19 May IU Ventures delivers ‘milestone’ investment support for Bloomington-based Folia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2022
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ravi Bhatt is back home in Indiana and the company he brought with him is revving up, thanks, in part, to new investment from IU Ventures, Indiana University’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm.
Bhatt, an alumnus of IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences, is the co-founder and CEO of Folia, an innovative business annotation software platform that recently announced it raised $2 million in seed funding. Just over $1 million of that funding was generated through two of IU Ventures’ major investment programs, the IU Angel Network and the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund.
“This is a milestone investment for IU Ventures, as it is the first time that the IU Angel Network and IU Philanthropic Venture Fund have co-invested in the same round,” said Jason Whitney, vice president for venture development at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “We’re especially pleased to be making this investment in Folia, which is poised to take the next step in its development toward becoming an industry leader. The company’s success and desire to further build its business in Bloomington are testament to the work so many of us are doing to keep our top talent in the state and help build successful new enterprises that create quality jobs for Hoosiers.”
Folia’s co-founder and COO is Erik Coyne, a Bloomington native and retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Both he and Bhatt are attorneys.
Under Bhatt’s and Coyne’s leadership, Folia will use the funding to expand its vision to improve productivity in the modern office while helping organizations further their sustainability practices by going paperless. One of its leading products is iAnnotate, an award-winning annotation product that allows users to read, mark up and share documents on a tablet. Folia currently serves more than 1 million people — from students and teachers to top Wall Street investors, lawyers and even Hollywood screenwriters.
“Our customers are eager to reduce the economic and environmental costs of using paper,” Bhatt said. “Regulated-industry and government customers are even more focused on this goal because paper workflows are susceptible to leaks and other security risks. With this investment, we will be able to engage more companies in the paperless movement and expand our marketing, sales and development teams.
“All of us at Folia are especially grateful to IU Ventures and the IU Angel Network for the strong partnership. In addition to major financial support, the IU Ventures team is helping us connect with like-minded talent and potential partners.”
Coyne is an Iraq War veteran who served in the Pentagon as a deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and special counsel to the Air Force’s senior military attorney. Additionally, he has twice served as general counsel on military installations in demanding locations. As such, he has a unique perspective on how Folia’s software platform is helping organizations streamline their processes.
“Having worked as a senior military officer in Washington, D.C., and as an attorney, I saw the reliance on paper first-hand,” Coyne said. “Security aside, it was incredibly inefficient for everyday documents to be shuffled between offices via folders. Everyone’s always waiting on a document — wouldn’t it be great to collaborate in real time on the same set of documents to get customers answers faster? Folia solves this problem.”
Bhatt, who earned his IU degree in cognitive science, hatched the idea for Folia in Chicago, where it grew out of his previous startup. With the support of the IU Angel Network, which includes IU alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends across the world, Bhatt recently relocated Folia to Bloomington, where he hopes to significantly expand the company’s workforce. Folia currently has seven Bloomington-based employees, but Bhatt plans to increase the company’s local workforce to 40 employees with expertise in, among other fields, computer science, cognitive science, business and communications. (Folia also has 7 additional employees who work across three other cities.)
Last month, Bhatt was one of just 12 nominees for the “Rising Entrepreneur Award” at the 23rd annual Mira Awards, Indiana’s largest, best known and most prestigious technology awards hosted by TechPoint.
Folia is headquartered at The Mill, Bloomington’s center for coworking and entrepreneurship, of which IU Ventures is one of three cornerstone sponsors.
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.