Glenn Shimkus started off with a vision for Cartavi: It would be a full-featured document management platform for real estate. It would be simple, mobile and secure.
“The fact is, from day one Cartavi was designed to be a platform, as opposed to a closed solution, and we knew that great partners would be key to our strategy,” says Glenn Shimkus, CEO and co-founder of Cartavi.
That’s why it was not a big surprise when Cartavi announced last month that it was to be acquired by Docusign, its most important partner. Cartavi had integrated Docusign’s e-signature product into its platform in 2011. The company has been on a steady march ever since to make Docusign’s services a seamless — if not transparent — part of Cartavi.
“It just made sense,” Shimkus said. “At every step of the way, our relationship with Docusign has gotten more productive and deeper. And we didn’t need to sell. We’d had four other offers over the past year alone. But combining forces with Docusign offered us the opportunity to take Cartavi to the next level.”
Terms of the Cartavi acquisition haven’t been disclosed. It’s worth noting that Shimkus raised $1.2 million last October in a Series A round led by I2A Fund, with several other investors participating.
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Shimkus isn’t entirely clear on what will happen to the Cartavi brand now that it’s been acquired. For the next couple of quarters, the company will still be a discrete brand within the DocuSign family. But Shimkus could imagine a day when the brand is subsumed into DocuSign.
“We’ve built a solid brand within real estate,” Shimkus says. “But if the platform can grow and add more value for users, I’m not sure it matters if the brand name lives on. What matters are our clients. They’ll get the most out of this deal.”
Shimkus is also careful to say that neither he, nor his co-founder and CMO, Paul Koziarz, are going anywhere.
“We are more passionate than ever,” Shimkus explains. “And now that we’ve got DocuSign with us, we’ve got more resources than ever to build the platform.”
By September of this year, Shimkus says that Cartavi will unify its accounts with DocuSign. All account and payment information will be accessed under a single password and userID for both Cartavi and DocuSign.
Fully Integrated zipForms
Cartavi is also deepening ties and its integration with Ziplogix, the forms provider to some 600,000 agents around the country. Ziplogix is a joint venture of Real Estate Business Services and the National Association of Realtors, based in Fraser, MI.
“We are integrating zipForms® so that users will have one place for forms, storage/sharing and eSignature,” Shimkus says. “The initial integration will allow you to send documents from zipForms into Cartavi. By the end of the year you will be able to create your forms using zipForms technology from within Cartavi.”
Shimkus notes that Cartavi’s approach to forms is entirely different than dotloop, which built a proprietary form engine that allows users to upload any form, add text and signature fields, save the document to their transaction loop and send it out for signature.
“We are not simply looking to license forms from Zip and then do whatever we want with them,” Shimkus explains. “We are working with Ziplogix so that we are using the zipForms provisioning engine check to to see if the individual is licensed to use forms, and which ones they are licensed to use.
“We don’t take the forms and copy them into our system,” Shimkus continues. “Instead, we pull the actual zipForms seamlessly into Cartavi. The forms come directly from zipForms each time they are used. We keep a constant, real-time connection to zipForms on the back end to ensure the forms are always current.”
Shimkus says that this approach ensures the legal enforceability of the signed documents.
For California agents, Cartavi’s zipForms integration offers a significant advantage over dotloop, which is currently embroiled in a controversy with the California Association of Realtors (CAR).
CAR has refused to allow dotloop to use its forms, which are deployed through zipForms. It says dotloop is violating its copyright. It has also advised its members that it is not permissible to scan and upload CAR forms into dotloop.
CAR says the only software its forms may be used with is zipForms, in which it also holds a financial stake.
Shimkus hasn’t taken a public position on the controversy. But he says that the issue is not about signing or even accessing the forms. He calls that “table stakes,” and says that Docusign has already solved that problem with a $100 million investment in its eSignature platform.
It’s about the chain of custody of the forms themselves, so that they are legally enforceable today — and 20-30 years from now.
That’s why plugging Ziplogix into the Cartavi platform, and using zipForm’s technology to manage the forms, was so important.
