iMessage is coming for Mac users in July. But Android smartphone owners can get something better, for free, right now. It’s called MightyText, and it’s launching from public beta today.
MightyText is a very simple product with a killer value prop: text anyone, anywhere, from whatever device you happen to be using. And yes, that very specifically means both your computer and tablet.
To use it, Android users install one app onto their phone, and one extension into their browser. Once done, they’re able to SMS anyone in the world from their computer. And the text will come from their mobile number. Your messages are stored in the cloud for as long as you want, and all texts are synced up on all devices you use, enabling you to move seamlessly from your phone to your laptop to your tablet, without losing any data or context.
Mac OS X Lion will bring this capability to Mac users this summer, with one key flaw: It will only work with other Mac or iOS users. MightyText, though,will let you text with anyone on the planet, whether they’re using an Android, iOS, or feature phone.
“We built a very simple way to SMS from wherever you are,” says Maneesh Arora. He’s the co-founder of MightyText, and spoke with VentureBeat about the cloud-based service yesterday.
A former Googler, as is co-founder Amit Sangani, Arora was looking to build a truly useful consumer product around texting. But he didn’t think much of the SMS networks that were so hot in late 2011, like GroupMe and Kik.
“There are so many messaging apps … but each time there’s a new one, it makes all the rest less valuable,” Arora told VentureBeat. “SMS is the largest social network ever.” Arora wanted to build a product for everyone to use that did not require getting your friends to all sign up for the same network.
After building a prototype last year in a Chrome extension, MightyText proved the concept. Then it raised a small amount of capital, $640,000, and starting building an actual product.
Today, after months of private beta, it has 250,000 users who are sending almost 80 million texts a month. And the beauty of it all is that it hardly costs MightyText a dime.
When users send a text from their computer, they’re essentially remote-controlling their phone. That has the huge benefit of ensuring that texts sent from any of your devices come from the one thing that all your friends will recognize: your phone number.
But it also has the huge benefit for MightyText that users bear the SMS costs, which keeps costs unusually low for an SMS startup.
And in fact, it’s a genius win, win, win, because the carriers, who are losing money when iMessage or BBM or other services send text messages via data channels or WIFI, still get their cut — and therefore have an incentive to work with MightyText at some point at an API level.
The benefit for users, though, is the key for Arora: effortless texting from large-screen devices with full keyboards.
He tells the story of the lawyer who saved a case by texting from her laptop — which she would not have been able to do with her phone, since phones were barred from the courtroom. Or the trucking fleet manager who runs his trucks via SMS and can do it so much more efficiently with his computer.
MightyText currently has no immediate plans for monetization. Appropriate for ex-Googlers, Arora and Sangani are content to create and deliver a very valuable product and worry about revenue later. Still, they get about 20-50 people a day inquiring where they should pay for the service.
Down the road, there may be a very targeted, selective advertising product, or a premium version for small and medium-sized businesses. Partnering with carriers is another option.
The company currently has three employees in its Mountain View, Calif. office, plus some outsourced resources in India. Investors include First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, 500 Startups, AngelList, and others.
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