Prefix Technologies: Josh Adler & Sam Hutchinson

Prefix Technologies: Josh Adler & Sam Hutchinson


When asked recently to highlight keyfactors in the ongoing success of Facebook, co-founder Chris Hughes, replied,“I think the basic idea of providing something that didn’t exist was a good onebut it’s more than that. I believe that the reason Facebook is where it istoday is due to a resolute focus on the product. We focused on buildingsomething that people would like using, would want to use, would find relevantand would keep them coming back every day.”

In other words, build it and they willcome. A simple, yet effective approach that Josh Adler and Sam Hutchinson ofPrefix Technologies have employed in developing Preditor, their unique contentmanagement platform for the magazine publishing industry. “It took us a whileto refine our focus but once we got going we kept our eye on developingsomething that would truly enable publishers to manage and monetise theircontent through a totally seamless publishing experience,” says Adler, chiefexecutive. “We wanted to build a software offering that would allow journalistsand editors to get back to doing what they do best, which is creating greatcontent,” adds Hutchinson, who acts as the company’s chief architect.


The result is a revolutionary frameworkthat not only manages content for multiple publications, but also for print,mobile and web formats, affording publishers more opportunities to create manyrevenue streams off a single article. Adler explains: “An article gets writtenonce and then can appear instantly on multiple web and mobile sites as well asgo into print editions.  So publisherscan sell more advertising around the same piece of content to distinctaudiences. “We benchmark ourselves against our customers’ ability to increaseadvertising revenues and reduce production time.” With simple interfaces, Preditor putscontent control back in the hands of editors while inviting the participationof readers. “Editors can collect and arrange content to create an immersive,media-rich reader experience online or on a phone. To produce the customer’sprint magazines, Preditor speaks intelligently to design programmes like AdobeInDesign,” he continues.

Drawingon experience

The fact that Preditor has been takenup by the largest publishing houses in the country is testament to how well thePrefix team has anticipated and responded to the needs of the industry. This nodoubt has much to do with the fact that Adler and Hutchinson have first-handpublishing experience. While still at university they started PC Music which,now known as Music Industry Online (MIO), is South Africa’s busiest local musicindustry site. “Along the way we realised that we werebetter at creating content management tools than we were at publishing, so wecombined this with a love of the publishing industry and Preditor was born,”says Hutchinson.

Refiningtheir focus

But while he and Adler today head up ateam 17 strong and boast a product that’s unique in South Africa and has few rivalsworldwide, the road hasn’t always been smooth. “We started the company freshout of university and for a long time we were good at a lot of things, butexperts at nothing. We became lost, doing a whole host of things for clientsthat we frankly, didn’t really enjoy,” says Hutchinson. It was while applying to becomeEndeavor entrepreneurs in 2005 that the partners realised how important it wasto refine their focus. “One of the panelists who interviewed us for Endeavortold us we were nothing more than smart opportunists. We knew at the time thatwe were all over the place, but we really needed that feedback to force us toact on that knowledge,” says Hutchinson.

The company culled products that didn’tfit into its publishing focus, a tough task according to Adler. “We had to letclients go and we felt like we were letting people down. As a result of thosedecisions we had a year of no growth, whereas before we’d grown substantiallyevery year,” he relates. In the end, though, the move paid off.The company’s growth doubled in 2008 and is set to do the same in 2009. PrefixTechnologies reapplied and were chosen to be Endeavor entrepreneurs by aninternational selection panel earlier this year. “A more refined focus has alsohad a positive impact on our team – we’re all much happier because we’re doingwhat we love,” Adler

Juliet Pitman
Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.