Don’t we all love caller ID? The ability to know who’s calling before you answer the phone probably saved us from potential embarrassment before – like forgetting names, mistaking a caller for someone else, avoiding certain people etc. Some telecommunications providers can place a hefty charge for providing this service, but here’s a company that aims to put a new face on it – Irvine, California-based YouMail (www.youmail.com) lets owners of a US phone number control how they appear when they call people or leave them messages through caller ID.
With YouMail, users simply update their caller ID on their site through Facebook or filling out a simple form, and from then on any call to anyone on YouMail‘s network will display the new information. That sounds like any regular caller ID, you say. The difference is that YouMail also displays full information – name, city or state information, and/or an image – even if the number that is calling isn’t in your address book. Our favorite feature on their app? The ability to “ditch” someone with a single click, which automatically sends calls from that number to voice mail without ever ringing the phone – perfect for avoiding that ex you’d rather forget or a pesky insurance agent.
“It is high time users weren’t pigeonholed by a 15 character name entered within a telco’s database somewhere,” says YouMail‘s CEO Alex Quilici. “Our apps focus on providing visual information, such as a picture and location, and being a one-click gateway to deeper information about the caller, such as where they work, their job title and more. Our website makes it easy for users to get out ahead and control how they appear.”
“YouMail is focused on reinventing the enhanced telecommunications layer, where services like voicemail and now caller ID are moved out of the network and into the cloud, made social, optimized for smartphones, and sold direct to consumers using a freemium model,” Quilici adds. “Letting users own their own caller ID is a natural outgrowth of this process.”
Quilici says the biggest challenge in developing a service like this is scale and simplicity – the need to be able to manage a gigantic database of information around phone numbers. “You have to quickly access that information in real-time while a phone is ringing,” he explains. “And you have to make it dead simple for people to supply their info, even from mobile devices – which we’ve done primarily by letting users leverage a Facebook connection and then supplementing that information.”
“Our goal as a company is to completely reinvent ‘value-added telecommunication services’,” concludes Quicili. “We’ve pushed voicemail far along, and we’re making inroads in changing caller ID. You’ll see us do even more improvements on these services, and then you’ll see a whole host of other services from YouMail in this area.”
Founded in 2007, YouMail is backed by VantagePoint Capital Partners, the Tech Coast Angels, the Tech Coast Angels ACE Fund, Siemer Ventures, and the CrunchFund.