Brand automation startup Outfit is a bit like Canva for enterprise – rather than using design software to turn a banner into an A4 page, cloud-based Outfit digitises brand guidelines and allows users to pump out collateral at the click of the button, ensuring it is always on brand and to specs.
The startup has a pretty cool backstory: global open-source software giant Red Hat holds countless conferences and events every year in 35 countries, meaning they were employing a heap of design agencies to endlessly re-do marketing collateral such as banners, signage, digital etc. Their brand bible was the size of an old-school telephone directory and about as cutting edge, and they were hugely frustrated that many of the agencies were getting their brand guidelines wrong again and again, leading to multiple rounds of changes, costing a fortune each year.
Red Hat turned to Bruce Stronge’s company, Brisbane software consultancy NetEngine, to become a central quality control agency so the collateral was checked before it came to Red Hat. Being a clever software house, rather than getting people to manually check and amend piece, NetEngine wrote a nifty bit of software to do it all for them, simply by applying the principles of responsive web design.
How did that work out for NetEngine?
Red Hat were blown away and teamed up with NetEngine to develop the software further (with NetEngine holding onto the IP) and Outfit launched a year ago as a result. It is now used by more than 85 Red Hat agencies around the world, but also leading Australian universities, including Sydney Uni, and a variety of franchises in Australia. Customers have reported Outfit allows them to produce content up to 90% faster, some have reduced their content creation budget from $200K to just $60K a year as a result.
Outfit is already making more than $750K with its recurring revenue model in its first year, and Bruce plans to grow the business to $10 million recurring revenue by 2020. He is looking at a Series A round of funding in the next six months as well.
Bruce said there has never been greater demand for visual content.
“Being able to produce the right visuals, on brand, in a short period of time has become essential for large and global businesses. For decades the solution has been to throw more resources – designers, brand managers, content authors and Photoshop licences – to cater for the ever-growing need for marketing materials. This ad hoc solution is not only costly, but also does not ensure brand control,” he remarked.
“Rather than replacing the designer, Outfit frees them from menial tasks and allows them to focus on what they do best – developing great creative concepts, rather than endlessly resizing documents.”
Smart analytics in Outfit’s background also allow companies to analyse which version of their brand assets is the most popular.
Anthill caught up with Bruce for the brief interview below.
What are the benefits of having Outfit based in Brisbane?
Brisbane’s marketplace has matured a lot in the last ten years with established household IT organisations, subsidiaries of global companies and creative agencies setting up bases here.
Brisbane strikes a great balance between lifestyle and job opportunities. The cheaper cost of living and relaxed lifestyle are a big draw. You can commute to and from work quickly and easily, and avoid the exorbitant property prices of Sydney or Melbourne.
While the nature of what we do at Outfit means our location is almost irrelevant, being based in Brisbane has enabled us to attract top talent, and not just because of the world-class universities we have up here.
The Queensland Government’s innovation agenda and the startup community support offered by organisations like River City Labs have really had an impact on talent growing out of (and staying in) Brisbane in recent years.”
Why is the Australian startup scene perfectly placed to ramp up internationally?
While Australia’s geographic isolation means it could be lagging behind, Australians are very innovative and our DIY culture is also essential to compete with international players.
Add to this government policies, public and private funding and you have a growing startup ecosystem. There is obviously room for improvement in all these areas, particularly when it comes to risk appetite, but we can definitely see progress.
As an English-speaking, Western jurisdiction, Australia is such a good test territory for larger commercial markets such as the US. Tech leaders and investors have been grilling founders to ‘think global’ when building in Australia, and it shows as more and more big Australian tech companies succeed in going global.
A software platform like Outfit is so translatable to other markets. In fact, Outfit is used in over 40 countries thanks to its ability to localise global campaigns to local markets. It is entirely web-based, making it extremely easy to cross geographical boundaries.
Singapore and Seattle have been earmarked as a priority for us to expand Outfit operations internationally. A lot of marketing decision-makers and creative agencies are settled there so it makes sense for us. We will look into recruiting local sales talent internationally in the next 12 months.