paperhater paper clutter scan

Startup Paperhater is hoping to cut down on the amount of paper and business cards you’ve got piled on your desk. Using an iPhone camera, the company’s app takes pictures of paper and deciphers the text from the image.

Any office worker will tell you that paper clutter can easily overtake their desks and lives. We’ve been using scanners for several years now to covert slips of paper into digital files, but in keeping with the trend of using our smartphones to do everything, Paperhater only needs a phone camera to make a scan.

Above: Paperhater founder Ashley Reddy

After you snap a picture, you send the information to Paperhater’s servers for processing. The information can then be sent to a contact manager app or an account executive for company expense reports. You can take a picture of a receipt, business card, or diagram and then send it via email, fax, or Paperhater’s iPhone app.

The company uses three types of technology — optical character recognition, intelligent character recognition, and intelligent mark recognition — to convert printed or handwritten text in a picture into digital text. Instead of just getting an Adobe PDF from scanning a document, the information scanned with Paperhater can be entered into address books and other form-based programs, such as expense tracking software. The technology is similar to what was used to read your Scantron sheets in college.

On stage at DEMO Spring 2012, Paperhater founder Ashley Reddy referred to the product as a SurveyMonkey for paper forms. But in an expert panel following the presentation, Climate Corporation CEO David Friedberg criticized the service for being unfocused. “There’s a lot of OCR companies out there,” he said. “I don’t see the market.”

ReadSoft and Abbyy offer software that uses the same technology as Paperhater to scan and interpret documents. Paperhater hopes to set itself apart from other services by offering lower-cost on-demand services. Paperhater’s free basic plan includes five business card and five receipt scans per month. Premium services range from $30 to $90 per month.

Founded in 2011, Paperhater is self-funded. The company has three employees is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Reddy said that the startup is currently seeking equity funding and strategic relationships with software makers.

Paperhater is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Messy office with paper image via Shutterstock