Get Custom Spreadsheets Online From ModelSheet

One of the biggest problems that I have faced and I guess most of you also face is setting a template for a PowerPoint or an Excel sheet. After Slideshare came into the picture, it has become much easier with cut pasting into existing templates and making a PowerPoint presentations.

However making an excel sheet still demands working from scratch. Microsoft has a few interesting templates and a lot of them online actually – but these are user generated templates and most of the ones have to be customised in order to be of any use.

One of the tools we tried out recently – www.modelsheetsoft.com – addresses exactly this issue. They require that you know – at a high level – what you need in your excel sheet. After that, they walk you through a wizardish experience where they customize an excel sheet template to the one that you want. We tried one that was close to what we had in mind – a cash flow statement for a startup.

The account creation was very easy – although they could do with brushing up the look and feel of the site.

Once the account was created, I was given an option to browse various types of templates that I could use. The flow was very easy I must admit and I was able to create a ready to use sheet in very short time. We did however have a few thoughts regarding the product itself -

a) I did not get any option to upload my sheet to Google docs directly – If this sheet is made for making Google docs spreadsheets more customizable – that is a big usability issue. Dont know if Google allows direct uploads – but that is the usability I expect – not download and upload again.
b) The general look and feel of the site needs to improve – although they are working on it
c) More choices of templates in the browse screen.
d) Search for a template – Most of us lazy bones love that search bar.

We also have a few thoughts regarding the business model and usability -
a) This is directly in competition with Microsoft templates (most of which are user generated) and a lot of them are absolutely impossible to use.
b) Monetization – a lot of such usage is one time. Therefore I am not sure how many users would be paying $9 for a one time download – especially when they have a 7 day money back and there is absolutely nothing to stop misuse.
c) Browser additions – reaching customers better – Like a few Gmail additions which make using Gmail a lot easier, I would definitely love to have their templates link when I am on Google docs and have a spreadsheet open.

Lastly we think this has a niche that it addresses. However it also is in a niche that has several compelling competitive offerings – especially because you can reach Office templates from inside Excel itself. So they need to hone their positioning better to ensure they have a play which adds value to both Office client and Docs online. What do you think?