If you work on any kind of online content, you know it’s not enough to hit publish and then sit back waiting for traffic. Links have to be shared to Facebook and Twitter, excerpts posted to Tumblr, and newsletters formatted and emailed. For organizations with limited resources, this is a huge drain on time. Hail wants to simplify the process.
The Dunedin, New Zealand-based SaaS startup’s platform and API lets users quickly create mobile-responsive content that can be reused on different platforms without having to reformat text, photos, and videos every time.
Named after the call used by starships in “Star Trek”, Hail creates layouts and photo galleries compatible with WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Content can be instantly turned into a MailChimp email newsletter or shared to Facebook and Twitter.
The startup, which also offers domain names and website hosting, was created after founder and director Bex Twemlow’s digital design agency Firebrand was asked to help her former high school create an online yearbook. Twemlow saw how impractical it is for a group with limited resources to spend time and money on web content that can only be used once.
“I thought this is not a yearbook problem. This is actually a content creation and storage problem,” says Twemlow, who started working with Hail creative director Tom Barnett to design a platform that would not only be easy to use for people with little online publishing or social media experience, but also integrate smoothly with multiple platforms.
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Hail has already raised seed funding and is going on a roadshow this month to find more investors. It faces competition from popular services like MailChimp and Office Sway by Microsoft, an online presentation builder, but Twemlow says her startup’s advantage is an API that makes it easy to reuse content instead of locking it into templates, so headlines, sub headlines, captions, and layouts are preserved from platform to platform. Hail also automatically tags and archives metadata about text and photos, which is useful for schools and other groups that need to pull together annual reports or yearbooks.
Since starting its beta in January, Hail has gained 42 paying customers. Most are schools and other educational organizations that use Hail to create online newsletters and magazines, but its pricing plan ($14 to $199 per month) was also set with small businesses and non-profits in mind.
“Not-for-profit and charities don’t need to spend $3,000 to $7,000 upfront to get a website designed,” says Twemlow. “They can use some money to think about content strategy, but they don’t need to pay for a website that sits there and doesn’t get updated because they are too busy writing Word documents.”