SavvyDox building momentum in cloud-based collaboration market

For a young company looking to sell to government and large enterprises, building credibility can be one of the biggest challenges.

But it’s an area where Ottawa-based SavvyDox seems to be seeing some success.

“Being a startup, one of the problems you always have is getting recognition for what you have,” says CEO Hans Downer. “The common response is, ‘Oh, you’re a startup, your stuff can’t be really that good.”

His company, which makes a cloud-based document collaboration platform, was recently recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Document Management Solution Providers by California-based CIOReview magazine, a publication targeted at the very people Mr. Downer needs to reach.

“When you get recognized by a publication like CIOReview magazine, that kind of gives you the green tick mark, for lack of a better term, to proceed with a lot of these customers who are fairly large and would tend to be a little reluctant to deal with a startup,” he says. “This is kind of the validation by a third party that the product is valid.”

It’s not the first time that SavvyDox has received some third-party recognition – in 2014, the company was named one of OBJ’s Startups to Watch.

SavvyDox’s software allows multiple people in different locations to collaborate on the same document. It’s a replacement for track changes in Microsoft Word, and it goes a little further when it comes to things like security than Google Docs.

That’s why selling to large organizations is so critical for SavvyDox – smaller companies don’t necessarily need the company’s full feature set.

“In larger companies, it’s critical that you have security around the document – it’s critical that you ensure that the documentation that’s going out is correct and you want to ensure that you’ve got the full collaborative input from all your subject matter experts,” Mr. Downer says. “Our view, from a differentiation perspective, is the author has to see all of the changes that are being suggested and then the author determines which one is correct.”

He compares it to a face-to-face meeting – the person doing the presentation maintains control of it but everyone gets to provide their input.

The company’s software also allows users to control who can read a document and can prevent users from downloading a document onto their own computers – an important security feature in a place like Ottawa where leaks can be a big fear. It also allows comment authors to see who’s read which parts of a document.

SavvyDox isn’t just getting credibility from third parties – it’s also getting it from its customers. The company has been working with the federal government’s Office of the Auditor General for the past year and is also working with Shared Services Canada.

“Government has popped up as our lead customer,” Mr. Downer says.

It’s also established two resellers in the United States to target the federal government there.

SavvyDox narrowed in on government as its main client after it was accepted into the Building Canada Innovation Program, a federal program that allows Canadian startups to compete to sell new products to government departments.

“It’s a really, really good program for startups,” Mr. Downer says.

While he does see other market, SavvyDox is still a small company and he says it’s important to stay focused.