Mary Jesse has been at the forefront of wireless communications since its early days, serving as vice president of technology at McCaw Cellular/AT&T Wireless and chief technology officer at RadioFrame Networks. Now, Jesse is looking to take some of that knowledge and apply it to her own startup, IvyCorp, a 2-year-old Redmond company that’s hoping to transform group messaging as we know it.
Ivy just scored a new round of cash from undisclosed Seattle angel investors, but given Jesse’s connections in the “McCaw mafia” it wouldn’t surprise us if some of her former well-to-do colleagues joined as investors. With the new cash infusion, total funding in the current round stands at more than $1 million.
Jesse said that the company has purposely kept a low profile in recent months, but that will be changing later this summer as new features are added to the product. (Josh Maher recently joined the company to integrate Ivy’s technology into existing communication and collaboration tools).
What’s Ivy up to?
The company is taking advantage of new Web 2.0 technologies to transform how groups of people communicate, including large-scale group text messaging.
Text messages cause all sorts of headaches for businesses in part because the communications are difficult — and costly — for businesses to manage.
“The guys running IT are overwhelmed by that,” Jesse tells GeekWire. Ivy is looking to help solve that problem, a growing area of interest among venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. (Ignition’s recent bet on Bromium appears to address this problem of employees accessing corporate networks with personal devices).
But Ivy is going much further than group text messaging, essentially separating the message from the mode of communication or the device used to send it.
Ivy is primarily targeting large enterprises, looking to “bridge gaps” in communications.
To illustrate her point, Jesse used an example of a supermarket chain that could utilize the service to correspond with employees who may not have a corporate email account. The supermarket could send messages to feature phones via text or personalized email to its staffers, say if store hours were to change or scheduling conflicts arose. (Ivy has paying customers, including a retailer in the Seattle area, but Jesse declined to offer details).
The essence of the service is that the administrator of the group can send just one message and it will find its way to the preferred communication method of the end user.
Ivy employs about 18 people, including contractors. In addition to Jesse, the company was co-founded by Steve Knox. Nick Kauser, the former chief technology officer at Clearwire and AT&T Wireless, is serving on the board.
Here’s a quick look at the problem Ivy is trying to solve.