A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Smartsheet.com, Bellevue
Who: Mark Mader, 37, president and CEO
Mission: Provide an online software platform that helps people work as a team.
Born to excel: The company has changed the model of collaborative spreadsheet use. In the past, colleagues would e-mail changes to the team leader, who then would input the changed data. Using a Smartsheet, collaborators input data onto the shared sheet online, a more direct path. Smartsheet includes 177 (and counting) templates, covering a variety of vertical applications that people in specific businesses will know how to use right away.
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The attraction: “We solve specific problems,” Mader said. “And we don’t require people to change how they work. We identify the steps that people need to do in order to complete a task.”
Office, cornered: Smartsheet competes with Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live. Mader isn’t intimidated by the major players. “They are confined to their existing models,” he said. “They have found a way to replicate Excel and put it online. But version tracking still gets ugly. We break down the barriers and do a better job of managing security.”
Employees: 10 full time, plus contractors
Financials: The company provides four paid options, from $25 to $149 a month. The top-of-the-line “Einstein” option offers 50 GB of online storage and the ability to have 1,000 sheets active at a time. While there are only a few hundred paid users today, Mader expects the company will convert the 3,000 customers it needs to become profitable in the first half of 2009.
Lotus envy: Smartsheet walks a fine line between serving the lowest common denominator of the user base and providing necessary features. “Many people don’t have a tolerance for anything new,” Mader said. “They are looking for better ways to do things, but their biggest question is ‘How quickly can I pick this up?’ “
— Charles Bermant