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Madcap’s entrepreneurs drawn to the La Jolla lifestyle

Anthony Olivier and Bjorn Backlund, previous owners of Blue Sky Software in La Jolla, have returned to the Jewel - even the same building - with a new business, Madcap Software at 7777 Fay Ave., Suite 100.

Coming back to La Jolla was a no-brainer for the business team. “We just love this area,” said Backlund. “It’s like living a dream. I bike to work. It’s a nice area to go out to lunch. It’s helped us recruiting. People really enjoy working here. It was karma that this space actually opened up (again). This is where we want to be, downtown La Jolla. You can’t beat that.”

“We have a niche software that we provide for technical communications,” said company CEO Olivier, about Madcap’s software, which is specifically designed for professional technical writers, software developers, Web application developers and IT and human resource professionals. What Madcap Software provides them with is a quick and easy way to compose content, while allowing easy reuse and repurposing of content to virtually any format, standard, device or operating system.

Olivier and Backlund have extensive experience in Windows applications dealing with help buttons. “We build the engines behind the help system,” said Olivier. “We sell software that actually writes help for a living.”

Madcap is busy diversifying its product mix. Said Backlund: “We have software that produces things like product loan manuals and real loan documents. We have software that we put in Web sites for doing animation for media movies on the Web. We are spreading out, having a pretty broad product portfolio. But everything kind of comes together in helping the technical communicator.”

Olivier, a native South African, noted his software company has thousands of customers, not only locally in San Diego, but worldwide. One example is Wells Fargo bank. “They write all their policies and procedures for their company policy,” he said, “and chances are their documentation has been written using our product.”

“We have customers all the way from Google and Microsoft down to one-man shops,” pointed out Backlund. “Our products are used wherever technical communicators are writing software documentation for help documentation for manuals: They could be anywhere in the world.”

Madcap considers it to be quite a feather in their cap that they were approached by Microsoft to join it in a cooperative effort at the very first computer conference they attended in Las Vegas. Said Olivier: “They (Microsoft) said, ‘We love what you’re doing in developing this product. We want to use you guys as a showcase to launch our technology.’ ”

Madcap offers Madpak, the industry’s first true single-sourcing suite of software products including Flare, Mimic, Capture and Echo. Flare is a powerful, flexible and innovative Help authority tool with the ability to import and export both Microsoft Word and Adobe FramerMaker formats. Mimic makes it easy to record, enhance and publish software simulations for use in sales and marketing, technical support, eLearning and Help systems. Capture can translate anything displayable on a computer screen into an editable image. Echo adds audible instructions, soundtracks or other types of sound elements into software.

Other up-and-coming product lines are: Feedback, a new way to get live user feedback on documentation; Blaze, offering the power to efficiently produce and manage large documentation sets; and Mimic, billed as the world’s first fully integrated help authoring tool and translation memory system.

Olivier said his firm has experienced phenomenal growth. “We’re extremely profitable,” he added. “The industry is growing. We’re producing more and more products, actually revolutionizing the industry, creating more opportunities to do things.”

Best of all, said Backlund, Madcap patronizes homegrown business. “Everything we do is done in the United States,” he said. “We haven’t done outsourcing to China or India. We’re a proud San Diego employer. It’s kind of a thing for us to keep it local.”

Backlund and Olivier chose Madcap, a term originally coined by Shakespeare meaning crazy or zany, as the name for their firm because they thought it would be something young and fun. Their company logo epitomizes the firm’s lighthearted business philosophy, a circular, partial face with a kid’s beanie cap topped by a propellor blade. They put the Madcap logo on T-shirts and now have another product to sell. “We had such a huge demand,” said Olivier. “People said, ‘We want a T-shirt.’ So we started selling the T-shirts online.”

Madcap has even come out with a La Jolla edition of its T-shirt sporting its trademark beanie copter logo.

At Madcap, it’s not only about getting the work done, but enjoying life while you’re doing it. In the rear of the company’s voluminous work space is a well-used ping-pong table where games and tournaments are held continually amongst staff, and there is always a waiting list to play.

“We think it’s important that you have a fun environment,” concluded Olivier.