Notes On A Startup: WebNotes Goes Pro

5/29/09

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highlight text and affix simulated sticky notes to Web pages. A paid version of the service, WebNotes Pro, costs $9.99 per month and adds the ability to upload and annotate PDF documents. Each user gets a page on the WebNotes website collecting all of their notes from websites and PDF documents, which can then be viewed on the Web page or compiled in a report (click on the two images below for larger screenshots).

Viewing WebNotes notes on a central Web pageLai says he hopes WebNotes will occupy “the sweet spot” between existing Web annotation services like Diigo, which is geared towards social networking, and existing research tools like ThomsonReuter’s Endnote, which is handy for creating bibliographies and managing citations, but doesn’t offer any services beyond that. Though the ability to annotate PDF documents is already built into PDF viewer software such as Adobe Acrobat, WebNotes adds the ability to collect PDF annotations along with a user’s Web page notes. The aim is to capture professionals, whether in academia or the business world, by offering one central place to store and organize their research.

Viewing WebNotes notes in a reportThe service has attracted clients from all over the country. The City University of Seattle, a public school system in eastern Minnesota, and Tribune Interactive, an online advertising service, have all signed up for group accounts with WebNotes. The schools are using WebNotes both for administrative purposes such as grant writing and offering access to their students for their research projects.

Most of the startup’s marketing so far has been word of mouth. Over the next few months, Damico and his team will work out of their office (which is actually a converted Kendall Square apartment and the company’s largest expense) to process the influx of new users and figure out what the next addition to the WebNotes platform will be. A citation manager? Perhaps.

The WebNotes team has a clear vision for their service. “We really want to be the number one research tool,” says Damico. The company isn’t aiming at information sharing between users so much as information organization for individuals, he says.

As for the threat posed by similar services, “our biggest competitor,” says King, “is still just copy-paste.”

Roxanne is an intern in Xconomy's Boston office. You can reach her at rpalmer@xconomy.com. Follow @

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