What is the idea behind Trellie?
The United States has over 330 million wireless subscriber connections, or more than one per person. Our “always-on” society sets the expectation of being able to connect with who you want, when you want. Yet, of the 1 trillion mobile calls place each year, billions go unintentionally missed. It is simply not practical to carry your phone in your hand at all times, yet Trellie’s own market research reveals there are certain people in your life who you would ALWAYS take a call from. For example, 80% of respondents would ALWAYS take a call from their spouse and 60% would ALWAYS take a call from their mom. Add in additional ways that people are communicating with each other (text, email, social, etc.) and it can become overwhelming. People still want to receive those important communications, so why are they still missing billions of calls and other important communications each year?
According to Mary Meeker’s (Kleiner Perkins) 2013 Internet Trends Report, the average user checks their phone 150 times per day, indicating missing communications is not for a lack of trying to stay connected. The missed communications are a direct result of the impracticality associated with having a mobile phone in your hand at all times so you are constantly aware of communications. Secondarily, even if a user is aware of an incoming call, they do not know its level of importance. For example, is my daughter just calling to say hi or is she in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital?
How did you come up with this idea?
Trellie was conceived by the founders in 2012 over lunch while exchanging stories about being unable to reliably reach their wives when calling their mobile phones. The previous day, both had time-sensitive information which they were not able to communicate. While these missed calls had minor implications for the founders in this particular instance, they immediately envisioned more dire circumstances where a “miss” might have major consequences. After all, if they couldn’t get through, then neither could the hospital, babysitter or school. With growing families at home and input from others experiencing the same challenges, Trellie Inc. was born.
Did you seek investment when you started the company or bootstrap?
The cofounders initially funded the business with $60k in June 2012 and then closed a $500k friend/family convertible debt round January 2013. This included 8 investors who were already in our personal network and one new angel. In August 2013, the company closed an additional $300k from existing investors and one new angel.
The concept for the company came about in early 2012. The cofounders worked nights and weekends creating the business plan and executing market research to validate the concept. After feeling confident in the concept, Claude quit his job in June 2012 and Jason quit his job in September 2012 to put all effort into building their first product. First customers were achieved during a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in January 2013. These early adopters helped provide insights that were applicable to our product development.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting your business?
The most difficult part was filtering all of the advice we got from very smart people…sometimes offering exact opposite suggestions.
What is the next step for Trellie?
The next step is completing Product #2 development in time for a Summer 2014 launch. In order to do so, we must raise $450k.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Take all of the advice you can get but trust your gut as you have most likely thought about the problem you are trying to solve more than anyone providing advice.