Can Calgary’s Hookflash compete with Google and Skype?
Video chat application uses LinkedIn contact lists
by Alberta Venture Staff
It’s hard to compete with software that counts its users in the hundreds of millions, and harder still when that software’s name has become a verb. So how do you create a video chat application – from Calgary, no less – to compete with the likes of Google and Skype? You seek out the guy who created Skype’s HD audio program, who happens to be living in Croatia, and add him to a team of globetrotting advisors. “We have four or five of the top guys in the world at this type of communication,” says Trent Johnsen, the co-founder of Hookflash.
What: The video chat application will load a contact list from LinkedIn and allow the user to send instant messages or video chat with those contacts. “It’s a global social business directory,” Johnsen says.
Who: Johnsen and co-founder Erik Lagerway are veteran entrepreneurs – this is Johnsen’s fifth startup and fourth in the tech sector – and they raised $2 million from angel investors for this project. Eighteen months after starting development on Hookflash, a late-April rollout of the free application was planned for Apple’s app store.
Why: Hookflash is adopting the “freemium” business model made popular by Dropbox, a virtual file storage program. It’s a promising model, if Dropbox’s results are any indication – it hit 25 million users in 2011, recorded $250 million in revenue and had a valuation of $4 billion.
How: The idea is to get a fraction of users to pay a premium. Johnsen says the typical target would be five per cent of users at $4 per month. With 10 million users, that would yield just shy of $25 million.