Two childhood friends from India are making real progress with putting the best features of Office and Google in the clouds.
In early 2005 Bhatia met with Raghavendra and Cavale to see what they were working on, including an instant messaging platform. “I knew that [they] were technically savvy to have figured out a lot of the issues in terms of real-time communication,” Bhatia recalls.
The relationship blossomed. The two friends and their mentor devised an ambitious plan of creating a full-fledged Office suite hosted in the cloud–taking all the best features of Microsoft,
and the upstart challenger Zoho. Instacoll, the threesome’s ambitious venture, is now ready with Live Documents, which they call the “future of Office.”
Their marketing plan? “We don’t want to go directly against Microsoft. We want to offer Office in different formats. Office-as-a-service is one model where people can subscribe for free on the web. People who want to go beyond a certain usage point or unlock advanced features would then advance to a paid version,” says Raghavendra. This is the segment they’re going to launch in the next few weeks. They already have 70,000 beta users.
Instacoll also plans to offer the software as an appliance. “Right now when workers create documents, they leave them on the desktops. Corporations have very little control over their document management,” explains Raghavendra. “We are offering a server that you can install in-house that allows all documents to be stored centrally. You can integrate them with other applications such as workflow management applications. We are partnering with [companies] like
IBM and Sun for this.”
In addition, Instacoll intends to sell its product through Internet service providers as a value-added service to their customers. “Every time a customer signs up for a broadband connection they could get an Office suite from us,” says Raghavendra.