Saturday, July 11, 2009
The MindGenius interview
Visualmapper recently invited MindGenius to be interviewed, and Commercial Director, Dustin Newport agreed to represent MindGenius.
Dustin's role is the Visual mapping visionary and evangelist utilizing strong customer and partner relationships, leading the company’s explosive growth in the productivity software market. Newport has more than 18 years of experience in software at some of the industry’s leading technology organizations.
Previously Newport, was UK Managing Director at Mindjet. Other positions held included Sales Director at Novium Plc; EMEA Vice President of Sales for AppsMall LLC and held senior sales roles at Novell, Remedy Corporation and Informix.
The first MindGenius applications were released in 2001 by software developers Gael Ltd and, since then, the user base has grown in excess of 300,000 registered licenses.
In March 2008, MindGenius Ltd was set up as a separate trading entity. In September 2008 MindGenius Ltd became certified Microsoft Partners with an ISV / Software Solution competency, and the MindGenius application achieved certified for Microsoft Vista status at the same time.
1. Who are the leading minds driving MindGenius?
MindGenius is a collaborative enterprise taking inspiration and input from a variety of sources. The direction and guiding principles of the application and the user experience are born out of the fact that MindGenius originated within Gael, a leading Quality Management System vendor.
Unlike other Mind mapping software applications, MindGenius became fully tried and tested and evolved out of the needs of an organization managing big ticket and highly complex end-to-end sales and implementation cycles. This sets MindGenius apart from its competitors as it was essentially developed ‘on customer site’ over a number of years where the specific needs of a sales and implementation team could rapidly be developed into the product itself on an ongoing and iterative basis.
Responsibility for the vision and technical road map are shared by the co-founders and owners of the business Derek Jack and Donald McIver. Dustin Newport takes full responsibility for the commercial ‘taking to market’ of MindGenius which is including the development of global sales channels, alliances and sales team.
2. Give us a brief history of the organization?
The product itself was created as a must have tool within Gael as no other mind mapping product on the market could effectively synchronize the actions and results orientation that the business required with the initial free form map created within the client.
The first version of MindGenius was released in 2000. Despite very little efforts to actively market and promote MindGenius, the product sold over 300,000 licenses up to 2009 via the web shop and a handful of channel partners.
In 2008 it was decided that MindGenius should be separated out from Gael and the independent organization was created. At the beginning of 2009 a significant investment of private financing took place and the company elected to invest in bringing in proven industry knowledge to drive its commercial business.
Since the beginning of 2009, the following key milestones have taken place;
- Re-launch of Website giving a refreshed look and feel and clear explanation of the product.
- Setting up of a new sales office in the South of England, providing global reach through phone and web based product demos.
- Launch of a new ‘Premier Partner’ program providing a best in class lead management system via a Partner Relationship System (PRM) Portal.
- Launch of our first monthly customer newsletter
3. List the environments where your products are being used?
MindGenius is used across a very broad array of environments. Our initial dialogue with customers revealed a surprisingly large community of users requiring ‘assistive technology’ due to learning or working difficulties such as Dyslexia. Specifically MindGenius has some unique functionality that resonates well with Dyslexic users such as the ability to maintain a linear and non-linear map view pain simultaneously on the screen. Other key environments are the more typical you would expect of Mind Mapping users such as;
- Sales professionals: Managing customer meetings, Gaining consensus and clarity with clients, Strategic Sales Planning.
- Project Management Professionals: Six Sigma/Lean Sigma professionals, creating ‘work break down structures’, specific use within project planning and inception work prior to exporting to MS Project.
- Independent Consulting Practices: Used extensively in client facing scenarios for problem solving and requirements gathering.
- Bid and Tender Response Teams: We find we have extensive use within this particular profession. Specifically the ability to import an MS Word document into a map and break into its constituent parts to assign key actions and owners is seen as a killer feature. This enables a far more rapid engagement with the contents of the ITT (Invitation to Tender).
- Teaching Professionals: Used across all areas of the teaching profession from adult learning through to Universities and schools at all ages. Specifically used as a highly visual and engaging way of presenting the lesson. Also used in the process of lesson planning.
- Students/Learners: Used at all levels of learning. Visual maps improve the cognitive retention of information for the students. Helps with revision process and structure for essays.
4. What are the capabilities of MindGenius?
MindGenius enables rapid capture of ideas and/or information in a visually contextual ‘map’ interface. The map view can be either traditional ‘mind map’ view or tree diagram, organagram or affinity map.
MindGenius captures information simply through the typing of key words of phrases, no ‘hot keys’ are needed to insert parent or child branches onto the map. This makes MindGenius one of the most effective and least cumbersome tools for data capture.
Data captured in MindGenius can be ordered and sorted using ‘Categories’. In turn, comprehensive business rules can be applied to help prioritize key action areas or address key problems.
Additionally, MindGenius also supports exporting functionality to major Microsoft Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint as well as Visio, Project , PDF’s and HTML files.
As mentioned above, MindGenius also enables the importing of data from MS Word back into a map.
5. Within the UK and EU MindGenius has an established footprint; what about North America?
MindGenius has an impressive user base in North America despite no office and light channel presence in the market. We have key blue-chip customers in North America ranging across several key industries and reaching several hundred users in a number of instances.
A combination of technology and cultural shifts have led to an almost universal acceptance of entire sales sales cycles now being conducted over the phone and via web based demonstrations. Customers are more than happy to jump onto an ad-hoc ‘web meeting’ in order to view our software, look at sample maps and ask key questions.
