Elevator Pitch: Qwilr

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Dylan Baskind and Mark Tanner from Qwilr.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Qwilr takes the outdated, inefficient and boring documents you know and transforms them into beautifully designed, intelligent and powerful web pages. We call them Qwilr Pages. They are data rich, interactive and bursting with media, but you don’t have to spend extra time or effort to create them. It takes, literally, just a few minutes. Creating documents quickly and efficiently, which also look great, is a very common problem, so we came up with the idea of Qwilr to change the way people create documents on the web.

Qwilr combines the best of both worlds; documents and the web. There are a variety of tools in Qwilr that make it more efficient than any other available platform for creating documents online. Right now we have seen Qwilr being used to build quotes, proposals, presentations and even as a platform for publishing fan-fiction.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Our biggest focus right now is to grow the number of people around the world who are using Qwilr. We bootstrapped the product for a long time with our own funds, but we have recently closed a $500k round from a range of Sydney investors that has allowed us to invest in hiring more people, and spend money on growing our customer base.

We’re growing the Qwilr user-base through the standard online channels like social media (Facebook ads, Twitter ads) and search-engine marketing; but we’re also getting the word out by less traditional means like engineering as marketing.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Hiring excellent people is very hard and can take a very long time as most of them already have excellent jobs. This is something that we’re slowly getting better at, but as we continue growing and our users expect more and more from us, we know we’ll have to do more to stay on top of recruiting.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Qwilr is the first company to allow people to create their documents as stunning web pages, so we find it very easy to differentiate because no-one else does what we do. On one end of the spectrum there are the archaic document tools designed around the A4 page (Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, PDF). On the other are the wonderful website building tools like Squarespace, Weebly and Wordpress - these are all great for building one-off websites, but are terrible for creating hundreds of documents for a whole range of uses (quotes, invitations, CVs, school reports, etc). Qwilr takes the best of both worlds and creates something new.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

We love Slack. Almost all of our internal communications are conducted through it, and we can’t see ourselves ever being able to live without it. The app is so well designed that it makes communicating with your team simple, instantaneous and fun. It has removed 99% of intra-office email and the integrations with a number of our other business apps (Stripe, Helpscout and more) makes it easy to keep track of everything that is going on across our business. We’re a company that loves communication and design, so our hat goes off to the team at Slack for changing the way we collaborate and share ideas at Qwilr.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Something that has always struck a chord with me is the saying that "most startups don’t starve, they drown". There are always dozens of things that you could be working on at any moment in time and you have to learn how to say no to most of them and only focus on the ones that matter. It’s easier said than done, but it can be incredibly powerful when you embrace it.

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