Professionals can attest that perhaps the most frustrating experience of their day can be sitting in the back of a cab scrambling to find a presentation right before a client meeting and not being able to locate where it might be. Ottawa-based Openera believes finding a document should evolve just as much as the many options there are to store them. The company provides a one-stop point of access for documents in the cloud and a user’s inbox, and recently redesigned its website and relaunched its iPhone app. It is also part of the latest class for startup accelerator FounderFuel, and will be presenting at demo day next week.
Openera founder and CEO Peter Lalonde resolved to launch Openera after his own frustrations at the complexity around filing, organizing and locating the right document at the right time. “We live in a world today where files are absolutely everywhere, we have files in our inbox, we have files on our phones, we have files in the cloud, we have them in our corporate system where they’re supposed to be, but the reality we still have a tough time finding anything when we need it,” Lalonde said in an interview
Although the app gives anyone the ability to find things quickly, the company’s main target group are document-heavy professionals like lawyers, consultants, investors, and salespeople. The platform tackles both a user’s need to find documents instantly through offering a ‘two taps to your document’ solution, and an enterprise’s need to have documents filed and put away in the right place for compliance policies, auditing, and security reasons.
Users link their email and any one of their cloud storage accounts, including Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and Evernote, and automatically sorts and stores files. The backend technology identifies any metadata it needs from a file, to then allow the platform to index, categorize, and tag documents and put them in buckets for easy access.
Users can then go in and correct and add their own ‘if this, then that’ like rules to their documents and customize the experience to their preference, for example saying ‘if I save a file in Dropbox, it will be added to this Openera bucket.’ The initial version will create categories that include documents, spreadsheets, invoices, proposals, contracts, and presentations, with the company looking to add more sophisticated content analysis and natural language processing technology that will not only enable both smarter and faster sorting, but also prompt users with recommendations for where a document should go.
“The other thing we’ve recognized is that any profession that we’ve really talked to and seems to be a target market for us, they all have about five to 10 categories of documents they care about and that’s it,” Lalonde added. “So salespeople care about presentations, nondisclosure agreements, marketing, and so on.”
The SaaS startup will provide its services for free to individual users and sees a large opportunity in the enterprise solutions arena where it would be able to go beyond integrating with cloud storage solutions, and instead offer the ability to integrate with a company’s Salesforce or SharePoint account. Lalonde believes this will not only allow enterprises to address their compliance concerns but provide them with a single gateway to manage where documents are stored and accessed. Currently the company offers a pro account for a $50 annual fee, with enterprise accounts coming soon.
Although other companies like Attachments.me are tackling the document overload problem, in that company case making email attachments searchable in the cloud, there are also other services like KiteDesk which recently launched its cloud aggregation tool to link all of a users existing social networks and cloud storage services to tackle the issue of both information and document overload. Lalonde, however, points out that Openera’s core value proposition is that it doesn’t ask a user to change their behavior, but instead provides a seamless and ‘invisible’ layer to their documents, where all the sorting and categorizing happens behinds the scenes.
Along with this week’s iPhone app launch, the company is also in the works of developing an Android app, and building in more sophisticated means of sorting through and processing all the files users may have, as well as providing file analytics. If the user experience continues to evolve as Lalonde expects, its target group of professionals could be ready adopters of the technology, if it can prove to enterprises that Openera’s solution can mitigate their current document headaches better than existing cloud storage solutions.