Aaron Beashel of Simul tells us about a version control & collaboration tool for Microsoft Word that makes it easy for multiple people to collaborate.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aaron Beashel: We’re doing ok. We’re very fortunate to live in Australia, which has handled the pandemic quite well. The lockdown period was tough, but it was only for 6 weeks or so in March last year, and we’ve had a pretty good amount of freedom since. We’ve also only ever had 30,000 cases across the country, so my family and I have been fortunate not to get sick with it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Simul.
Aaron Beashel: I’ve been doing marketing for SaaS companies for about 10 years, including being the first marketing hire at InVision & Campaign Monitor (2 companies that have gone on to have $1 billion+ valuations). When I returned to Australia from a few years in San Francisco, I had a chance encounter with an old friend of mine and said he had built a SaaS app that had some early traction but was looking for a co-founder to help it scale, so I got onboard.
How does Simul innovate?
Aaron Beashel: We listen to our customers basically. I still speak to 4-5 customers per week through various channels, and organically just hear things about how they work on documents, what problems they have, etc., and we just figure out how we can use software to best solve those problems.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Aaron Beashel: Simul is a software tool that helps people version control & collaborate on Microsoft Word documents. It’s primarily used for collaborating on documents where the wording matters (think legal documents, research reports, etc.), and as a result, our target marketing is primarily lawyers, researchers, etc.
Being a collaboration tool, we saw an uptick in usage of the product as everybody looked for ways to work together without being in the same room.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Aaron Beashel: We use all the usual tools you’d see SaaS companies like ours using, Slack for chat, Zoom for calls, Hubspot for sales & support, etc., and we’ve used those tools since day one, so it wasn’t a huge change for us.
One thing we did adopt that’s a little less well known is Attributer. It’s basically just a little piece of code that goes on your website and tells you what marketing channels your leads & customers are coming from.
However, it came in really handy because as the pandemic hit and the world went remote, the way we acquire customers changed dramatically. Suddenly, people started to come to us from lots of different websites, different social networks, etc… We were able to see and double down on some of those because of Attributer.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Aaron Beashel: We don’t really have any direct competitors as such, in that there are no other software tools that do what we do. Our biggest ‘competitor’ is people just continuing to send documents around via email, using Track Changes to markup what changed, etc.
Most of our customers come through to us organically, mostly by searching for something like ‘version control for word documents.’
Our plan is to continue to invest in SEO to ensure people who are looking for a tool like ours can find us, but also to invest more heavily in campaigns and the like to our core target market of lawyers and researchers. We’ve got some good co-marketing partnerships in the works that will hopefully help us get in front of that audience authentically.
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