Mustbin Gets New CEO, Looks to Build “the Opposite of Snapchat”

8/26/14Follow @gthuang

Two new words for the future of Boston consumer tech: Satyender Mahajan.

Mahajan, who goes by Saty (SAH-tee), is one of the newest CEOs in the local technology scene. As of this month, he took the reins of Boston-based startup Mustbin from founder Brian Shin, who will stay on as chairman and an advisor but will now focus on his main day job.

Shin, for those scoring at home, is also CEO of Boston-based Visible Measures, a video analytics and advertising company that has raised somewhere north of $70 million in venture funding from mostly the same investors who’ve backed Mustbin. By comparison, Mustbin has raised only $6 million since its founding in late 2012.

Mustbin made a splash late last year, releasing an iOS app that helps people capture and organize their personal data—bills, insurance, passwords, credit cards, pictures—via their iPhones. The company has since added a messaging feature so people can also communicate about (and collaborate on) the information in their “bins.” The Android version of the app isn’t out yet, but is expected this fall.

Mahajan calls the app “a digital safe haven for everything important in your life.” He has been head of engineering—and most recently chief technology officer—at the startup since the beginning of 2013, working closely with Shin and a team that’s now up to about a dozen people. Mahajan co-founded Motus, a motion-tracking software company, back in the 2000s. He was also a senior engineer at university-app startup Modo Labs, where he learned about the mobile market.

It sounds like he really earned the top role at Mustbin. “I had contemplated putting in a [different] CEO, but after seeing Saty work for the last year and a half, I just felt that he was the guy,” Shin says.

Saty MahajanMustbin says the app has tens of thousands of users, and that hundreds of thousands of documents have been stored on its system. A recurring use case, says Mahajan (pictured), is a person needing to show proof of identity or residency—think medical procedures or car registrations, for instance—and being able to whip out the app and present a digital copy of the documentation, which has generally been accepted.

But what’s more interesting—what makes this more than just another app trying to make its way in the world—is where it fits in the bigger consumer-tech landscape.

Mustbin is trying to find a mobile-first niche somewhere between the huge land masses of Evernote, Dropbox, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other popular services by striving to be the best combination of personal storage and communication in a secure, user-friendly way.

“We’re kind of bucking the trend of Facebook unbundling stuff and having different apps,” Shin says. “And it’s the opposite of Snapchat, where you want things to be not permanent.” (Surely the startup doesn’t want the opposite of WhatsApp’s and Snapchat’s recent valuations, though.) Mustbin is saying, in effect, “Let’s handle [data and messaging] with security and total control, and make it centered around your stuff,” Shin says.

The startup has a long way to go, of course. On Mahajan’s plate at the moment are the standard first-time (or anytime) CEO challenges: understanding customers, improving user experience, avoiding crashes, and building and maintaining company culture.

“We’ll be in the trenches for quite a while,” Mahajan says. “It’s a marathon.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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