Imagine if you were at a park or another public place and you snapped a shot of your child playing with another child. Perhaps you befriended the parents for just a few minutes but you don’t know them well enough to share phone numbers or email addresses. A new Seattle Startup called XSync has a solution that could work for you.
Xsync uses a QR code technology to securely link two smartphones for file transfer. Since the technology is using the QR code to establish the secured bridge, there’s no need to swap email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts. Any kind of file can be sent using Xsync’s technology.
Right now there are several ways to send files between two phones, there’s NFC “bumping” like on the Galaxy Nexus phones, there’s email, SMS, Facebook, Drop Box, the bump app, and others. Is there even room for Xsync?
According to Xsync co-founder Bryan Leeds the company is already in negotiations with OEM’s and carriers to have the Xsync system pre-installed on future mobile devices. While Xsync exists in an app today, if it does go the pre-install route it would be a feature instead of an app. It would also give the startup a significant boost as they try to build scale.
Being based in Seattle could prove fruitful for this mobile centric startup. In addition to the obvious, like Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Clearwire and T-Mobile all have significant presence in the city.
We got a chance to talk with Leeds about Xsync and growing a startup in Seattle. Check out the interview below.
What is Xsync?
Xsync sends files and data from phone to phone. The technology creates a QR code on a user’s phone which can be scanned by anybody with any QR code reader. After this scan, the two phones are connected and the users can exchange files. Because of this, no email or phone number is required. Also, any type or any size file or files can be transferred. This technology is called OMS, or Optical Message Service. Xsync is also integrated with third party cloud providers, so that users can access, manage, and create their private clouds from their mobile phones – turning the mobile phone into a cloud hub. Since Xsync is cross-platform, it works with any phone capable of reading QR codes. Only people sending files via OMS need Xsync installed on their device, people receiving files just need any existing QR code reader. Currently, we are using this technology to build our own consumer apps. We have an SDK that we will license and we are working with OEMs to have this software pre-loaded onto mobile devices. When it’s pre-loaded it won’t be an app, but rather integrated into the phone. For example, when sending a media file you currently have SMS, MMS, and email, but an option would exist to create a QR code, and then anyone with any QR code reader could scan this code and download the file. Xsync is a software solution that NFC aims to solve with hardware.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Daniel Shimshoni is American, and Israeli. He previously worked for Microsoft and Oracle, as well as Pi Corporation and DayJet Technologies. He has his MSc from University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Bryan Leeds is American. He worked for the NYC based app developer DLP mobile, as well as the Israeli mobile media expert Levi Shapiro. He has his BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Where are you based?
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Seattle has a great reputation as a startup city and does have lots of support with meetups and activities that cater to entrepreneurs. We believe Seattle is a great place for enterprise startups but more difficult for consumer startups. Most successful startups in Seattle are data and analytics companies because of the strong engineering talent here with Microsoft and Amazon. And for a company with cash flow, money is available. On the consumer space, Seattle doesn’t have a large hype echo chamber to propel consumer startups onto the national stage. Additionally, many entrepreneurs here tend to think Seattle based investors are too risk averse. Entrepreneurs here tell us that they end up needing to fly to Silicon Valley to raise money. Microsoft and Amazon are the bellwethers, and as they become more successful with consumer devices then the whole consumer startup ecosystem will improve.
What problem does Xsync solve?
Imagine you have kids (if you don’t), and your child is playing with another child at a park. You take a picture with your smartphone and want to give the picture to the other kid’s parent. However, this person is a stranger and you don’t want to give them your email or phone number. How do you send it? With Xsync. Xsync is a proximity based secure and anonymous way to connect two mobile devices.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
People are very resistant to QR codes. Most people have never used them but have just heard bad things about them in the media. However, things are starting to change and QR codes are starting to pop up everywhere as marketers are getting better at using them. People occasionally will dismiss our product simply because we use QR codes and they don’t like QR codes. Once we show people the technology, they get it and like it. It’s far easier to demonstrate than talk about because the entire transaction is a new paradigm that people haven’t experienced before. So changing people’s preconceived notions about QR codes has been a tremendous challenge for us.
Who are your mentors and role models?
We have several mentors in Seattle who are mobile app developers and former senior people at Microsoft. They help guide us on everything from raising money to product and strategy. We are part of the SURF Incubator in Seattle, and although it’s cliché to say, every startup there serves as a role model for us. Ultimately, we’ve received the most assistance from other entrepreneurs who understand our challenges. This type of camaraderie is incredibly helpful as we all support each other. We share experiences, difficulties, advice, and solutions.
What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?
Users can use Xsync to share files over Skype. If you’re on a video call, then you can use the video camera to display the QR code on your phone, then the person on the other end can scan it and receive the file. We’ve done this on Skype calls across the world and seeing the expression on people’s faces when we beam a file using our phones via Skype is priceless.
What’s next for Xsync?
Building apps for the Android and Windows platform and putting the finishing touches on our SDK. Concurrently, we’ll be continuing to speak with and negotiate with OEMs around the world so we can push this technology out to everyone.
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