OfficeDrop Sees Nuance Partnership Pay Off, Looks for More Deals in Digital Filing, Sharing

8/9/11Follow @gthuang

A local tech startup that has been toiling away for four years saw its first partnership with a big company come to fruition last week—and it could be a sign of bigger things to come.

Back in February, Cambridge, MA-based OfficeDrop, a digital filing software company, inked a deal with Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN), the speech and imaging tech firm in Burlington, MA. OfficeDrop provided the software and expertise for Nuance’s new cloud-based scanning and document-managing service, called PaperPort Anywhere, which rolled out last week.

It’s a big deal for OfficeDrop, which stands to get about $1 million in revenue from Nuance in the first year of the partnership, says Prasad Thammineni, the co-founder and CEO of OfficeDrop. Nuance’s scale could help the startup reach millions of new users—so it’s a distribution model that Thammineni is looking to replicate with other big companies in the next year or so.

OfficeDrop lets people (primarily in small businesses) organize, index, and share their digital data, and look at their documents instead of a list of files, for example. “We take visual elements of paper and replicate it,” Thammineni says. “And we bring search to the table.”

The startup sits somewhere in the middle of a swirling ecosystem of companies, many with Boston roots, offering cloud-based services like data storage (EMC), online backup (Carbonite, Backupify), paper digitizing and document management (Iron Mountain), personal file management and search (Evernote), and file hosting and sharing (Microsoft SharePoint, Box.net, and Dropbox, the astronomically-valued startup du jour).

OfficeDrop (formerly called Pixily) started in 2007 as a service to help people scan in and digitally organize their paper documents. It has evolved to include collaborative features and mobile apps, so people can scan documents and access their files from their iPhone, iPad, or Android device. The company has 20 employees, split about equally between the Boston area and Brazil, where most of its software developers are.

Interestingly, although the three founders are Indian, OfficeDrop has no employees in India. Thammineni says that’s because most software developers in India have a big-company mentality that doesn’t mesh well with a startup. Brazil, on the other hand, has a lot of “out of the box” talent that fits with the OfficeDrop culture. “They challenge you at every turn,” he says.

Thammineni’s company, his fifth so far, was self-funded in its early days. It raised a small financing round in 2009, followed by a $1 million angel round this spring—and it will be looking to raise more money this fall, he says. But for now, OfficeDrop’s main focus is on “making the product better and better,” Thammineni says. And on squaring away its next big-company deal.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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