The online project collaboration tool that's a cross between Facebook and SharePoint
Users: 100,000, of which around 60% are small businesses
Who are you?
Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin, co-founders of online project management, networking and collaboration tool Huddle.
What do you do?
Huddle gives businesses a secure online workspace that they can use to do a variety of things, including: managing projects, sharing documents, brainstorming ideas, storing files, running discussions and collaborating online with their internal teams, customers, partners and suppliers. It provides you with a professional edge for working on the web and doesn’t cost you the Earth.
What does that mean in practice?
It’s a cross between Microsoft SharePoint and Facebook. SharePoint is a big enterprise tool for managing people, documents and communicating, but costs thousands of pounds, and Facebook is a great social tool. Huddle is in the middle. It’s easy to use and low-cost like Facebook, but gives you all the tools you want from SharePoint. Essentially, it’s your own space on the web that is branded and totally secure, and you can invite into it whoever you want. In the space you can do anything from sharing marketing collateral with customers, managing logistics details and development work with partners, to working with teams who aren’t in the same location and allowing home workers or overseas suppliers to access information.
What size company suits you?
We are predominantly a small business supplier, so anything from one or two people – consultants or contractors – up to 250-strong companies.
Why should I care?
One of the hardest things for a small business is keeping costs on infrastructure low. We know this because we’re a small business ourselves. Huddle’s a great way to do that. Instead of spending thousands on IT infrastructure, you let someone else manage it for you, from £10 a month. Another thing small businesses care about is improving productivity. You can waste an awful lot of time on emails going backwards and forwards, putting large files onto CDs or FTP servers or losing track of who’s done what on which documents. Huddle allows everyone to see everything that’s going on at one time. Third, when working with clients it’s important to have a professional interface, and Huddle gives you that. Within two minutes you can get your own version up and running, branded with logos and customised so it looks like your own system for them to log into.
What can you do for me that I cannot do myself?
You could choose to build your own version of this, such as your own client extranet, but that’s going to cost you a minimum of £20,000. With Huddle, to get that solution you’re talking about spending around £2,000.
What mistakes will you stop me from making?
The cardinal sin of sending the wrong document to the wrong person at the wrong time. When you upload something into Huddle, everyone can access it and you can ask people to review the right document when it is necessary to do so. Everyone knows which version they’re on, and it tracks who’s done what, and when.
Give me an example.
Rufus Leonard, a marketing agency, uses Huddle as a client extranet, which its customers can log-on to through their website. It also uses it to manage all of its projects, so each client can have a Huddle and team members can access that Huddle from the office or anywhere, as well as managing their internal projects through an intranet, so things like HR documents can be accessed from anywhere.
Why should I trust you?
100,000 people already do, including some of the biggest UK companies, like P&G and Centrica, and government bodies such as the Department of Culture Media and Sport.
How much will it cost me?
It all depends on how many workspaces you want, and whether you’re happy with Huddle branding or want your own. But it literally starts from £10 a month, and what you get for that is the full Huddle workspace solution, which can be up and running in a couple of minutes. An extranet solution would start at a couple of hundred pounds a month, but that’s still about 10% of the cost of doing it any other way and can be up and running within a couple of hours, as opposed to three or four months.