Co-founder and CEO of DeckReport
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm a co-founder and CEO of DeckReport, a startup that offers a service for better board of directors management.
I've been CEO of Zemanta from 2007 until 2010. Zemanta was one of the first startups to come from Slovenia and Central Europe. I was fortunate enough to work with some of the top early stage investors like Fred Wilson and Saul Klein, who really opened my eyes and showed me what good investor-founder communication should look like. The company operates in three countries and four timezones and managing the board and investors was always a challenge.
What made you start this project?
As a first time startup CEO I was challenged with running a board of directors, communicating information and managing expectations. The only tool startups have right now is email, spreadsheets and presentation slides.
In most cases companies need to build the framework for board management from scratch by setting up templates and coordinating them with investors. After that the monthly cycle starts, where there is a whole lot of unresolved issues still open like action items management, consistency of reports, gathering of data to report and versioning of sent reports. Such issues are annoyances that culminate in serious distractions where directors lack timely information and management is frustrated by repeated questions, lost decks, confused investors and others.
What is the secret sauce that will push startups to adopt this platform, as I can imagine that each company is having their own shared work space or approach of running board meetings?
We took a long look at frustrations that investors and founders experience while working with board of directors and tried to address them in a one simplified service. The idea is that DeckReport becomes a place where you access all information about the company and its' board of directors.
If you're an investor or director, you can access information about the companies your are involved with on a single dashboard, that includes schedules, board packs, pending action items and others. Information is formatted in a standard form, so you don't have to deal with various xls, ppts, pdfs and other formats. You have one unified dashboard to everything you need - archives or current information. Since we're not limited to publishing formats, we can utilize some extra features like time awareness of the data, so it's easy to slide through marketing information from the past months for a particular company. You'll never have to search your mailboxes for the current and past decks, data and scheduling information.
If you're a manager, we have even more goodies for you. DeckReport provides you with templates where you just select topics you want to report about like financials, strategic issues and others. You can delegate some topic to others (like financials to your CFO and sales to your VP of sales) and DeckReport will track it for you. When information is ready you publish the report in a unified form, and your deck is ready for distribution and presentation. You grant access levels to anyone you want, directors, employees, investors, advisors or contractors. You'll never have to remind your directors about that intro or promise again. DeckReports offers action items management that takes care of everything you agreed upon on the board, and makes sure that individuals know what they're supposed do.
All in all think of it as a personal personal assistant for all your board related needs.
How do you plan on monetizing this business?
DeckReport is a flat fee subscription business. We sell subscription on a monthly basis per company, and do not limit it per users.
Are you angel or VC backed already? If not, will you be raising money?
We are self funded for now. We don't see the need for fundraising in the near future, however one never knows what lies ahead.
How are you so far experiencing this startup compared to Zemanta?
The biggest difference is that in Zemanta, my primary role was to run the business and communicate with investors. Product and technology were responsibilities of other two founders. I was a first time startup CEO so I spend too much time on things like making sure the investors were happy, balancing their view and the view of the founders. With today's experiences I would do it differently, I would make sure to do what's best for the company. At DeckReport we're 100% focused on basic steps: minimal viable product, user feedback, iterate...
More in general, what phase of building a startup you like best?
That's a good question. I don't think I would put it as a phase, more as an aspect. i like the creative side of working in a startup, the speed and the efficiency. One thing that bothers me more and more are inefficiencies in businesses. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that people in some startups and companies are wasting resources, money or time. And they feel good about it! The key is the result, not the perceived value based on brand or CEO's exposure.
Are you again building the business with a team out of Slovenia?
Yes, absolutely! We're an internet company that serves internet startups! We can do it from anywhere. When we grow it to do size where move to the States is necessary, we might do it, as we did it with Zemanta. But for now Europe is the place to be, at least for us!
Cool. So when can we expect you to launch DeckReport?
DeckReport is in private beta and we're rolling it out to a new batch of users on a weekly basis. You can subscribe to beta access at deckreport.com, and we'll grant you access as soon as possible. Public launch is expected in 6 weeks time.
Great! Thanks for the interview Ales. We are looking forward to testing the product.
If you are interested then we invite you to signup for the beta of DeckReport