BizSpark Startup of the Day - Gibberin

The BizSpark startup of the day is Gibberin, based in the US. Below you will find an interview with David Ferguson, Co-founder of the Gibberin. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!


Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

I am one of two co-founders of the Gibberin communication service. Presently I hold the position of CEO though I play other roles as well including CTO, Dev Lead and customer support.

What did you do before creating your company?

From 1990 to 2003 I held various positions at Microsoft primarily as a developer. In 2003 I left Microsoft to found Click Engineering Inc., a technology consulting company. I sold ‘Click’ in early 2010 in order to focus on building out the concept of Gibberin.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

Flattered! You never know as a startup how your offering will be received in the marketplace so being selected is uplifting and provides validation for all the work we have put in over the past few months. Fortunately we have been getting similar response from our users so we know we have a good thing going!

What is your company’s mission?

To evolve digital communication away from the cumbersome solutions we have today to a more natural solution which highlights the richness of the spoken word.

In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

Gibberin combines the richness of voice with the convenience of texting. Quickly and easily record, deliver and respond to spoken messages.

How did you get the idea for your company?

In my previous role as a consultant I supported numerous clients (and family members). Often I found myself trying to communicate technical topics which were difficult enough to describe face to face, much less via email, voicemail or texts.

I had the classic “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” moment. It dawned on me that the ability to send and receive spoken messages asynchronously would address that and other problems. I could receive and compose messages when it was convenient, just like email, but I could leverage the conversational nature of the medium to communicate more clearly… and composing messages would be fast! After running it by my eleven year old daughter - who approved with enthusiasm - Gibberin was born!

Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

We are accepting investors at this time. Currently we have $150K left in our initial round of $250K.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Our team is growing but currently stands at six, three of whom (including myself) are devoted to development, one to Program Management, one as CFO, and one for PR/Marketing.

Are you hiring?If yes, what are you hiring for and where?

No, we are not actively hiring at this time, though we are always looking for quality people. We are announcing our public beta on October 18th and will be adjusting our hiring plans based on response to the announcement. I anticipate will need additional development, sales and customer support resources in the next few months.

Which platform are you building on?Why?

We adopted iOS first for a couple of reasons. Market share, momentum and installed base are obvious ones. The maturity of the platform and development environment ensured a smooth development cycle. And frankly at the time we made the decision iOS was where the cult lived, we felt success in that space would ensure rapid and wide adoption which would lead to momentum we could use to tackle other platforms. That said we have since seen significant growth in Android and Windows Phone 7 and are impressed by the Windows Phone 7 platform so we are developing both enthusiastically and with alacrity.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?

Everywhere, but to pick a case in point I would offer that we need to soften the focus on hardware form factor and direct it toward how we interface with systems. Humans are not designed to poke buttons, translate text and fumble with plate-sized devices.

We are primarily auditory and oratory beings. We should be able to interact with our contacts and our data through voice. Voice command and control has been available on computers for over a decade but few solutions have taken advantage of it. I believe with the application of some deep thinking we can incorporate voice interaction into modern software solutions and ultimately develop a voice based OS that could be made available ubiquitously. Gibberin is an early step in that direction.

What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

I think it’s right on target. Look, everyone knows the pressures faced by startups are numerous and daunting, yet everyone agrees that startups pave the road to growth, innovation and progress. So anything that helps reduce the pressure on a startup is going to pay off in high multiples. BizSpark provides us with access to technologies such as Windows Azure, Visual Studio, Microsoft Office, Windows Phone 7 and more without the cost normally associated with them.

Cash is always tight in a startup and conserving it is critical to success. Without BizSpark we would be forced into slower growth and development which can spell doom. What’s more, now that we have a service to offer, BizSpark has our back on exposure and outreach so we can drive adoption and continue to grow. I wish more businesses understood how valuable and important this early support is!

Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Don’t get discouraged. Believe in your idea and pursue it with passion. It can be overwhelming to look down the startup path and success can seem impossible. But if you commit to your idea and execute on a clear plan to develop it you will find doors begin to open and resources become available to you because your passion will not go unnoticed.

Who’s your role model?

Tim Berners-Lee for his foresight, creativity and innovation around the original design of the world wide web.

What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?

We have not seen significant innovation in the communication realm for many years. We have become accustomed to the limitations of the communications solutions developed in the late 1900’s and to some degree early 2000’s. The time for evolution is nigh. Technology has improved to the point that spoken messaging is a viable alternative to text based solutions and we at Gibberin are taking advantage of it to introduce you to the next wave in digital communications. You have a voice, use it!