The founders at HelloFax needed a simpler way to help customers get their documents signed. And so they developed a digital signature tool. In short time, they realized they had stumbled into a new space. The young YCombinator startup found that digital signing of documents was not just a feature but a market.
Yammer amassed millions of users by offering a free service that could be upgraded to a paid account. The company sold its corporate activity stream/social networking technology earlier this spring to Microsoft for $1.2 billion. HellloSign follows a similar model. All signatures are free. Paid services are in the works for such offerings as managing complex workflows.
HelloSign is a business grade service with such features as audit trails and business receipts. Its premise: signing a document should be free and simple. It should not require printing and scanning a document. Instead, it should be as easy as digitally signing a document and emailing it to the recipient.
HelloSign keeps track of the documents you sign. Centralizing the process allows companies to have one place where documents are signed and stored. This can help companies manage contracts, for instance, on one platform.
To start, HelloSign will partner with Box, the collaborative storage environment. It will provide users with 25 gigabytes of storage for HelloSign documents and any other purpose of the customer’s choosing.
CEO Joseph Walla said the market has plenty of digital signature tools but all are too complex to use. That seems to be the thrust of the argument for the company. Keep it simple, make it free and let the data build in a central place the customer can access. As people use the service more, they will invite others to use it, too. The value is in the network.
I like how these guys are thinking through what a signature means. A signature is a different process than what you see in a digital fax tool. They are separate products and should be sold that way.
HelloSign does not yet have any premium tools. That’s a problem if the tools are not released in soon time. There needs to be ways to build a revenue stream that is associated with the free tool. The longer it takes to develop, the more challenging it will be to gain traction for the paid services.