I’m exposed to a lot of start-ups, flooded with VC money and trying to make their mark on the world, or get bought. Evernote rises above them all, it’s been the foundation of my personal knowledge management system for many years, but more than that it’s been an inspiration to watch as a company. From the beginning Evernote seemed different, it was so centred around my long term needs, not some social networking addiction, but a deep investment in making me more productive in the long term. It’s saved me dozens of times when we’ve lost an important document, bill or receipt and a scan of it has just been a few clicks away, it’s kept me organised, it’s kept my life simpler and easier.
This post isn’t really about Evernote the product though, it’s about Evernote the company. Lead by a leader who’s deeply committed to the Evernote mission, a CEO who appears to be there for life. A management team prepared to create a podcast that let me listen from the side lines as the team described both product and company and who shared their excitement about both. It’s a team that from the outside seem to have executed their strategy flawlessly:
- Create a geeky service and give it away for free
- Embrace the cloud, long before it had that name
- Engage with their power users, to create a deep bond of trust, essential for a product that’s meant to store your life, your memories.
- Find a few features that these power users will pay for, but won’t cripple the product for everyone else
- Create a community around the product, leverage passionate users as ambassadors for the product and give them a platform to share that passion.
- Develop best in class mobile apps better than anyone else, make sure those apps really exploit each mobile platform’s strengths
- Once the geeks have helped you refine the service, grow like crazy
- Make Evernote a platform and integrate with IFTTT and Zapier
- Buy and develop apps that plug into that platform and encourage developers to do the same
- Create a business version of the same product, an easy sell because so many of your users are already using it at work anyway
- Extend the eco system to co-designed and co-branded best in class physical goods that Evernote users will love and can buy with confidence
- Don’t focus on the competition, focus on the needs of your users
I’m so excited to see what they do next as they try to move from personal knowledge management into knowledge creation!
As a place to work Evernote seems to be as innovative, well thought through, and flexible as it’s products. Great offices, great benefits, retained start-up culture.
There are lot’s of great companies out there, Google, Apple, Microsoft, but in my view Evernote leads the pack, it’s truly been a joy to watch the strategy unfold.
I wrote this post in Caffe Nero where I’m spending a few hours before work. My Mum is joining me soon. When I’m 71, like her, I’m hoping that Evernote will still be with me, along with all my tweets, blog posts, everything I’ve read, every document I’ve scanned, photo I’ve saved. The photo that illustrates this post celebrates ‘memories’ and this is one that I treasure, watching a seal pup scamper across Filey beach for the safety of the sea as I walked past.