We recently ran into Dialplus (www.dialplus.net), a company which is developing mobile applications which pull up social networking profiles from Facebook or other sites when you make a phone call to a friend. The company's mobile applications use the phone number you are dialing to pull up information about the person you are talking to, displaying their profile or social networking information on your cell phone. The firm was pitching for funding at the Technology Council of Southern California's VentureNet event earlier this month. We spoke with Lisa LeVasseur, CEO of the firm, and Sce Pike, President of the company, to learn more about how they are hoping to tackle the mobile phone market and where the idea came from. (Photo: on left, Lisa LeVasseur, on right, Sce Pike).
What does your company do?
Lisa LeVasseur: We're supplementing all phone calls with dynamically created information from the web to enrich the communications process, during, and after a phone call is made.
How did the company come about?
Lisa LeVasseur: We have another company, a services company we started at the beginning of last year. In that process, that's how Sce had the vision for the Dialplus experience--wouldn't it be cool if we could start this, create this experience. So we started to work on that in the background, and towards the end of last year thought it was a very good idea and that we should file some patents and create the company, which we did. We've really been in progress since the beginning of this year.
Sce Pike: My background is from the web world. I had been starting Internet startups, and I realized that around 2000/2001 that mobile was going to next big thing. This is the perfect convergence of mobile and web. You have mobile, and web information at your fingertips. Everyone knows how to make a phone call--but not everyone knows how to find a browser, navigate a browser on a mobile phone.
What's the background of your management--we understand you have some experience in the industry?
Lisa LeVasseur: I've been in the industry for over 21 years. I've been at Motorola on the infrastructure side, Kyocera in handsets, and also at Amp'd Mobile. Sce and I met at Kyocera, where she was in UI design, and I brought her into Amp'd Mobile on UI design there.
How are you funded and backed?
Lisa LeVasseur: We've been self funded, bootstrapping through our other company, and we also have some angels. We've now gotten to the point where we have these opportunities in front of us with the carriers, who are all very interested in us--we have a trial coming up in the fourth quarter with a tier 1 carrier here in the U.S.--and we need some money to actually service the opportunities in front of us.
The mobile world is notorious for being hard to get into, how do you get over those hurdles?
Lisa LeVasseur: Well, we're actually very fortunate. Our entire executive team, Sce and I, plus Hutch Morton who comes out of JAMDAT--have very deep networks across all of the carriers and handset manufacturers, having coming out of the handset manufacturers.
Sce Pike: We're very, very well connected. We mentioned our first company, which is a strategic consulting business for mobile carriers.
Where's the application now--is it available?
Lisa LeVasseur: There's an alpha version for Windows Mobile on our web site today. We have some pre-alpha versions on Blackberry and Symbian -- that are not yet available, they are in user trial right now -- and we will be launching all three of those versions to consumers through off-portal services like Handango and Handmark.