Quandora: The Quora for enterprise

Jul 13, 2012
Vote on Hacker News

Quandora  co-founder  Andreea Barroca, who lived in Bucharest, Paris, San Francisco, and now divides her time between New York and Paris, gives us a fresh perspective on Enterprise Content Management (ECM), an underestimated part of the IT industry.

Enterprise Content Management, briefly, is the management of the thousands and millions of documents that float around large organizations. They have to be tracked, stored, versioned, and distributed, secured, and this, as with many things, is a bigger challenge than we think about. Add to that government compliance rules, such as Sarbanes-Oxley , which affects not only US companies but all multinationals that do business in the US, and you get an idea for the scope of this industry.

A side branch of ECM is knowledge management. How do employees know what they need to know? Sure, they got an employee manual when they were first hired, and somewhere in the HR department there’s something updating that manual once in a while, but is that enough? There’s tons of informal knowledge sharing (asking a colleague how to do something), and a lot of formal training and mentorship that is part of the normal dynamics of teams, but how much knowledge gets lost when some people walk out of the building?

Andreea, having spent 10+ years in the ECM industry, first as a developer, and working her way to business side of things, decided it was time to start capturing and distributing all this knowledge in a more structured way. The old solutions, writing tons of documentation, had already failed, and there was a huge gap not being addressed. In addition, in the B2C space some very nice solutions evolved recently: every developer saves valuable time every day by searching StackOverflow.com religiously, and Quora is a recent mainstream Q&A solution that solves the same problem. Why not apply this methodology to the enterprise? And that’s exactly what she did!

Being an experienced manager in the ECM industry, she started rigorously researching the subject, and talking to potential clients. She found that, in addition to there being a lot of demand for this, it would also have to be a modern, cloud based solution, with a slick web interface, and have social features like follow, subscribe, and be transparent. This puts the solution squarely in the “Enterprise 2.0” category. She met up with co-founder Bogdan, and started building and iterating, and soon entered into a closed beta program with a few selected companies she pre-selected as their first clients. And then they asked for feedback – tons of it! And integrated it quickly into their product, and asked for more feedback.

The feature roadmap includes logging in with Google Apps (a common cloud based solution found a lot in the modern enterprise), answering questions by mail, LDAP and Active Directory integration.

Another thing they are tackling is how you start a community – always a difficult issue. They chose to mine the datasources they could find – mailing lists and SalesForce data.

Currently funded with a modest amount of love money, and going for Oseo money at the same time, they are comfortably fine-tuning their product, adding features, and establishing some critical metrics, such as Customer Acquisition Cost, Client Conversion Rate, and other metrics that will sound familiar to anyone who ever tried to get funded by a VC.

In terms of pricing, they will be a classic subscription based SaaS, with a price of around $3 per user per month.

Their client market is squarely in North-America – one language, one set of regulations (sort of). Then why the office in Paris in addition to the New York office? To this, they have a clear answer: French developers are much cheaper and more reliable than New York developers. In New York, you easily pay $140,000 per year in salary, and here a similar developer will ask for €40 – 50k. In addition, in New York, the developers are high-frequency job hoppers, whereas in France, developers tend to stay put if they’re happy with their job.

Conclusion: Quandora is doing everything right! By not taking Angel money, they save valuable equity, as Angels tend to take a big bite early in the game. They are iterating and listening to their clients, and the team is also rock solid. The market, albeit unsexy, is very large, and is likely to increase in size in the next years.