Framebench is a newly launched platform for creative collaboration, specifically aimed at those working in digital agencies and other creative design firms. There are a number of tools already available serving this industry (here’s a big list, for example), but Framebench’s focus on real-time communication, collaboration and sync gives it an edge.
CEO Rohit Agarwal likens the product to something of a Google Docs for the creative design industry. “Before Google Docs came into existence, you would probably email a document, and [a collaborator] would review it and send it back. Then came Google Docs, where in real-time you could communicate with the other person and edit a document together,” Agarwal explains. “The key innovation there was the real-time component using technologies that were very, very new. That’s where the web is moving now,” he says. And that’s where Framebench aims to go, too.
Agarwal says that many of the tools for sharing creative designs are still stuck in the asynchronous era. You can mark up files and email them to other people, but multiple people can’t collaborate on those files in realtime, or communicate with each other directly via voice or text.
To address that problem, Framebench is combining some of the same tools found in online document creation software programs, with editing functions designed for creatives, as well as communication tools similar to things like Google Talk or Skype.
From an online dashboard, users can delve into collections related to their project, and upload files or even the videos that they want to work on. The system supports simple editing tools, annotations, freestyle markup, and more, as well as file versioning. The team is currently working on a tool that will also allow users to quickly compare file versions, too.
On the right side of this collaboration screen is the IM-like feature which right now supports text-based chat, but next week will include a WebRTC-based web conferencing solution as well. That way, users won’t have to run a secondary program like Skype or get on the phone – they can voice chat directly in the main interface.
Agarwal also acknowledges that getting Framework to take off means incorporating the product into users’ current workflow. That’s why the company is actively integrating with other platforms, including Basecamp and Dropbox, as well as Clear from Prime Focus Technologies. It also recently just closed on a partnership with another early stage startup, the recently seed-funded DIY animation platform PowToon. Going forward, everyone who creates a video on PowToon will be able to collaborate on that video using Framebench.
Based in New Delhi, the team of now seven full-time employees is planning to hire UI experts and a sales team, the latter to help it grow through channel sales and partnerships. These additions will be funded through its own recent seed investment ($150,000) from local VC firm Blume Ventures, plus angel investors Maneesh Bhandari (SENA Systems founder), Anuj Pulstya, and Jai Natarajan. Natarajan will be especially helpful to Framebench, given his industry connections as CEO of CG animation shop Xentrix Studios (“Care Bears” on The Hub; BBC’s “Everything’s Rosie”; and “Winx Club” on Nickelodeon).
Having just exited from private beta a week or so ago, Framebench currently has 1,250 users, including three larger advertising companies who are already on the platform. These users are just now reaching the end of their 30-day trials and are being asked to convert to paid plans. A basic free plan will remain, but those who need to store more files and videos can upgrade starting at $19 per month.
Interested users can also sign up here to start their own trials.