Anyline.com – The Journey So Far
I’m happy to announce that Anyline is moving up in the world. Anyline.io has served us well since we started the company but from today, you will find us at Anyline.com!
Anyline has matured quickly over the past 4 years. There have been ups and downs along the way but we’ve ultimately been moving in the right direction. And the switch to Anyline.com feels like a major graduation from our .io startup phase to something bigger.
We’re making this change for a number of reasons. One reason is that it will make it easier for people to find our website and learn about the power of mobile OCR. Personally, I feel that a dotcom website is more fitting to the product we now provide and the team we’ve put together.
In The Beginning
Daniel, David, Jakob and I started Anyline in 2013. Before that, we were app developers working on freelance projects and get rich quick schemes. My day-to-day work life has changed a lot since the times of coding apps start-to-finish in a flat I shared with Daniel.
I’ve known my co-founders for years at this point and it’s crazy to look back on those early freelancing days. For a while, we were one of the top 3 app development agencies in Vienna. We were super motivated to work on making great apps for our customers.
Working as an agency was a crucial experience for us. This was when we learnt everything that would help us to start Anyline. We tried to make sense of app stores and what mattered most to people in their mobile apps. I would say that our time as a development agency was the most important formative time in my career so far.
It was also during this time that we came into contact with the founders of mySugr. While working as freelancers, we shared a workspace at Sektor5 with the mySugr crew.
Like a lot of startups, Anyline was created to relieve a pain-point. And it was together with the mySugr founders that we first identified the problem that we’ve been solving ever since.
The Idea That Started Everything
mySugr hired us after a time to be their app developers. Their app helps diabetics to track their blood sugar levels. It was during a conversation with Frank Westermann, mySugr CEO, that we originally came up with the concept for a text recognition app.
Frank was explaining that mySugr users need to update their app with their blood sugar readings, up to 10 times per day. At the time, he was considering a cable that would connect their blood sugar reader with mobile devices. There were many roadblocks to this including required certification in some countries for using a cable to upload the results. Eventually, he asked us “Can’t we just scan the readings?”
I had some knowledge of computer vision and had tried out some libraries that were available. When he asked about scanning readings, my answer was “Sure, we can do that!”
I told him we could have a prototype ready in two weeks.
The two week deadline came and went and we didn’t even come close to having a prototype ready. In fact, we discovered that we were much further from our initial goal than we originally thought. But we were motivated by the challenge of creating the scanner app for mySugr. We felt we were the right group to take the project.
We devoted ourselves to developing a text scanner with mobile OCR and started on a 9 month project that would result in the mySugr Scanner App being created. During this time we managed to get a research grant and planted the seed that would grow to become Anyline.
Anyline.io – A Place to Start
Once we delivered the finished app, the Anyline co-founders and I realised we’d created something with far-reaching applications. There were other companies in the mobile OCR space already, but none that provided a solution like ours. Most of all, we found a rewarding project that we were dedicated to working on.
Working as freelancers was a lot of fun, and we were good at it, but we felt like we were wasting our talents. We were always dedicated to delivering high quality apps to our clients and a lot of the time, we over-delivered. We thought we would be more fulfilled if we had a product to work on.
After a few conversations (and beers), we decided that the new text scanner we’d developed could become a valuable product. So we decided to leave the wild west of the freelance world behind and set our sights on the new world of startups that was springing up around us in Vienna.
A Number of Firsts
We began the company in 2014 as an agency offering to develop mobile OCR apps for companies. We haven’t looked back since.
In 2014, we also welcomed our first investors. Since then we’ve had multiple investment rounds, with some of Austria’s biggest tech angels joining the Anyline family.
In 2015, we released our first SDK. We’ve been updating this SDK ever since and now also offer specialised products for use cases such as license plate and passport scanning.
With the knowledge and enthusiasm of our development team at an all-time high, I’m sure that Anyline will continue to have more breakthrough successes in the years to come.
Why the Change?
Collaboration with Established Companies
One of the most insightful parts of running Anyline is getting to work with well established brands and companies. Since we started on this journey, we’ve gotten to work with household names like Red Bull, Canon and Porsche.
I have to thank every company and individual that’s decided our team and product was right for them. You’re always taking a chance when partnering with a young company with a new product. Thankfully, we’ve been able to earn the trust of our customers and deliver great results.
I think that the switch to Anyline.com communicates our intentions to continue in this manner. I also hope that it will show our trustworthiness and reliability to our future customers.
Investor and Advisor Input
As I previously mentioned, Anyline has attracted some of the best investors and advisors in the world. I’m lucky to have regular conversations with Hermann Hauser, Hansi Hansmann and Gernot & Markus Langes-Swarovski about where to take Anyline. I hope that this switch will assure all Anyline investors that we continue to move in the right direction with mobile OCR.
Growth of the Team
Of course, the most evident reason for this switch can be seen every day at our offices. We’ve put together a team that knows our customers and strives to deliver high quality results. They’re the ones that solve problems, find new ways to help customers and push the limit on what can be achieved in the fields of computer vision, AI and machine learning.
It makes me very proud to see faces from all around the world in our office, working on a common goal. They take an active role in developing the ethos of our company and make sure that our office is a positive environment to work in.
They’ve helped the Anyline co-founders the most on this journey from startup to company. This switch to Anyline.com, and the changing impression of Anyline as more than a startup, is due in no small part to their hard work and ingenuity.
More Than a Startup
Our startup journey began the day we decided to stop being freelancers and started Anyline. While the end of our startup journey won’t be as clear cut, I think this website switchover is an important day in the development of our company.
And even if we eventually need to move on from our startup phase, we’ll bring all the positive aspects of this world with us on the next stage of the journey. A key part of this will be to stop a “corporate” atmosphere from seeping into our offices at Die Manege and Werkstätte Wattens. Anyline has been lucky to attract talented staff that want to get involved with something new. Keeping this “startup” atmosphere will be key to attracting more talent in the future.
I’m sure we’ll have a lot of help keeping in touch with our roots as we work closely with a number of the country’s best startups. One of our clients, Symvaro, was recently announced as the startup of the year in Austria.
We’ve also been able to raise money through public funding and are working with the Austrian Government. We have some exciting initiatives in the works here that will be announced at a later date!
We’re Making Even Better Products
We have a lot in store for the world with our technology. Our development team is constantly working to improve and add features to our Mobile OCR SDK.
We’ve just launched a new showcase app for document scanning and we’re sure to have even more product updates in 2018. Watch this space is all I can say right now.
Our ultimate business goal is still to have Anyline installed on every mobile device in the world.
We want everyone to have the power to scan all the codes, text and numbers around them. Enabling the world to scan will save everyone time and improve the quality of the data we use to make our daily decisions.This is what drives our day-to-day actions and product decisions. It’s only a matter of time before this happens, in my opinion.
Find More Ways to Help People
With Anyline.com, we hope to tell more people about what can be achieved with mobile OCR. We cover a number of use cases already, but I always feel that there may be even more we can do with text recognition. For me, the ultimate use for Anyline and mobile OCR is still undiscovered. Fortunately, we have the right team in place to discover what this use will be.
Having said that, our main goal remains the same as when we started. We want to make people’s lives better with mobile text recognition.