Therefore we find we are being highly effective in both stimulating demand AND closing business among key business in any part of the world, including North America. If any of your readers requested a demonstration, it would be highly likely they would be able to receive it on the same day, driven out of a sales office in the UK.
6. MindGenius has recently been slightly updated; can we expect a more aggressive push to market from MindGenius?
As discussed earlier, MindGenius is in the process of re-launching itself this year. A significant investment in key staff, infrastructure and marketing is being well received by our customers and prospects.
This is just the start as we are planning on further sales staff and developers before the end of the year.
In the last 3 months alone we have trebled the number of visitors coming to our website and downloading a trial version of MindGenius. Each trial user receives individual contact either from a MindGenius sales representative or channel partner within (typically) no more than 2 working days.
We believe these stats and this sales process are already demonstrating a much more aggressive push to market for the company. Such approach is already driving a significant uptick in our revenues.
7. How do you differentiate MindGenius from the other leading visual mapping tools?
Having worked for a major competitor and been in the mind mapping software industry for nearly 5 years I am well placed to specifically identify the key strengths and differentiation of MindGenius. They are as follows;
The ability to manage simultaneous ‘Linear’ (outline), and ‘Whole Map’ views on the screen at the same time. The MindGenius ‘map explorer’ pain enables large complex maps to be navigated highly effectively. It is possible ‘zoom in’ on a key branch or component of the map from within the explorer pain and see this immediately represented on the main map pain. This feature has long been praised by MindGenius users.
MindGenius has the ability to create ‘Category Centric’ maps. This is highly unique. By understanding which categories have been used within the map, it is possible to create an entirely separate map view that separates out the original ‘parent’ and ‘child’ relationships and puts each item into their respective category ‘buckets’. This is a hugely powerful feature, particularly among project management communities as they need to allocate resources and assign actions by ‘High Impact’ items for example. Other mapping technologies have a ‘filter’ function (as does MindGenius) but you still end up with the data being contextually dispersed across the map. The Category Map function enables relevant data to be viewed through a single lens where the context is no longer relevant.
MS Exchange ‘Resource Allocation’ is also a highly unique feature. Rather than assigning tasks to names that have no relevance to corporate data, MindGenius enables the importing of the local contacts or corporate MS Exchange database. In doing so, all resources used within a map are aligned to the corporate database for correct Contact, Email, phone, title information etc. Thus tasks can be rapidly synchronized to the correct users via their Outlook system.
MindGenius has the ability to tailor Q&A templates within the product that drive the user to explore a topic within a predetermined manner such as a SWOT analysis. These template styles are built in and prompt all the relevant questions to be asked in the context of the engagement. We supply core sets of templates relevant to our different product versions of ‘Business’ and ‘Education’.
As well as product differentiation, we believe it is very important to differentiate ourselves commercially too. A combined proposition of product functionality AND commercial value is important to our clients, particularly in these more austere times. We approach this from 2 different angles;
o 1) MindGenius has a very low cost operation due to fully embracing a channel and web approach to conducting global business. MindGenius runs its’ global operation from just 2 UK based office facilities. MindGenius has therefore managed to avoid the costs and complexities of running several multinational offices with all of the associated staffing and management overheads. MindGenius passes on this low cost to its customers through one of the most competitively priced business Mind Mapping solutions on the market.
o 2) MindGenius takes a very flexible ‘can do’ approach to alliances and partner relationships. Our flexible approaches to commercial positioning and packaging have made us a highly attractive partner for bundling and solution propositions with Alliance partners. One of our core values is to be ‘easy to do business with’. Customer and partner feedback alike is suggesting that we are differentiating ourselves from our rivals substantially with this approach.
8. What are the benefits of using MindGenius within, Personal, Academic and Business arenas?
I believe these examples and illustrations have already been covered above.
9. What do you envision in the visual mapping arena as trends for future use of visual mapping software?
We envisage a number of fundamental enhancements in mapping software that specifically address the dynamics and interactions at a ‘human layer’ within teams. The notion of how team brainstorming unfolds and needs to be captured is open for tremendous enhancements (across all mapping technologies), and we are working on a number of areas in future product releases that focus on this important area of increasing value and productivity.
This is an exciting yet proprietary area for us and therefore cannot be divulged in any more detail at this stage.
We envisage that visual mapping software will continue to permeate into the lives of any student or professional that uses a computer.
In my 5 years in the industry I have witnessed a fundamental seed change in the acceptance of mapping software as a key ‘must have’ application for the desktop, but we still have a long way to go.
We can well envisage that within the next 5 years no consumer or business customer would expect to receive a PC without a mapping based application installed upon it – much in the same way that we expect a word processing application today.
This view appears to be shared by the many vendors that appear to be entering this same space. Whilst clearly this is competition, this is also further legitimizing the maturing of this particular sector.
10. What are your users saying about MindGenius?
Our users are telling us that MindGenius is highly integral to the way that they work. We receive daily feedback that MindGenius is a favored mind mapping application specifically because of its simplicity and ease of use and that it is fundamentally engineered around actions and results. We have many customers who have been using MindGenius for many years and remain very loyal to us.
11. What can we expect from further development of MindGenius?
There’s nothing we wish to disclose on this at the moment as commercially sensitive.
12. Where should a potential user of MindGenius purchase the software and what’s the cost?
We list local resellers on our website, OR a user can purchase from us directly via our web shop. Any prospective user can download a 21 day trial free of charge from our site. The product then still enables users to open maps as a ‘viewer’.
MindGenius ‘Business Edition’ is available for;
MindGenius ‘Education’ (for Students and Teachers) is available for;