Bringing Order to the Address Book, Sensobi Targets Underserved Blackberry Mobile App Customers
You’ve been scrolling through your phone’s address book for minutes now just to find the coworker you call the most. Because his name falls at the end of the alphabet, he’s buried behind dozens of other entries, many of whom you probably haven’t called in years. Shouldn’t a smart phone be smarter about managing your contacts?
Enter Sensobi, a BlackBerry application that organizes your address book by analyzing who you talk to most and alerting you to the people you’re ignoring. Developed by a Cambridge-based startup of the same name—derived from a Zen term signifying simplicity and harmony—Sensobi tracks how many times users have called, texted, or e-mailed a person and assigns varying points to the different forms of communication. Lengthier phone calls score more points than brief chats, too.
“We realized your phone knows more about you than anything else does,” says CEO Ajay Kulkarni, 30, referring to his and co-founder Andy Cheung’s inspiration for using a mobile phone to reconstruct and understand personal and professional relationships.
The people with the most points appear at the top of the Sensobi address book, regardless of alphabetical order. Sensobi links content from text messages and e-mails to contacts’ names, so never again will you be left dumb when your boss asks you on the phone if you’ve seen his most recent message to you. “It helps you save face and facilitates a much richer conversation,” says Kulkarni, a 2008 graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
It all started when Kulkarni wanted to find a way to make sense of the different business cards and phone numbers he had collected from classes, conferences, and past jobs, which included a stint as a bond analyst at Citigroup and positions at other startup companies. In December 2008, he teamed up with high school friend Cheung, 29, who had been laid off from his job as a developer at Right Media following Yahoo’s acquisition of the online advertising company.
They opted to design their application for RIM’s BlackBerry—the phone Kulkarni says “doesn’t get as much love” from developers as its younger, flashier counterparts. There’s truth to his statement. In November, Apple announced that the iTunes App Store had passed the 100,000-app mark. By contrast, the fledgling BlackBerry App World—launched in April—has just 3,000 offerings.
But Sensobi’s creators saw an opportunity in BlackBerry’s loyal and business-oriented consumer base, a group they’ve targeted through Twitter and tech blogs. “They’re starving for apps,” says Kulkarni. And Sensobi, officially incorporated in January 2009, has helped feed … Next Page »