founder and CEO of Mendeley says that prior to today’s introduction of premium packages, the London-based startup had already “upgraded hundreds of researchers and labs” who had asked for more storage space or larger collaboration sizes.

He also says that the roll out of paid-for plans are likely to be well received by many of Mendeley’s 375,000 users who have entrusted the company with their research data – 26.5 million documents – and changed their work-flow accordingly.

“They wanted to make sure that we had a sustainable business model and were still around in five years”, says Henning.

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com Kirsten Winkler

    Great news. A business where your users almost force you to take their money :).

    What better way to show the company that they build a great product.

  • Sam F.

    Nice spin, but it’s pretty clear that the only nerves needing steadying are those of M’s investors. How many paying customers are necessary to cover the burn and satisfy VC? 40K? 100K?

    Uh oh.

    • Steve O'Hear

      We’ll have to see. But it’s early days to start counting Prem customers as they only just launched paid-for subs.

      • Sam F.

        Not sure about that logic. It stands to reason that there would be some pent-up demand, especially given what Henning describes in your piece. But if it’s say 40K customers, which is probably too conservative, that’s going to be a tall order. Here’s why: it’s not just a matter of converting, say 10% of their 375K userbase. It’s converting the population of users who actually need more than 500 MB of storage and who can’t easily locate extra space for less than 60 EUR per year. And this population has to be willing to part with cash, no small feat among tight-fisted academics.

        In any event, it’s Henning’s job to cheerlead, of course, but it would be interesting to get some more reasoned analysis of the business model.

      • Steve O'Hear

        Maybe I wasn’t clear enough but my understanding is that adopting Mendeley’s system requires an adjustment of workflow and has some social and collaboration elements, all of which basically mean ‘lock-in’ by individuals, departments and institutions. If that is indeed the case, converting paying customers should follow if the service continues to provide value. It will be more costly to leave/switch. Think database (data) and social graph.

  • Ernie

    If all they offer is storage, why not go with Dropbox and use URLs to share the documents? I think they need a greater focus on collaborative work – like shared annotations – then just document storage.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/glockyboots shane

    @Ernie, I think there is quite a focus on extending collaborative features through incremental product updates.

  • http://synthesis.williamgunn.org Mr. Gunn

    Tried to comment once before…

    The extra storage option is along the lines of Flickr’s Pro accounts option, but it’s only one small piece of the overall revenue model. Given the last.fm background of the company, they’ve got motive, means, and opportunity for much more than just paid storage.

    Steve’s on the right track, but lock-in shouldn’t be the only way to convert people. The product should be compelling enough on its own.

  • http://vision.cs.uiuc.edu/~sorokin2/ Alexander Sorokin

    I’m an active user of Mendeley and I almost freaked out when I realized that there’s a 500M limit. I think it will be a no brainer to upgrade to the premium packages given how convenient Mendeley is.

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