The BizSpark startup of the day is Xobni, based in the US. You will find below an interview with Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni
Tell us who you are and your role in the company.
What did you do before creating your company?
I spent a few years at Yahoo!. First, leading the #1 IM client (Yahoo! Messenger), then went to head up Social Search, which included Yahoo! Answers and del.icio.us. Prior to Yahoo!, I was President of SIPphone, where I conceived and designed the Gizmo project. And if you want to go back even further, I was CEO of i-drive, which was the largest online storage tool at the time.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
It great. Being taken under the wing of Microsoft certainly has its benefits. We’ve been fortunate to have a strong relationship with Microsoft as a member of BizSpark, and also as a developer with the mission of making Outlook a more valuable product for the 500 million users around the world.
What is your company’s mission?
To help people be more productive by better managing the growing amount of information and high-value relationships directly from their inbox.
In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
Help people be more productive by better managing their email and staying connected with important people in their lives – all from their inbox.
How did you get the idea for your company?
Adam Smith (cofounder) was studying machine learning at MIT and was looking for the largest database in which to work in. Given the billions of emails exchanged every day, he realized email was bigger than content on the Internet. As a college student, he had never worked in Microsoft Outlook, but as the market leader, he went after it. While it took much longer than he thought to build in Outlook in those days, he (and his professor) realized early on that he was on to something.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
We’ve raised nearly $15 million to date from Khosla Vensures, First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures, Atomico, RIM and Cisco.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
28 – about 16 developers.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?
Always. We are always looking for smart engineers and people that will drive user growth and revenue.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
Our client-side work is built on Outlook and we write in C# on the .Net 2.0 framework. On the mobile side we’re built on the Blackberry. And our server side stuff is built on the LAMP stack.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?
We believe at Xobni that unlocking, understanding and making available all the incredible data and intelligence in all of our inboxes is a massive opportunity that will take years to realize. Add to that everything that we are learning from social networks, and the sky’s the limit.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
It’s a great strategy by Microsoft to get people to build on their platform. For Xobni, it’s been great to have the access to software, marketing, and partnering opportunities that BizSpark provides.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Build a product that meets a CURRENT need and don’t expect users to pay for something without being blown away by its effectiveness. While having a free model may not work for every business, it’s working for us. I think having a free version of our product is what gets them addicted – and they want more.
Who’s your role model?
My father – he was a builder and gave me the passion to build, too.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview
That they must take back their inbox and go download Xobni. 😉