HiHello, the latest startup to tackle business cards with its own digital alternative, has raised a $ 2.5 million funding round to continue its efforts to create a better contact management solution designed for the mobile age. The new funding was led by August Capital, K9 Ventures and TenOneTen Ventures, and will see Villi Iltchev from August Capital join the board of HiHello.
The cycle ended last year, but had not been announced.
The now six-month-old startup was envisioned by the founder of K9 Ventures Manu Kumar, with the co-founder and Caltech and Columbia alum Hari Ravi. Notably, Kumar has been trying to solve the problem of contact management for years, having co-founded and sold his startup CardMunch to LinkedIn – a move he later regretted, saying last year he was “still on.” anger ”against LinkedIn for ruining and ultimately killing. the product. (LinkedIn then pledged its ashes for Evernote.)
With HiHello, Kumar gives another chance to contact management and business networking. Version 1 of the app offered a simple solution that allows users to exchange contact information by scanning a QR code with their phone’s native camera app, or by sharing information via SMS or email. The mobile application allows you to create personalized profiles in order to share with another person your professional contact details, your personal information or any other personalized profile that you wish.
As HiHello enters its next phase, the company aims to reclaim some of the best ideas from old apps in this space – like Plaxo, Bump, and even CardMunch – while overcoming their limitations.
For example, Bump once required both people to have the app installed in order to work. HiHello is already working today if only one person has the app. But it will deploy a more elegant solution when two HiHello users are present. A “Nearby” screen in the app will allow people to share contact information with each other based on a double opt-in system.
From Plaxo, HiHello will adopt the idea of automatically updating contact information for anyone who has the user in their address book when the information is changed.
The startup takes a different approach to privacy than Plaxo, saying it won’t spam or sell user data, nor will it ask for permission to access your contacts. Instead, HiHello will act as an address book provider whose contacts database you can add to your device. This keeps it isolated and separate from other address sources, and ensures that it won’t “mess up” your own contacts in the process.
“There will be a basic level of functionality available for free, but our goal is to build a sustainable (and profitable) business that delivers value to customers,” says Kumar. “Full functionality will be provided with a paid subscription to HiHello. We are never going to sell user data or rely on advertising and the like. We’re not ready to talk about pricing and other details just yet, as we’re still in construction mode.
Kumar says he doesn’t want to make the same mistake he made with CardMunch. Instead, he wants the business to be sustainable, “so that we never have to sell HiHello to a buyer who will then ruin the service and kill it.”
Yes, this LinkedIn deal is still stinging, it seems… Hopefully HiHello will have a better fate.