TechFaster: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about FullContact?
Bart Lorang: I’m Bart Lorang, the CEO and Co-Founder of FullContact. Fullcontanct’s mission is to solve the worlds contact information problem. We like to say that if you’ve got an address book, you’ve got an address book problem. Whether it’s multiple address books across multiple networks, multiple devices, desktops, it’s a real mess. I think we all experience this. We’ve got duplicate contacts and incomplete data. It’s just scattered everywhere. Businesses also have this problem too not only from their employees, but they’ve got ESP applications and support desk applications and accounting applications; it’s all scattered everywhere. FullContact is fixing that problem by providing a service that brings all your address books to one place and keeps your contacts automatically up to date.
TechFaster: So essentially it’s just a bunch of different APIs. Is that correct?
Bart: Yeah. We’ve taken an interesting approach to market in that everything we do is an API first, recognizing that eventually people want to tap into this. We start with just APIs that people build on and we slowly build a very specific user interface for certain elements of our service, but mostly developers build on the plumbing we provide.
TechFaster: Can you tell me a little bit about how you are appending the contact records with social data?
Bart: In the last 10 years a lot of new contact forms have sprouted up, whether it’s my Twitter handle or my Facebook URL or my LinkedIn URL or my FourSquare URL or whatever. These are interesting, publicly rendered contact details; photos, names, and things like that. The approach we take is grabbing all of those publicly available contact methods and contact details and appending those to contact records via an API. It’s essentially like searching for somebody very quickly on Google, but in a structured way.
TechFaster: Can FullContact be directly incorporated into Sales Force or Capsule or other CRMs?
Bart: Yeah. Those are our biggest customers in terms of that big market of CRMs in general.
TechFaster: When we were doing our background research for this we kept coming across the paid vacation policy. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Bart: It’s actually the paid-paid vacation policy, but that was a fun experience. It was something we released last July and it was just a thing that had been festering in me for about a decade. I think that we work incredibly hard in the tech industry, we work really long hours, and we’re always connected to our devices. We wanted to give a benefit to our employees that say they need to disconnect from FullContact for a while and give them an incentive to do it. What we did is we have every employee $7,500 in addition to their existing salary when they go on vacation. The rules were: they had to disconnect and unplug from the grid, they couldn’t work while on vacation, and they had to take a vacation to get it. That blog post and then the corresponding press just exploded internationally and it was crazy for a few months. We got over 5,000 applicants for our company; it was insane. It really started out as a retention strategy to make our company better, but then it turned out to be this wildly successful recruiting strategy.
TechFaster: Can you tell me how it’s impacted your productivity and your overall organization? Do you think it’s can a positive impact?
Bart: People come back very energized and refreshed. I took an off the grid honeymoon for the first time in my life and I came back so energized and so charged up because I was so disconnected and I was craving that stimulation. People come back really relaxed and ready to go. Obviously the families and spouses really love it. It’s just been a wonderful thing for everybody. Physiologically people think of that vacation money as separate from their normal compensation and they think they can go on a great European vacation or a surf vacation that they had never budgeted before. So I think people are going to enjoy their vacations now more than ever.
TechFaster: Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re handling mobile?
Bart: We actually just released a mobile application we like to call Card Shark which is just a native iPhone app. It basically takes photos of business cards and pushes them directly to Sales Force and your FullContact account. It uses human transcription to do it so that it’s 100 percent accurate. We use several human beings to transcribe the card because standard OCR methods just aren’t accurate enough. We’ve looked at HTML 5, but we just haven’t experienced great UX with HMTL 5 and we feel that integrating natively gives the best performance and the best experience. It takes longer, but you have to be able to take a long term view of these things.
TechFaster: Do you have plans to release something on Android as well?
Bart: We have plans on Android and Blackberry in the future. Because we’ve taken an API approach to everything, people are starting to build these apps on our infrastructure and they work across the platform. But we will be releasing native apps for those platforms.
TechFaster: You guys were in Tech Stars; do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Bart: Tech Stars was a phenomenal experience. We thought we were a bunch of smart guys that started FullContact, but when you get exposed to all the mentors and the other teams your ego takes a bashing. You have the smartest minds in tech at your fingertips and you can get introductions very quickly. The Tech Stars group and community really vets our business and it’s a really amazing crucible for entrepreneurs to go through while you’re starting your business.
TechFaster: What are you plans for FullContact?
Bart: Right now we’re in a massive push to release our end user product, FullConcact Offering. Different individuals can use it to consolidate all their address books into one place and share contacts with other places. We like to say what Dropbox did for files and what Evernote did for notes; FullContat is doing to for contacts. We have an amazing API behind it that we’ll probably release a quarter or two later after we make sure all the endpoints are accurate and valid and don’t change. Our existing API business is growing nicely; we don’t see that changing. We really want to deliver a great user experience to users with our FullContact end user offering.
TechFaster: We appreciate it, Bart. That was a lot of great insight and thank you for joining us.