At Sprout Insights, we comb the web to bring you the most up-to-date and actionable resources on how to use social media to grow your business.

To that end, we’re pleased to present the Sprout Insights series Spotlight on Startups. We’ll find the most innovative, useful startup companies out there, get the inside track on what they’re doing, and tell you how you can leverage their products and services for your own business.

This week we’re pleased to cast the spotlight on QuoteRobot — a cloud-based, professional proposal writing tool — headquartered in Nanaimo, Canada.

What Is QuoteRobot?

What Is QuoteRobot?

Spotlight on Startups - QuoteRobot

QuoteRobot is an online application, that allows you to create professionally designed and formatted proposals in a few automated steps. With the application, you can create branded, multi-page proposals in moments, send those proposals electronically to your clients, or have them visit your customized QuoteRobot subdomain to approve your proposals online. You can track the status of your proposals, and soon you’ll even be able to accept payments — all within the secure QuoteRobot environment.

Each proposal typically contains a professional Title page, followed by pages for your project’s Scope, Price Quote, and Timeline. Of course, you also have the freedom to add or remove pages and sections, depending on your specific needs, for any given proposal. QuoteRobot has its own invoicing module built right into the application, but it also integrates with Freshbooks (and soon — Evernote and Harvest, as well).

The application is offered through a paid, subscription-based model ($10 per month). You can also try out the application with a 30 day free trial. The company was originally started in June, 2010, but a more robust, fully-featured edition of the application was launched on November 1 of this year. Over 8000 accounts are currently using the system to create and manage their proposals.

What Needs Does It Address?

What Needs Does It Address?

According to its co-founder, Shawn Adrian, “QuoteRobot is magic, for people who hate writing proposals.” Adrian says that proposal writing is usually one of the tasks dreaded by freelancers and contractors, because it typically takes so much valuable, unpaid time and effort to prepare. “QuoteRobot takes that pain point away from you, and you have more time to devote to other facets of your business,” he says. Because Adrian, himself, is a professional designer, he saw the value of applying a design aesthetic to something traditionally viewed as nothing but a “necessary evil.”

“First impressions are so important when you’re vying for new business,” says Adrian. “Think about a business owner going through a stack of proposals. There’s a bunch of standard, boring documents, created with a word processor — with not much thought to layout and design,” he says. “Then there’s the one in the stack that’s been designed by a professional, with attention to both content and visual appeal. Which one do you think the business owner is going to notice first?” asks Adrian.

“Having a professionally designed proposal that you create with QuoteRobot, speaks volumes about your level of care to that process,” Adrian says. “It also speaks volumes to the level of care and attention to detail that you’re likely to apply to your clients,” says Adrian, “and that can put you head and shoulders above the competition — especially in a tight market.”

How You Can Leverage QuoteRobot

How You Can Leverage QuoteRobot

QuoteRobot’s clients include professional freelancers of every stripe, as well as designers, SEO professionals, realtors, lawyers, “basically anyone who writes proposals or has to quote on work,” according to Mr. Adrian. “Because creating proposals with QuoteRobot is so easy,” says Adrian, “you don’t need to limit yourself to creating pitches for existing contracts. You can use the application as a sales prospecting tool, too,” he says.

QuoteRobot also has a referral program, whereby if you refer another paid customer, you get one free month on your account, “so by referring customers you could end up getting your account for free,” Adrian explains. Mr. Adrian says that he’s interested in hearing from people with access to the markets of service professionals. “We’d like to form strategic partnerships so we can help other people,” he says. “If someone is reading this and thinks, ‘wow, this would be great for these people’,” says Adrian, “contact us — we’d love to work together.” You can reach out to QuoteRobot on its website, or through its Twitter account.

Know of any other startups that would make a good feature on Spotlight on Startups? Contact us, or let us know in the comments below.

[Image credits: QuoteRobot, jazbeck, WordRidden]