Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Convofy: Can a Nifty Demo Become a Real Productivity Helper? Take Two.

You can get pretty far with a snazzy demo video–register hundreds of thousands of sign-ups and raise funding–but those do not make a business. That was the experience of Scrybe, which made a fancy browser-based calendar that worked offline, winning much interest after posting a preview video on YouTube in 2006.

Now it’s 2011, and the company is trying to repeat the trick with better results. Scrybe has spent the last few years creating a corporate collaboration platform called Convofy, as well as another preview video to show off its nifty features. There’s no offline component this time, but there is a business model.

Convofy is a bit like a social interface for Google Docs or an alternative to corporate social networks like Yammer that goes beyond status messages to help people collaborate on documents, research and to-do lists. It is primarily an Adobe Air app, but there is also a simplified mobile Web version.

For instance, a key Convofy feature allows users to mark up and make minor edits to text documents, spreadsheets, images and PDFs, with other team members also able to see and make edits in real time. Every comment or chat message is tied to its context, so it shows the piece of an image or snippet of text it refers to, and viewers can click to jump directly to that spot.

So, as an example, a design firm could post mock-ups of its latest project on Convofy, with co-workers marking areas they want changed, creating a comment archive of those notes over time. Or a research team could use Convofy to share Web links of interest, as Convofy includes a Web browser to help users mark up the pages they are talking about.

This probably sounds rather complicated, and it is. Convofy may well be a solution looking for a problem. But organizations that collaborate remotely may be willing to put in the time to learn to use the product and its many interface tweaks, such as online presence bubbles for each user that enlarge commensurate with their activity. If you’re interested only in seeing how Convofy actually works, skip to two minutes into the video, where the real demo starts.

Scrybe has subsisted for all these years with less than $2 million in funding (its investors are Adobe Ventures and LMKR), founder and CEO Faizan Buzdar said in an interview this weekend. The company employs 25 people in Denver, Pakistan and elsewhere. Convofy will cost $5 per user per month, and Scrybe expects to open the Convofy platform to developers soon. The company is working to build integrations with Web apps like Google Maps and Twitter to demonstrate its potential.


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google