Episend, Almost A Year Old, Enables Interactive File Sharing In The Cloud

While managing the websites for the retail giant TJX, Richard DiBona encountered the pain of missing important files because they were too big to be sent through e-mail.

“With email and attachments, there’s no way of knowing that it failed most of the time,” he says. “It goes into oblivion and you hope for the best.”

So he set out to fix this problem, through his Watertown, MA-based startup, Episend. Originally he sought to create an e-mail program that could handle larger files, but he quickly reconsidered. “It would be kind of hard to kick off a company and say you’re competing with Gmail right off the bat,” he says.

DiBona instead focused on developing a platform where users could share large files with others via the cloud, by pointing recipients to specific URLs. “It’s kind of like file-sharing with some personality,” he says. On Episend, users can upload any file, including Word documents, pictures, MP3s, and even files from more sophisticated programs like AutoCAD or Adobe InDesign. The system allows the sender to present multiple files together in an annotated message, where users can insert instructions on which files to read first. If the message sender uploads multiple photos, they can appear in a stack to allow the recipient to scroll through them, in the order the sender specifies.

Uploading files to Episend is easy—users can simply drag and drop files directly into the Episend screen. They can also store certain files for reuse in what’s called a digital asset library, and customize the look of their messages with dozens of different background templates. When they’re done crafting their message, Episend generates a URL that the sender can forward via e-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious. For an example of what an Episend message would look like to the recipient, check out my very rudimentary message here.

DiBona says he’s seen colleges use the site as a platform for sending their alumni magazines to the commercial printer, with specific instructions on where to put which text and photos. Other companies have used Episend messages, which can be set up to include multiple pages, as user guides, directly targeted at customers.

Episend isn’t just for the business user trying to send large design files as part of a major project, though. The platform has features that better enable the sharing of photos than existing sites like Facebook do, DiBona claims. On the social networking site, for instance, end users can’t directly download high-resolution photos. But Episend allows recipients to download files such as photos in both the size that appears on the computer screen, and the original size of the file as it appears on the sender’s computer.

DiBona has avoided a lot of development grunt work by setting up Episend so that … Next Page »

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