Doug Ballinger, president of PageDNA (which stands for Page Dynamic Network Application), previously owned Metanet, a Palo Alto, California-based prepress business.
PageDNA was born from Ballinger’s experience in the ’90s creating graphic arts solutions software, and the idea that laid the groundwork for his current venture—an ordering system developed for Wells Fargo. He founded the company with Tony Lownds, CTO, and Steve Enstad, vice president of sales.
Ingenuity was the mother of invention. As the group began to acquire software solutions projects for companies like Adobe Systems, they encountered a number of obstacles in typesetting. As a result, PageDNA developed its own custom software to handle the complexity of typesetting obstacles it faced. Now, Ballinger said, one of the company’s signature characteristics is the facility with which it can handle typesetting.
Adapting to troubleshooting and efficiency led to a change of focus. “Early on,” Ballinger explained, “our biggest challenge was finding a graphic arts application that could be deployed in hundreds or thousands of instances without the challenges of extensive design and workflow customization that we had encountered with some of the applications we were developing.” When PageDNA embarked on a Web site development project for Netscape, the company faced a host of complexities unique to the ever-changing project. “In the early days, I likened a lot of our software development to ‘custom kitchen remodeling’—that is, build it once and hope ... that some of the experience would
payoff on the next job.”
Despite their successes, Ballinger began to realize many of the custom projects the group was taking on were outside the realm of software development. “I felt that many of our custom assignments ... were more the purview of companies ... like ad agencies and Web shops than a pure software developer like us. We finally sat down one day and decided not to do ‘custom kitchen remodeling’ and focus on doing one thing really well. Back then, we called it business card ordering systems. That application has evolved into a comprehensive Web-to-print