Vobi Wants to Update Conference Calls for Mobile Workers

5/14/14Follow @angelashah

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what it says is a $20 billion market in real-time collaboration tools. The company says that market will only grow as employers increasingly support a “Bring-Your-Own-Desk” ethos for employees who prefer working and attending meetings via smartphone and tablet.

The company, which has 10 employees, raised $1.5 million in a Series A round in December 2012 from Trailblazer Capital, a Dallas-based venture capital firm that specializes in telecom technologies. Cole says Vobi will start fund raising again next month. The startup offers customers a 30-day free trial and charges $5 per user per month afterwards—a tenth of what legacy systems cost, Cole says.

Other companies offer parts of Vobi’s solution—there is IM on WhatsApp or video calling on Skype. San Francisco-based Sqwiggle seems to come close to Vobi’s product, offering what it calls “instant tap-on-the-shoulder” discussions for remote workers. The startup raised $1.1 million last year and charges $9 per user per month.

Vobi was founded in 2011 and spent 2013 revising its product following conversations with potential partners and customers, Cole says. He took over as CEO in January when co-founder Mark Castleman, who remains a shareholder, resigned for personal reasons, he added. Cole had previously worked at Alcatel-Lucent in New York in various roles.

Vobi better reflects the ways that we already interact with friends, family, and co-workers in conversations outside of business, Cole says. “A lot of what people are using in social media has impacted workplace and the way they communicate now,” he says.

As such, it allows meeting participants to drag-and-drop in YouTube videos, Dropbox documents, Outlook contacts, and other documents to share with the group.

And, unlike conference calls or in-person meetings, which are seldom recorded, Vobi archives each collaboration, so that users who missed all or part of a conversation—or who are bad note takers—can go back and catch up. “We make it easy to work efficiently,” Cole says.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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