Brian Kaldenberg started his first business, GameRosters.com, in 2004 as a junior at Iowa State University.
Kaldenberg, who has continued to operate GameRosters.com, was looking for new business ideas when he found one close to home in 2008.
“My wife was getting her master’s degree and finishing her thesis,” Kaldenberg said. “We were looking online for someone to proofread her thesis and I realized there was a market. I thought, ‘This is the idea. This is what I want to get into.’”
After two years of planning, Kaldenberg launched ProofreadingPal in 2010.
“We hired a consultant in 2008, but I realized it would cost more money than I was willing to risk, so it just sat there,” Kaldenberg said. “But then I moved to Iowa City and joined the Iowa City Business Club.”
Through that organization, Kaldenberg made contacts with community members who were willing to invest in ProofreadingPal and also work for him as proofreaders. From five proofreaders in 2010, employment has grown to more than 50 — full time and freelance.
An online company, ProofreadingPal matches customers with proofreaders who edit their documents for spelling and grammar.
“We proofread resumes, cover letters, a lot of advertisements for companies, books, adult novels, papers, essays and dissertations,” Kaldenberg said. “There’s really nothing we don’t do as far as content.”
The proofreaders are trained in editing and many are graduates of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
For every document with fewer than 15,000 words, two proofreaders are assigned to edit and make suggestions. Documents over 15,000 words are considered large projects with a custom rate and are assigned to a single proofreader.
The first proofreader finds most of the spelling and grammatical errors. The second proofreader catches anything the initial proofreader missed and provides feedback to the customer and the first proofreader.
“Everyone at ProofreadingPal starts out as a first proofreader and they are learning as they go,” Kaldenberg said. “The second proofreaders have worked their way to that point and get paid the same amount per word but can move about twice as fast through the document.”
ProofreadingPal has about 4,500 customers, most of whom are in the United States, but the company works with customers in 64 different countries. ProofreadingPal operates 24 hours a day, seven days as week, and has grown to become a profitable company with sales projected to top $800,000 this year.
Kaldenberg said ProofreadingPal is successful because it differs from other proofreading services in three ways: it provides fast turn-over, two proofreaders for every small project, and a focus on customer service.
“In the beginning, even if you break even or lose money on a customer, leave them satisfied,” Kaldenberg said. “It will definitely pay off in the long run.”