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Document management is big business for the likes of IBM (s IBM) and Siemens (s SI), but those companies charge a pretty penny for heavyweight systems meant for large enterprises. Thing is, many normal people and smaller companies could use a way to organize their documents in a searchable way too.
Enter doo.net, a German company that has just thrown its cloud-based service into open beta — but only for Mac OS X (s AAPL) users and the handful of people running the yet-to-be-released Windows 8 (s MSFT) in Metro mode.
Doo offers quite an impressive combination of features. Apart from being free, it’s able to take in both digital documents and those that have been scanned or photographed from paper form (optical character recognition does the rest). The documents are then ‘self-organised’, with Doo filing it by type.
The documents are all searchable and collaboration-ready, too, with doo gearing up to offer Google Docs integration as well as native clients for iOS, Android (s GOOG) and “other platforms”. Those other platforms include the most widely-used of them all, Windows (or at least, the versions of Windows that are already out there).
Especially given doo’s potential popularity among the small-business crowd, it seems a strange decision to go for a Metro app first (the app has also only been submitted to the Windows 8 marketplace for now, unlike the OS X client which is available for download).
But, co-founder and CEO Frank Thelen argued, the new Windows interface is just that good:
“We will have a ‘Windows Classic’ version, as we call it, but we started with Metro because we love the new interface from Microsoft,” Thelen said. “We wanted the best possible user experience [at launch], but the Windows Classic version will follow soon.”
Has doo been working with Microsoft on the Metro version? Heck yes. “We’ve been working very closely with them – they help us a lot,” Thelen pointed out.
It’s not hard to see why: although doo is new, its management has quite some pedigree. Thelen and co-founder Marc Sieberger used to run ip.labs, a photo software company that they ended up selling to Fujifilm. They took the money and turned angel, with Thelen in particular playing a big role at productivity firm 6wunderkinder as both investor and co-creator of the company’s Wunderlist task manager.
Now it’s time for a different challenge.
“We wanted to solve a personal problem – I have documents that are analogue and documents that are digital. We wanted to put the two different pieces together and be able to say what is an invoice, what is a contract, and which people and companies are involved,” Theler explained. “Unfortunately there is still a lot of paper [being used] and we are bringing together the old and the new worlds.”
Usefully for doo, the company is able to achieve this with its own proprietary technology for OCR and keyword and date extraction. Using your own intellectual property is always a plus, and it’s certainly a reason behind the seven-figure investment by Target Partners that was also announced on Friday. That means doo now has a total of $10 million from investors that also include DuMont Venture, Xing and HackFWD founder Lars Hinrichs, management guru Hermann Simon and Thelen and Sieberger’s own e42 Ventures.
“With doo.net, there is now a single solution for organizing… important information,” Target partner Olaf Jacobi said in a statement. “It is this market positioning, backed up by proven technology and an experienced team, that inspired us to invest in the company.”
Doo has the chops and the cash, and perhaps the decision to avoid going ‘Windows Classic’ from day one is a smart hype-building tactic. Whether or not that’s the case, there’s a lot of demand for this sort of all-encompassing approach, so let’s hope the general desktop-toting public gets a chance to try the service out sooner rather than later.