This week on Start Me Up we’re looking at Canadian company Lymbix, which deals in connotative software for email, and has been causing a media stir lately with their latest product Tonechecker.
This connotative software helps measure the tone and impact of words used in emails and other communications.
We spoke to founder Matt Eldridge to find out more…
In one sentence, what is Lymbix?
Well Lymbix is all about changing the world of communication and allowing people to communicate more clearly online by really putting emotion into text communication.
I guess that’s more than one sentence so let’s say we’re an emotional spellchecker.
What problem does Lymbix solve?
Well for me the whole development was about scratching my own itch really.
I have a background in sales, I used to work in real estate and even though I was always very good at the face-to-face stuff and the telephone calls, I found I was actually losing sales because of emails.
I did a little checking and I was surprised because my emails were coming across as a little pushy, as aggressive. So I thought, well there’s a spellchecker, there’s a grammar checker, surely there’s a tone checker a well.
So I looked around and it turned out there wasn’t anyone doing anything like that so I decided to try to develop it myself. I think it’s a real problem for a lot of people.
When and why did you launch it?
Lymbix itself has been in development since April 2009 so about a year now, most of which was a heavy development phase, and we just launched our latest product Tonechecker this Monday so it’s been a pretty full year so far.
Who is your target audience?
Well initially we’ve designed it to be compatible with Microsoft Outlook, because there’s around 500m Outlook users around the world right now. We really wanted to go for that mass market, and we designed it to be very intuitive, very automatic for users.
Basically if you can use a spellcheck you can use our products, so we’ll be working on integration for other email providers soon as well.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building Lymbix?
We did an initial round of fundraising and it was…well, I don’t want to say it was easy because there was a huge amount of development work going on, but basically we did the friends and family round and managed to raise around a million dollars that way, and I seeded a lot of it personally.
I’m really not a technical guy, my background is in sales but our developers are just great, the algorithms they designed are amazingly complex, the way the system learns and becomes more effective the way you use it. It's IP protected but hopefully there’s a real ‘secret sauce’ in there that people will go for.
I think everyone I’ve pitched to has really ‘got’ the concept straight away so that’s been really encouraging.
How will the company make money?
People have been really interested, so we really think there’s a huge market. The real appeal is that we go beyond just positive, negative and neutral and really show true emotion in text. Our analogy is that regular email is like black & white TV, and we’re full colour HD.
What is your pricing model?
Well there are actually two sides to the business, enterprise and productivity.
So for the end user we have a basic freemium model, there’s a free version and a pro with extra features for $9.95 a year, and people are used to downloading apps and paying $2 or $5 or whatever for an app so we think that’s a good model.
For corporate customers we actually have a whole range of products available with extra features. Tonefilter, for example, has metrics features and companies can actually set a tolerance level on their emails.
Basically it’s about risk management, and it isn’t designed to stifle creativity, it’s about reducing negative tolerance if you like.
For example we have a feature where you can sort emails by emotional intensity, so if you’re in customer service and you receive a very angry email you want to deal with that as quickly as possible, and we have a whole connotative lexicon that can be integrated into social media decks so hopefully there’s a lot of appeal there.
Depending on which package they go for those features will be between $29.95 and $49.95 a year.
Who is in the team and what does it look like?
Right now there’s twelve of us, and we’re aiming to have around 16 to 20 people by the end of the year.
We’ve been pretty heavily focused on development until very recently so we have a team of seven developers, plus a CTO, a COO and now we’re taking on more sales staff, as well as a social media & PR guy so it’s growing quite quickly at the moment, although right now we’re all pretty flexible as well.
Finally, can you tell us about the Tone A Day project?
Well obviously we’re interested in generating revenue as a business and providing value for our investors, but with Tone A Day, one of the underlying themes for Lymbix has always been the idea that we want to help people be understood, so Tone A Day is basically a crowdsourcing model, a wiki-style interface where people can rate words and phrases.
It helps us improve our connotative lexicon and people can earn and donate those earnings to charity by doing that, it’s just a nice way to give something back.