There wasn't enough white space on their calendars to meet for coffee, print off images and sit side-by-side with markers in hand to discuss changes and improvements.
"One day, a light bulb went off and they said, ‘Wouldn't it be great to be able to pour that pencil and paper approach online?'" recalls CEO Nish Patel.
And thus, ConceptShare was born - a visual collaboration platform eliminating the clutter of traditional feedback mechanisms such as e-mail, blogs and real-time conferencing. Markup tools including a pointer, pen and highlighter allow users to visually review print, web and video assets. On a photograph, someone could draw an arrow amongst a myriad of colours and attach a comment saying, "This shade of blue should be darker," for example.
E-mail notifications alert logged-out users to keep them on top of new comments and changes.
ConceptShare clients include HBO, Best Buy, Disney Interactive Studios, Macy's and Electronic Arts. Its four target markets are digital agencies, Internet retailers, global marketing organizations and electronic gaming firms.
No Ottawa companies have taken on the product yet, but business is strong in Europe and the United States.
Our product bridges across gaps of locations and time zones. It’s like you’re all at the same table, at the same place, at the same time. - Nish Patel, ConceptShare CEO
"We're working with organizations who aren't just using our tools to tweak things. They're fundamentally changing the way they work from top to bottom in their creative departments," Mr. Patel says.
What sets the business apart from the competition is that its employees understand the problem its customers face, Mr. Patel says, and frequently work on-site with users to evaluate their needs.
A year ago, the company had four employees at its Ottawa office in the ByWard Market. Since then, it has doubled its local employees and hired five more outside of Ottawa, mainly at its Sudbury headquarters. ConceptShare is looking to hire four more developers in Ottawa.
In a state of "perpetual innovation," as Mr. Patel put it, ConceptShare will release two new features this spring and other significant product updates throughout the year, and it's ramping up its sales and marketing activities.
Year founded: 2006
Local head count: 8
Funding to date: Undisclosed angel investments
Product: Visual collaboration platform