Austin-based Vobi raises $1.5 million to build out online collaboration service
Jan 11, 2013 (Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Job switches and other changes make it likely that you'll get a new e-mail address from time to time. But people rarely change their cell phone number.
That's why Austin startup Vobi is building an online collaboration tool that users can access by using their mobile number instead of an e-mail address or a password.
Vobi, founded two years ago by Austin entrepreneurs Mark Castleman and Cameron Cooper, has raised $1.5 million to build out its service, which will let users work together on projects and share e-mails, documents, files, photos, articles, videos and other content.
"Your mobile phone number is globally unique, and it's got built-in security because it doesn't do anyone any good to steal the number," Castleman said. "Now that we all have the right to move our number from one service provider to another, the likelihood that you'll change it is very, very low."
Vobi received the funding, its first from an outside investor, from Trailblazer Capital, a Dallas venture capital firm that specializes in communications companies.
The six-person company will use the funding to complete and release the first version of the service, which will initially be available for Apple and Android tablets, with plans to expand to laptop and desktop PCs.
Castleman previously founded Austin-based PBX Central, which provides hosted telecom services, and Cooper co-founded Austin-based Socialware, which sells software that lets companies leverage social media.
Vobi, which plans to launch the service this year, will sell it through mobile operators. Users access Vobi using their mobile phone number; Vobi determines the identity of the callers and presents content on their screens automatically.
Anyone can use the website to collaborate, even if they are not subscribers, by using their phone numbers as IDs.
"We let every call become a collaboration event -- it doesn't have to be planned, it can simply happen," Castleman said.
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