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DocSend – Transforming Document Sending Into Intelligent Way Of Communicating

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San Francisco based DocSend makes business communication with documents more effective and actionable by providing analytics, feedback, and control for the documents you send. Our recent interview below is with Russ Heddleston, Co-Founder and CEO of DocSend:

Russ-HeddlestonQ: Russ, how would you describe biggest benefits of using DocSend?

A: DocSend makes business communication with documents more effective and actionable by providing analytics, feedback, and control. When you send a DocSend link to a document, you see who opens it, how long they look at each page, and who they forward it to.

There are a number of great use cases for this. Sales teams use DocSend to optimize who to follow up with and when. Marketing teams use DocSend to capture leads and optimize their collateral. Startups use DocSend to share their pitch decks and see which VCs are interested.

What’s really encouraging about DocSend is how sticky it is. Once people get used to having analytics and control, it’s impossible to go back.

Q: DocSend was founded in 2013, what was your inspiration for starting it?

A: The three of us who started DocSend have been classmates, coworkers, and friends for over a decade. I interned at Dropbox in 2010 when we came out with the link sharing model. It seemed to me there was a whole lot more we could do to make those document links more useful. Immediately before starting DocSend, I was a PM at Facebook. We had an internal tool there called Pixelcloud, which would show you who’s looked at your designs. So whenever I sent out a design, I used Pixelcloud. Knowing who’d at least looked at my design was a massive help. It was especially fun if I could say, “Wow, look even Zuck looked at my design!”

Applying the concepts of analytics and control to documents is transformative. It drastically improves the way businesses communicate, and the speed at which business happens. It’s been really fun to make that a reality with DocSend.


Q: Russ you have very successful startup background, could you tell us something more?

A: I’ve been fortunate to work at a number of successful companies, and I’ve been even more fortunate to learn so much from the friends I’ve made there. In fact, all 6 of us working on DocSend studied computer science at Stanford, and 5 of us worked at another startup called Greystripe together. Working in startups you get to make really deep connections and find people you love spending time with.

The general process of creating something new and useful is also something I find fascinating. You have to think differently and try ideas others are unwilling to. I find that discovery of the unknown is a wonderful process, which undoubtedly contributes to my love of startups.

Q: What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?

A: I wish I’d known how important it is to try to fail early. By that I mean it’s important to be aware of risk areas and assumptions, and to test those as soon as possible. Don’t shy away from these challenges. I’ve seen a number of companies waste years working on the safe parts of their business or product, only to find out way down the road that something else keeps them from being successful. I think it’s perfectly human to want everything to be safe and certain, but resisting the urge to assume safety and certainty before you’ve proven them is critical. Whenever I talk with startups now, I always ask them two questions: 1) what’s the most likely cause of this startup failing? and 2) why hasn’t this already been done? Those will often bring to light some of the first risk areas and assumptions that should be tested.

Q: You are constantly improving DocSend, what we can expect from you in the future?

A: The vision for DocSend is to be the standard business solution for using documents to communicate. What we have now is just the start.  On the short term roadmap, we have a number of integrations we’re working on, as well as team features and aggregate stats for marketers. The longer term roadmap allows us to use peoples’ knowledge of how to create documents to enable them to analyze, iterate, and optimize their communications like has never been possible.

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