Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Charlotte entrepreneur launches app verifying signatures with audio, video, photos

While developing a "robust" tool for entertainers and athletes that would allow them to snap pictures while signing documents, business owner Kyle Taylor grew tired of printing paper and emailing agreements.

He searched for programs that would help him sign documents digitally and deliver them to the right people with a simple touch.

Trouble is, those programs weren't cheap. He told himself: "I'm not going to pay $30 to $50 a month to sign documents." More, financing his first product --which became so convoluted it was like a "Swiss Army knife"-- and getting it to market didn't work out the way he hoped.

So, Taylor, 30, did what became second-nature in the years he worked through college, paid his bills and lived on his own in New York City and then Philadelphia.

He "refocused, regrouped...brainstormed and focused on what the other competitors in the industry are not offering," he said. "You have to be able to shift focus, have to be able to pivot."

After researching what other companies in the E-signature industry offered, Taylor spent 12 to 16 months developing the Agreed App, an easy-to-use application allowing users to sign documents on a mobile device and then verify who or what is being signed with audio, pictures and video.

The app is different from other E-signature devices he said, because users can add audio clips for verbal contract commitments; take pictures and upload them as proof of identity; and enable real-estate agents to embed pictures and video of a property for-sale into a document before a potential buyer signs the dotted line.

It eliminates the occasional trouble with faxing and emailing documents, he said, and cuts down on paper-use.

The app is marketed to real-estate agents, independent contractors, lawyers and other professionals requiring signed time-sensitive documents. It's available on the Apple App Store, where users can download the app to access storage and verification services for three full documents per month. For users who want more access, they can pay $9.99 per month or $89.99 a year.

He funded the app's development by cashing out stocks and blending the money with funds from his 401(k) savings at previous jobs, spending between $30,000 to $40,000 to take the app to market.

Taylor found a developer for the product at Packard Place, the city's incubator for start ups. After months of testing the product, he submitted his code work to Apple, which reviewed the app and placed it on the market.

Last month, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for testing and developing the app for Android devices.

Staying focused

Taylor's journey to launching his own business and app started in a single-parent household in New Jersey. Raised by a mother who stressed education, Taylor said he focused on staying out of trouble and investing in his future.

He attended St. John's University in New York City, but left three years later as tuition costs kept increasing. He enrolled at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he worked 40 hours a week and attended classes at night, during the summer and on weekends.

Having always had a keen interest in money, he began conversing with his mother's stock broker and reading books on the stock market. He invested refund money from his student loans into shares of FedEx and Synaptics, Inc.

He worked at Comcast in Philadelphia before moving to Charlotte at his mother's suggestion. Here, he hired a development team and started The Redkomodo, LLC --a name he chose because red is an aggressive color and the Komodo dragon is strategic, watching its prey until it notices a weakness and strikes.

"That's what we did," he said. "We (take) our time to figure out the market, see what the competitors were doing or not doing and then we can approach with an attack with what we can offer to the table."