The experience of filling out any type of government paperwork has traditionally been confusing, tedious, and lacking any semblance of user friendliness. SeamlessDocs identified this pain point early on and has introduced government to cloud-based services that has redefined form processing, storage, and collection for hundreds of government agencies. At its core, partners on the SeamlessDocs platform are able to take existing PDFs and word documents in their workflows and easily convert them into online forms that have added featured such as online payment collection. The company has also built an extensive backend dubbed ‘the Service Center’ that acts a centralized repository for the management of workflows and forms as well as a CRM solution that’s tailored specifically for the unique requirements of government. Working with various level of government, the results are impressive. The company has tracked a 62% reduction in errors, 80% savings in time through automation, and a 30% increase in revenue for its partners through use of the platform.
AlleyWatch sat down with cofounder Jonathon Ende to learn more about the company, its origin, future plans, latest funding round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
SJF Ventures led this round of funding along with Motorola Solutions, Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator, NY State Innovation Ventures, TCG Partners and some passionate other private investors. This was our second Series B funding round that totaled $7.5M. We have raised $18.5M to date.
Tell us about Seamless Docs.
Founded in 2011, SeamlessDocs was one of the first pioneers of a cloud-based government. All of our products are hosted on the cloud and sold as a SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription.
We have three core products: our Form Building Solutions, the Service Center, and the Government Relationship Manager (GRM®). The SeamlessDoc is the cornerstone of our Form Solution: it converts a static PDF or Word doc into a cloud-based form that can be customized with eSignatures, payments, attachments, and workflow. Our Form Solution also includes a 508 & ADA compliant Web Form Builder, with drag-and-drop capabilities that make it easy to integrate payments and eSignatures.
The Service Center is a centralized and permission based platform that showcases all forms and resources to citizens and staff. Governments use the Service Center to create custom portals and employee dashboards, with permission-based access points.
We built the GRM® at the request of our government partners, who felt they needed tools to build out workflows, track submissions, and automate business processes. The GRM® is the first-ever CRM built specifically for government: it manages the interaction between government and citizens with robust collaboration features such as chat (via email/SMS), tagging, a visitor portal, and workflow stages.
What inspired you to start SeamlessDocs?
I started SeamlessDocs in 2011 because I knew something had to be done about paperwork. At the time, I was working at an outsource paper processing company, where inefficient paper-based processes defined nearly every company operation. I knew forms and paper processing were broken so I set out to build a tool that could turn any PDF into a Turbo Tax-like experience. We actually initially started building a tool to help small businesses but once we did a demo for our first government customer I had the AHA moment where I knew we had found our perfect customer. We doubled down on government and even entered the Code for America Accelerator where I truly fell in love with government. Now I am inspired every day by the passionate government employees going over and above to push government forward.
How is SeamlessDocs different?
Our company is unique for two reasons: our product and our audience. Our product is not only built on a proprietary tool that can effortlessly transform any PDF into a smart, cloud based version in seconds, complete with eSignatures, payments, attachments and smart works; but also has features built with government for government that truly understand their needs.
We consider ourselves, not a Vendor, but a Partner. This partnership mentality actually spawned the first ever Government Relationship Manager (GRM®), a CRM that we built exclusively for governments. Back in the early stages of our company, one of our partners told us that form digitization was helpful, but they were still struggling with processing form submission data and collaborating across departments.
By listening not just to their product feedback, but their process feedback, we realized we needed to develop more than just a form solution; we needed to create a whole suite of workflow automation and collaboration tools. Because we work exclusively the public sector, we can develop unique products that solve government problems.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We target local and state governments. While we’re already working with hundreds of governments, the U.S. Census Bureau counts nearly 40,000 local governments. Additionally, while there are only 50 states, each state has dozens if not hundreds of agencies. In other words, our work is only beginning!
How have you successfully been to able to navigate and partner with hundreds of governments – organizations that are thought to be traditionally slow?
Governments have never been more ready to innovate. When we first starting selling our form solution to government, the concept of the “cloud” was foreign to most, and reliance on legacy processes was commonplace. Since then, government has come a long way. Now, governments not only understand and embrace the cloud but they have become more aware of best practices in the field. They are finally demanding results that their traditional legacy methods have failed to provide.
But the real opportunity for government transformation comes from the government officials that are working to revolutionize their field. We are so honored to be working with such dedicated public servants who are devoting every day of their lives to move government forward. Champions like Seth and Arie in Newark, Bob and Christina in Princeton, and the Shaunnes and Amelia in Charlotte, make it easy for us to come to work and know we’re making a difference.
What’s your business model?
Our business model is driven by acquiring government customers in different market segments that are differentiated by population size and type. The sales team is split up between SMG (Small Medium-size Government’s) and Enterprise (Large and State governments), in which subscription-pricing increases as the size of the government increases. Additionally, the model is based off of a base platform which gets our governments partners access to our online forms, and from there they can “add-on” additional solutions, software & services.
What was the funding process like?
This was one of the most intense yet rewarding funding rounds we’ve been through. It took much longer than past rounds and involved more stakeholders, but I am thrilled with how it turned out and could not have better investors that are truly partners in our future.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
In order for this round to close, there were more levels of approval that we needed to go through. In the past when the company was smaller and we had fewer investors, it was easier to negotiate the terms of the round. If one investor wanted to change a certain aspect of the agreement, there weren’t too many other stakeholders who had to approve the new terms. Now that our company is growing and we’re working with new investors, any change that an investor proposes needs to be approved by all of the investors from previous rounds. As I said, the process is challenging but at the end of the day, so gratifying.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Investors are inspired by our mission. They see tremendous opportunity to innovate in the public sector, and they are impressed by how rapidly governments are adopting our solutions. In addition, because we sell our products as an annual subscription, our annual recurring revenue increases every year as we sign on new customers and expand contracts with existing customers. When a company’s mission is compelling and the trajectory is promising, investors put their money where their mouth is.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the next six months, we will solidify our product and grow our team. Our top priority is to solidify our technological infrastructure and expand the functionality of our platform, while maintaining the highest levels of security and exceeding accessibility standards. Additionally, while we are already working with hundreds of local governments, we want to push into state markets. This ambitious growth plan means we are hiring across all departments: Solutions, Customer Success, Business Development, Marketing, and Engineering, to name a few! We are looking for talented, passionate individuals who are eager to transform the way government works. Over the next six months, we hope to build a team that empowers all levels of government to offer Seamless solutions to their staff and citizens.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Don’t stop trying. The most successful companies persevere because their mission is so powerful that they can survive even the most difficult of times. Stay mission-focused, and keep reminding yourself why you do what you do. The more you internalize the “why”, the easier it will be for you to convey your company’s value to prospective investors.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We started off working with small local governments, steadily grew to incorporate larger cities and counties, and are now partnering with state agencies. SeamlessDocs recently became available on the NASPO ValuePoint Contract, a cooperative contract that states rely on to procure software solutions. This is a true watershed moment for us, signaling our push into full state markets.
When we think of the future of government, there is no doubt that printers, checkbooks and a roll of stamps will eventually become obsolete. In 2018 and beyond, we will be interacting with government from our computers, tablets, and phones. We are excited to continue championing paperless processes on the state and local level, and eventually, we hope to automate paper-based processes on the federal level as well.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Soho Grand Hotel Bar