Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal
Reston-based GoCanvas Solutions Inc., a Motorola-funded startup that replaces paper business forms with mobile apps, is opening up a $4 million fundraising effort as it ventures into the new frontier of personal data.
Since winning its initial $1.2 million investment in July led by the venture arm of Motorola Solutions Inc., GoCanvas has quietly expanded its stockpile of data collection apps and the breadth of customers using them. Founder and CEO James Quigley, a former naval engineer and VeriSign Inc. executive, is preparing to jump on the D.C. venture circuit to fund the company’s next moves.
Amid a sea of app-builders in the D.C. tech scene, few can claim to have built their own application store. That’s Canvas’ core offering: more than 2,500 digitized documents that replace their dead tree equivalents. Those forms span from truck inspections to landscaping work orders to HVAC services to dairy inventory, all of which can be filled out and recorded via mobile device by a worker in the field. The company charges either per submission, or a flat per-user subscription fee.
As an extension of that service, GoCanvas is now testing out “MyCanvas,” which would allow homeowners and businesses to keep a centralized log of those tasks they pay for. For example, a contractor who fixes a broken air conditioning unit might normally record the transaction on carbonless copy paper and hand the customer a copy to be stored away. The contractor could log that information into a smartphone app and then, using the new MyCanvas app, send that information into the cloud, giving the homeowner a running record of the work done on the AC unit. The same concept could apply to transactions in the educational and medical fields, Quigley said. “We think that the next big wave that’s going to come in technology, at least one of them, is around the idea of people owning their own data,” he said. If that mantra sounds familiar, Quigley was quick to acknowledge another local company operating in the same space: Personal Inc. Personal, based in Georgetown, built a cloud-based platform allowing its users to store nuggets of personal information and share them with whomever they choose. Both companies face the same hurdle: generating a critical mass of users large enough to make the service self-sustaining. For GoCanvas, the company is depending on the businesses using its paperless forms to act as a sort of de facto sales force for the new offering. “We truly believe that if we can change the nature of how businesses connect with their customers, and do it in a digital fashion, those relationships change dramatically,” Quigley said.
The upcoming venture raise would support not only the launch of MyCanvas, but also promoting awareness of the company and expanding the number of data collection forms in its arsenal. The cash would also help GoCanvas land big new customers and partnerships, including with wireless carriers. The company has already found some traction in that world. GoCanvas, for example, is included alongside such brand names as LinkedIn, Square and Evernote in a bundle of business apps available for T-Mobile’s 4G devices. More such pacts are in the works.