Scrubly looks to clean up ‘messy’ contact lists and address books

Bob Thordarson manually tried to update his online contacts list on several occasions, but each time the Seattle entrepreneur seemed to run out of steam by the time he hit the letter G. Thordarson thought there had to be a better way, and from that painful pruning Scrubly was born.

Like the name suggests, Scrubly rinses clean online address books — removing duplicate contacts and backing up contacts along the way.

“I know if I’m having a challenge with this issue, there are hundreds of thousands of people just like me with the same problem,” said Thordarson, who previously co-founded Seattle-based Cequint.

Here’s how the service works:

The system is engineered to collate data field-by-field across contact list folders and groups, applying proprietary comparative rules to comb through the data for duplications and apparent errors that confuse uniformity across contacts stored in Outlook, Mac Address Book, Google Gmail and Google Apps Contacts.

Scrubly happens to be the first release of a new set of applications from BluCapp, a 10-person startup which is looking at ways to manage what Thordarson calls “contact buckets.”

With the proliferation of gadgets and devices (all storing contact information) and online services such as Facebook and Twitter, Thordarson sees big things ahead for Scrubly and other contact, calendar or to-do list services.

“Figuring out how to maintain these address book buckets and keep them clean and up to date is a gigantic and growing challenge and the core opportunity for BluCapp,” he says.

Scrubly has a pretty straightforward business model. You can “scrub” up to 25o contacts for free, with unlimited “scrubs” costing $19.95 per year. (A one-time “scrub” fee also is available for $9.95).

Interestingly, Thordarson isn’t the only one who thinks there’s opportunity in address book scrubbing. Earlier this year, Seattle-based WhitePages introduced a similar service called Hiya which also tries to keep contacts up-to-date.

Thordarson said that his team started intensely working on Scrubly about 12 months ago, and today the project remains self-funded. However, Seattle area investors Andy Sack and Jonathan Sposato are serving as advisers. (Editor’s note: Sposato also is an investor in GeekWire).

Thordarson has already established a proven track record with Cequint, the developer of the mobile Caller ID product. (Cequint sold last year to TNS in a deal that valued the company at up to $112 million).

It is way too early to say if Scrubly could ever achieve that kind of outcome, but Thordarson certainly is bullish on the idea.

“I love building products and services that have the potential to make a difference for millions of users,” he said. “Like the ubiquity of the Caller ID experience, everyone has contacts that they manage and maintain on one device, software or web service or another.”

Here’s a closer look at the product:

Scrubly | Duplicate Contact Remover from Bob Thordarson on Vimeo.


John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

  • Anonymous

    google does contact cleanup natively and syncs to mac and outlook. so as long as google or google apps is your system of record, this is a waste of money.

    • Master

      I tried this product as a free user and it can better clean than google.

    • Graig tony

      I just tried, I don’t think so Google does this as accurately as scrubly. and might be that’s why Google is free.

  • Steve

    Great product and great team, congrads guys. Used it recently to remove duplicates in Outlook.

  • Guest

    Scrubly’s Terms of Use suggest they can republish all the contact data that I let their service touch, for any purpose whatsoever. Does anyone else think that’s over-reaching?