Monday May 12, 2014 0 comments
By Phil Lindeman
DENVER -- Steve Baker wants to sell simplicity, and if early results at Brandfolder are any indication, he's about to hit the mother lode.
Since graduating from Techstars Boulder in 2013, Brandfolder has carved a respectable niche in the wild, ever-changing online world. Along with glowing coverage in The Denver Post, the company aced a recent pitch challenge through the Colorado Technology Association and made waves at the first Everywhere Else Tennessee, a new startup showcase held in early May.
Even Luke Beatty, the Head of Product at AOL and a Techstars guru, is one of Brandfolder's most avid investors.
This high-level backing makes sense, even as Facebook, Google and other big-name investors fight to find the next big thing.
Unlike, say, chasing after a hot social media app, Brandfolder's overarching goal is professional and fittingly simple: Give brands an intuitive online database for everything imaginable, from logos and press photos to trademarked colors and press kits.
With the right investors and a touch of luck - online file-sharing sites like Dropbox are similar, but much clunkier and outdated - the Brandfolder system could streamline hours of work for marketing a press agents. Simplicity translates well to the Web.
And that's where Baker comes in. With 15 years in the software sales industry, he knows the kind of digital assets companies need and -- thanks to Colorado connections -- how frustrating sharing can be for low-key startups.
As the new CEO of Brandfolder, he's managed to keep the vision of co-founder Brian Parks largely intact.
"We think the state of the tool today has staying power," says Baker, who took over as CEO in March when Parks became a company advisor. "Our big trademark is simplicity, so keeping it that way is important. When we look at our long-term vision, we want to be the go-to system for brands - we call it a 'source of truth.'"
An off-kilter model
Brandfolder is still a relative newcomer to the Colorado tech industry, but Baker believes the company is just different enough to succeed. It's built into the company's plan: When it first launched, Baker and the crew basically gave away the Brandfolder platform.
It was a viral marketing tactic - new clients could easily share the entire system with anyone online - but it didn't rely on the hit-or-miss popularity of a video or meme.
And the next step truly sets Brandfolder apart. Rather than cold-call thousands of brands, the sales team approached as many representative agencies as possible. This tactic is largely responsible for the company's current roster of 3,000 clients, from big-name outfits like the L.A. Galaxy soccer club <http://brandfolder.com/lagalaxy> to Sphero <http://brandfolder.co/sphero>, a fellow Colorado startup trying to promo its next round of robotic balls. < http://innovationews.com/new-products/orbotix-releases-sphero-2-0-robotic-game-ball-system/>
"This can really become a viral marketing tool by going directly to the agencies instead of individual brands," Baker says. "The idea came out of living in this world. Brand assets are changing hands every day, and it can really be a pain to find your bio and your media files and your videos. There's just no standard source for brand information, so this was just a way to share those assets easily."
For Baker, this approach made sense. Marketing agencies store files in dozens of places - emails, hard drives, the cloud - but they're rarely connected. Through Brandfolder, a marketing rep can place everything in one elegant, digital storage space, hopefully making life painless on everyone from in-house designers to journalists and brand fanboys.
He gives the example of ink! Coffee, a Colorado roaster that has rapidly expanded from Aspen to Denver to elsewhere in the past year. Owner Keith Herbert once slogged through 300 brand requests per day, but as a fledgling business, he didn't have the funds to hire a marketing specialist.
He instead reached out to Brandfolder and now easily shares logos, menus and more, all by forwarding a single link.
As a business-focused startup, Brandfolder has a much different client base than its free, consumer-based peers. The enhanced package starts at $15 per month and includes most of the go-to features, but the company also offers a pared-down free version and a recently added premium version with unlimited storage.
Baker has seen keen interest in each option and expects the client base to continue growing, especially with continued support from in-the-know investors like Beatty. It's part of the simplicity theme: For summer, Brandfolder's only goal is to continue growing - with a touch of help from that rapidly growing user base, of course.
"We're a small team and early in our selling phase," Baker says. "That allows us to be nimble - a lot of the changes you've seen are all customer requests from early adopters.
"You can't go anywhere unless you have a tool that makes sense, so for anyone who's a creator or marketer, the Brandfolder tool is perfect. It makes asset sharing much easier than it has been."
[youtube height="400" width="620"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snCBzwxMjAc[/youtube]