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Laura started Client Portal in 2016. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Client Portal?
Like many tools, Client Portal started as something that I made for myself. I was working as a freelancer and I really wanted somewhere I could point my clients to that would keep all their project assets in one place. But mostly, I wanted something that made me look like The Real Deal to my clients. I wanted to look professional.
I built the product with the intention to use it which, in hindsight, helped me create a tool that didn’t end up trying to do All The Things for All The People and instead did one thing really well.
I had tried other project management tools with my clients. And while the quality was great, they were often too complicated for my projects. My clients wouldn’t use them and would resort back to email. At $99/month it was too expensive for me to justify – especially since nobody was seemingly using it.
So I really wanted something simple. Something that could enable clients to keep using the tools and the processes they already use (like Google docs, email, etc.) but in one, branded place.
After looking around for something that could do this, I decided to make it myself. I made a page on my website where clients could log in and see everything that we had collected together for their project. There were links to things like the brief, invoices, questionnaires, and more.
I didn’t make Client Portal with the intention of selling it. I made it with the intention to use it which, in hindsight, helped me create a tool that didn’t end up trying to do All The Things for All The People and instead did one thing really well.
Selling Client Portal to other freelancers came about from me deciding to build my personal brand with the goal of getting more clients. I did this by speaking at a lot of conferences about freelancing and design. At one conference in particular, I did a talk on how to work remotely with clients. I mentioned this little portal that I made for myself and suggested if the other attendees has ever faced the same problems as me, they could make one too.
But as it turned out, nobody wanted to spend the time making their own – they wanted to buy mine. When getting feedback on the talks, more than 50% of attendees said the most valuable part of the conference was, “Laura's client portal idea – it’s freakin’ genius!”
And for the rest of the weekend, I had people coming up to me saying, “Look, can I just buy this? This is exactly what I need. It solves a problem that I didn't even realize that I had. And now I need it!”
So, after a lot of encouragement from my peers I ended up selling it. I didn’t have a name, so I simply called it Client Portal and within a few short (but crazy) months I had quit freelancing and was relying solely on Client Portal revenue for my income.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater