A new mobile application called Blinq is launching today into public beta to add a layer of contextual information to your favorite mobile messaging applications. Founder Yossi Ghinsberg, who’s better known for his adventures in the Amazon (not Amazon.com, but the actual unchartered wilderness), described Blinq as “more of a hack than an app,” saying that people are tired of trying yet another mobile application. Blinq offers something different, he says.
Instead of delivering a full mobile app experience you launch by tapping an icon, Blinq is designed to augment the apps you already use. Your normal behavior doesn’t have to change.
Once installed, Blinq appears as a small white dot that pops up inside mobile messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Hangouts, Skype, and SMS, for example, alerting you to new information about the person you’re communicating with. This additional information is pulled from a variety of other networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and more.
Blinq shows you status updates, photos and other recent activities, but its algorithms focus on highlighting the more important content. That is, if your friend recently posted two updates, one about what they had for lunch that day and another, more heavily liked update about a major life event, Blinq would only alert you to the latter.
The idea for the app, explains Ghinsberg, stems from his longtime interest in the concept of digital identities. He found that information about people was scattered around the web, and it was hard to access it when you needed it.
“We’re looking at the integrated, whole person instead of the fragmentation that’s caused because of the different platforms, the different channels and the different networks,” he says.
After teaming up with a technical co-founder Gal Bracha in 2013, the two first experimented with a larger solution, but realized soon that what they had built was too complicated and required that people change their habits. That didn’t work.
Right as they were accepted into the 500 Startups accelerator program, the team pivoted to build Blinq instead.
“We took the big idea, and reduced it,” says Ghinsberg. “Blinq is just a small white dot.”
While the app itself is consumer-facing, the concept could also work in business use cases where it could serve as something like a lightweight CRM tool. In that case, it wouldn’t be all that different from something like Rapportive or FullContact’s solution for Gmail. Those add-ons also aggregate content from a variety of networks in order to include personal and business information alongside social updates in Gmail’s sidebar.
Blinq just does this for mobile messaging apps.
The app that’s live today on Google Play is more of an MVP, meant more to test the how the market responds to the idea, the founder notes. That means the app may be buggy, and Blinq’s servers might be slow at times. But if successful, Ghinsberg says that the concept could be ported to other services beyond messaging.
Since its debut a couple of days ago, the company’s servers have imported over 250,000 contacts, and overnight, added half a million more followed by another million just last night. The team hasn’t publicized the app yet, but it has a few thousand downloads already.
The plan is to port the Blinq experience to iOS in the future, but there, the app will likely have to make some changes. Today on Android, the app works at the notification level, and is more deeply integrated. iOS, by its nature, will require more of a standalone experience, though Ghinsberg says he has some ideas about how to work around that.
Blinq has raised just under half a million in an advisory round from angel investors and 500 Startups, but will be looking to raise a million more starting next month.