Maneesh Arora has worked for two companies pre-IPO: Google and Zynga.He joined Google in 2003 and met his current cofounder, Amit Sangani, there in 2005.
Now the pair have founded MightyText. Their mission: Free text messages from the phone. Read and answer them on any Internet-connected device.
Arora and Sangani have raised $640,000 from First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures and angel investors to seed their startup. Today it is launching publicly.
MightyText makes text messages and phone calls available across multiple platforms. Phone messages can be read on its site and accessed via iPad, computer, mobile phone, or on any other device with an Internet connection. Eventually, Arora wants text messages and missed calls to appear on your TV while you’re watching sports, or on your car’s dashboard when you’re driving.
“We’re freeing your texts from your phone,” he tells us. “Texts are trapped there. Messages are stored in your phone but not anywhere else.” He says 8 trillion SMS messages are sent every year, double that of emails. Arora and Sangani know how hard it is to get users to adopt new products — Arora cited Google+ and Google Wave as prime examples. So they launched MightyText’s first beta last May to see if there was a market for their product. “We thought, ‘What’s the fastest way for us to test something useful at scale? Let’s build a Chrome extension and see what happens,'” says Arora.
To their surprise, Lifehacker wrote about MightyText and the article received 90,000 page views. From there, despite only having a Chrome extension and a private beta, MightyText took off. It’s launching publicly today with 250,000 users; about 1 billion text messages are being sent via MightyText per year, says Arora (see chart).
But MightyText already has one looming problem: Apple.
While MightyText can pull messages from Android devices, Apple has prevented it from working on iPhones.
“We’d love to build this for iPhone users, but Apple wants to keep users in the Apple world,” says Arora. He isn’t worried though; the Android market is big enough to keep his team of three busy for a while.
We also asked about the cost of text messages, but Arora says 80% of MightyText’s users have unlimited texting.
“Carriers are fearful of Facebook and Google, so they dropped pricing on texting to keep customers,” Arora says. “AT&T wants you to use their network, and that’s what MightyText is doing, so the product is actually carrier-friendly.”
Here’s what the app looks like.