Yesterday, Seattle-based Adapx (www.adapx.com) announced it had raised a strategic funding round from In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm, for the firm's pen input software and products. To get a better idea on what the company's products do, and to learn more about why In-Q-Tel invested in the firm, we spoke with Ken Schneider, the firm's CEO and President, yesterday.
Tell us a little bit about Adapx and what you are doing, as well as how the In-Q-Tel investment came about?
Ken Schneider: Adapx is a venture backed company. OVP in Seattle, and Paladin Capital in Washington, DC is another top tier venture capital firm in our syndicate. Adapx is focused on software solutions, around field data collection, and enabling digital pen and paper in areas such as field data collection for the GIS and geospatial markets, mapping, and the CAD market--such as for construction and surveying. Those are large addressable markets, and all have field users who use pen and paper to collect data. We also do quite a bit of work in the federal sector. In-Q-Tel is an organization that identifies technology, which is really innovative, and supports the mission of things like the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader intelligence world. The reason Adapx is meaningful, is we can dramatically improve the way that organizations, and intelligence agencies can streamline data in the field with pen and paper.
You mention OVP and Paladin Capital -- when did that investment happen?
Ken Schneider: Our Series A, which was worth $10M, was in December of 2007. OVP is a top tier venture capital firm in Seattle, focused on enterprise software, and Paladin Capital is a similar size, focused on technology relevant to defense, homeland security, and intelligence. This particular investment by In-Q-Tel is more of a strategic investment. It's structured as a work program, and focused on actually purchasing product for use in the intelligence community. We're excited about working with them. In-Q-Tel was excited because we're the only field data management solution that works naturally using pen and paper, to collect data and make it digital.
How did you end up developing this product?
Ken Schneider: Adapx was originally a research and development company, working on R&D projects for organizations like DARPA. We've been bootstrapped in the last seven years. We've really been focusing on technology that enables people to work naturally. Our focus is on natural user interfaces, enabling people to interact with data and information, using tools they use every day--like pen and paper. We're really focused on markets that have a large, addressable market of field users. That includes GIS/geospatial and mapping, where they have many customers in large enterprises who go out into the field, print maps, and write on those maps in the field. Our technology enables those maps to essentially become digital. You write on the map, collect the information in your pen, dock that pen, and it updates the mapping system. Similarly, we have products for Autodesk and AutoCAD, in the CAD market--where engineers, architects, surveyors, and consulting engineers use CAD drawings and mark documents in the field. Our technology enables those to become digital. Their markups and redlines are captured in the pen, they dock the pen, and it updates the CAD system automatically. That's the essence of our platform. We're focused on making any digital pen and paper process effective, where you can close the gap between collecting data, and the information brought back into the system, for quick decision making.
How long has the product/technology been available?
Ken Schneider: We were funded in December, and started shipping products in January of this year. We shipped our first product, Capture for Microsoft Office OneNote, which is integrated with the Office product line. That's a digital journal for collecting data in the field. As you are writing all that information, it's collected in the pen, you dock th epen, and it updates Microsoft Office OneNote. We've shipped products for ArcGIS, for the GIS and geospatial market, and captures for AutoCAD, for the architecture engineering and architectural design and surveying market. That allows you to annotate CAD drawings.
Our past experience is that digital pen technology has been somewhat clunky in the past, requiring clunky hardware or special paper. How are you different?
Ken Schneider: Ours is significantly better. We're not asking people to reinvent the way they work. The products out there you may have seen in the past are cluncky digital pen platforms. They require people to have to learn a new navigation metaphor, new commands, or use special paper. Our software and digital pen product is directly integrated into applications you already know how to use. Such as Microsoft Office. If you're in the GIS/geospatial market, you already know how to use ArcGIS. If you're an architect or surveyor, you know CAD systems. You know how to create a document and print it, which is normally what you do. Our capture software just enables it and makes it a digital document. You still follow your usual workflow. You use use the digital pen after you print your document out of a GIS or CAD system, or write in a notebook, which is what you normally do. You write in it, collect data, mark it up. That's all collected in th pen, which updates the host system. That's a very, very different approach than anyone else in this market has taken. That approach is to extend the widely used applications--Office, GIS, and CAD systems into the digital pen and paper world.