January 16, 2009
EchoSign marries electronic signatures with software as a service to make it easier to get contracts signed and deals closed. Users upload documents to EchoSign, which notifies recipients via e-mail. Recipients can print the contract to physically sign it, or sign it electronically in a browser. All parties receive a PDF of the signed document. The service integrates with Salesforce.com.
--Andrew Conry-Murray ECHOSIGN
HEADQUARTERS: Palo Alto, Calif
PRODUCT: EchoSign 4.0, a service for signing contracts electronically
PRINCIPALS: Jason Lemkin, founder and CEO; Dan Foygel, CTO; Roque Versace, VP of sales
INVESTORS: Storm Ventures, Emergence Capital, Orrick
EARLY CUSTOMERS: Salesforce, Qualcomm, British Telecom, GE, Time Warner Cable
BACKGROUND: Founded in 2005, EchoSign has raised $8 million in venture capital. Founder Lemkin was a lawyer at the Venture Law Group and co-founder of NanoGram Devices, a nanotech company.
Electronic 'John Hancock'
EchoSign started with a basic premise: "There had to be a better way to deal with getting contracts signed, tracked, and filed," says founder and CEO Lemkin. Rather than fax or mail paper documents to multiple parties and wait days for them to be signed and returned, EchoSign lets users send, sign, and return documents electronically. The startup focuses primarily on sales contracts to help users close deals more quickly. Lemkin says almost 800 companies have signed on to EchoSign's service. How It Works As you'd expect with SaaS, EchoSign's service is fairly easy to use. Customers log on to EchoSign's Web site to upload documents and have them e-mailed or faxed to multiple recipients. Contracts are sent as locked PDFs, so they can't be altered. Recipients can sign a contract inside a browser via an e-signature or print for a written signature. The United States legalized e-signatures in 2000.
EchoSign stores signed contracts at its data center. All documents are stored in an encrypted format. The service includes a Web application that lets customers track, manage, and search contracts. All parties can save a digital copy or print hard copies of signed contracts. Users also have the option of e-mailing signed copies to a corporate mailbox. EchoSign's API can be used by customers to save contracts to a records management repository.
EchoSign makes ideal use of the software-as-a-service model to streamline the final stages of a sales deal. The tracking application adds value by giving salespeople and managers an easy way to stay on top of the status of deals.
The service could be made even more valuable with two additions. First would be a tight integration with a customer's existing directory system. Currently, each user must set up his or her own profile, or an administrator has to create accounts for each user in a corporate deployment. My second suggestion would be out-of-the-box integration with records management/content management repositories. Contracts and other signed documents must be carefully managed to meet compliance requirements; while EchoSign offers an API for one-off integration, pre-built connectors would be a welcome addition to the service.
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