The client, who I shall not name here, got into the business around 2000.
They took delivery of a digital press sold by a client of mine and needed software to run it effectively. At that time converting a print file in PostScript to something the machine could actually process took a very long time. So long that it would take a year to rasterize the work that needed to be completed in a single month at year end.
Around that time I had recently created a product called pdfExpress.
pdfExpress was a C++ application that manipulated PDF files as data as opposed to rasterizing them.
At the time I created it a previous version, which was linked to Adobe Acrobat, was all that was available to manipulate files for printing.
One day, while sitting on the couch at home, I realized that the content stream of PDF was actually just well structured data that could be manipulated directly, so long as the rules of PDF were maintained. Really, PDF is just a programming language, sort of a constrained PostScript.
I had spent about five years writing software to automatically convert programming languages, or more correctly, source code for applications, from one computer language, e.g., Fortran, to other languages, e.g., C. (The company was called "Lexeme" and founded around 1985.)
It struck me that this was doable for PDF (though not PostScript for complicated reasons). PDF was designed as short hand for PostScript.
I built the initial version of pdfExpress in about two months using a collection of C++ code I had written as well as a lot of new code.
(pdfExpress is the subject of these two patents:
US 6,547,831 - Method of Generating Documents Having Variable Data Fields
US 7,020,837 - Method for the Efficient Compression of Graphic Content in Composite PDF Files)
We needed pdfExpress to perform manipulations for projects like the insurance card system because Acrobat was too slow and licensing issues prevent it from being used as a server.
We set up a test run that normally took about a minute to do with Acrobat (the precursor was an Acrobat plug-in).
I hit "RETURN" and the DOS prompt came back instantly.
My associated and I gasped!
"Shit, something is wrong," he said.
"Yeah, it must have died," I replied.
We poked around and couldn't see a problem.
We tried it again.
My associate said "see if there's an output file."
We did, and there it was, correct!
We knew we had a winner.
In the end the C++ version outperformed Acrobat plug-ins about 1000:1.
I also don't like cold calling nor do I like bidding against folks who live in a different world where the cost of living is 1/1000th of what it is here.
Seriously, though, I like the idea these guys are presenting. I've created plenty of "disruptive" technologies over the years - pdfExpress being one. At the same time I have always mentored people along the way. I've converted playground installers into master programmers.