Phil Bond took time out of his busy schedule to discuss how his electronic document management software Eyeball came about.
How did the idea of Eyeball get started?
We had been a reseller for another, very well established EDM (electronic document management) company and whilst attending their seminar back in 2009 we asked a question about whether their product could have a simpler interface. In our experience customers had problems with the complexity of it. Basically, they kept forgetting how to use it! The software vendors’ response was literally “Why don’t you write one?”
Later, on the way home, I said to my colleague we should do just that. I thought there must be a market for a simple to use but comprehensive product that sold at a price within most peoples’ budgets as that had been the other major problem we encountered. For very good reasons, most EDM products are expensive due to the organisation, on-going development and support required. This tended to limit the market to mid-sized and above companies who were prepared to spend a substantial amount of money. We thought there was a market for a fully featured product that sold at affordable prices.
Eyeball therefore, was born with those two mantras – ease of use and affordability.
How long did it take to develop the software?
We developed Eyeball in-house which meant that were we only able to allocate resources as and when our day to day work allowed. To get to the point where we were happy enough to start selling took 2 years.
How did you find funding for the idea?
It has been funded entirely from within the company as I very much doubt I would have been able to fund it externally.
What’s been the biggest challenge since you’ve started?
It was balancing the on-going cost of development with the initial low returns. There have of course been numerous technical, coding and design challenges but these are part and parcel of software development.
Who has Eyeball been designed for and how does it appeal to your target market?
Typically, the initial cost of a 10 user solution from any one of numerous EDM vendors would be in the region of £10k. This takes into account license cost, installation, training and support. This is a lot of money for a company who can see the benefits but can’t justify spending that amount and consequently those sales constantly went unsold. The second issue for customers is the ease of use. By its’ very nature EDM spans a wide range of processes and has to take into account both paper files and electronic documents in varying formats. In particular email presents a problem. Presenting these to the end user and enabling them to confidently move to a new way of working overnight is where we have channelled much of our efforts.
We have sold Eyeball to two charities who, with the best will in the world, could never be described as technically proficient. Once installed, we trained them in 10 minutes and from then on they have worked happily with Eyeball on a day to day basis. It was a case of the right product at the right price. On the other hand we have installed it at an insurance broker with a full blown IT department and 30 users working via remote desktop. They were concerned less with the price but whether it did what they required of it which was to allow quick access to files for busy staff.
The real answer to the question is it is designed for anyone with a requirement to archive and share information not forgetting about those on a low budget.
How does it stand out from your competitors?
At the risk of repeating a previous answer, it is ease of use and price. We also tend to include many extra modules that other companies charge for such as OCR or database connectivity. Also, as Eyeball has been coded in-house we can tailor it very easily to a specific requirement whether it be writing extra code or modifying existing code. This is fast becoming a must have feature in our experience and has won us business.
What are the advantages of electronic document management to businesses?
In a nutshell, companies will save money by reducing overheads. They will also benefit from near instant access to files which speeds up processes thereby cutting the cost of, for example, customer service. Space can be more profitably utilised and the fear factors of fire and flood eliminated.
What short term and long term plans do you have for the Eyeball software?
We have embarked on a marketing plan for the first time in order to get the name more well-known and as we sell more installations then we will fund different styles of marketing. The product itself is constantly moving forwards as we add more functionality without compromising ease of use or cost.
We have also developed a partnership with a much larger company which, in the near future, will produce substantial revenue and opportunities.