Tell us about yourself
BoxOfDocs is the first ever global document library built specifically to help organizations in any industry easily share non-proprietary information, with their peers. Unlike, Google Drive or Dropbox, which are platforms where you can save your work, BoxOfDocs is a curated library of industry specific content. We are bringing open source thinking to industries that have yet to embrace it.
Derrick Koenig is the Founder, and Cristina Gomez is Vice President of Technology
How many people does your team consists of?
Our team consists of 9 employees. 4 full-time, 6 part-time staff.
When did you start?
We started in August of 2017 and incorporated in October of 2017. The initial version of BoxOfDocs was launched in October of 2018.
What you did prior to this venture
Derrick: I am a Professional Engineer who spent 20 years working in industry, mostly in management and executive roles. In 2011, I founded an engineering services company named Ridgeline Engineering that grew to 40+ staff before being acquired by an international firm in 2014. I remained involved with that business until 2016. I took a run at on online grocery store business in 2016-2017 and in the end decided that it wasn’t for me. Then I turned my attention to BoxOfDocs in 2017 and haven’t looked back since.
Christina: My background is in Information Systems and business. Prior to BoxOfDocs, I worked for a large national railway, a national retail company and an Alberta Environmental Oil & Gas company. I’ve held various roles including heading Business Intelligence teams, Data Architecture teams and Reporting teams.
What problem does your business solve?
The selected pilot market for BoxOfDocs is North American municipalities. BoxOfDocs allows municipalities to quickly and easily see best practices from other municipalities, saving an average municipality $20,000 per year in research effort. For North American municipalities, this equates to a $800,000,000 savings opportunity.
How do you solve this problem?
We provide our customers with an ‘easy to search’ comprehensive library of work done by other municipalities. Most importantly, we use technology to keep the library current at all times.
We maintain an online curated industry-specific document library with an industry-specific search/filter engine that allows users to quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for in minutes, rather than days.
When did you notice a gap in the market?
The inspiration for BoxOfDocs comes from my 20+ years working as an engineer in the private sector, seeing how many times professionals are forced to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and solve problems that have already been solved previously by others. I always saw this as a very wasteful practice that stifles innovation. I suspected that there may be similar issues in the public sector and anticipated a stronger appetite for sharing than in the private sector. We embarked upon customer discovery with local governments / municipalities and discovered that there is indeed a problem in need of a solution.
Customer discovery kicked off in February of 2018. An MVP was established in April of 2018 (which produced our first paying customers) followed by the first version of our product in October of 2018.
What is your company culture?
We place great emphasis on respect. It is crucial that everyone feels appreciated and know they play an integral part in reaching our goal. We encourage new ideas, questions and even mistakes. In our view if we are not making mistakes we are not growing.
Derrick learned in his last business that culture is the most important aspect of running a business and that culture is established based on values. Our documented values are:
What draws people to you?
2 key things: Firstly, customers are drawn to us because we are solving a big problem that others have attempted to solve in the past, but have failed. They believe that we can solve it because our approach is different. For instance, we are using technology (machine learning). We have the potential to truly disrupt the industry in a positive way through leading edge technology and our team spirit.
Secondly, staff are drawn to us because of our company culture and the unique problem that we are solving. When a team member hits a milestone or solves a problem, no matter how small, we all celebrate.
Three words to describe the company with?
Focused. Innovative. Tenacious. A fourth would be collaborative.
Why did you choose The Accelerator?
We chose The Accelerator as it seemed to focus on getting companies ready for raising money from [those] other than friends & family. This is where we are at.
We were encouraged by friends in the Calgary startup ecosystem to have a look at The Accelerator. They knew that we were getting ready for a seed round and thought that it may be a good fit.
What has your experience with the The Accelerator been like?
There are great connections established with other startups in Calgary and we love that we are learning how to pitch. Unexpected perks have been the bourbon and the Valhalla BaseCamp with Randy Thompson, as well as the access to investors and advisors. The program has connected us with Valhalla Angels; a great team of entrepreneurs and advisors we hope to connect with more. The program helped us get ready to pitch to investors. Also, it has helped us when pitching to customers.
What has been your biggest lesson you learned while in the program?
D: I sucked at pitching our amazing company and the opportunity we provide for investors.
What has been a major accomplishment for you this year?
We have recently been awarded a channel partnership with CAMA (Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators) – the leading network of professionals employed in senior management positions in Canadian municipalities. This partnership was just announced at the association’s annual general meeting and conference in Quebec City in May of 2019.
Our revenue is currently modest at $650/month (up 50% last month) but expected to grow significantly as we bring on channel partners such as CAMA in 2019.
We are also very excited about some recent team additions, especially those with ties to the municipal market. We were recently selected as one of nine companies in Alberta to be showcased by AccelerateAB this year at their conference. Last fall, we were selected as 1 of 13 companies that were showcased at the StartUp Calgary launch party. We are known for gaining market traction fast and are seen as being positioned for strong growth in 2019.
What is next for you?
Goals and milestones to reach are 50 paying customers by September of 2019. Along with $600,000 seed round completed by August 1st, and a positive cashflow position by the end of 2020. The next project is the implementation of Machine Learning in order to accelerate the addition of content on our platform; all to meet the expectations of customers now being driven to us from our new channel partners. New segment introduction of BoxOfDocs are school districts, medical practices, and perhaps even engineering firms; anywhere a competitive advantage is not given up when information is shared.