When the Magic Came: How Xpenser’s Web App Turned into Startup Gold
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he had created to his friend Paul Kedrosky, a venture investor and senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation (and a San Diego Xconomist), Darugar says Kedrosky’s enthusiastic reaction made him realize that he had created something that was startup-worthy.
Darugar decided to make it a business in 2009. Darugar says he made it possible for users to send information about their personal expenses by instant messaging, e-mail, Twitter, browser search box, voice, iPhone, Android, and WebOS. In 2010, he began adding policy conditions to the system, so, for example, a business expense for more than $5,000 can be automatically routed to a supervisor for approval.
“The early part in the life of a startup is finding a problem that people really want to take care of, and we really have that,” says Darugar, who previously worked at two startups. He was the chief architect at San Francisco-based Blue Titan Software and the founder and chief architect of San Diego’s VelociGen.
The real magic came, though, when Darugar made it possible for Xpenser customers to use their camera phone to take a picture of a receipt and send the image to their own Xpenser home page—where the system extracts the relevant data and enters it into the user’s online spreadsheet.
Darugar, who specialized in machine learning while getting his undergraduate and master’s degrees in computer science at UC San Diego, says the challenge was in coding the system to interpret and categorize messages in any format. The goal is to … Next Page »