There’s a growing tendency for people’s contacts to find homes across multiple services, and the prospect of wrangling them all together is one that more than a few startups have tried to tackle.
Contacts+ is yet another claimant to the contact aggregating throne, and the Palo Alto-based startup has raised $1 million in seed funding from TriplePoint Ventures, Tencent, and TMT Investments, as well as ex-Google PM Richard Chen and Pejman Nozad.
“Your contacts aren’t really your own when they’re scattered across multiple services,” said Contacts+ co-founder/CEO Lior Romano. “They can all shut you out if they wanted to. I want people to own their own contacts for a change.”
Here’s the Contacts+ formula in a nutshell: when you first fire up the app, you’re greeted with a full list of your contacts (the pickier ones among you can choose between list and grid views). Tapping on one of your contacts brings up their entry, but a quick swipe to the right brings up a vertical list of tabs that provides quick access to that person’s social presence across multiple services. Feel like reaching out? You can fire off a message using that built-in messaging system (if the recipient uses the app as well). Failing that, another swipe fires up the app’s dialer for placing voice calls.
During the early days of the project though, Contacts+ was a different beast, strictly about aggregating all of your contacts’ social interactions and displaying them in one place. It’s a concept that isn’t exactly new — Phonedeck switched up its tactics with a focus on contact management last month, and Disrupt NY finalist CallApp takes a very similar approach — but the Android-only application managed to pick up considerable early traction, and racked up over a million downloads since its initial launch.
Rather than try and coast on that success though, Romano and his team took a gamble when they were accepted into the Israel-centric UpWest Labs accelerator. The plan? To build and integrate an in-app messaging service for Contacts+ users, bridging the gap between an aggregation tool and a communications tool. It was just an “experiment,” but the process seemed to be something of an epiphany for the team.
“It was a pivotal point,” Romano said. “Social networks are extremely important for communicating, but they’re better for reinforcing what you already do on your phone: talking and messaging.”
To that end, Romano and company have been working on a new update to the Contacts+ app which has just launched into private beta. The core functionality remains the same, but if there’s one thing that Contacts+ has tried to focus on with its new update, it’s simplicity. The updated Android app sports a much cleaner interface than its predecessor, and there was a concerted effort to reduce the number of clicks and taps required to actually get things done.
For now, Contacts+ isn’t too worried about the prospect of making money immediately (neither, Romano notes, are the company’s early investors), but he and his team have some ideas bubbling in the background all the same. One possible revenue stream? Monetizing features like messaging (and possibly VoIP down the road) that have found their way into the app.