A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
Who: Curt Blake, chief executive
What it does: The Kirkland company helps organize voice mail by using its software to compile messages from a home phone, a work phone and a cellphone onto a Web site or from an e-mail inbox.
“Voice mail is really cumbersome. Most people have more than one account and it’s a different interface for each one,” Blake said. “It’s helpful if the whole thing has an united interface and if it was the same as e-mail.”
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Voice-mail hell: Blake said the people using GotVoice get about five or six voice mails a day on average. “There’s people off the scale, who get 100 voice mails a day. It’s an incredible number. Even with our service, I don’t know how they deal with it,” he said.
History: The company was founded in 2003 by Martin Dunsmuir, the company’s president and chief technology officer. Dunsmuir had previously worked at RealNetworks and Microsoft.
It’s free: After conducting a survey among Microsoft Hotmail account users in Los Angeles last summer, Blake said the company determined the best way to use the software was to give it away and have an advertising-based revenue model.
Since making that decision, GotVoice has been adding about 500 users a day and is close to hitting the 100,000 mark.
The price: With free service the users will see ads, which appear in the e-mails that contain the voice mails and also on the company’s Web site.
Upgrades: Next month, Blake said they will add a professional version that will cost $4.95 to $9.99 a month to get the service without ads. The more expensive version will alert the user to new voice mails more frequently. The free model checks for messages three times a day.
10-4: Before the company’s decision to give away the service, it launched a program called Operation GotVoice, which allowed military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan to use the service free.
“To get in touch with people at home, you don’t want to have to call to check voice mail. It’s inconvenient,” he said. “It occurred to us, for the people who are in Iraq and Afghanistan, the problem is probably hugely exacerbated. This is an excellent way to communicate.”
Funding: The 14-employee company has raised about $1 million in angel funding.
— Tricia Duryee