A couple years after generating buzz around a product aimed at automating the laborious proposal-writing process, Ottawa-based reDock has raised fresh capital to take a pared-down solution out to market.
The seven-person firm, with employees spread across Montreal, Toronto and its Ottawa base, announced earlier this week it has raised a $1-million financing round led by a group of angel investors called Anges Québec. Panache Ventures, ScaleUP Ventures and Hustle Fund also participated in the round.
The artificial intelligence startup, led by 2018 Forty Under 40 recipient Pierre-Olivier Charlebois, made a splash with its product that mined data to guide proposal writers through the often-painstaking RFP process. The time-saving pitch landed reDock a few big-name local customers in the early going, including Ottawa-based Welch LLP.
Though the firm found initial success locally, Charlebois says the company hit roadblocks in taking the product to international customers. The comprehensive solution took more time and resources to sell than the fledgling startup had on-hand.
“The work required to get customers onboarded was very high. It required too much work to actually scale,” he says.
Charlebois says the company had to take a hard look at its market fit and path to scale. He says the company and its board realized that the end-to-end solution wasn’t going to immediately catch on in the market. Instead, reDock opted to simplify its solution to a minimum viable product that was easy to use without any training or complex explanation.
“We trimmed down, I would say, 95 per cent of the features of the product,” Charlebois says.
“From a product perspective, we're doing so much less, but so much better.”
Today, reDock’s newly relaunched product focuses on one key pain point in the proposal process: finding information. The AI search engine parses not only through cloud storage platforms, but through documents themselves to highlight the paragraph, slide or graph that researchers are actually after.
“It's all about digging in the documents,” Charlebois says.
The Montreal native says quickly finding these details represented 80 per cent of the problems facing proposal writers who spoke to reDock. Losing a key employee who knows where information is stored could add hours to the process, but reDock looks to fill in the knowledge gaps left behind from staff turnover.
Charlebois says the simplified solution fits well with the venture capital-backed model, which demands rapid growth. The revamped reDock product already has some sizeable customers through its early adopters program, he adds, and the startup will likely look to raise another funding round in 12 to 18 months.
This article originally appeared in Ottawa Business Journal