DocSend Is The Analytics Tool For Documents We’ve All Been Waiting For

Meet DocSend, a comprehensive toolbox for your documents. It doesn’t sound sexy, but it could rapidly become a major part of your workflow. A startup successfully raised $20 million by taking advantage of DocSend’s data — it’s that powerful. The company is launching today at Disrupt NY.

“When you send a document to someone, you always wonder: did they look at it, did they forward it to someone else?” co-founder and CEO Russ Heddleston told me in a phone interview. “We know all that, and we also know if they switched tab. We give you really nice controls if you want to set a password, allow downloads, update your documents and more.”

Now, every time you send a document to someone, you will know if he or she didn’t look at it for weeks. In other words, DocSend is an extensive analytics tool, but for documents.

If you know how analytics tools work, DocSend is not groundbreaking — but using this technology for documents is very useful.

How does it work? First, you upload a document from your computer. The company will add integrations with Dropbox and Box soon. For now, the platform only supports PDF files.

Then, you can share your document. It works pretty much like sharing a document on Dropbox. You select your file and create a link. You can create multiple links for a single file if you want to track different people or groups of people.

Every time someone clicks on this link, it opens the document in DocSend’s HTML viewer in your browser — and of course, it also collects data. You know if the recipient went through all the slides or pages, and you even know how much time he or she spent on every slide. You know if he or she forwarded the document to someone else as DocSend collects email addresses of people who opened the document.

What if there is a typo? You can update your document and keep the same links. You can also revoke access to a document. It can be useful if you send a confidential document and you notice that many people are actually opening it.

If you know how analytics tools work, DocSend is not groundbreaking — but using this technology for documents is very useful. And it’s not just for salespeople. Existing beta users also include business development professionals, management teams, investors, marketers, startup people and more. You could use DocSend when you are fundraising, recruiting people, updating your investors or reaching out to the press.

The company has raised $1.7 million late last year from SoftTech VC, Cowboy Ventures, Lerer Ventures and multiple angels.

When I asked about the company’s business model, Heddleston told me that the startup is really opening its doors at Disrupt. It’s been in closed beta before that, and the company has yet to develop a paid offering. “In terms of business models, we’ll always have a free component. But we’ll add features around teams and analytics,” he said.

Questions & Answers

Judges: Roee Adler (WeWork), Shana Fisher (Highline Venture Partners), Patrick Gallagher (CrunchFund), and Benjamin Joffe (Haxlr8r).

Roee Adler: You’re like 15 missing features in Google Docs.
Answer: More or less.

Benjamin Joffe: You have investment, you have a bunch of users. So what are you looking for?
Answer: We discovered a lot of problems with our first version. We came out with a new design, and we’re now ready for the next step.

Shana Fisher: It’s a little like spying. What do you think of that?
Answer: There is no privacy issue. It’s a tool, like any tool you misuse it in some scenario. It’s a tool for business people, for business relationships.

Roee Adler: I think it’s great, it’s a missing piece. A bit of feedback, I think people have a certain mindshare when it comes to dealing with documents.
Answer: We are going to integrate with Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. We are going to integrate with your CRM and your email client.

Jason Kincaid: When I receive a document, is it a link?
Answer: Yes, it’s a URL.

Jason Kincaid: Won’t you get backlash?
Answer: When someone gets a docsend link, you can email back and ask for a PDF, or you can click and go through the document. It ends up just saving people time in the end.

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