Indian startup looks to improve online collaboration

Delhi-based startup, Framebench, wants to fill void in the current communication process and enable creative professionals to gather feedback on their work.

Collaboration in today's world has become a buzzword among a lot of startups, digital agencies, and advertising, in general. Of course with many Indian companies having pan-India presence and also with teams working across the country as well as globally, collaboration has become a fundamental part of everyday life for most companies.

For a lot of creative companies, agencies, and businesses across the Web, design is a key thing that drives good work. Collaboration plays a big role to help designers build and interact with various team members across different locations.

Yes, cloud-based productivity tools such as Google apps and Google docs have become a part of everyday life, but there are aspects of a job that go beyond just that. I've myself been part of a couple of startups which were truly active when it came to working on various tasks through online collaboration. One of the major challenges we faced was severe communication lag because our primary communication was through the good old e-mail.

Particularly when design and creative elements are involved, and we need to interact with clients or with peers, it is always a challenge to express your thoughts and collaborate effectively to get the job done to everyone's satisfaction.

This is the challenge Delhi-based startup, FrameBench, is looking to address. It offers a cloud-based platform to support communication and feedback for digital agencies and creative design firms do their job efficiently. Modeling its offering based on how Google Docs functions, FrameBench took it to the next level byt looking at various creative assets which need to be stored, shared, and accessed remotely between teams, clients, and users across various locations.

Reviewing and marking changes with the FrameBench tool is pretty easy so users can avoid unnecessary to-and-fro e-mail exchanges.

I posed several questions via e-mail to Parth Pareek, marketing head of FrameBench, who provided a better understanding of the product and what the startup hopes to achieve.


Q: How did it all begin?
Prateek: Back in college, the founders of FrameBench Rohit Agarwal and Vineet Markan were collaborating on a visual graphic project and realized Google docs wouldn't work for them. That's when they came up with the idea to build FrameBench and the first prototype was made.

What problem does it address?
FrameBench tries to fill a void in the current communication process where creative professionals can get feedback on their work. Open communities fail when it comes to constructive criticism and there aren't too many great tools which support the communication aspect of review process within a closed group. That's where FrameBench comes in, to ease this feedback process.

Who is your primary target audience?
Graphic and Web designers, advertising and marketing firms, UI/UX designers, video production houses, games companies and basically, any two individuals wanting to collaborate visually. We have users in about 90 different countries.

What is your revenue model?
We have a subscription-based revenue model, ranging from free to paid plans starting from US$19 per month. The basic, free plan is for freelancers and you can pay as you go. We also offer enterprise packages which include custom branding and integration with the company's servers.


How many users do you have?
We have over 3,000 users on the platform. Early customers have just started pouring in and we've already closed a couple of enterprise deals with customers like Prime Focus Studios. Some partnerships are also in the pipeline and are likely to be finalized by the end of the month.

Our next milestone is to get 10,000 users by the end of the year.

How are you funded?
We've raised an investment of about US$150,000 from Blume Ventures and an awesome set of angel investors--Anuj Pulstya, Jai Natarajan, Maneesh Bhandari, and Abhinav Khushraj.

What are the most critical features FrameBench offers?
FrameBench is an easy-to-use single page Web application. Some of the nifty features include:

  • Real-time discussions: Users can simultaneously mark changes and host meetings to reach successive iterations in lesser time. A user can view changes made by others in real-time and respond immediately, thus cutting the turnaround time.
  • File versioning: Remote teams and clients can upload multiple revisions of a design which can be viewed like you're flipping the pages of a book.
  • Discussion list: The discussion list neatly documents all active discussions over files in the current workspace. Users can even look up conversations with a particular user or a file, making it easier to review files even at a later point of time.
  • PDF support: We support rich-multimedia PDFs that remain crisp even when they're being viewed in high resolution.
  • Integrated text/voice chat: This gives you the illusion of being face-to-face with your clients, while you discuss work sitting on that comfy couch at home.

What is FrameBench's key differentiator as a product?
The key feature that differentiates us from the rest of the products is the focus on the communication aspect. Our sole aim is to ease the pain in communicating with clients and colleagues. The real-time collaboration is what we do best.

Will you explore other tools?
As of now, the focus is only on the design vertical. But as we move forward, we want to see FrameBench as the de facto tool for anybody trying to collaborate over any visual media asset.

What is your philosophy on design UI/UX?
We keep the product very simple. We realize the product will be used by a range of users, hence, the simplicity. The UI is intuitive and not too flashy. More than anything else, we want everyone to use it properly which becomes a task in itself if you try to do too much with the UI. From our initial survey, most users said they got easily adapted to FrameBench by the second session.

What other features will be added in the future?
We try to keep our feature sets very focused. Currently, we're working on tablet support. The iPad beta will be up by next week. In addition to that, you can expect voice-chat and signoffs very soon. In fact, we welcome inputs from users. Among integration with other tools, Dropbox and Google Drive are our next targets.

Prateek offered some pretty interesting insights to FrameBench's plans and how it takes inspiration from something as simple as Google Docs. How much more innovative it can be, how the product improves over time, and how much more traction it'll receive further have yet to be seen.

Having taken a look at the company's product demo and its overall design and implementation, I think certainly a lot more can be done within the product in terms of features, delivery, and overall enhancement. I'm sure as it moves on, this startup is something to keep an eye on in terms of how it shapes up.

If you have used FrameBench, do let me know what you think and share your feedback with us via Talkback.