Firmology’s Meet & Greet series takes an inside look at the technology available to small business owners and entrepreneurs, straight from the founders who built them.
Name: Bill Burnett
Title: Founder & CEO
Company Name: PointDrive
Company One Liner: Email is ugly. Use Pointdrive when your message really matters.
Location: Chicago, IL
Best Ways to Contact Us: @billburnett1 and @point_drive
Tell us about yourself and your background:
As Founder and CEO, I drive strategy and direction for PointDrive. I’ve developed an appreciation and understanding of customer relationships, sales strategies and technology through our first endeavor, Fippex, which still exists today. Prior to Fippex, I was an account executive for TPH Global Solutions, a major branding agency supporting numerous Fortune 500 consumer product companies. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and currently live in the West Loop with my wife and son.
What does your company do and what problem does it solve for businesses?
PointDrive is a Chicago-based startup creating new and differentiating ways for business people to present content. Our web-based application addresses the presentation and feedback limitations of email by enabling sales-minded professionals to quickly deliver documents, images, links, videos and comments in one polished, cohesive presentation that returns intelligence on customer engagement.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
PointDrive was developed as a more scalable version of Fippex, a product that we launched in 2009 to help large financial service companies manage deal flow documentation and process investor reporting statements. However, over time, we saw more and more clients using the application as a sales and marketing tool. Rather than sharing investment documents, they were often sending prospective clients sales collateral then tracking their activity.
After identifying the opportunity, we were determined to address the distinct need sales people have: sending content in a clean, professional way while giving them valuable data on how it was received. We created PointDrive as a self-service tool with a focus on salespeople across a range of industries.
What makes your company different from your competitors?
We are addressing a very specific pain point and providing a solution that people didn’t really know that they needed in the sales presentation space. In a way, we’re competing against presentation tools like Prezi or PowerPoint. But really, we are tackling workarounds and delivering a better email experience for the instances when the content you are sharing is the highlight of the message.
What are the most important considerations businesses should have when choosing technology to help them power their business?
One of the biggest risks to consider when implementing a new technology is always user adoption. Before launching a company-wide solution, allocating resources and time for implementation and training, be sure the technology is a smart fit for your organization. No matter how much you invest in a product, if your employees don’t find it easy to use and don’t immediately experience the benefit, it’s going to be difficult to truly leverage the technology for what it’s meant to do.
With today’s BYOD & BYOA trends, you can expect that if an employee doesn’t like the tools provided, they’ll simply find another way. Often we find that individuals adopt new technologies for their own benefit, use them in day-to-day life, and then—once they’re confident in the value of the product—bring it to the attention of decision makers.
Listen to your employees’ feedback on technology. Find out which tools they are using in addition to the tools issued and implemented by the company. Technology should empower you as a business, and each of your employees as individuals, so they can do their job more effectively.
What other companies or entrepreneurs within the technology space do you admire and think businesses should know about?
Like many of our Chicago startup peers, I’d start by saying that I admire Jason Fried of 37signals. I certainly identify with his approach to business and his “less is more” product-building philosophy. Our first development was a much heavier, enterprise product with a lot of features that could be overwhelming to users. Having Jason’s credo “things are simple until you make them complicated” in mind, we set out to keep PointDrive simple yet sophisticated.
We’ve been able to watch Sprout Social grow from an idea to the social media tool that it is today. As a customer, we’ve been able to experience first-hand how they approach design and incorporate user feedback to develop new features.
Another one to watch is Andy Crestodina and his team at Orbit Media. As a web design studio, their resources and guidance are top notch. We’ve had the pleasure of sitting with Andy for strategy and feedback sessions—and we always leave feeling enlightened. Andy truly wants to help people in our tech community succeed and certainly knows how to point them in the right direction.
Anything else Firmology readers and business owners should know? News? Upcoming features? Special deals?
We’ll be releasing the Pro Plan, an enhanced version of PointDrive, at the end of January. With this new release, you’ll have access to enhanced insights, crisper images and faster uploading. Everyone who signs up prior to then will receive early adopter pricing of $10/mo as opposed to $15/mo.
Firmology Readers: Let’s hear your thoughts!
1) Have a question or comment about PointDrive? Drop Bill a note in the comments below.
2) Who would you like to see on Firmology’s Meet & Greet series? Are there other questions we should be asking? Are any of the questions above unclear or could be asked in a better way? Let us know in the comments below or email us at [email protected]
If you’re the founder of a tech company focused on helping businesses and would like to be featured on Firmology’s Meet & Greet series, please email us at [email protected] with the subject line: Meet & Greet Submission.