A Series of Forbes Insights Profiles of Thought Leaders Changing the Business Landscape: Papershare Founder and CEO, David Greschler…
Marketers spend nearly $44 billion on the creation and distribution of custom content. And that’s just the tip of iceberg, as far greater dollars are spent on marketing collateral. So you would think most companies would have a good idea of the value of all of this content and how it drives sales and business growth, right? You would be wrong. “There’s presently no way to connect the investments in content with the sales funnel,” says David Greschler, founder and CEO of PaperShare, an innovative SaaS service that promotes itself as the real-time content engagement platform that turns your content into customers. “It’s the missing link between content marketing and CRM,” continues Greschler.
David Greschler, Founder and CEO, Papershare
PaperShare works by helping people distribute content to inbound and outbound marketing activity providing a means to connect those who view the content to sales. “We’re the wire that connects the two,” says Greschler. The company created a way to post content in one place and have it instantly syndicated to social streams and sales channels, and then know who viewed it.
According to Greschler, with PaperShare you can publish across all your social channels, blogs, websites, partner sites, search engines, ads, and even directly to your marketing and sales teams. Then you can connect your content directly to your audiences via social login, providing authenticated information about viewers, enabling you to know who has viewed your content and what they think about it, empowering your sales and marketing teams to engage directly and turn those leads into real customers. “Viewing content shows intent. It shows a higher level of interest than just a retweet,” says Greschler.
“People used to think that websites were the ultimate destination for their marketing efforts. We say content is the destination—be wherever and whenever customers want to read and learn more about you. The web has disintermediated the connection between the buyer and the sales person. Now it’s all self-service – via content – for every purchase from cars to industrial switches. There’s a need to connect the customer back to the marketing and sales effort. We do this by using social logins to identify who is viewing and sharing content,” says Greschler. PaperShare automates the process of encoding the content so it can be published once, but appear in many different places and formats.
The company works with ad network Kontera, to help customers seamlessly have any type of content – presentations, infographics, videos – appear right inside banner ads anywhere on the web. “What differentiates us, is that we put content at the center of everything we do, rather than focus on the distribution channel, and tie it directly to the sales funnel. We now have an integration with Salesforce, using their API and the next step is a plug-in, so you can literally publish content and know who and what they viewed flow directly into Salesforce,” continues Greschler.
David is not your typical software entrepreneur. He was an economics major with a minor in architectural history when he graduated from Brandeis University. He then spent time in Europe, Israel and India after winning a Thomas J Watson fellowship. “You write a proposal about a topic you want to study, and if they accept it then they pay for you to leave the country and pursue that interest. It’s all about self-learning,” says Greschler. “When I graduated in ’84, the Mac came out and I became fascinated with the world of computers. I had the opportunity to converge the arts with computing with a program I developed on American architectural history,” says Greschler.
This led to a role at the MIT Media Lab and then to Boston’s Computer Museum (now moved to Silicon Valley) where they needed someone to write software for their Walk-Through Computer. “At the Computer Museum I had the good fortune to be introduced to and immersed in a world of legendary computer innovators and entrepreneurs like Gordon Bell (Developer of of Digital Computer’s VAX) and Doug Engelbart (inventor of the mouse),” says Greschler.
The ability to create something new and see it come to life is what drives Greschler. While at the Computer Museum he built an exhibit where people could try multiple kids software programs from any desktop. But he came across a major problem: there wasn’t enough room on the hard drives (this was 1996, when most hard drives were measured in megabytes, not gigabytes) to store all the programs. “I thought ‘why couldn’t you stream it like music’ from a central server? So I developed a way to stream programs through our network,” says Greschler
In 1999, David started his own company called Softricity (named to evoke the image of software as electricity), which provided the software streaming service to other companies. “It was cloud before Cloud,” says Greschler. He worked on building that business for the next seven years. Microsoft bought the company in 2006 for more than $200 million. “It’s satisfying because the product still exists within Microsoft,” continues Greschler. He moved to Seattle with the Microsoft acquisition and leaned a lot about how a large company’s content marketing operates—both the good and the bad.
“At Softricity, we designed content, but it was a manual process to get it out to sales, distribution and re-sellers. I got to Microsoft and found that everyone still had the same problem. I had that ‘shiver’ like I did about the idea to start-up Softricity in 1999. As an entrepreneur, I wanted to get back in the game, this time around content marketing,” says Greschler. So he left Microsoft and started building a solution that would eventually become David’s second start-up, PaperShare. “It can be a humbling process. You have an inkling and a hunch at first, but it takes time to really understand the needs of customers. Now we get feedback quickly and can iterate faster,” says Greschler reflecting on the changes between starting up PaperShare and Softricity.
“I raised $3 million in our first round at Softricity. $1 million went to buying servers to house the business applications we were creating. With the Cloud, we can go from thought to innovation in short cycles. The barrier to getting a product developed and in the hands of customers is much lower. Using the cloud, for just $100 per month you can be up and running,” says Greschler.
PaperShare is now based in Kirkland, Washington with 12 employees. It received its first round of funding from Rembrandt Venture Partners and Michael Baum, founder of Splunk for $2.4 million. “We are uniquely positioned to help companies connect their content with the sales process. It’s a content engagement platform,” says Greschler. But it’s still early days for PaperShare. “I have an innate desire to see an idea come to life. There is nothing like it. It’s the core of my essence,” concludes Greschler.
Matching David’s desire with a $40 billion market opportunity would seem like a good bet.
- David Greschler’s PaperShare Automates Content Marketing With CRM (forbes.com)
- Bring Out the Brooms: Salesforce.com Sweeps the CRM Market Awards (blogs.salesforce.com)