Freehand Graphics is a global leader in software solutions for the screen-printing industry. Some of their software, notably Separation Studio NXT and AccuRIP Emerald, makes pre-press functions, like color separation, a simple and easy process for their customers.
As art students living in New York City, Charlie and Laura Facini were interested in making a career in the arts. Charlie was interested in printmaking and took a part-time job at a screen-printing shop to earn some extra money. Technology was quickly changing during this time, and screen printing was beginning to transition from a completely manual process to digitization. The industry was changing, and Charlie was at the forefront. While working daily to process orders, manually adjusting colors and specs, Charlie realized that parts of the screen-printing process were extremely time-consuming and error-prone. He decided to embrace the innovation that was happening around him with computers and technology and write a computer program to optimize the process.
Charlie wrote a program that would ultimately revolutionize screen-printing. What would normally take 3 labor-intensive days of work, Charlie’s program allowed to be done in less than an hour. Having discovered such a time-saving and efficient tool, Charlie’s screen-printing shop (which he now owned with his wife Laura) was able to process more orders and ultimately make more money. The next step – could he sell this program to other screen-printing shops?
In 1995, Freehand sought a way to distribute its software securely with a licensing system. PACE helped Freehand set up a secure licensing model that allowed customers to try the software, and later to buy it. The ability to ‘wrap’ their code with PACE’s unique architecture gave Freehand the security and flexibility it needed for trial extensions, ensuring prospects had enough time to evaluate the product and eventually buy.
In 2007, after joining forces with a new developer, Freehand decided to move toward a home-grown licensing model and no longer use PACE.
A shortfall of the home-grown licensing system was the lack of a robust license control center. With limited ability to help clients activate or deactivate software in response to local hardware issues, Freehand actively looked to improve the UX and to enhance customer service.
Free trials are at the core of many software sales strategies. For Freehand Graphics, nearly all sales are preceded by an 8-day trial. One drawback to the home-grown licensing system was that when a potential customer downloaded the trial, Freehand couldn't easily turn off access once the trial was over. People evaluating the software could, in some cases, still have access even though their trial period was over.
Freehand Graphics also offered a ‘chargeback guarantee’ – allowing customers who purchased their products to get their money back if they were not satisfied. Although a rare occurrence, when a customer did ask for a chargeback, there wasn’t an easy way to completely turn off access. A customer chargeback should have triggered the end of the license use, but the system in place did not offer that ability.
Finally, in 2019 Freehand decided to move from perpetual licenses to a subscription model. The need to make this change stemmed from a goal to create more features and a better user experience for customers. Charlie added “Perpetual is an ugly word when you are trying to create recurring revenue for a software product.” It was this decision that ultimately brought them back to PACE.
"With PACE, clients in good standing continue to benefit from using Freehand software, while those without an active license no longer have access. Freehand benefits from knowing that software activated means profits retained, while users enjoy the freedom and power of 24/7/365 web-based license controls."
The return to PACE Licensing not only helped Freehand’s new business model create recurring revenue and growth, but it also resulted in a better experience for their end-users. PACE iLok License Manager delivered a better UX for end-users, who are now more self-sufficient. This has resulted in a significant decrease in some support requests and eliminated other support issues altogether. This, in turn, has allowed Freehand to focus more on product and development.
When asked what role professional security and licensing have on Freehand Graphics, Charlie Facini responded
“Without question, our products would not exist in this form in a digital age. It is impossible. You can’t let someone trial software without security, you can’t sell without security. Without proper security, you have an open-ended sale. PACE Anti-Piracy gave us something we never had in the past... mental security.”
For more information on how PACE Anti-Piracy can help with your licensing needs, contact us!