Canadian Startup Openera Launches Corporate, Readies Mobile Push

Ottawa-based cloud filing startup Openera has launched its corporate edition to clients, allowing them to easily manage IT policies and content.

“People hate filing,” said Peter Lalonde in front of a sold-out FounderFuelDemo Day crowd in November. They especially hate following corporate policy and now the company has unveiled a shiny new platform to do all the work.

At its base the company’s app allows users to find any file or attachment in two taps and automatically saves email attachments to cloud services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Salesforce.

Lalonde explains that people are naturally poor at following policy. It’s not from malicious intent but more often an effort to simply get the job done. Using a well-known file sharing company for emails may seem to be a harmless thing but it “goes against just about every corporate policy that any IT guy has ever implemented,” said Lalonde.

Thus the company has focused its efforts on email where a typical user is using 5-10 file sharing services everyday.

“Email ends up becoming the most valuable resource for corporate intelligence, corporate assets and work products as well,” said Lalonde. “Were not trying to be a security company, we’re not trying to stop people from doing the wrong thing, but we’re trying to make it really easy for people to do the right thing. That’s what Openera does.”

The launch comes after an eventful two years for the company. Thanks to a no-show from a competing startup at the Canada 3.0 Conference in April 2011, Openera won the Road to Banff Venture Forum Pitch-Off. Here they were named “Canada’s Hottest Early Stage Startup in 2012”. Then came top honours at C100’s 48 Hours in the Valley in June 2012. Lalonde called it one of his best moments with the company after gaining “the validation that this is a world class problem and [Openera] is a world class solution.”

A month later they took the International Startup Festival by storm, claiming both the Startup Stage Pitch and the FounderFuel prize. Four months after entering the FounderFuel program Lalonde and his team proclaimed to the audience their selling point. Indeed, people do hate filing.

Today documents and emails are increasingly fragmented while content has grown exponentially since 15 years ago. That was when Lalonde first started working in the content management industry where he saw the “same problems over and over and over again.”

Stints with OpenText, Corel, Gridiron and a Boston-based startup acquired by IBM gave Lalonde the tools necessary to branch off and start Openera. Eventually he hooked up with current CTO Marc Lennox. Lennox, who was aware of many of the problems that Openera was trying to hack, had previously cofounded MXI Technologies, an aviation maintenance management business that grew to a $40 million a year business en route to an exit.

While Lalonde assures us that “nothing beats a paying customer,” their initial seed round of $250,000 from Good People Ventures, Prolific VC and the BDC was a significant step in the companies’ growth. It closed a month after Demo Day and apparently was an easy investment choice for investor Greg Isenberg.

“The reason why we invested in him is because it wasn’t some guy who just thought enterprise was hot,” said the Good People Ventures Partner. “Peter gets the market, has industry connections, knows of to sell to them and knows how to build products for them.”

Openera’s next challenge will be the mobile one. Given that email is increasingly present in this domain, Lalonde wants to continue to develop their app and make the task of finding a file “ridiculously easy.”

“To have that enterprise automation capability in your pocket and on your cell phone, that is really where we’re going to be focusing a lot of our efforts,” he said.