Focus on improving the product

PDF Pro PDF editing and signature platform

How did you get the idea of PDF Pro?

Back in 2014, I was looking for a way to extract PDF text from a file in order to summarize some interesting research. At the time, I spent a few hours searching for PDF software. To my surprise, I was unable to find a good solution and discovered that users were still struggling to work with PDFs 25 years after they were invented! After experiencing this “aha!” moment, I began working on PDF Pro.

Why did you decide to start with PDF Pro?

I started with PDF Pro because I believed it was a significant opportunity. More importantly, as a web developer, I believed that the future of PDF software would be online. While this online transition was happening in other areas of the software industry, there were only a few startups working on online PDF solutions in 2014. Sensing an opportunity, I founded the company accordingly.

What is the vision behind PDF Pro?

The vision behind PDF Pro is to offer a fully featured PDF editing and signature platform, entirely online. As PDF Pro is an online service, the company can offer its product at no cost to most of its users. Only a very small proportion of power users (typically businesses) pay for our service today. By building useful tools around the PDF, we hope to make it easier to work with the file format. This is ultimately our vision. 

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

Getting PDF Pro started was extremely challenging, both from a technology and marketing perspective. Looking at the technology, PDF Pro really pushes the browser to its limit. While modern browsers are more powerful today, it remains a challenge to perform computing-heavy tasks in the browser. Delivering a smooth user experience for thousands of daily users is no easy task! 

Secondly, the company initially struggled to gain traction. While the first iteration of the product was directly marketed to businesses, few were willing to take a chance on small startup. Once PDF Pro moved towards marketing its services online (and to a much wider audience), the service gained traction quickly.

Who is your target audience?

Our target user is anyone looking to work with PDFs. PDF Pro offers a wide range of tools designed to convert, create, edit and sign PDF files. 

Our target customer is a small or medium-sized business that works with PDF files as part of its business processes. For example, many businesses send out invoices as PDF forms that need to be signed electronically.

What is the USP of your startup?

PDF Pro is unique as we are one of the few online services that allows users to use all our features at no cost. Every user receives three free monthly credits that can be used to export three PDF files. Unlike competitors who restrict certain features to paying customers, we allow anyone to use all our features.  

Can you describe your typical workday ?

My typical workday consists of a mix of customer service tasks and software development. In order to truly understand PDF Pro’s users, I aim to answer customer concerns directly instead of hiring or outsourcing the customer service role. 

With regards to development, I’m currently focusing on building new features that will better service both our free and paid users. While my to-do list seems to be never-ending, I’m happy to say that the product continues to improve and serve the needs of more and more users.

Where do you see yourself and your startup PDF Pro in five years?

I see PDF Pro growing into its vision of helping anyone looking to work with PDF files. To this end, I see the service turning into a fully featured PDF editing and signature platform. While the product requires significant development, I’m confident it will make significant strides within five years. 

With regards to my own role, I don’t see significant changes. I hope to listen to customers and build new products according to their needs for many years to come!

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

My best tip is to always focus on improving the product. While improving the product is hard work, it is the only sustainable way to operate a business. Far too many entrepreneurs take shortcuts in order to grow revenues and profits. 

My second tip is to listen to customers while applying your own judgement. While I receive a lot of feedback from free users, I try to balance what free users want against what paying users are willing to pay for. This is a difficult balance to strike and requires (sometimes) relying on your gut feeling.  

My last tip is to surround yourself with like-minded people. If you focus on improving your product, listen to customers and surround yourself with people who are pursuing similar goals, it’s only a matter of time until you are successful.

More information you will find here

Thank you for Sophie Knowles the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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