Let’s face it. Managing email on a smartphone is a real pain. Not a day goes by that I don’t stumble over some glitch, losing an email or failing to find something in my archive. Typically, I resort to my laptop for any heavy-duty email correspondence.
Now, a new startup called Tipbit, backed by Andreessen Horowitz and led by former Microsofties, is looking to help out.
We stumbled across Tipbit for the first time back in May when the company landed $1.95 million from Ignition and Andreessen Horowitz. Today, the company is coming out of stealth mode, hoping to transform the mobile inbox through something it calls “gravitational search,” a way to deliver contextually-relevant contacts and content to your smartphone. (That sounds a bit like Gist, which was acquired by BlackBerry and then shut down last year). CEO Gordon Mangione may be the guy to take on this challenge, since he led the Exchange business while at Microsoft, where he worked from from 1996 to 2005. The 48-year-old then moved to XenSource, an Ignition-backed company that was acquired by Citrix for $500 million in 2007.
Tipbit was founded in 2011, and today it employs 10 people. Top execs include chief architect Ewan Mellor, a former software engineer at XenSource who most recently served as director of open source engineering and cloud platforms at Citrix, and vice president of engineering Nat Ballou, who spent seven years at Microsoft working on products such as SQL Server, Windows, Bing, Office365 and XBox Live.
We caught up with Mangione our latest installment of Startup Spotlight:
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Tipbit is creating the email application for the next decade. We unify email, contacts, social networks, cloud-based files, and calendar and use gravitational search to bring you what you need to answer email now.”
Inspiration hit us when: “When couldn’t find anything in our inboxes and realized the futility of trying to do any serious work on our mobile devices. We knew we wanted to innovate around this challenge.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Tipbit is employee and VC backed, giving us the commitment from the employees while enabling us to tap into network and breadth of our VC investors. We felt it was important to have investors in both Silicon Valley and the Seattle area.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We understand the wants and requirements of enterprise customers. We have built businesses and systems which power enterprises (Exchange, SQL Server… ) and the largest public clouds ( Xen hypervisor runs 98 percent of the workloads in the public cloud.) Our secret sauce is at the intersection of the two.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Shifting the company to exclusively focus on the mobile experience as our launch platform. It was an agonizing decision but was positively reinforced every day since making the leap.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “There have been so many!”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Of the four men, I only know Bill Gates personally. Having worked with him for 14 years, there is no other person in this industry I’d rather have in my corner.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Our customers are able to be as responsive on their mobile devices as they are on their desktops today.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We don’t back down from hard problems. In fact, we run towards hard problems as they create natural barriers to competition.”
We are truly unique because: “We are the first email application – mobile or otherwise- to use the power of cloud-based gravitational search to transform user experience. And, because we are supporting ActiveSync for Exchange in addition to IMAP, we are bringing it to the broadest possible base of mobile workers.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Building a world-class, enterprise ready, rock solid email client. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Rethink how you do everything. Focus on your core strengths and leverage every possible 3rd party service or open source project to accelerate your progress.”
A quick overview of the company here: