300K Downloads Strong, Haiku Deck Debuts New Version of iPad Presentation App

Seattle-based Haiku Deck launched last summer to provide iPad users with a cleanly designed PowerPoint or Keynote alternative, taking a mobile-first approach to building and giving slide-based presentations with its presentation app. Backed by investors including Madrona Venture Group and Founder’s Co-op, the company is debuting a new version of its free app today with the ability to create and insert charts, graphs, and lists, a larger image library, and other features aimed at making the app more useful to anyone creating a presentation on their iPad.

Lots of companies have tried to overhaul presentation software, with standouts like Prezi building up millions of users for their alternative to the traditional PowerPoint. Haiku Deck was formerly a gaming startup, and pivoted to focus on presentations after participating in the TechStars Seattle startup accelerator program. Haiku Deck founder Adam Tratt was formerly the Director of Marketing at Cranium, and a former product manager at Microsoft. He said in an interview that since launching last summer the app has been downloaded 300,000 times, with over 250,000 presentations created, and the response has validated his idea that people want mobile-first presentation software that is “simple, beautiful, and fun.”

“This initial experiment that was our version one product has proven out. We’ve hit a nerve, people are looking for new, better ways to make presentations,” Tratt said in an interview. “At the end of the day, we’ve been able to see what issues have risen to the top and figure out ways to make the product more useful.”

Haiku Deck is based on Tratt’s best practices for presentations: use a single idea per slide; reinforce that idea with a powerful image; and enforce consistency in the formatting. To create a presentation users can choose from five free themes and 11 additional paid themes, each of which has its own fonts and color schemes (that change dynamically as users shift from theme to theme). After adding text to a slide and choosing a slide layout, users can add an image from the Creative Commons library for free, with attribution added to the slides after an image is inserted, or add their own image. New features added today include the ability to create and insert bar graphs, pie charts, and bullet point lists (with a limit of five bullet points), saving users from creating graphs in a program like Excel and importing into their presentation.

Once a presentation is finished, users can set their privacy settings, and share via their social networks or export via email. When a users exports a presentation it’s converted to an HTML5 format and saved in the cloud so it can be accessed on any device, or embedded into a blog post. Other new features added today include the ability to add notes to a presentation, so for example someone who missed a presentation can see an annotated version after the fact.

Tratt says there are three main categories of users: business users, teachers and students, and personal users, but he thinks business will become a larger category since this new version showcases privacy controls. In terms of monetization, right now the app has paid themes, and they will likely be adding in premium photography so users can pay to use non-Creative Commons images. They will also be exploring adding premium accounts for business users that include everything from increased analytics to the ability to collaborate on decks.

The app is iPad-only right now, and while Tratt said last summer they would be building out other versions, right now the iPad seems to be the main focus. With notable bloggers already using the software, including Seth Godin, who had the most-viewed Haiku Deck of 2012 with over 200,000 views, the app seems to be catching on with both business and personal users. It certainly takes a more intuitive approach to creating presentations free from 10-point font and cluttered slides, but to really create a robust user base it will likely need to expand beyond iPad, since creating presentations on the desktop is still the default for a large number of people.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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