Q&A with Canvas CEO James Quigley about mobile apps for the enterprise and the company’s Series B funding round
Canvas is a platform that allows businesses to build and find cross-platform mobile data collection applications. The Reston, Virginia–based company was founded in 2008 and recently raised $1.2 million in Series B funding.
SUB: Please briefly describe what Canvas is, and the value proposition you bring to the mobile apps market.
Quigley: Canvas makes it extremely easy to find, customize, build from scratch and publish data collection apps for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices like bar code scanning equipment. Canvas replaces paper forms and surveys, improving paper consumption, eliminating redundant data entry and reducing excess processes for businesses and mobile professionals. The Canvas software service enables mobile workers to collect information using their mobile devices, analyze that data on the Canvas website, or share information across their business community. We offer two solution components: the ability to use our online app builder, easy to use with no software experience needed to get started. Once built your Canvas app will work as an app on nearly every smartphone and tablet in the market today. We layer onto this the first mobile app store of its kind with a fast growing catalog of apps populated by some of the leaders in the paper form space. In many cases these apps are improved replacements for part numbered currently sold paper forms.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Quigley: Our biggest competitor is paper forms—90 percent of our customers today are looking at doing things the way they were before or moving forward and turning their smartphones or tablets into powerful application tools.
SUB: What differentiates Canvas from your competitors (or from those offering similar services)?
Quigley: Canvas is a powerful offering that supports with one application framework nearly every smartphone and tablet in the market. This includes Android, Android Tablet, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile devices and even Windows XP+ devices. On top of that we have partnerships that are providing valuable content to our application store—the Canvas App Store is the first application store where you can download an application, have it work on nearly every device your company could own, and modify them to best meet your needs.
SUB: How are you marketing the service?
Quigley: SEO, and through our expanding partnerships including some of the well-known device manufacturers, wireless carriers and content providers like paper forms companies.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind Canvas? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea longer in developing?
Quigley: Our team has been in the mobile application space since the early days of the PALM platform, we were involved as one of the first BlackBerry resellers—we have been selling mobile and wireless solutions to businesses for a long time. Companies were looking for a solution that would give them the power and flexibility of a mobile application without the cost, complexity or time to implement. Canvas was a long time in the making—it took the right solution but it also took the general industry to recognize the word “app” and for the rapid proliferation of mobile and wireless “smart” devices to make Canvas more viral.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Quigley: We were founded in late 2008, literally weeks before the market crashed. We boot strapped the company for some time and with the support of our earliest investors who believed in our vision, mission and team in early 2009 we started to fund the company for growth.
SUB: You recently raised $1.2 million in outside funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
Quigley: The funds are going to be used to start to create a brand for Canvas and make our solution the app for businesses who are looking to start their entrance into the mobile app space.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise a Series B round of funding?
Quigley: Our product was proven, we were growing quickly and it was time to further enhance our ability to grow our capability to expand Canvas throughout the market.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
Quigley: We raised $1.2 million of our $1.75M round, so we will be finalizing this round over the next few months.
SUB: What have the biggest obstacles been so far to building Canvas?
Quigley: Early on, when we first started Canvas, it wasn’t as easy a time to raise money. We had to sell the vision without a product all during one of the worst financing points in my career. We were able to sell that vision with some investors who have stood by us from those early days and continue to participate in our growth.
SUB: Where do you see Canvas in about a year from now?
Quigley: Canvas has seen rapid growth in the market to date, growing at a rate of 100-to-300 percent quarter-over-quarter in all of our key metrics. We continue to see this growth rate as being possible.
Canvas – www.gocanvas.com