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startups, venture technology, consulting, javaThe 9th participant is Plutext.

Plutext enables collaborative editing around docx documents, where docx is the default file format in Word 2007. In simple terms, it's a word processor like Openoffice Writer and Google Docs.
Based out of Melbourne, it was created by Jason Harrop in 2007 and this is the second venture he has started, previously he was involved with SpeedLegal (now Exari).

Let us explore a bit further about Plutext from Jason, on various facets of his startup:

Q. How long it took before it was up and running?
A. A couple of months to build a proof of concept, whilst also doing
other things, before giving it 100% focus in September 2007.

Q. What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
A. Beta mode.

Q. What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
A. Enable people to work on a Word document at the same time. Provide an environment for doing this irrespective of whether you have Word 2007.

Q. What is unique about your venture?
A. People can collaborate from within Microsoft Office (ie retain their familiar working environment), and use all the formatting of a docx document.

Q. What market segment verticals you are targeting?
A. General corporate/government/academia.

Q. What type of customers you are targeting?
A. People who need to collaborate together to complete a document, often with a deadline approaching. People who get frustrated when they need to work on a document, but find it is locked by someone else. Existing users of Alfresco - plaintext-server is delivered as an Alfresco module.
Potentially, 3rd party document management system vendors who wish to
incorporate our technology.

Q. What age group of people will benefit most?
A. 25 to 60

Q. How many users are using your services?
A. Not many yet. Ultimately we expect people to use our yet-to-be-made-public SAAS offering

Q. What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
A. Blogs, mailing lists, the power of open source. At present, we are mainly looking for developer momentum. End-user awareness will hopefully follow in due course via the well-known technology blogs.

Q. How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
A. Measuring success currently using Google Analytics and community engagement. Later, we will also include financial measures.

Q. What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
A. Avoid dependence on enterprise software sales! Instead.
  • 1. SAAS - Subscription model for end users
  • 2. Services/support for companies using our Alfresco module
  • 3. Potentially, licensing our software to third-party document management system vendors.
Q. Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
A. Just Microsoft and Google :)
Google Docs; presumably Microsoft will offer something sooner or later.

Q. What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
A. Java, Java Content Repository (JCR), Alfresco, Swing, SOAP, WebDAV

Q. What has been the most easy to use, out of the box and most helpful technology?
A. Eclipse, JCR, VMware, Ubuntu.

Q Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
A. Yes, exclusively, except for our Word 2007 add-in, which is itself open source, but relies on Microsoft technologies for development and run-time.

Q. What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
A. Anything that runs Java. We're using JCR (and Hibernate in Alfresco) to isolate from the underlying database (but it's MySQL).

Q. How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
A. Mainly at conferences - say 5 times per year.

Q. How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
A. Obviously it depends on what you are building (development costs, time to revenue, marketing costs, and infrastructure costs). But typically you'll need $30K to $100K to quit your day job and get started. Then you'll need more when you start to scale.

Q. What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia.?
A. Distance from California. Limited local technical resources and investors.

Q. What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
A. Obviously I think Microsoft Office is going to remain the dominant product on corporate desktops for at least the next 4 years.

Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
A. Understand yourself and what is important to you. Why do you get up in the morning? What are you willing to sacrifice? How long are you prepared to work at it?

Thanks, Jason for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you on the progress of Plutext. All the best for Plutext and the competition in this carnival.


Anonymous said…
Very impressive!

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