Vator Splash LA 2015 Finalist - Authorea

Mitos Suson · December 21, 2015 · Short URL:

Check out Alberto Pepe Gentile's presentation on stage and the judges' feedback

Vator Splash LA Class 2015 cohort Authorea is the collaborative platform to write, share, and discuss research. It was created in 2013 by a Harvard astrophysicist and a Berkeley physicist who met while working at CERN and were disappointed by the slow, inefficient, and obsolete ways by which research papers are written and disseminated. Described by many as a hybrid between Google Docs and Github for science, Authorea is a modern, web-native, Git-based environment where research findings are published, reviewed, and consumed openly. It is currently used by 70,000 researchers in the hard sciences and is rapidly growing in new research disciplines, in and outside of academia. Authorea increases the pace of scientific research, facilitates collaboration and data-sharing, and rewards transparency, with the mission to restore public trust in science. 

Among the judges were Eric Manlunas (Co-Founder & Partner, Wavemaker), Bill Woodward (Founder & Partner, Anthem Venture Partners), Eva Ho (Founder & Partner, Susa Ventures), Brian Lee (Founder & CEO, The Honest Company).

Thanks to our main sponsors Wilson SonsiniKPMGJavelin Venture PartnersSky MediaWavemakerAll Good Living Collective,  Bread and Butter Wine, and our co-production partner, Bixel Exchange.

Editor's Note: Our annual Vator Splash Health 2016 conference is around the corner on February 23, 2016 at Kaiser Theater in Oakland. Speakers include Helmy Eltoukhy, PhD (Founder & CEO, Guardant Health), Ryan Howard (Founder & Chairman of the Board, Practice Fusion), Sonny Vu (CEO & Founder, Misfit Wearables), Lynne Chou (Partner, Kleiner Perkins) and more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.

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Mitos Suson

I am currently affiliated with Vator. I co-produce the Vator Events and enjoy the challenge. I am learning and growing a lot, being involved with Vator and I love it!

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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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Eric Manlunas

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Eva Ho

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Serial entrepreneur turned investor. Data junkie. @fikavc, @Susaventures, @Factual, @Google, @Youtube, Applied Semantics, Navigating Cancer. Sit on board of California Community Foundation. Harvard BA, Cornell MBA. Avid traveler, photographer.

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