SignEasy chats about iOS 13, developers, and connecting with customers
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Thursday, October 17, 2019|
We chat with Sunil Patro, CEO & Founder of SignEasy about signing documents on your phone, how a trip across America helped connect with customers, and their partnership with Apple.
SignEasy just made an announcement that they are the latest Apple mobility partner, joining a select group of business solution providers within the Apple enterprise ecosystem with a common goal of helping businesses reimagine their workflows on iPhone and iPad.
This relationship allows SignEasy to tap into Apple's expertise in design and customer experience as well as its global network of business customers and sales teams, to introduce SignEasy to hundreds of millions of new potential users around the world.
The program also connects them to a diverse set of developers and applications, including leading solutions like Box, Freshbooks, Quickbooks and Procore to provide seamless workflows to business users on iPhone and iPad, giving them the ability to operate their businesses from anywhere while giving employees the flexibility to use their own devices and even work remotely.
They couldn't be more excited about the future for SignEasy and their customers, so we recently had a conversation with their CEO & Founder, Sunil Patro to chat about the announcement, as well as his recent trip across America, where inspiration comes from, and what they learned from the iOS 13 release.
ADM: Can you tell me a bit about you and SignEasy and where the company is today?
Patro: SignEasy was born out of personal need. I was on vacation in Mexico when an important job offer landed in my inbox, and I had no easy way to sign it remotely. Fast-forward almost a decade and those needs have only continued to expand and evolve: now, our growing tech company has offices and employees and customers in multiple continents, so the need to sign various types of documents on-the-go (non-disclosure agreements, partnership agreements, employment letters, customer contracts) means we need a solution like SignEasy more than ever before.
We were the first company to jump into the eSigning space in a way that was mobile-first and the first one on the App Store, so in a way, we also were early adopters of the new way to work on mobile. This passion has continued to drive us today. The app has over 6M downloads for iOS and Android and has 120,000 active customers from over 180 countries. It consistently ranks in the top 10 grossing business apps worldwide.
ADM: As an embodiment of the distributed workforce and a global operation, do you see this model continuing to grow? How is your company helping to facilitate that shift?
Patro: Today's workforce is more mobile than ever, and the idea that work and productivity are tied to a specific location is a thing of the past. Business owners and executives are empowered to do business on their own terms, even from their mobile devices. They can manage their bank transactions, take conference calls, and sign important contacts all on the go from their phones and tablets. We knew this from day 1 and continue to make that experience easier and more seamless every day. We've heard stories of our users signing time-sensitive documents as they board a plane while hiking a mountain, or even on a date.
ADM: You recently made a trip across America to meet SignEasy customers and look for inspiration along the way. Tell more about that trip and what inspired you to make it?
Patro: I wanted to do something truly unique to reconnect with our customers – and the product – in a meaningful way. So I channeled my passion for adventure and a long-standing desire to take a great American road trip into a business expedition. I'd visit our customers in their element while drawing inspiration from the places and people I'd meet along the way. I met some amazingly diverse customers who depend on our product for their business - from wealth management professionals to realtors, to in-home hospice care directors, to moving company owners.
We can't call ourselves a customer-centric business without walking the talk. With no digital barriers between us, I wanted to learn what inspires them, what their days look like, what challenges they face, and what their company cultures and values are. I could then relay those real-world insights back to my team, and use it as a springboard for innovation.
The trip would also allow me to connect with my sense of adventure and reinforce why I work so hard as an entrepreneur and founder.
ADM: What did you learn and what were some of your takeaways?
Patro: One, take the time to connect with customers from different backgrounds, industries, and cultures – regularly. Then use the feedback as inspiration for why and what you are doing today. Let it motivate you to get out of bed every morning and rally your team around the vision of delivering exceptional value to real people and real businesses.
Two, take a long term-approach when building a company, and constantly evaluate how you can add value for your customers. The customers I visited have been in business for 10 to 15 years, if not longer. They have all consistently listened to their customers' needs, adapted their offerings, and built a nurturing culture that allows their employees to thrive. They are always looking to create value so they can be sustainable in the long run. As the saying goes, true success is the journey, not the destination.
Finally, don't forget about yourself. There's a whole wide world out there to enjoy, experience and learn from. You can unlock inspiration in so many places: experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, learning about the history of a place, and getting out into nature, to name a few. These moments define who you are, and play a big role in rounding you out as an individual, both at work and at home.
ADM: Do you feel other founders and CEOs should follow a similar path?
Patro: I do but that's really a personal decision by them in the context of their business needs.
