TechFaster: Who are you, and what is Thread?
James: My name is James Lawrence I am the CEO and Co-founder of Sprezzat Inc. We are a mobile tech company that’s principally focused on engagement with users on the incoming call screen space. So caller ID is a simple way of thinking of but really thinking of that space of broader engagement opportunity and so we’ve got several products that we’re working on. One in particular our flagship app, Thread mobile app which is on the Google Play store now, beta version. Essentially what we’ve done with this app is try to sort of re-imagine caller ID. If you think about it, very little innovation has happened in this space since the original caller ID came out 30 years ago. Perhaps the only innovation is the picture of the person is included. So we really saw this as an amazing opportunity, very little innovation. There are billions of phone calls made every day in the US. So it seemed like a great opportunity and that’s what we’re focusing on.
TechFaster: Can you talk a little bit about the building process?
James: It’s no simple task. There are some unique characteristics from a performance standpoint. Essentially, Thread has four pieces of content, SMS, E-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. But we’ll be adding more as we go, the next we’ll add is Instagram, Linkedin, Evernote and others. You have to really build a sound foundation for those to go on. So the Beta process we’ve been in has been fantastic. We’re getting lots of feedback from our users, you know telling us what they wish was there, perhaps some things we could tweak, so you iterate from that and move quickly to bring the product to a V1 version to get it out the gate. On the process of putting all those things together is really where the challenge is. Particularly the performance requirements of caller ID. The other half of Thread is on the outside of the caller ID component. If we have already consolidated all of your contacts into one place, the idea then became, outside of the phone call ring you really have everything there and there should be a great user interface to sort of have a home base for social if you will. Where everything is contained in one space. And that’s the other component of this to provide all of your feeds in a single concise user experience, you get to engage the content within Thread, say what use to take four apps to check all of those things, now is done in one. So when you click it doesn’t take you out to Facebook, you just reply from Thread. So it’s a very concise environment and the last about this is the feeds, what you don’t see is all the ads and sponsored posts that are usually on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a more pure sort of environment to engage and enjoy keeping up with your contacts.
TechFaster: How would you compare Thread with Rapportive?
James: We kinda bumped into that down this path with our fans. What they do with the Rapportive plug in we want to do on the mobile side. It’s providing context which is essentially what you’re doing. In our case the context around the caller ID is, before you answer the phone you have about thirty seconds and we added in a voice-mail countdown bar that ticks down so you have a comfort level of viewing the content and not playing chicken with the voice-mail while you’re trying to see what this person has been up to, cause that context helps you have for effective conversation and in some cases you avoid the call entirely you know, maybe there’s some information on there like, oh I’m not answering this phone. So we’d like to think we’ve been saving relationships for about a month now.
TechFaster: Right now it’s only currently on Android but I read you guys are gonna make an iPhone app. Can you maybe talk about the challenges of building something like this on Android as posed as to starting with IOS?
James: Yeah that’s a good question, there’s certainly a lot of debate around this in some circles at least. From someone looking at the mobile space, for the last several year iOS has been the owner of the app space. When you launch an app you gotta start with iOS. I really think it comes down to who your audience is and what you’re trying to accomplish with the app. In ours we kinda knew we wanted to blow up all the idea for it and completely re-imagine it. So we didn’t want to have the constraints, you know. And Android created that environment and I have an opportunity to grow with it. Statistics are saying that iPhone is becoming more of your parents’ phone and as a teenager you’re probably going to get their hand-me-downs or the $100 Android phone and of course you pick the Android. And we’re seeing in demographics that younger people are leaning more towards that ad again the flexibility and customization, there is so much you can do with that space. But we’re definitely working hard on getting the iOS version out. It’ll probably be out the summer, late June and really focusing with the iOS version on it being the ultimate inbox.
TechFaster: So Instagram and LinkedIn are next. What’s down the road? Are there any networks that you’re targeting?
James: Yeah, certainly. You know we think when we started out targeting the young demographics who want to trick out their Android phones. But we want to target the corporate crowd. I mean you can imagine somebody who’s in corporate sales for instance, has a very robust address book. Any calls from folks they don’t talk to very often and being a salesman you know you want to have a little bit of a personal vibe when you answer the phone, not just purely business. So we see a really good opportunity there. So Evernote is one of the providers we’re looking at, we think would just be a great sort of marriage of our app and their API so we’re excited about plugging that in. And really sort of looking at several other, LinkedIn is another piece we’ll be going in with that and just really looking how someone would using this in the business community? What would be most beneficial to them when their phone rings? The honest answer is that for different folks it’ll be different things. Essentially you can check off what networks you want for what contacts you have. Good thing is that there’s lots of public API’s out there and we can plug in.
TechFaster: So how was SXSW? you guys were blowing it up out there.
James: It was fantastic. It was absolutely a marathon of a race. We got picked as one of the finalist in accelerator program over there. To be with our competitors was awesome. They had some great startups and products. We used it at an opportunity to launch our Beta. We want to listen to our users to see what they want and within the next month we’ll launch the V1. Instagram will be the first additional partner we’ll add to this. We’re in the works with two or three others that will be shortly there, after. And iOS after that, so we kinda have a pretty busy road-map ahead of us but south by was a great way to introduce the product to the marketplace.
TechFaster: Do you want to comment on the Beta process and how all that is going?
James: Sure. Right now we’re running our Beta program; it’s been out for about two weeks. We sort of have two components on this; one is on the Google play store where you can currently download Thread for free. And on our website Sprezzat.com there’s a private beta program that we’re writing as well and there’s a sign up page. And so if you’re interested in have the latest and greatest all the newest features, fixes, before it’s released publicly. We have several thousand people joined but the more the better obviously.