Startup Spotlight: Gibberin looks to transform voice communications

People have been jibber-jabbering for decades. Now, Dave Ferguson hopes folks will give Gibberin a shot. That’s the name of a new service and technology from the 43-year-old entrepreneur which is launching this week after several months in stealth mode.

We’ve been tracking the company’s progress over the past few months, wondering what the 5-person team was building.

So, what’s Gibberin all about? As the name suggests, Ferguson says the company enables “quick and easy voice messaging over the internet.” We caught up with the former Microsoft software engineer for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it:  “Gibberin is a messaging service that combines the power of the spoken word with the convenience of texting.”

Dave Ferguson

Inspiration hit us when:  “Running our consulting company, managing communication with clients, and parenting two little girls, I found myself in need of simple, fast communication.  Voicemail is a non-starter, texting is too cumbersome and cryptic, email really only works at a computer.  I knew there must be a better way.  All I wanted to do was say what I was thinking, just as though I was in a room with the person I was trying to reach.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We initially self-funded putting everything on the line to develop the concept and then opened an initial round for individual friends and family investors once we knew it had legs. The feedback from our users was too exciting not to run with the idea. Why this approach?  We needed to prove the concept and build out the business model before larger investors would get it.  We did speak with a few angels and VCs to learn what they are looking for and have used the feedback to improve our message so that when the time comes to approach them we will be ready.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is:  “It’s the concept of moving to the spoken message as the primary medium.  There’s so much information packed in a spoken message.  You get emotion, pace, inflection, emphasis. It’s less ambiguous.  There are many ways to implement spoken messaging but we have pursued a simple, efficient approach that focuses on bringing people back to their natural mode of communication.  People started writing to record their thoughts, yet every time we write, we edit those thoughts.  We’re using new technologies to record thought in the simplest way possible, no editing required.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far:  “Getting a working alpha out early to get real feedback from real users, and incorporating that feedback to make our product as user friendly as possible.  Our early users were crucial to our development, and have been a powerful testing group.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far:  “Pitching our idea before we had a clear message.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Jobs, because he was the truest innovator and had the strongest vision of the four.  Our industry will miss him.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Our message jolts people out of their reverie and they recognize that we have been over-complicating messaging for decades.”

Rivals should fear us because:  “Once people rediscover the power and simplicity of the spoken message without the overhead of current messaging technologies they aren’t going to be so willing to warp their behavior to accommodate cumbersome legacy solutions.”

We are truly unique because: “We are optimized for the spoken message, the natural form of human communication.  Other systems may allow delivery of recorded messages, but none provide the comprehensive linking, management and collaboration features around spoken messages that Gibberin does.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: Honing our message.  We are changing a paradigm in communication and it has been difficult to find the right presentation of the concept such that people don’t pigeon hole us among existing solutions.  We have worked very hard to define a clear and consistent description of our service – though it’s still a work in progress.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Keep the faith!  If you are truly passionate about your idea and you can demonstrate its value in the real world don’t give up!  Believe that you can make it happen and reach out to anyone who can help.  Your passion will shine through and opportunities will begin to appear.”

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Seattle area startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out the questions above, send a couple photos of the founder(s) and company logo to tips@geekwire.com. Past profiles can be found here.

  • Macsailer

    As an alpha tester I’ve watched the unique qualities of this concept become transformative.  Users are able to communicate, throughout their busy day, naturally as if they were actually talking together.   Gibberin therefore allows the user to become commander of their technology and not learn a(nother) new way to communicate ( :-), I hope the pun is not lost here!) but instead returns natural communication, talking, to its rightful place in how we “connect” to each other.

  • Macsailer

    As an alpha tester I’ve watched the unique qualities of this concept become transformative.  Users are able to communicate, throughout their busy day, naturally as if they were actually talking together.   Gibberin therefore allows the user to become commander of their technology and not learn a(nother) new way to communicate ( :-), I hope the pun is not lost here!) but instead returns natural communication, talking, to its rightful place in how we “connect” to each other.