Upstart Coghead on Wednesday opened up its beta service for building online applications at the start of the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco.
Until now, it has had a closed beta of its service, which lets "technically savvy" business users to create Web-based workflow applications with a visual tool.
The company, which has some well known advisors, claims that it is enabling do-it-yourself Web applications by giving people with no programming expertise a way to build their own business applications.
Coghead plans to launch a generally available service in the first quarter of next year and charge a subscription where people pay a monthly fee depending on the size of the account.
"It will be substantially less than what people are used to in enterprise applications," said Paul McNamara, the company CEO. "It's integrated. You create and run the applications in one environment."
Professional developers are also part of the picture, though. Coghead plans call for affiliates and a gallery of applications, or templates, created by third parties.
"Today, if you want to be in the software business, you raise venture capital money, hire engineers, and start working on a product," McNamara said. "With our concept, you can have a very capital-efficient business."
For example, if a developer understands a specific business domain very well, that person could have a hosted application running within a few weeks.
In its initial beta program, Coghead has seen a "latent demand" for tools to rapidly create Web applications, particularly those that involve business workflow.
"The whole idea is that a vast majority only need little bit of business logic," said Greg Olsen, the company's chief technology officer.
The company sees a potential competitors in Salesforce.com's AppExchange platform and Intuit's QuickBase, said McNamara.