Monday, February 8, 2010
Interview with Tyler Koblasa, Mingly
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
We recently spoke with Tyler Koblasa, Founder and CEO of Mingly, a Santa Monica-based startup which is pulling together contacts from multiple sources, and adding such tools as contact reminders, to-do lists, and alerts based on those contacts. Tyler told us about his startup and what it's up to.
What is Mingly all about?
Tyler Koblasa: Mingly is a relationship management tool, kind of a personal assistant, and keeps track of all of your contacts, from multiple sources, and aggregates that into a master address book. Whether someone is in Google address book, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, they all end up in one place. Then, you have aggregated status updates and aggregated communication with all of those individual contacts. Mingly also generates alerts. The difference between Mingly and other companies, is we're event driven--it's all driven from a to-do list, essentially action-based. That can be a time-based reminder, where it analyzes your communications and determines the last time you interacted with a contact, and prompts for follow up one month, three months, or six months since you last pinged that contact, to keep the relationship alive. It also generated search alerts--like a Google alert, for mentions of that person's name, company, and also keywords. That might be for their interests--a sports team, if they are a VC, if they'd recently sold a portfolio company, things that you could reach out and tell them congratulations. It can also escalate contacts--for example, you can set a contact for high priority, and escalate communication via SMS or voice. You would get a text message or voice mail so that I don't miss that call. That's so sometimes when you haven't checked your email for a couple of hours, you could have met someone for lunch. It really is there to save you time and funnel it into one list. It also extends as a Gmail widget, Facebook app, and eventually and Outlook plug-in.
Who is the ideal customer for this?
Tyler Koblasa: We're trying to be the Salesforce for everyone else out there looking to network. It's definitely for people meeting contacts--people who have hundreds, if not thousands of contacts, and just need a way to prioritize those contacts, set an important level, and set those keywords, and follow up interval. The market really is power networkers.
Tell us a bit about the business model?
Tyler Koblasa: It's the classic freemium model. In our free version, we'll be generating revenues through affiliates. For example, Stubhub, 1-800 FLOWERS, and OpenTable, so when you have a link there and they happen to be fans of the New York Knicks, playing in LA, I can say hey, here's a ticket. In our premium model, there are more frequent updates. In the free version, there's also a "bug" -- where we say it's powered by Mingly. With the premium version, we hide that. There's also Twilio voice integration in the premium version. We'll also be eventually be doing specific verticals such as real estate, film, and we'll have plug-ins we'll be charging for.
How are you funded?
Right now we're bootstrapping, and are in the process of raising our seed round. We're seeing good interest, and we launched just two months ago at Startup Weekend.
What's your background and your founders?
I started my first company in 1996, when I was in high school. It was actually a hosting company, we did free hosting, paid hosting. We were one of the first free hosting companies. It was called Onestop.net, and we went on to register tens of thousands of domains for customers. Then, I built another site called StoreAndServe.com, one of the top 700 sites on Alexa, and then also worked with AOL in technology, doing remnant traffic optimization. Our CTO, Josh MacAdam, worked at my previous company in 2001/2002, and built a company called Auctionwagon, which was later acquired by a company in San Diego. Also, our VP of Business Development, also has five or six years of startup experience.
When did you decide to start Mingly, what drove you to start the company?
Tyler Koblasa: It was because I couldn't find a good tool to help me follow up with important contacts. Whether I just met them, or someone ongoing, because I know the importance of keeping that relationship alive. It was really just my own pain. I met so many amazing people, but you get so busy--maybe you've got just too much data coming to you. You need just one source so that you could put together an actionable list and make sure that it is in the right order in the list.