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SeamlessDocs Wants to Take Some Paper Out of Government

Startup launches services to take PDFs and turn them into easily signable and secure Web docs for governments.

SeamlessDocs, a gov tech startup based in New York City, wants to eliminate Uncle Sam’s addiction to paper by offering a government-friendly take on digital forms. Already the venture has raised more than $2.7 million in seed funding and closed deals with dozens of state and city departments.

Led by co-founders Jonathon Ende and Chachi Camejo, SeamlessDocs supplies a cloud service that quickly transforms PDFs and printed forms into Web docs. The forms can be archived in real time, created both as PDFs and as searchable data, run fluidly across devices, and be validated before submission to prevent mistakes, according to the company.

Ende is betting that his company's focus on the government market, willingness to accommodate existing workflows and lower cost structure will make it attractive to public agencies. “We look at ourselves as the GoogleDocs of the PDF," he said. “When you look at existing solution providers they'll say they do electronic signatures but they don't really understand governments and what their processes are."

Existing digital forms solutions focus primarily on electronic signatures, Ende contends, which doesn’t always answer the complexities for government processes. "What's interesting about government is that they have these processes that have been built out of necessity and from limited resources,” he said. “A lot of times they don't want to change their existing processes, but they do want to upgrade the way it is done."

To keep processes intact and avoid the need to retrain agency staff, Ende says the startup goes the extra mile by working with its clients -- which include large cities like Los Angeles to smaller localities like Milpitas, Calif. -- to understand their processes. As these processes are mapped, new features are added to the solution that can be used by other customers. The idea, Ende said, is to create a line up of add ons that foster simple customization for clients, current and future.

Ron Bouganim -- sole managing partner at the $23 million Govtech Fund, which provides venture funds to gov IT startups -- has invested in SeamlessDocs. Bouganim said the company's willingness to offer customization to government clients drew his interest. Bouganim met Ende through the company’s involvement in the Code for America accelerator, an initiative supporting development of civic technology companies. With its nimble framework and government emphasis, Bouganim said the company has positioned itself quickly as a player to watch.

“This focus will allow them to dominate the government forms space, form by form,” Bouganim said. “Being singularly focused on the government space means SeamlessDocs has a significantly deeper understanding of the specific needs of government customers.”

Larger providers with higher price structures will struggle to match SeamlessDocs' level of customization, he added.

Ende said the company intends to capitalize on government mandates that require more digitization of transactions. He says just one in 40 government transactions are digital now, but the rate will grow to one in three by 2020.

"We want to be not just the fastest, easiest and seamless way to accept forms and documents online, but we want to have the most innovative implementation process as well," said Ende.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.