Chatwala, a messaging app startup based in New York City, raised a $625,000 seed round Wednesday.
The six-employee outfit produces a two-way video chat mobile app that lets users engage in staggered conversations using iOS or Android platforms. The money was raised from individual investors, said chief executive and founder Tejpaul Bhatia.
While Skype, BBM and WhatsApp allow for real-time video and messaging conversations, Chatwala takes a different approach. Lacking the vertical feed inherent in some of its competitors, Chatwala places users in an above and below window feed and let’s them start and end conversations at their whim.
“The back and forth is on your own time. You choose when to reply, watch the conversation when you want. It’s kind of like a messaging ping-pong conversation with a split screen view,” Bhatia said Wednesday from Manhattan.
The app is live and available on iTunes and Google Play. Bhatia said the app is attracting serious downloads and that Chatwala is getting the attention of potential investors interested in the mobile conversation space.
“Our mission is to make communication personal again. Chatwala makes the conversation real. Over time, BBM and Skype have helped with face to face conversations. Video messaging is still in its early days,” he said.
Those using Chatwala’s app can keep detailed records of all conversations, so users can build on and return to them, whenever they want.
The amiable Bhatia is a startup vet. He launched social photo sharing site Kaptur in 2011 and then sold it to an e-commerce site for an amount he declined to disclose. He said he and his wife engaged in serious “soul searching” before launching Chatwala last year.
The app is still developing, and Bhatia said his engineers were looking into the feasibility of adding a real-time video feature to it.
“The mobile conversation space is hot. I am consumed with the idea.”