Doxo, Backed by Bezos and Mohr Davidow, Comes Out of Stealth, Wants to Help Businesses Go Paperless
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Paytrust and Earth Class Mail “haven’t been anywhere near having a model that could be ubiquitious. Paper is a least common denominator…To get mass-market adoption, we need a new least common denominator,” Shivers says. One example of a big success in online payments would be CheckFree, which lets people pay their bills through their bank account, he says. (PayPal also comes to mind.)
So, to get widespread adoption of its technology, doxo will need to get buy-in from businesses first. The way it works is companies will pay doxo a small fee per online transaction. That kind of communication, done online, is an important customer interaction that becomes real-time instead of being a piece of paper that goes through the mail for a few days each way and might sit on someone’s desk for a week. Unlike lead-generation or advertising business models, Shivers says, “We’re taking a business relationship and cutting costs out of it and improving it.”
Some observers might erroneously think that doxo is just about solving the problems of paperless billing. That’s a piece of it—and the founding team’s expertise in mobile commerce as part of Qpass certainly helps—but I get the sense that the company’s bigger opportunity is to own all paperless transactions. Shivers says the company’s full product release is “a few quarters out,” but he didn’t want to be more specific just yet.
For now, doxo has fewer than 20 employees, mostly on the product development and technology side. I asked Shivers about the company culture, and what he learned specifically from his time at Qpass. “We’re very candid, pragmatic, and somewhat debate oriented,” he says. “We have a very, very low BS quotient. These things get harder and harder as you grow. At Qpass, it was exciting and fun to be part of a renaissance that turned into a great outcome. Once you’ve been through that, you say, ‘Let’s do something that’s worthwhile and not niche-y. Something that applies to almost every household. Let’s do something that’s a swing for the fence.’”
He continued with some lessons learned from Qpass. “We were really good at Qpass at building a great team,” Shivers says. “When we got bad apples that didn’t have the skills, or were really talented but just didn’t fit, we constantly pruned the tree. We were transparent, respectful, and [everyone] knew where they stood, and where the company stood. So the people who leave are not out there feeling angry about it.” One important relationship the doxo team has retained: former Qpass president Sterling Wilson, now CEO and co-founder of Seattle-based Ground Truth, is an advisor to the company.
As for its venture investors, Shivers says he wanted a Silicon Valley firm and a Seattle firm. He particularly likes the fact that one very important investor, Jeff Bezos, is just a short drive away. “Being based here, and being part of the startup community here, having a key Seattle investor is ideal for us,” Shivers says.
Even more important, it seems, is the scale of the business problem the team is tackling. “What’s nice about doxo is every single person in the United States, 18 years and older, has this problem” of transactions by mail, Shivers says. “It’s a must-do. There are things you can do to make it easier. Enterprises and people get the magnitude of it.”