The way Ripcord CEO Alex Fielding discusses chief competitor Iron Mountain, the record keeping company sounds like it runs the warehouse from the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The startup comes out of stealth this week with the announcement of $9.5 million in funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for its goal of taking corporate records paperless through its industrial paper digitizing robots.
Ripcord has been kicking around in stealth mode for a while, mostly picking up clients through word of mouth recommendations. In that time it’s apparently managed to get some high profile clients on board, though Fielding wasn’t open to mentioning any when we sat down for a conversation last week. The company’s technologies have also scored the company the aforementioned Series A, which also includes funding from Steve Wozniak.
Fielding, a former Apple engineer himself, says he founded the company after hearing horror stories about one of his future competitors. Ripcord has since built a ground, up solution for fully digitizing paper records, including a series of robotic digitizers capable of doing their work in “a tenth of the time and a tenth of what the competition charges.”
The company runs a facility in Hayward, California that receives paper files by the boxful. The sides of the boxes are scanned and placed into the machines by employees, who are largely tasked with a “curatorial” role, according to Fielding. It sounds nice, but it seems to largely consist of helping the robots troubleshoot. “People really suck at scanning paper,” says Fielding. “Nobody grew up dreaming of being a human staple remover. We still use people to operate the machines. but that piece of the process is really letting machines do what they do best and let people do what they do best.”
The machines are capable of a number of things the competition hasn’t quite mastered yet, like removing staplers and a number of different fasteners. They scan a wide variety of different size paper, from an index card to legal size and work to categories files using contextual clues.
All in all, the company claims its process is 10-times faster than human-based scanning, with plans to digitize around 2.5 million files a day at its Hayward local. That number will apparently jump to 50 million a day by the end of 2018. One a file is digitized, it’s shredded and the copy is stored on AWS, with access fees for files amounting to $0.004 a page.