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Meet Cody Miles – Ashore is Making Digital Collaboration Accessible to Everyone

Today we have selected Cody Miles to take his interview. He is the Founder of Ashore.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

It’s a roller coaster. Nearly half of our team has been infected at some point in the last year, including myself. Some cases were more severe than others. Thankfully, everyone is healthy at present, and we’ve managed very well considering the pandemic.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I first realized my interest in technology at 21; I had just graduated college and worked as a marketing manager at a software company. From there, I took on marketing and creative director roles at fortune 500 companies, and eventually, I was able to start and build a creative agency of my own called Brandcave. Throughout my career as a creative, I faced the same issues repeatedly, and I realized they weren’t all that unique.

Creatives have a hard time getting feedback from their clients and customers, and they have a hard time understanding that feedback. Digital collaboration is a struggle, and especially for the less tech-savvy. To solve this issue, I built Ashore. It’s a passion project for me that ended up becoming a helpful tool for over 15,000 creatives worldwide.  

How does your company innovate?

Before Ashore, there wasn’t a proofing and approval software for creatives that solved the specific problems. The proofing process wasn’t accessible – creatives and their clients don’t always speak the same language, making feedback confusing, vague, and often incomprehensible. We innovated by incorporating context into the review cycle; by attaching comments to specific locations on the proof, creatives don’t have to read between the lines to decipher the meaning of feedback; it’s apparent.

Then we created the most sophisticated approval automation process possible and enabled creatives to let their feedback cycles run on autopilot. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve, and since our app follows a SaaS model, we can release those improvements as soon as they come. 

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

We’ve been really lucky. With the rise of remote work, demand for our software (and digital collaboration, in general) has skyrocketed. Creatives now, more than ever, need a way to collaborate online, and that’s exactly what Ashore facilitates. We’ve been able to raise our pricing three times without losing customers in the last year.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

I wouldn’t trade my experience running Ashore for anything, but there have been bumps in the road. The first version of Ashore wasn’t great. I wanted to implement our users’ suggestions, but the software wasn’t equipped to handle them; it turns out it wasn’t scalable. The more features we added, the more technical debt we’d accrue. Instead of doubling down on a faulty product, I decided to rebuild from the ground up. This time around, we chose a lean development model, one that allowed for far more flexibility. The success of the new version, Ashore 3, taught me that sometimes, it’s worth the investment to rebuild. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Ashore has always been digital-first. We’ve used asynchronous communication tools since the beginning. Chief among them is our product. 

Who are your competitors? And How do you plan to stay in the game?

Our main competitors are companies with serious investments. We’ve chosen to remain bootstrapped. What sets us apart is the value our users get for the price. Our growth model allows us to operate lean and gives us room to experiment with our pricing. We’re more affordable than our competitors, but we can compete feature-for-feature. This puts us in a unique spot; we can strategically position Ashore as both price-advantaged and feature-advantaged. 

Your Final Thoughts

The pandemic has pushed all of us to adopt a digital-first approach to work. Most of us have learned that lesson the hard way. It’s required us to rethink how we perform the most basic and critical activities, such as collaboration. We used to sit in conference rooms. After the start of COVID-19, Zoom became our primary method of collaboration. A little over a year later, we’ve come to loathe the dreaded Zoom call – and for valid reasons. Video calls are exhausting, literally. Entire studies have been published on what has come to be known as Zoom Fatigue. Unfortunately, we can’t change this fact, and we can’t make Zoom less tiring. Video calls are not the solution to digital collaboration.

However, by opting to use a proofing software such as Ashore, we can negate the need for many of these calls altogether. Creative collaboration can become accessible to everyone, regardless of time or place. We built Ashore before the pandemic. The need for digital collaboration has existed as long as the internet has been mainstream. Today, its importance is only emphasized. By getting rid of ambiguous comments and guiding perspectives, creatives can ditch the lengthy Zoom calls of our past, and rest assured that the feedback they receive can be taken at face value. It’s a key component to collaboration that improves efficiency in collaboration and saves creatives from burnout.

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