Remembering Why We’re Here

January 27, 2015 by Kuang Chen

As a new dad (my son was born in August, and my daughter just turned three years old), I am sometimes jokingly reminded, “Just wait ’til the teenage years.” Every parent hopes their kids will get through uncomfortable growth with confidence, inspiration, laughter and only minor growing pains.

2014 was Captricity’s coming of age: growing by leaps and bounds, experiencing new challenges in ways we didn’t even know possible and finding our identity and belonging in the market. I am proud of Captricity as the precocious teenager and more excited than ever about our bright future ahead.

By the numbers

Sales grew more than 7X, and monthly recurring revenue increased 30X. We helped customers digitize 2.5 times more data in 2014 (vs. 2013), surpassing 50 million data total fields for the year.

Our continued growth is made possible by close partnerships with our two major investors, Atlas Venture and The Social+Capital Partnership. It’s atypical, but each of our financing rounds, from seed to Series B, has been led by one of these firms. In June, we closed our Series B, bringing our total funding to $14 million.

Finally, we were recognized by MIT Technology Review as an innovator in the humanitarian sector, and I was asked by Google to give a Solve for X talk about Captricity’s “moonshot” idea: “Democratizing data access for everyone.”

Understanding who our customers are

In my Solve for X talk, I asked, “What if Veterans Affairs had the same level of data fluency as Google or Amazon?” Why shouldn’t the VA, which has struggled with data backlogs like thousands of other organizations, make data-driven decisions with modern competency?

Data access magnifies the capacity and efficiency of any organization. A wide swath of organizations around the world are inherently paper-bound because they must serve everyone (by mandate or mission), and increasingly, they find themselves on the wrong side of the data access gap.

This year, we’ve found our place working with these organizations. We have been particularly successful in insurance and government – with major wins at New York Life and the Federal Election Commission. We also continue to partner with non-profits to improve their data fluency (more on that later).

Understanding who we are

In 2014, Captricity’s culture emerged. I can’t quite describe it in words: it’s the way that we care for each other and for the work.

Maybe that’s the benefit of a united belief in our mission. The long view of our mission is to build a significant and sustainable company, so we can continue to drive down our costs and increase functionality and universalize data access for organizations.

The shorter view is to give non-profits access to our services. To this end, we launched Captricity.org to expand on the work we’ve done with the Data for Communities program, offering non-profits our services at an affordable cost to give them much needed access to data. This year, we’ve helped organizations including Young 1ove, Innovations for Poverty Action, The Challenge, the Grameen Foundation (in the US and Turkey), Choices, Hopkins Marine Station, NoYawa and Jhpiego.

We also continued a tradition of having a “challenge week” every quarter, when the engineers get to work on whatever features (new or existing) they choose. This year’s challenge weeks have resulted in some of our most important features and prototypes, including data standardization, a new ETL engine, GPU accelerated computer vision algorithms and automatically generated web forms.

Once in awhile, we also got into stuff like this…

Three dozen true believers

After starting 2014 with 12 employees, we have tripled our ranks t36. I can say with certainty that each person is here because of a deep appreciation for our mission to democratize data access.

For example, Huguens, our new Computer Vision PhDexpanded on the work of my PhD dissertation with his. AJ, our new Field Engineer, heard about Captricity (the research project) while working in Tanzania, and chose to attend Berkeley because of it. Chris, our Product Manager, decided to put his graduate program work on hold to join our team and mission. And Angshu, our new Chief Scientist, told me he was convinced to join when he heard my voice break while talking about our work in the developing world at our company holiday dinner. 

Welcome home.

Our values

Over whiteboards, brainstorms and surveys, we figured out how to articulate our core values:

      1. Data empowers people to impact the world for the better
      2. Clever solutions to “unsolvable” problems
      3. Data over intuition
      4. Relentless focus on customer value and user experience
      5. Meet our customers where they are 
      6. Transparency and accountability with customers and each other
      7. In it together
      8. Remember why we’re here

I vacillate between awe and pride when thinking about the team at Captricity – awe because of the caliber of individuals and the way they pour their heart into the work, and pride because they make this Captricity a special place to be.

Creating an exceptional place to work

After a few months of bumping elbows (and trying to avoid hitting both the bike rack and Lani while going to the kitchen), we moved into a swanky new office with a killer view.


Once in awhile, we also got out of the office.

Looking forward

For many of our customers, Captricity represents the first surefooted step in “going digital” and storing their data in the cloud. The organizations we work with use Captricity to access and store customer data so they can better serve those customers. We are energized and humbled by the responsibility.

In 2015 and beyond, we will continue to invest in developing the product into increasingly robust solutions for accessing and managing customer-generated data, with a focus on information security, accuracy and scalability and especially end-to-end solutions specialized for organizations that serve everyone. We thank you all - our customers, our loyal investors, our team - for your commitment to Captricity and our vision of accessible data for all.

Interested in Captricity's future? Follow us on Twitter @Captricity and keep up with us in 2015! 

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