Vator Splash LA 2015


Vator Splash LA 2015
All contestants:
Github meets Google Docs for Research
New York, New York, United States United States
  • Overview
  • Team
  • Activities
Company description

Authorea is a platform to write research in collaboration. Described by many as a hybrid between Google Docs and Github for science, Authorea promotes Open Science and enables a new way to read, write and publish data-rich scientific research. How is scientific knowledge disseminated? By the writing and exchange of articles published in scientific journals. What is the problem? Most publishers own the content and sell it to readers at high prices. Most people have no access to scientific articles. And if we do, we realize that they do not include the data, the code, and the raw materials that are at the basis of the published results. Scientific transparency and public trust in science are at stake. Authorea - is at the forefront of the Open Science movement with a mission to accelerate science, to improve collaboration, quality, and transparency of research. 


We have 50,000 users and are growing at a rate of 7% per week. 


Pain point:

The vast majority of the scholarly community (~95%) uses Microsoft Word  to write articles. Some other technical scholars use LaTeX, which is a  programming language for typesetting. Both technologies (Word and LaTeX) were designed and developed in the 1980s and were intended to be used by a single person working offline. Today, most scholarly articles are highly collaborative (on average 3-4 coauthors across all disciplines) and we do most of our work online- yes, even the science work. There's one more problem, science (collecting, crunching, analyzing, processing data) is a lot fun. Writing it up, not so much. Why? The link between the data (science results) and the text which reports these results is lost upon publication. Have you ever tried accessing the data "behind" an image published in a scientific article? It is nowhere to be found because it is not get published. Scientific articles, as we know them today (e.g. PDF) are obsolete.



Authorea brings scholarly writing to the web, making authoring of technical articles as easy as writing a blog post. Authorea is built on a robust underlying version control system (Git) allowing authors to write concurrently, locking portions of articles, tracking who is working on other portions, keeping a record of changes and undoing them at any time. Authors can also easily add citations, table, figures and mathematical notation, in addition to data-driven interactive plots. Authorea's infrastructure allows authors to directly submit papers to a journal and publishers can host their peer review and editorial processes on the same platform where the article was written, greatly shortening the number of steps needed to get a paper published.

Our target customers are scholars of all kind: scientists, researchers, graduate students, college students. Besides scholars, who can sign up for a Premium account individually by credit card, there's their host institutions (e.g. universities, research labs, pharma companies). We have sold only 7 institutional licenses so far without doing much marketing or sales effort (our bad). So far, about 1% of our user base is paying users (via personal and institutional subs).

 We are in the process of beefing up our sales effort (we just hired a sales/marketing person last week). Growth and sales will go hand in hand since universities we talk to want to know that there's at least X users at their universities (X is normally 100). Sales cycle is slow unfortunately - it takes 3-4 months to sell to a university. Our total addressable market right now is $1B. The market we are ultimately addressing is the academic publishing market. Right now we are solving an obvious problem for authors (collaborative writing) but by doing so we also gather their content. The next step is do something meanigful with their content. The academic publishing industry (STM) is a $25billion market. For the time being, we are focusing solely on the academic market although it is perfectly possible that we will explore other verticals soon which also need a collaborative space for technical documents (e.g. biotech, pharma, government, legal).


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