While developers have Github to manage revision control, the answer for designers isn’t so simple. But that’s the gap that New York City-startup LayerVault is trying to fill with its cloud-based application.
The app allows designers to store, back-up and track designs as they go through revisions and allows them to deliver their work to collaborators and clients. The paid service, which includes unlimited storage, may sound simple, but revision management is a distinct pain point for many designers, who generate a slew of versions of a design and have to keep track of changes.
LayerVault has attracted close to a thousand paying customers, including big newspapers like the Washington Post, since it launched a year ago. It’s gotten raves for features like its smart ruler and wormhole, which allows users to search for and isolate an element and see how it’s changed over time.
On Wednesday, LayerVault is adding more feedback and delivery tools to expand its usefulness for larger design teams. Designers can now create a timeline of their work with signposts about their progress, so they can share how a design is coming together with other team members or clients. And when designers deliver a project, recipients can weigh in with feedback on a separate page. It’s an important step for LayerVault as it expands from being a nice tool for individual designers to being an important resource for professionals and enterprise customers.
“These features start addressing the needs of bigger teams and freelancers who work with clients,” said co-founder and CEO Allan Grinshtein. “It’s part of the process of turning LayerVault into a serious tool for professional creatives.”
Grinshtein and Kelly Sutton founded LayerVault a year ago; the two previously worked at blip.tv. The idea was born when Grinshtein asked Sutton to come up with a simple way to manage basic versioning on PSD files. The two set about building a tool to address the issue while keeping their day jobs. It turned out they weren’t the only ones who found value in LayerVault.
With hundreds of designers signing on, Grinshtein and Sutton raised $535,000 in August from Betaworks, SV Angel and Highline Venture Partners, allowing them to commit full-time to LayerVault. Over 2,000 developers are now using LayerVault, though many are non-paying, invited members. Grinshtein and Sutton recently hired their first developer and are poised to hire another one soon.
LayerVault pricing plans start at $19 a month for an individual designer and go up to $199 a month for large teams. The company’s larger goal is to eventually be an indispensable tool for designers, positioned at the “center of their universe,” said Grinshtein. Currently, developers often create designs in Adobe Photoshop or other programs and then move them over to Dropbox or other online services. But increasingly, Grinshtein believes designers want a purpose-built tool that handles everything outside of the actual creation of the design on Photoshop.
“LayerVault is like Github. Github never started out as an enterprise tool but companies use it to solve problems,” Grinshtein said. “Internally, we have this phrase that we want to be the ‘other’ important tool for designers.”