Silicon Valley-based Increo closed a seed round form Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) this week and kicked things off with the launch of their first product, Backboard. It's a simple collaborative tool for sharing a document, presentation, image or even a URL to a group and gather feedback over the web. Team-based collaboration tools are nothing new these days, with favorites such as Huddle, 37signal's BaseCamp, Onstage, and DeskAway.
The pro's of Backboard, are clearly it's painless setup and ease of use. No mindless registration process needed, just an email address will do. I went ahead and set up a Backboard feedback page for the seedWatcher blog. Anyone can comment on a document if they're given the specific URL, adding some basic level of protection for your shared pages.
The downside for Backboard is the lack of a decent feature set, like say, a markup tool, ala recently covered Twiddla or Stickis. I'd like to see more ways to give feedback beyond the basic text comments on the bottom of the page. It's also going to need some enhanced security beyond URL obfuscation if it's going to get wide-scale business use.
The company's been bootstrapping it for the past year on the Stanford campus before the recent DFJ investment. Increo's founders are all recent Stanford grads - Jeff Seibert, Kimber Lockhart, Rebecca Illowsky and Ray Thang, who came together as part of a CompSci class assignment to develop their own project.
For a first product from this new team, it's a good start. They whipped up a quick and dirty way to share something with a group of people in a shared space. On their site, they write, "the company's software supports teams throughout the innovation process, from brainstorming to conception." Now, they could take the approach of rolling out a suite of collaborative products that integrate together seamlessly and end up with a packaged product that could compete with Huddle and BaseCamp. Or stick to the minimalist approach to tools, which could work in its own way. If that's the case, then I would suggest leveraging some of the social networking API's and getting it so users can share directly from some of the groups I'm already engaged with online.