A startup headed by ex-Tibco execs is launching a free text messaging and voice app today targeted at the still-open business market.
Los Altos, Calif.-based Avaamo is citing the speed of the app, its encryption and other security, the ability to communicate with non-Avaamo users, and business-oriented functions as its core features. The company is also announcing today that it has raised a $6.3 million seed round.
The co-founders, CEO Ram Menon and CTO Sriram Chakravarthy, previously led the Tibbr social computing product at Tibco. The idea for the new company began when Menon had to negotiate a contract via messaging.
“I was working on a deal, and one of the decision makers was dragged away by his wife,” Menon told VentureBeat.
The other guy had an Android phone on his beach vacation, while Menon had an iPhone. The two used WhatsApp to communicate, he said, and they eventually managed to close the deal.
“But I thought, ‘There has to be a better way,'” he said.
The Avaamo app and its supporting infrastructure, he noted, has been put together “in stealth” over the last four months.
While the business messaging space is not yet dominated by any major players, others have also noticed the opportunity. There’s BBM Protected, for instance, a business-hardened version of BlackBerry’s very popular messaging app. Lync, Cotap, Wickr, Gliph, TigerText, and others also offer secure business texting.
Menon said Avaamo contractually agrees to fast communication. “We will deliver [a text message] in less than one second,” he said.
Avaamo can send a SMS message or an email to people who don’t have the app, he said. Replies to the SMS are sent to the Avaamo app. Messages are encrypted by default and can be set to disappear after a given time lapse. Messaging records are exportable to audit systems, although there is also an “off-the-record” option.
Other functions include the ability to see if another person is in the app, converting every calendar meeting into group messaging, and emoticons with such business-useful phrases as “kill me now,” “driving now,” or “you’re serious?”
A premium version — for which the company has not yet announced pricing — offers an admin console so that companies can wipe all messaging when a user’s business email address is deleted from the company’s system, plus other controls. The app’s infrastructure is hosted worldwide on Amazon Web Services.
The seed round, being used for the company’s marketing and global customer acquisition, was led by WI Harper Group and included Rembrandt Ventures Partners, Streamlined Ventures, Eleven Two Capital, and Ovo Fund.
The app will be available today in the Google Play in 30 countries — Menon pointed to Asia as “a key market” — with availability next week in Apple’s App Store.