Slidefish Customer Story

January 14, 2016 Hannah Shain

Slidefish Renders 100+ File and Font Types in Document Storage With Cloud Elements

Industry: Document Storage & Collaborative Sharing

Challenge: slidefish needed an integrated solution to allow users to connect into their existing cloud services to speed user adoption.

Solution: Cloud Elements Cloud Storage & Documents Hub Integrations


"The Cloud Elements API standardization allowed us to focus on what we do best, and not slow down or get caught up in the changes made by other companies to their API with the growing workload required to build and maintain."

Neil Smith, Founder of slidefish

Background

slidefish simplifies the process of sharing feedback on presentations and documents on any browser, device and operating system. It’s simple user interface allows customers the freedom to create files on any platform and upload to their secure cloud database that renders 100+ file formats. Once uploaded, creators can share their file with desired editors using a directed URL and not only get feedback but get analytics on the pages viewed, time spent editing, etc.

slidefish looked to the Cloud Elements Cloud Storage & Documents Hub solution for the pre-built integrations into Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, allowing end users a better experience in sharing and collaborating a multiple file types. The slidefish service allows for multiple  parties to provide input, review and approval of  presentations and documents on any browser on any device.

Acing the Presentation: Student-Teacher Scenario

slidefish solves a common  problem that students, business people, writers, collaborators and the like have encountered. Let’s take a student-teacher scenario as an example. Meet Steve and his teacher Mr. Swan. Steve has worked tirelessly on a presentation and wants to share with his teacher to get feedback before presentation day. Steve sends his PowerPoint presentation to Mr. Swan as an email attachment, and Mr. Swan opens the file using Keynote. Unbeknownst to Swan, the formatting is different from Steve’s version, and the feedback format is different. Mr. Swan makes comments (including formatting issues that really don’t exist) on the Keynote format and sends the new file back to Steve. Disappointed, Steve decides to upload the file into Google Slides and give Mr. Swan access to the presentation. Upon doing so, Steve realizes that the advanced functionality of PowerPoint is lost when transferring it to the Google Slides format, and what’s worse, Mr. Swan is editing the presentation directly, leaving no trail of changes! Irritated and stressed about his upcoming presentation, Steve approaches a university advisor who recommends slidefish. Steve uploads his presentation to slidefish and sends Mr. Swan the link. Mr. Swan clicks on the link to view the accurately rendered presentation and makes comments directly onto that file, following along with the presenter notes on each slide. Steve receives the feedback right away, makes the changes he chooses to on the native file, and aces the presentation.

Standing Out In The Crowd

There are 130+ companies competing in the documents storage, sharing or collaboration space, focused primarily on sharing PDF presentations or using proprietary formatting (where you create the file within their app and that is the only place you can access it). While these companies are not direct competitors, a primary differentiator for slidefish is the ability to render 100+ file types and fonts accurately. To maintain their competitive advantage and share native file types across a broad range of platforms, slidefish needed an integrated solution to allow users to connect into their existing cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, Box). By not offering these integrations the slidefish user adoption was slowing and negatively affecting the envisioned user experience. However the product development team faced a reality that most startups do: money.

Upon researching, Founder Neil Smith discovered the cost to integrate would be “thousands to tens of thousands plus ongoing costs of keeping pace with API updates and changes at individual endpoints.” Integration costs were not in the budget, and with no experience working on integrations before, the task was too large for Smith’s small team to take on themselves. “It’s a case of implementation at scale, meaning we would have to spend more time focusing on integrations than it would be cost effective given our size and stage. The Cloud Elements API standardization allowed us focus on what we do best, and not slow down or get caught up in the changes made by other companies to their API with the growing workload required to build and maintain,” says Smith.

The Discovery

Cue serendipitous moment: Neil met Cloud Elements Co-Founder Gary Gaessler at the Founders Institute Showcase in Mountain View, and after a quick conversation realized for this first time, “Oh, we can do this! This is totally realistic.” As Cloud Elements first customer, slidefish knows better than any others how helpful and responsive the development team is. Putting the customer first, in this case, meant being 100% available during Sydney Australia’s business day: 5pm-1am Denver time. The dev team not only helped slidefish integrate to cloud document services using pre-built APIs, but also coached the slidefish team on OAuth securities, Apigee, Box API updates, etc. This new collaborative partnership allowed for slidefish to fully understand their APIs, enabling them to take full ownership of their integrations.

"Without Cloud Elements we may not have done any Box or Dropbox integrations because of the engineering effort and inconsistency between APIs."

Neil Smith, Founder of slidefish

Reflecting On The "Automagical" Journey

Within six months, slidefish was fully integrated to Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. Not bad for being Cloud Element’s first beta customer integrating to the Documents Hub. Smith reflects on their integration journey: “We were the first. Cloud Elements created new integrations per our request, Dropbox changed their API during the development time, a lot of work required for the Cloud Elements engineers. The documentation didn’t exist when we first started talking, we hadn’t done this before and there were a few tweaks along the way as both sides worked through it. Being a beta customer means many iterations and tests, all done for the good of the future customer.”

“We would have liked to hire an entire team to build everything in house, but didn’t have the money to do so. Cloud Elements made our product vision possible. Without Cloud Elements we may not have done any Box or Dropbox integrations because of the engineering effort and inconsistency between APIs. This solution was much more effective, saving us time and money.” Describing Cloud Elements’ services as “automagical,” Neil expressed his gratitude that Cloud Elements keeps up with the updates from each individual endpoint. “If Box or Dropbox changes anything it doesn’t matter to us…you guys fix it…it’s that next level down. It’s really more of an automagical thing of it just works and thats pretty cool,” says Smith.

Though the end user sees these integrations as magical, Cloud Elements’ integration engine made these connections realistic for the small and budget conscious group. Leveraging Cloud Elements’ pre-built APIs, slidefish had the integrations up and running within six months, speeding user adoption and improving the overall user experience. When asked what makes Neil most proud, he responded, “The fact that ‘holy cow it actually works,’ and when you start talking with an end user  and they’re actually using it and they go ‘ohh,’ ‘ahh’– it feels so good.”

About the Author

Hannah Shain

Hannah is the Director of Marketing at Cloud Elements. With a background in agile development + creative mind in the realm of marketing, Hannah exemplies the ability to lead in all things marketing.

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