“We’re not trying to build a forms engine,” Shimkus says. “We’re building a document management system that handles the full lifecycle of documents that drive real estate transactions, from creating and sharing, review to execution, and even archiving and destruction.”
Shimkus is particularly proud that Cartavi is a completely mobile application that works on iOS and Android phones and tablets. He points out that the iPad app was launched within months of the launch of Cartavi itself.
“You can do basically everything you need to do on any mobile device as well as you can on the web,” Shimkus says. The only thing you can’t do is to create an e-signature envelope on a mobile phone. “And that’s just because we don’t think a phone is a good device to be managing signatures.”
Shimkus notes that Cartavi built true mobile applications for each device, rather than an HTML5 responsive version of its platform. Although dotloop is in the process of launching its mobile app to pair with its new platform, for the moment Cartavi’s mobile strategy appears to be paying dividends.
With Cartavi’s mobile apps, you can follow activities in real time, so that you know whether a document has been received or opened. You can even fax a document directly from your mobile phone.
Shimkus has taken a bit of heat for Cartavi’s robust faxing features, but he’s adamant that Cartavi needs to accommodate all document types, wherever they come from.
“Yes, we’re all super digital,” he says. “But faxing doesn’t make you a bad person, and some people still work that way. Cartavi was built to enable you to work however you want to work — and to make it easy for others to work with you.”
Simple, by Design
If there’s one thing that Cartavi has delivered, it’s a simple user interface.
Each screen is clean, easy to understand and follow. If you’ve ever worked with any sort of project or document management software, Cartavi will come naturally to you.
[two_third]Each transaction is managed in a room — a virtual space where you can store, access and share documents. You invite people involved in your transaction into the room, so that you can interact with them and manage the document flow. You can brand the room with your picture and logo on the basic and premium plan.
It’s clear by the way documents are handled in Cartavi that Shimkus spent most of his career before Cartavi developing document and knowledge management systems.
Shimkus says it’s easy to do whatever you need to do with a document, like setting permissions or sharing with some, but not all, parties in a transaction.
For example, since every document you add to your transaction room is private by default, Cartavi asks you whether you’d like to share it once it’s added to your transaction.
“Lots of people forget to share,” Shimkus says. “We make it easy.”
“The name Cartavi is the combination of the word ‘carta,’ which is Latin for paper or document,” Shimkus says. “And ‘vita’ is Latin for life. The goal was to bring documents to life. But we thought that ‘Cartavita’ sounded like a kitchen appliance, so it became ‘Cartavi.”
You can share documents one by one with each individual, or share a group of documents with a single person. You can also send secure documents via fax or email.
You can easily monitor the status of a document, within the web app or on a mobile device. Cartavi will notify you via text/SMS or email of changes, if that’s your preference.
These features make transactions easy to manage — even when you have dozens of documents and individuals involved.
Cartavi also accepts documents via fax and email, and in addition to transaction rooms you can organize your documents however you’d like in folders it calls “My Docs.”
You can have as many people as you want in a transaction room. Cartavi helps you keep them organized by labeling by their role them as you load them into the room.
Cartavi will also search its network to find professionals you work with, so that you don’t have to create profiles for them if they’re already on Cartavi.
For example, you can label people by which side of the transaction they’re on, and whether they’re a lawyer, appraiser, etc.
Once someone is in the room, you can instantly start interacting with them.
By the end of the year, Cartavi will roll out its new broker edition. This is a significant play for the company on several fronts.
Cartavi was developed first and foremost as an agent-centric tool. And while its users are dedicated, the lack of a broker edition has left the field open for dotloop to offer a comprehensive broker dashboard.
Dotloop recently upgraded the broker dashboard as part of the company’s platform upgrade announced last month, unifying the look and feel of the broker dashboard and the agent dashboard.
It’s fair to say that dotloop’s extensive broker functionality was a decisive factor in its inclusion in Keller Williams’ e-Edge platform.
Although Shimkus hasn’t officially announced which features Cartavi’s broker edition will include, he promises that it will be “worth the wait.”
He’s also getting ready to launch Cartavi 3.0, which will raise the stakes in terms of Cartavi’s document handling.