Ripcord raises $45 million to digitize paper records with robotics and AI

Staff at a California school district reportedly spent 20% of their time searching for lost documents until they retained the services of a records management company. It’s not a unique problem — the average manager spends four weeks out of the year looking for records, by some estimates.

In search of a solution five years ago, three entrepreneurs — NASA veteran Kim Lembo, former Apple senior engineering scientist Alex Fielding, and Kevin Hall — cofounded Ripcord, a startup developing a portfolio of robots that can digitize paper records. Fresh off a series B funding round, the Hayward, California-based company today announced it’s raised $45 million in series B2 funding, bringing its total raised to over $120 million ahead of a planned global expansion.

Automotive marketplace software developer CDK Global led the round, ostensibly to further its mission of streamlining the car-buying experience by reducing errors and costs at dealerships. “CDK Global’s mission is to help dealerships improve the customer experience in a digital-driven world, and Ripcord’s intelligent approach to digitization supports our vision and benefits both dealerships and consumers tremendously,” said CDK president and CEO Brian Krzanich, previously the CEO of Intel. “CDK processes about 65% of the nation’s auto loans annually. Ripcord will help us meet data compliance demands while eliminating outdated, cumbersome processes to bring the car buying experience into the modern era.”

Ripcord — who processes over one billion pages per year for customers including Coca Cola, BP, Chevron, MUFG Bank, UCLA, Cantium, and a number of Fortune 100 companies, including three of the top five financial services companies and three of the top five insurance carriers — develops physical robots that autonomously scan documents, even removing staples. Courtesy of partnerships with logistics firms, the startup transports files containing barcoded labels with metadata to its facilities, where it scans them and then either stores them to meet compliance requirements or shreds and recycles them. Fees start at around $0.004 per page, per month.

Above: Ripcord Robot Workcell

Employing computer vision, lifting and positioning arms, and high-quality RGB cameras that capture details at 600 dots per inch, Ripcord’s robots are able to scan at ten times the speed of traditional processes and handle virtually any format while classifying and extracting data. On the software side, the company’s Canopy platform uploads documents to the cloud nearly instantly, all stored as parsable and searchable PDFs. Canopy includes personal workspaces and hierarchical content navigation, as well as integrations with popular enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and human resource systems. And it can take unstructured data and organize it to feed robotic process automation pipelines for end-to-end automation.

“Once you pick a car, all you want to do is drive it off of the lot. But today, there is a mountain of repetitive paperwork and manual data entry blocking the exit,” said Ripcord CEO Fielding, speaking about the CDK investment. “Together with CDK’s expertise in automotive and our unmatched digitization capabilities with intelligent robotics and cutting edge software, we are going to get new car owners on the road more quickly and help dealers perfect compliance and earn greater margins. With this new financing, we’ll continue to expand our offering and transform additional vertical markets across North America and globally.”

Existing investors Kleiner Perkins, GV, Steve Wozniak, Silicon Valley Bank, Lux Capital, Tyche Partners, Icon Ventures, and Baidu also participated in the latest tranche. Notably, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak contributed to Ripcord’s series A.

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