The tablet computer is one of the “major shifts afoot in technology now,” says Adam Tratt, cofounder of Haiku Deck (www.haikudeck.com). Those book-sized, flat computers — iPads, in particular — streamed into our lives hardly three years ago and were “quickly adopted as a great way to watch Netflix in bed” or read The New York Times “without waking up your spouse with the crinkling of newspaper.”
Tratt is sure the tablet “will become increasingly used in the workplace.” In fact, he points out, walk into any coffee shop around the country and you’re sure to see someone making a presentation on a tablet.
Most presentations are currently made with Microsoft PowerPoint. That software was designed more than 20 years ago and hasn’t fundamentally changed in that time, Tratt says. It hasn’t adapted to the Internet and definitely not to tablet technology. It’s unwieldy, too, he points out, with too many font choices and bad clip art when you need graphics.
The whole category of presentation software “was ripe for disruption,” says Tratt. “People are presenting in ways they didn’t 20 years ago.”
Tratt and Kevin Leneway, his partner at Giant Thinkwell, Inc., decided to “re-imagine a tool that millions of people have to use every day in a way that will be better.” Research told them that experts identify three rules for good presentations: Offer one idea per slide, use an image that makes an impact, and have a consistent look and feel. They combined the need with the rules, and Haiku Deck was born.
Rather than focus on the technological benefits of presentation software, the guys decided to concentrate on the creative. After months of building and testing, Haiku Deck launched this past August and was featured on the front page of iTunes. The app is free, with some features available for pay, and Tratt expects it will stay that way. Currently Haiku Deck is only available for iPad, but it will soon be made available for Google’s Android operating system.
After a “really nice review in the Wall Street Journal,” and write-ups in Time Magazine and Fast Company (“Haiku Deck promises to do for presentations what Instagram did for photos: Make us all look like creative geniuses,” according to Time), Tratt says more than 200,000 people use the app. He and Leneway thought it would take six months to see results, “but we knew in two weeks that we were on to something.”
We’re “trying to make the product more useful,” Tratt says. Haiku Deck offers a simpler approach to images and fonts and makes web publishing easy.
Haiku Deck is about to move from its shared space of tech startups in South Lake Union to larger quarters in “the center of the universe,” Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, among such tech giants as Google, Adobe, and Getty Images. It helps, says Tratt, to work near other tech companies.
“There’s more serendipity,” he says. “You bump into people who are working on interesting problems while standing on line for lunch.”
Tratt grew up on Cape Cod and took a job here with Microsoft in the mid-1990s. He says his kids — ages 11, 8 and 4 — are his hobby, along with skiing and, when he finds himself someplace warm, all sorts of water sports. He also admits to some “really good Bon Jovi karaoke skills.”
The demonstration video at Haiku Deck’s website features Tratt’s hands. “If this doesn’t work,” he jokes, “I’ll get a job as a hand model.”