Many founders and CEOs get alienated from their real customers because they tend to work in technology and startup clusters like the Bay Area, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, and London. It's okay to not get out there if you are in the enterprise space as their customers and partners tend to be heavily concentrated in the same cities. But for a company like ours, selling to and empowering SMBs, there are millions of such customers scattered across the breadth and width of a country like US or continents like North America and Europe.
And they come from all facets of educational background and technical savviness with different types of needs due to the unique nature of their profession or industry and sizes ranging from a single owner-operated business or a freelancer to a company with 100 employees or more or even rapidly growing bigger than that. And these types of customers don't spend that much time on the internet necessarily, so you need to go out there and meet them in person at their business because they tend to be busy by wearing multiple hats or playing different roles to make their business successful.
So, yes, I do think a trip like this would be beneficial for those looking to develop a deeper connection with their customers and also look for inspiration for themselves and to share with their employees.
Getting out there from a personal standpoint to reconnect, escape and find inspiration is highly recommended whether you go to meet customers or not. We all work hard and should take time to follow our passions outside of the office too. It makes us better, more well-rounded individuals.
ADM: Apple recently released iOS 13 and iPadOS and new iPhone and iPad hardware. What are your thoughts on the new products?
Patro: I attended this year's WWDC, Apple's annual developer conference, along with a couple of team members, where Apple announced iOS 13 and iPadOS, and everybody was blown away by the sheer breadth of exciting announcements from Apple - the general feeling was that this was one of the most exciting years for Apple's platforms in a long time. From breakthrough innovation in AR to big steps towards protecting user's privacy to the triple-camera system on the new iPhone 11 Pro, Apple is redefining what mobile devices mean today. Furthermore, with the release of iPadOS and clearly separating that from iOS, Apple has positioned the iPad as an independent piece of hardware that serves a distinct, unique purpose from your mobile phone, and your laptop and desktop computer. It's a really exciting time to be a developer in the Apple ecosystem.
ADM: What features stand out for you from iOS 13? What should other developers take away from Apple's approach with this release?
Patro: By far the most fun announcement by Apple was Dark Mode. People are thrilled to see their favorite apps run in this dramatic new look, and a lot of developers are going the extra mile to ensure their apps look pixel - and contrast - perfect against black. The latest version of SignEasy supports Dark Mode too and the app looks stunning against the dark background by making all the colors pop and stand out. We already see almost half of our users run SignEasy in Dark Mode. With iPadOS, Apple has really given the iPad a big boost by positioning it as a tool for productivity by bringing in key, iPad-specific features to the form factor like the ability to run multiple windows of an app, much like you can on your computer. Now you can compare two images in Photos, or review two different versions of a signed contract in SignEasy by opening two or more windows of the same app side by side. The most anticipated, and probably the most game-changing announcement for developers, however, is Catalyst - the ability to bring an iPad app to a Mac without writing a separate app. That is truly revolutionary and makes it so much easier for app developers, who already invest so much on mobile apps, to launch on macOS with minimal effort.
ADM: How do you feel Apple works with the development community? Have you seen that shift over the years and how is the relationship today?
Patro: Apple's synergy with the developer community is unlike any other company's. The developer relations team at Apple gives dedicated attention to their partner apps, and one can really feel that they're truly invested in the app developer's success. And it's not just code - Apple supports developers with design guidance, feature ideas, adoption tactics, and even GTM strategies. People have figured out how to effectively leverage the power of the App Store to build a lucrative app business by investing in key Apple-enabled strategies like Search Ads, App Store optimization, and in-app purchases. Apple's well-known strict app review policy is exactly what has enabled it to ensure that only the best apps are released to the App Store, and they've improved the entire review process considerably over the last few years while still maintaining the quality - more often than not an app update is ready to be released in less than 24 hours, and can now even be released in phases. Over the years, Apple has invested in and nurtured its developer ecosystem to become a rich, engaging community that is pushing the boundaries of app development and technology.
ADM: Apple is also making a much more concerted effort into the enterprise space and is working closely with developers to integrate more deeply into iOS and to make it easier for apps to work together. What are your thoughts on their recent efforts? Is it making an impact?
Patro: You can see a shift over the past couple of years in terms of Apple being more enterprise and business-friendly. They have added a lot of new APIs and tools for developers to facilitate better workflows, forged partnerships with leading enterprise solution and technology providers, and ramped up their promotion of third party apps across their global sales channels. We fully support Apple’s move towards creating a more business-friendly ecosystem and one in which will continue to transform the way people work.
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