An interview with the founders of QuoteRobot
QuoteRobot is an app designed to help freelancers to get rid of the quoting process quicker. It was created by Shawn Adrian and Jonathan Cochran, two freelancers that I had the pleasure to interview.
Tell us all about QuoteRobot and its features
QuoteRobot is an app my friend Jon and I created to help us (and you!) manage quoting and proposing on new jobs. In a nutshell, it allows you to create a multi-page, great looking, PDF proposal in just a few minutes online, instead of taking hours to do it in Word, Illustrator, InDesign, or whatever desktop program people are using.
There are a bunch features that save a lot of time. It remembers what you quote on line items so you don’t have to. It saves clients for you. It tracks your wins and losses. It keeps all your proposals in one place. Eventually it will give you advice about how much to charge and what everyone else is charging (anonymously of course).
Where did the idea for QuoteRobot come from?
Well, I’ve been designing web sites for about 15 years now, and writing proposals is always something I’ve procrastinated over. It’s just a chore in my opinion.
I spent considerable time creating a free proposal template for Illustrator that I gave away on my blog, and when I saw that thousands of other designers were downloading it, I realized I wasn’t the only one who thought making proposals is a chore. I figured an app that let us all use the template without graphic design software would do everyone some good. Jon loved the idea too, so we set out to build it together.
How long did it take to develop?
It took us 6 months to develop, while balancing client work, as we’re both busy freelancers.
What’s the technology involved in building QuoteRobot?
It’s written in PHP, on Codeigniter, and we’re using DomPDF for the PDF generation (for now). We’re working on something more advanced for the PDF generation though, it’s coming soon.
How did you market the app and how did it work so far?
Well, we put up a splash page as soon as we started developing it, so it was up for 6 months collecting email addresses. I posted the splash on different CSS galleries. Then when we launched, I just emailed a bunch of designers who I thought would like it, and many of them were kind enough to tweet or blog about it. I also posted the live site on CSS galleries.
We had over 1000 people sign up in our first week, and the numbers are continuing to grow even though we haven’t spent a dime on advertising.
One piece of advice I’ll offer is this: email marketing has not been as effective as Twitter buzz has. Even though people subscribed willingly on our splash page, less than half of them opened any given email we sent out, even announcing our launch!
What plans do you have for QuoteRobot in the future?
An interesting future goal we’re working toward is pulling metrics out of the data we’re collecting. Stuff like what to charge, average prices for things by area, how often to quote, optimum dollar value ranges, and those kinds of insights will be very valuable to help people quote better.
Basically, we want to get better at helping people to quote faster and win new jobs. We measure every feature request against that goal. A few things we have in our development queue right now are custom PDF templates, multiple users, integration with other services, and advanced reporting. We update it every week, so there are tweaks and polish happening constantly.
Thank you for answering our questions, your answers should surely engage our readers to try QuoteRobot.