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Unified Collaboration for Diverse Markets

Keshav Srinivasan May 10, 2021 1:42:57 PM

hands, team work, collaboration

In 2012, CoralTree launched its first major product: Qbox. Our CEO T.S. Srinivasan came up with the idea and business plan in a flash of inspiration and I built the first version while sitting in my brother's apartment during an extended visit. A litter cozier than a garage like some Silicon Valley startups, but with the same spirit! 

We envisioned Qbox as a simple yet flexible file sync platform that accountants could use to share their Quickbooks Desktop files with each other. As our longtime users know, you can place accounting-relevant files into your Qbox folder and "lock" them when you want to make edits. When the lock is released the file gets synced up to the cloud where other users can safely download the file and make their own edits. This very basic lock-and-sync mechanism made Qbox unique amongst alternative solutions, including legacy techniques like email and also other file sync platforms.

We quickly realized that file sync was just part of the story when it comes to collaboration tools. Under T.S. 's leadership, Qbox evolved over the years to add more innovative features such as the Explorer UI, whitelisted files, variable sync speeds, support for Quickbooks "multi-user" mode, and more. Moreover, we realized that architects and builders also have their own data to share: Autodesk files, blueprints, and images. So we built "CADbox" using the same technologies as Qbox and customized it for the construction industry. 

We then expanded our scope to build a product for lawyers called LegalBox. This platform allowed users to edit documents from their browsers and included e-signature and notary features. This was a new area for us, but the familiar concepts of file-locks and folder-based sharing were still very relevant. Our accounting customers loved LegalBox and we decided to repurpose it for accountants with a product called CoraCloud.

Through this journey it has been remarkable how professionals from very diverse backgrounds - accounting, construction, law - can all benefit from very similar collaboration technologies. Our core concepts of file-locks, folder-sharing, and metadata-control for files - which work without interfering with file content - have proven to be resilient across markets. Our CADbox Marker app even lets users create a “markup” layer over blueprints without modifying the data inside them. Our philosophy of improving the mechanics of everything surrounding files has been key to operating at high-scale across different markets.

I am particularly excited about introducing the concept of “widgets” to our users. We are planning on packaging new functionality into widgets that are easy-to-use and self-contained. From a technical perspective a widget-centric architecture is highly scalable because the exact same code can power features in diverse products, reducing development cycles and maintenance complexity. From a customer perspective, widgets are great because improvements made for one set of customers will be instantly available to all other customers, regardless of which market they are in. This architecture allows us to port features to new markets very quickly.

As CoralTree keeps evolving I am looking forward to learning from our diverse customer base and shipping new, innovative products. Small businesses across the world have unique challenges that we are happy to help with. They are all connected in an ecosystem of collaboration, and we are excited to be their technology partner.

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