Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Interview with Isaac Garcia, Central Desktop
Isaac Garcia is CEO and co-founder of Central Desktop (www.centraldesktop.com), a Pasadena-based firm developing a web based collaboration tool, often lumped into the Web 2.0 category of companies. I thought it would be interesting to talk to Isaac about his company and their web-based application.
Ben Kuo: Explain a bit to me the product that you recently launched. Is this the first availability of your product?
IG: We launched our product back in September. What we launched recently was a free version of Central Desktop, which up until now we've only provide through paid subscription. We're trying to differentiate ourselves from Web 2.0 companies, which we keep on being compared to – we were voted the best Web 2.0 collaboration and project collaboration software recently – and with this free product we're now providing the right product for those guys for free.
BK: What's Central Desktop?
IG: Central desktop is a web based collaboration tool for business teams. Instead of business teams relying on email for their primary means of sharing files, tasks, ideas, and discussions, Central Desktop creates an online workplace where you can invite collagues, employees, and team members to consolidate project information. You can track files, versions, discuss items, and milestones. It's a virtual workspace for the team, in a searchable format, all online and accessible from anywhere with cross browser compatibility. When documents are uploaded you can search them at the text level. It's very powerful, which is why it's called Central Desktop.
BK: Why have you been put into the Web 2.0 category?
IG: That's a good question. It's mainly because at our foundation we are built on a wiki platform, which is Web 2.0. We really leverage lots of AJAX and DHTML on our programming side. Also, as a web service we release on a weekly or a monthly basis, we do not look a lot like large software, and are constantly improving the product.
BK: How did the idea for Central Desktop come about?
IG: This is the third venture together for my business partner and I. We've been through this before. At companies we have worked at previously, we had small teams which we were constantly relying on email to send proposals, product specs, and statement of work. Emaily was our primary way of discussing new ideas and concepts, which was ridiculous. Email as a collaboration tool has worn out its welcome. It's a broken system for collaboration. Email is great, but as a collaboration tool for six people on a team, you can't search your email box and five other's email box for the latest version of a document. What if the fifth person completed a task, how an I notified of this. We created a tool we can use in a small team environment to build a company, and which other companies are able to use.
BK: What's your background?
IG: As I said, this is our third venture. Back in 1998 we had a company called UpgradeBase. We provided product data for consumer and computer companies, including specifications, images, product descriptions used by eCommerce sites. For example looking for a computer monitor, we would create all the specs for that monitor. Sites licensed the data from us. We sold that company to CNET network in 2002. Our other company was a B2B marketplace for computer resellers, which we sold to CNET as well. We also spent 3 years at CNET doing various things. My personal background is sales, marketing, and business development. My business partner is on the technology side. It's a good partnership.
BK: How are you funded?
IG: We've been doing this for about a year. It's been self funded up until now, and we launched our product back in September. We have several thousand users, and we have paying customers in the hundreds, and its currently self-funded by us.
BK: Are you looking at outside capital for the company?
IG: We've had some conversations with investors who have had some interest. We've looked at the strategic partner level and at business partners to invest in Central Desktop as complimentary to them. It's a very horizontal product. What we're going to do is nail down with those customers if there is a particular specific need that people are interested in, and are really going to focus on that one specific vertical. That will make a difference in whether we need to go out for funding or not.
BK: How would you compare you product to a portal?
IG: With Central Desktop, a team would create one workspace as a primary means of information on a project. A company also might use it to create a workspace for each project. Each workspace is really just a website, which takes less than 30 seconds to set up. This micro-site is a work area for file sharing and everything. It's much less of a portal, and more like and application, and we describe it as an application. The main differentiating function is it's all online. There's nothing to download, and we're focused on small teams and companies rather than as an enterprise level product.