Boston Startup: SlideShark Solves The iPad/PowerPoint Problem

Although we love our Apple products around here, sometimes getting Apple to play nice with others requires a little work around. In this case we’re talking about the fact that PowerPoint slide shows never show up right on an iPad. This problem had thousands and thousands of startup founders in a frenzy trying to find the best way to get their pitch decks onto their iPads.

Sure a KeyNote presentation will play well on an iPad, after all it’s an Apple product, but what about those 30 million presentations created daily using Power Point (according to Microsoft)?

Power Point can be a vital business tool and with more and more people taking to Power Point out of the board room, it can be frustrating trying to get your slides to fit and play right on your iPad. Well worry no more, as Boston Startup Slideshark has you covered.

Slideshark is available for all iOS devices. They recently launched their iPhone version and according to the company, it plays well with iPhone 5 too.  Slideshark covers three main Power Points (you see what we did there).  Of course it’s a viewer that allows slides to be seen with fonts, graphics and charts in tact. Secondly, SlideShark allows users to share, track and manage their presentations in the cloud. And now, with the iOS version available, you can show your pitch deck during your elevator pitch, on the elevator, on your iPhone.

We got a chance to talk with the folks at SlideShark, check out the interview below:

What is SlideShark?

SlideShark is a free app for viewing, presenting and sharing PowerPoints on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch).

What problem does SlideShark solve?

When we launched SlideShark last fall, we set out to solve a specific problem: PowerPoint’s inability to play properly on the iPad. Because PowerPoint is the foundation for most business meetings – with more than 30 million presentations created daily, according to Microsoft – the fact that decks did not display correctly on the iPad was a major obstacle for millions of business users. It meant they needed to rely on imperfect solutions – flattening presentations into PDFs, using conversion software that severely distorted presentation elements or constantly having to lug around a laptop to reliably deliver content.

Our free SlideShark app solves these problems. Users can now view and show PowerPoints on the iPad the way they were meant to be seen – with fonts, graphics, animations and colors intact. SlideShark also serves as a platform for sharing, tracking and managing content in the cloud. We’re excited to have just launched SlideShark on the iPhone as well – putting PowerPoint in our users’ pockets and enabling iPhone and iPod touch owners to take advantage of SlideShark’s benefits.

How did you come up with the idea for SlideShark?

Having faced those frustrations ourselves – that is, not having our PowerPoint decks display correctly on the iPad when we were counting on them in a professional setting – we came up with the idea for SlideShark. The more research we did, and the more we spoke with people, we realized what a widespread problem business users – and especially mobile professionals – were facing. We’re glad to have been able to solve this for them, while also providing advanced features to improve the effectiveness of their presentation delivery.

What’s your secret sauce?

Brainshark helps companies develop and distribute compelling content that equips their businesses for success. From a product perspective, we are focused on creating ways to increase the value of PowerPoint because it is the foundation of business communication. Our core technology – Brainshark’s hallmark since 1999 – lets users add their voice to PowerPoint decks to create online videos – viewable on computers and all major mobile devices. When our team recognized that PowerPoints didn’t display correctly on iOS devices, we knew we could adapt our technology to solve this problem for millions of business users. As a result, Brainshark’s core PowerPoint conversion engine forms the cornerstone of SlideShark and is the “secret sauce” that transforms PowerPoints into iOS-ready files.

In layman’s terms, how does it work?

SlideShark is very easy to use. Users follow these three simple steps:

1. UPLOAD: Users upload an existing PowerPoint file – from their computer, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch – to their free, secure SlideShark account. SlideShark automatically converts the file into an iOS-optimized format.

2. VIEW: Users then use SlideShark to download and view the presentation on their iOS device(s). Navigating presentations is a snap – users simply swipe or tap to advance animations and slides.

3. SHARE & TRACK: Users can share presentations online for on-demand viewing on any device. SlideShark also provides analytics that show when and how presentations are being viewed.

How did you come up with the name?

We tested the waters (ha!) and found this was a name we could really sink our teeth into. In all seriousness, with our company name already being Brainshark, SlideShark made a lot of sense – making it easy for users to grasp what we do, and showing our affiliation with Brainshark too.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

SlideShark is a collective effort from the Brainshark team, spearheaded by CEO Joe Gustafson, who pinpointed this market need. Joe is a seasoned entrepreneur and leader in IT, with a strong background in eLearning.

Additional Brainshark staff who collaborated to conceive, build, test and promote our app include members of the product management, engineering, marketing, IT, support and executive teams.

Where are you based?

We’re in Waltham, Massachusetts – just outside of Boston.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

It’s a great and exciting place to work, with a very rich history. With all of the nearby universities, too, Boston has a reputation for attracting young people and driving innovation. Tech companies are in good company, with a stretch of Route 128 (a major highway) being dubbed a technology corridor.

What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?

During the startup process, and even as we mature as an organization, we face the same dilemma that many companies struggle with: deciding on priorities and resourcing them! We are constantly challenging ourselves to improve and enhance our product – and given that we are managing finite resources (a very talented team of engineers, designers, QA, etc.) – we need to decide which enhancements we’ll make and on what timetable. We have a very active and vocal community of SlideShark users which we tap into, and we are constantly looking ahead to reimagine how business meetings – and the needs of our users – are changing.

What’s next for SlideShark?

We’ve been thrilled with SlideShark’s positive reception. Since the launch – less than a year ago – we’ve continued to net two downloads/min., 24×7, and rank among the top “Productivity” apps in Apple’s App Store. We’ve also been excited by the numerous industry awards and recognition – including, most recently, two Gold-level Stevie Awards.

We’ll be announcing exciting news in the coming weeks and months – examples of customer traction and success, helpful integrations and some new, exciting and highly requested features. We put out new releases of SlideShark about every five or six weeks, and we love getting feedback on what our users are looking for and what they like. We’re also continuing to dedicate resources to SlideShark’s multi-user version – SlideShark Team Edition – which provides cloud-based content distribution and management, permissions-based access to content, advanced analytics, ample storage and more.


Check out SlideShark here

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