Free keychains and Asian universities became a jump-start to reaching product/market-fit

Cathrine Andersen, Founder of Assemblage and Roger.ai

How do you find the perfect product/market-fit? It’s a tough nut to crack. But if we had to place our bet on just one person to give it a go, it would be Cathrine Andersen any day of the week. In 2011, Cathrine founded Canvasdropr with Christian Rasmussen. In the blink of an eye — at least within a startup timeframe — they managed to pivot pretty much all parts of the company from product over target group to pricing strategy and make a bountiful exit, when their company now called Assemblage was acquired by American giant Cisco in 2014.

In 2011 Christian Rasmussen told Cathrine Andersen about an idea he had been tinkering with next to his studies at DTU. Back then the option of sharing pictures or files with groups of people online did not exist, which bothered Christian when he chatted with friends and wanted to share something with them simultaneously. He decided to find a solution. As he started to play around with a prototype it grew into a tool for real-time online collaboration.

It was with this early prototype he approached Cathrine. They both saw big potential in the idea especially because it was bouncing off the newest browser technologies. So, Cathrine left her Master Studies behind and jumped head first into the entrepreneurial game.

Christian and Cathrine founded Canvasdropr. The concept was simple; an online canvas shared by a group of users who could all drop, edit, rearrange and pull photos, videos or files, and alterations appeared in real-time on everyone’s screens. Real-time was a real revolution at this time. Saving people, the time of uploading and downloading files again and again was a whole new ballgame.

From the get-go Canvasdropr had a worldwide focus. So, to ramp up awareness of their brand-new business Cathrine and Christian got 50 kg’s of keychains and brought them on a tour around Asian universities, handing out keychains as souvenirs to all students.

It was quite an unconventional strategy. Yet, Canvasdropr took off. In only three weeks they had users in 40 countries. It created a viral spread making the userbase grow rapidly, which helped to get the product tested extensively. Quickly business angels noticed the two new tech-talents.

The change — of everything

In 2013, Canvasdropr reached a point where it was time for the duo to rethink strategy. The user base was large enough to ensure Cathrine and Christian that people both used and liked their product. ‘Only problem was that they were not really making money. Up until now, the service had been free of charge but moving forward they it was necessary to make changes.

Around this time Cathrine and Christian started to notice a whole new type of users registering at Canvasdropr. It was the creatives and creative business teams. That opened their eyes. Targeting businesses would allow them to change pricing-strategy. These pivots in target group and price had a snowball effect. It led to a lot of adjustments and also development of new products for online collaboration in creative teams.

Finally, it all culminated in a total rebranding turning Canvasdropr into Assemblage. Assemblage was a collection of services, that could each stand alone. It turned out to be exactly what the market needed. Users could now far easier have an overview of the products in the Assemblage portfolio and choose the ones they needed rather than an entire package.

It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for the tech-dup to change this. Investors and advisors queried the segregation of the products. Yet, Cathrine and Christian was so deeply involved in the product, they knew in their bones it was the best way to go. They trusted their guts and stuck to it.

Eventually, they proved themselves right. In 2014, just a year after the change, Cisco bought Assemblage. Cathrine and Christian became part of Cisco Denmark; continuing to do what they did best developing systems making it easier for people to cooperate online.

A new adventure

As it often is with entrepreneurs, the team behind Assemblage has now ventured into a new project. After three years at Cisco and a few investments in other startups, it was time to be their own bosses again.

Like with Canvasdropr, Cathrine and Christian found something that was annoying, and their pain turned into Roger.ai. A service, that makes it a lot easier to take care of bills. It actually takes care of everything for you. All you need to do is scan the bill, and Roger.ai will take it from there. The company is placed in entrepreneurial paradise, San Francisco.
But, on April 11 Cahtrine is in Denmark, and you can have the joy of listening to her and her learnings. She will be part of PreSeed Academy’s second event and we’re so excited to hear about her incredible insight to finding the perfect product/market fit, as she did with Canvasdropr and is now repeating with Roger.ai. The event is free of charge and you can sign up right here.

Living the pre-seed stage alongside the rare kind of humans that we call founders https://www.preseedventures.dk