After selling software it calls a listening platform — which gathers news articles, social media mentions and other new information on specific topics — exclusively to law firms for a year and a half, the Bend company Manzama is branching out into additional industries.
“We started with something that's very focused on law firms, but as we kind of got into it, as we sort of started peeling back that onion, the problem (that Manzama's software helps solve) is the same, no matter where you go with it,” co-founder and CEO Peter Ozolin said.
The drug-technology developer Bend Research has signed up to pay for a modified version of Manzama's software, following a 60-day trial earlier this year, making it Manzama's first client outside the legal field and first in pharmaceuticals.
And with talks going on with a multinational accounting company, Ozolin said, Manzama is also venturing into the professional-services sector.
The software lets users set up keywords and filters to gather information from across the Internet and sends it in email alerts or displays it in search results. It can measure competitors' and clients' appearances in news articles and other information sources. And it allows users to check out the latest on prospective clients.
David Lyon, Bend Research's vice president of research, uses Manzama to keep up with business deals in his industry and watch the trajectory of other companies. The information comes in a daily email.
“It's a five- or 10-minute exercise in the morning,” Lyon said. “In contrast ... previously, I might have spent an hour (to get that same amount of information), doing things like reading through ... (the online newsletter) Fierce Biotech.”
The bump in Manzama's revenue because of its expansion into pharmaceuticals — probably under 2 percent in any given month, Ozolin said — isn't a huge step forward, but it could gather speed and size and turn into an avalanche of growth for the company, which started in 2010 and has already expanded into a bigger office, increased its employment from three to 14 and become profitable.
Manzama plans to find more pharmaceutical companies to become clients, and it will begin discussing with Bend Research executives the idea of co-selling a more highly specialized version of the software for that industry, Ozolin said.
The company gained funding and visibility by winning a $200,000 investment at the Bend Venture Conference in 2010. More funding came from a $13,000 forgivable loan from the city of Bend, and from private investors.
Ozolin's legal-software background helped convince Bend Venture Conference investors to put their collective dollars behind Manzama, said Bruce Juhola, manager of the conference that year. According to The Bulletin's archives, Ozolin spent about 15 years in the legal-technology world, five of which were dedicated to his startup Legal Anywhere, which developed websites for law firms and their clients to share documents.
Manzama has improved its software and made it more adaptable for other industries, so the founders' backgrounds don't matter as much now, Juhola said.
At this point, insight from a pharmaceutical company could come in handy, he said.
One early Manzama investor was Chris Babcock, a former CEO of Bend Research. The more he learned about Manzama, the more he felt it could have revenue-generating applications for drug companies, Ozolin said.
Babcock arranged for a meeting between Manzama and the current Bend Research CEO, Rod Ray.
“Fortunately for us, Rod got it,” Ozolin said.
In May, Bend Research inked a one-year contract with Manzama to use a modified version of the legal software.
A Manzama employee paid a visit to Bend Research and asked employees what they wanted out of the software. Their answers informed the development of a modified version.
“A handful” of employees in Bend Research's sales, marketing, business development and legal departments use the software, and the idea is to introduce it to more employees, Lyon said.
As a daily user, Lyon said he sees potential for other pharmaceutical companies to get on board with Manzama.
“I think that it's clear that companies like ours, contract-research organizations or service providers, can absolutely benefit from what we've done already (with the software),” he said.