ProntoForms growing through partnerships

Mark Scott, VP Marketing for ProntoForms Corp., just returned to the mobile app developer’s Ottawa-based office after spending a week in sunny San Francisco. He met with various American partners such as Apple and ServiceMax to discuss strategic partnerships, saying that meetings like these are integral to advancing ProntoForms’ brand.

“The majority of our partners are out in California, where a good portion of the fastest growing software as a service (SasS) companies are,” he says by phone from his Ottawa office, where he only spends several days each month. The Montreal native can usually be found travelling all over North America to discuss marketing strategies with ProntoForms’ clients and partner companies.

Growth over the years

ProntoForms was founded in 2011 as TrueContext Mobile Solutions. Its main service is to provide small and medium enterprises with mobile forms that allow companies to collect information electronically via tablets and smartphones. These replace traditional paper forms, such as those used for inventory reports and work orders, by eliminating the need to manually transport and scan them.

The ProntoForms platform operates via a web portal that dispatches digital forms to companies’ field users, who acquire the needed data via digital devices in lieu of having to return to their offices. The company offers two monthly plans for its platform: a $25 “pro” plan and a $35 “enterprise” plan.

An Oct. 4 press release states that ProntoForms has over 3,500 clients. Some of the company’s key partnerships include major American companies such as Apple, which now distributes ProntoForms’ platform. Scott says it is imperative to maintain these relationships in order to further the platform’s global reach. 

“We are a company with fewer than 100 employees in Ottawa, but we have the world’s most recognized brands that trust us with being key influencers in mobilizing business processes,” he says, adding how excited he is about these companies having confidence in ProntoForms.

Importance of customer satisfaction

Even though the company has clients in Europe, South America and Australia, ProntoForms provides customer service from its sole office in Ottawa.

“We live and die by customer satisfaction,” Scott explains, adding that ProntoForms sends out monthly Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to assess whether clients are satisfied with their product and if they would recommend it to their peers inside or outside their respective companies. He says that ProntoForms is doing very well from an NPS score perspective.

Increased recognition

ProntoForms has recently obtained significant recognition and a slew of awards. Examples include placing on Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Fast 50 list, which tracks the fastest growing Canadian companies. CEO Alvaro Pombo won an Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award, which acknowledges the business success of individuals born outside of Canada.

“This award isn’t about me,” Colombia-native Pombo said in a press release. “It reflects this city and this country, where someone with an accent and no connections can reach as high as one aims to.”

Pombo’s dream has definitely come true, as ProntoForms continues to post higher revenues each year. The company’s latest quarterly report revealed that it achieved revenue of $3 million, up 25 per cent from the same quarter in the previous year.

Despite the increased revenue, the company still has yet to achieve profitability. The same quarterly report shows ProntoForms ending with a net loss of $718,904, up by $158,167 from the previous year’s third quarter.

A search for funding

To remain in operation, ProntoForms continuously searches for funding. On Aug. 29, the company announced that it had entered into a financing agreement with BDC Capital Inc., the Business Development Bank of Canada’s development branch. ProntoForms will receive a $4 million secured term credit facility over five years. BDC will provide funds in several stages at a fixed rate of seven per cent per year. The company received the first $2 million disbursement in September.

Documents provided by Vahan Ajamian, an equity research analyst at Beacon Securities, show Ajamian complimenting the move and maintaining a “buy” status for the company’s stock in a report dated Aug. 30.

“We believe this development offers ProntoForms financial flexibility and removes any requirement to obtain any external financing until the company first turns EBITDA positive,” Ajamian wrote in the report, referring to when a company becomes profitable at an operating level.

Ajamian also projects that the company will achieve profitability in 2018, but not before potentially experiencing a slower growth rate in its next two quarters.

 “The operator channel may continue to be weaker due to churn,” Ajamian states in a report dated Nov. 11, referencing a drop in the rate at which customers subscribe to ProntoForms’ services.  He adds that it may take time for recent growth initiatives to show up fully in the results.

Large market potential

There are 42 million potential mobile form users in North America, estimates consulting firm Frost and Sullivan in a report released in 2015. The firm compared the company’s software to two unnamed competitors and praised the ProntoForms platform, adding that its competitors’ products are more expensive and “comparatively under-featured” when compared to ProntoForms.

Scott, who believes the company is at the onset of a growth spurt in the market, remains optimistic about the company’s opportunities.

“We’ve introduced… cutting edge capabilities this year that no other competitor really comes close to,” Scott said. He explained that while some competitors have similar mobile app features, ProntoForms offers stronger workflow integration functionality and analytics that diversify the company’s product from its competition.

Heading into 2017, Scott will continue maintaining ProntoForms’ strategic partnerships with companies in other countries, escaping Ottawa’s intense winter snowfalls in the process.

ProntoForms  went public in 2009. Its shares traded at rarely more than 10 cents until late 2013, eventually peaking at 55 cents in May 2014. As of Dec. 9, 2016, ProntoForms shares are trading for 26 cents.