Mobile social network on a VC shoestring: Exclusive Trilibis CEO interview

EXCLUSIVE: Mobile social network on a VC shoestring: Trilibis CEO interview

Trilibis Mobile is on a SmartPath, and a financially efficient one. 

Valentine’s Day eve is a busy time for Trilibis—its Webdate Mobile go-anywhere, flirt-anytime mobile dating service is in high demand --, but Alex Panelli, CEO, made time to share with me today how Trilibis Mobile aims to “revolutionize mobile application technology.”

Founded in 2002 by a team of wireless communications industry veterans, Trilibis Mobile is pursing the “untapped opportunities of taking both online communities and brick and mortar businesses into the mobile market.” 

While the goal is lofty, the wireless data methods are pragmatic. 

Its initial service launched in 2003, Peepsnation, the first mobile social networking and community application of its kind, Panelli told me. Initially available on just three phone models, it was downloaded by over 25,000 users in its first 30 days after launch.

Panelli described to me the next generation mobile social networking application Trilibis plans to unveil next month, Peepsnation 2.0:
  • Rating and ranking other users
  • Dual opt-in networking
  • Messaging, gifting and tagging
  • Keyword association and search
  • Ranking and recognition framework to promote usage
  • Entertaining way to meet new people
  • Fun, easy and addictive
Last month, Trilibis launched yolo.mobi, the first mobile social phonebook application, Panelli indicated to me. Yolo.mobi is billed as “a mobile social phonebook service that encourages spontaneous interactions among friends, especially when they are out and about.” 

Launched on Virgin Mobile deck, yolo.mobi utilizes WAP, Java and BREW and is available for free or as an ad-supported or premium, monthly subscription service:

  • Create/ manage profile
  • Upload pictures
  • Update friends on what you are doing and where you're at
  • See what your friends are doing
  • Create away messages
  • Create and manage private events
  • Send invites and track RSVPs
  • Search for public events
  • Call and text from within the app
  • Local search

Peepsnation and yoli.mobi mobile social networking and community services are one part of a dual Trilibis Mobile business model. In addition to its proprietary mobile community applications services, Trilibis commercializes mobile publishing technology, Panelli told me. 

The Trilibis SmartPath Mobile Publishing Solution develops enabling technologies to “accelerate development, reduce cost and increase reach of mobile applications” so that companies can get to the mobile market faster, Panelli indicated to me: 

  • Go from zero to mobile in 3-4 weeks
  • 75% faster than other solutions
  • Instantly update and modify
  • Puts you in control of user experience
  • All major platforms
  • 90% of mobile devices
  • All carrier networks
  • Supports rich graphical content
  • Enables consistency with website and brand

Webdate Mobile, powered by SmartPath, is representative of how online or offline companies can collaborate with Trilibis to deploy mobile applications across all major carrier networks. Launched in 2004, Webdate Mobile incorporates the rich-graphics and visual brand identity of Webdate.com. 

Panelli underscored to me that a key differentiator of Webdate Mobile compared to Match.com’s mobile service is full database integration enabling connections with the full online community of seven million. 

Webdate Mobile is available on BREW, J2ME and WAP platforms and is accessible from many carrier decks: Sprint/Nextel, Cingular, U.S. Cellular, Alltell, Midwest Wireless, Virgin, Boost…

  • Search and view profiles
  • View and upload photos
  • Manage profiles
  • Send and check messages
  • Send virtual gifts to members
  • Preview "New Faces"
  • View suggested matches
  • Create and view networks

Panelli believes a core Trilbis Mobile advantage is its management expertise in the wireless and technology sectors. Trilibis executives are veterans of Palm, HP, Converge, Qualcomm, Enpocket, Vodafone, Cisco, Fujitsu-Siemens…

Trilibis financial efficiency is another core advantage. Founded in 2002 with just $100K in seed financing, Trilibis secured a $1M Series A angel round in 2005 and is in the process of closing a $1.5M Series AA follow-on round.

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