I’m a huge, huge fan of electronic signing. Whenever I have to sign a document and I’m getting a “Please eSign...” email I rejoice because it saves me the hassle of printing, completing, signing, scanning and emailing the signature pages (don’t get me started on snail-mailing paper copies with original signatures!). This is of course especially true if you’re traveling and don’t have access to printers constantly. Apps like SignEasy and SignNow, which target the “signer” and let you e-sign PDF documents from your iPhone, are a pretty good solution and can be a live-safer if you’re sitting in a cab and have to sign an important document. Products like EchoSign, DocuSign, RightSignature and HelloSign, which are geared towards the signature-collecting parties, are even better in that they take care of the entire e-signing process from creating documents to collecting signatures and archiving signed contracts.
There are a couple of reasons why I think e-signing is not just a great product but also a great business:
- The product is inherently viral. Very rare for SaaS solutions. That means low customer acquisition costs which, combined with a good revenue model, are a killer.
- The product is valuable for individual users but becomes even more valuable if it’s used by an entire department or an entire company, which means you can use a Yammer-like land-and-expand strategy to get into bigger accounts.
- It seems easy to find a good pricing structure which lets you combine an affordable entry-level plan for small customers (or even a free plan) with expensive plans for large customers, since the value delivered to customers (and hence willingness to pay) should correlate strongly with the number of contracts and number of users.
Now – there are a couple of well-funded players already, and EchoSign, following its acquisition by Adobe, has been integrated into Acrobat Reader, giving the product massive distribution as well as an entry product that is geared to the “signer side”. So the big question is if there’s still room for a new entrant.
I don’t have a clear answer, but given that the vast majority of signatures are still done on paper and that the US players seem to have very low penetration in Europe I’m wondering if there could still be an opportunity – maybe for a European champion, maybe with a vertical approach, maybe with a mobile-first strategy or another special twist?