Hundreds of millions of worldwide downloads of voice messaging apps say that there is a demand for alternative communication platforms. The fact that the overwhelming majority of these apps sit unused, buried in forgotten folders or menus, says that the current solutions haven’t gotten it right.
If you talk to former Fring VP of marketing Jake Levant these early poor experiences didn’t eliminate the value of asynchronous voice communication. They simply proved how not to solve the problem. Levant co-founded WaveDeck to approach the problem differently, launching the uber-simple iOS voice messaging platform in March 2012 as a first step in that direction. Today the company is announcing $400,000 in seed financing from undisclosed angels in the US, Israel, and South Africa to show us the rest of his vision.
Anyone who’s received an unsolicited message from an advertiser or a total stranger can attest that the first batch of voice messaging apps long ago ceased to be utilities, instead transitioning to a spammy portals under the guise of becoming more social.
“We know the world wants this solution specifically because they downloaded the initial batch of apps in the space so many times,” says Levant. “The reason they aren’t using them is because they provide a poor UI and are spammy.”
WaveDeck was created to provide a free-of-charge, ad-free, spam free platform for delivering short voice messages. These are the kind of messages that are better sent when driving or when a SMS wouldn’t convey the proper sentiment, but when a phone call isn’t convenient. The app delivers as advertised, with few bells and whistles.
The startup isn’t trying to replace other means of communication, but rather supplement them. “Users want the option, just not all of the time,” says Levant.
“Other companies think of the number of friend connections a user has in its address book as a measurement of success,” says the founder. “We don’t confuse a long list with a useful list. I have five to ten people that I speak with all the time and these are who WaveDeck is for.”
Levant claims to have a new business model in mind that is a combination of communication and content, although he is a bit cryptic and isn’t ready to discuss in detail at this stage.
“We’re not charging for minutes or termination, like some of the other guys do, and there will be no advertising,” he says. “We plan to create new voice-centric ways to communicate among those you like. Consider them premium services. Mobile messaging is just one component.”
What this means exactly is unclear.
Levant has assembled a lean team of three including himself, a single developer, and a project manager for the Tel Aviv-based startup. The rest of the work has been outsourced to consultants. According to Levant, his angel investors are are playing a big role as well, with each bringing significant experience in mobile monetization, although most of it came in developing markets.
$400,000 is not a ton of money to tackle a market of this size. It’ll be interesting to see what the scrappy team has up its sleeve. Levant was at Fring for three years beginning in 2012 and presided over much of its most viral growth. He’s looking to take the positives out of that experience while leaving the less desirable elements behind.
“The app, as it is today, is bug free and can be used happily as a base messaging product,” he continued. “It doesn’t yet reflect the core reason that we raised the money though. We have plans to make it more useful, not just more downloadable.”