Evernote: Making the Best of Both Worlds

The popular productivity app and software maker has bolstered its success by bridging the virtual-physical divide.

Chances are good that you’ve used or at least heard of Evernote. Since its 2007 founding as a note-taking app, it’s evolved into a suite of software and services that allows users to capture, organize, share and find information across multiple platforms. By nearly any measure, it’s a noteworthy success story. It now has more than 100 million users worldwide. Its Redwood City, California-based parent company employs 400 people in 11 countries. And it’s raised more than $300 million in venture capital in the last few years alone.

But while digital offerings make up the bulk of its sales, the company has also stepped outside that realm. In 2013, it launched Evernote Market, a line of physical products sold through an e-commerce portal on the company’s website. And though it might seem counterintuitive for an app/software business to venture beyond its core competency, the move was calculated and quite innovative. All of the Evernote Market line’s products integrate seamlessly with Evernote’s apps. And by only offering the products via its own online store, the company has fortified its position as the go-to source for the platform’s users.

Case in point: The ScanSnap Evernote Edition Scanner, a joint venture with Japan’s Fujitsu, scans both sides of a receipt, business card, photo or other document and automatically classifies it and files it into the user’s Evernote account. Another co-branded offering, the Moleskine Evernote Edition notebook, extends the life of Evernote users’ handwritten notes by converting them into fully searchable, digital data. The Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus serves as a digital pen that allows users to capture handwritten notes on an iPad using Evernote’s popular handwriting app, Penultimate.

Jeff Zwerner, Evernote’s vice president of design, explains that the move into physical products — “giving physical objects a digital future,” as he puts it — was a natural evolution. “The Evernote Market was born out of the premise that we could have a larger impact on the way people lived and worked if we did not constrain our thinking to the confines of a digital-only workspace,” he says. “In the short time since we introduced the first Moleskine Evernote Edition notebook, we sold hundreds of thousands of them. The partnership validated our hypothesis that there was demand for products that were well designed and made it easier for people to move paper documents, notes and ideas into their digital workspaces.”

The partnership also illustrates a larger trend covered in the 2015 Access 25: how the intersection of the virtual and physical realms is driving innovation and creating new possibilities for growth. The Evernote Market’s sales certainly testify to that. The line generated more than $13 million in revenue in 2014, and much of that figure was generated by a team of only 14 employees. They’re the ones who design, develop, market and manage logistics and customer support for Evernote Market customers in North America, Europe and Japan, according to Zwerner. The company relies on FedEx Ground for domestic shipments and FedEx International Economy® for international shipments.

“Evernote exists to help individuals and teams be more productive as they write, collect, discuss and present work in the context of a larger personal or business goal,” Zwerner says. “Prior to the introduction of the Evernote Market, our focus was solely on developing a digital workspace. With the addition of Evernote Market, we have broadened the definition of that workspace to now include both digital and physical products.”

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  1. great article, thank you for sharing Evernote's success!

    Mark June 26, 2015

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