Startups

Bubbles enabling 'handwritten' mail on web; claims 47K users in 5 months

8 May, 2013

Bubbles, an e-mail platform that enables users to send 'handwritten and feature-packed' electronic letters via the internet, has bagged more than 47,000 users across the globe since it came out of beta in January this year, a top executive told Techcircle.in.

Owned and operated by California-based BubbleIdeas Semantic Corp., this all-new e-mail service enables users to type, write, doodle, draw, sketch, make collage and put hand-written signatures in mails and send the same even to those who don't have a Bubble ID. The firm was set up in 2011 by Arvind Nigam (CEO), an IIT Kharagpur alumnus, and Kumar Navneet (CTO), an alumnus of Delhi-based Ajay Kumar Garg Engineering College.

"Bubbles is an e-mail service for the post-PC era. It brings true letter-writing experience on the web. It carries emotions across the board and helps people connect and relate to each other in textual ways," claims Nigam. "No matter how advanced the speed and semantics of the web are, we feel that a gap will always remain there if users do not have an option to write by hand."

According to the company, Bubbles is the first e-mail service to introduce electronic 'letters' (which means it is the digital version of real-life letters, handwritten by people). The company is using the cloud to store all mail messages, so that users don't have to worry about the storage capacity of their Bubble accounts. "Bubbles is kind of Evernote and Gmail smashed together," Nigam added. "One can also send one-liners using our e-mail service without opening a mail, because a user doesn't always want to write a formal electronic letter."

BubbleIdeas-1

How it works

You can log in using your Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/other e-mail credentials. Once there, 'doodle' a mail using the tools available on the platform. You can customise the letter and make it look like a sheet from a letter pad or lined paper or a piece of blue grid graph paper, etc. Also, mail messages can be sent to people who don't have Bubbles IDs. The mail will be delivered as a PDF attachment to the recipient. You can also import contacts from your other mail accounts.

The company also claims that you will never get a spam mail as it has developed a technology to block them completely. By default, Bubbles is in private mode, but you can change the mode using settings. Inbox is the place where you receive your mails and write them as well. Letters or messages received here are totally private. In case you doodle or opt for the handwriting mode, there is an additional steganographic advantage for hidden messages. You can also go public with your mails and use the open face from where you can publish open letters and share opinions with the world.

However, unlike Gmail or other popular email services, Bubbles does not have an integrated chat. "We have just released the product and we keep adding new features. The chat feature is definitely there on our roadmap. But right now, we are focusing on building a good user base," said Nigam.

The road ahead

Bubbles founders are not looking to monetise the product either, at least for now. "It is a consumer app and there are a few ways to monetise the product. We may introduce a paid version for enterprises with additional features like official letterheads, full branding, team collaboration, etc. But we are not looking at it just now," added Nigam.

Bubbles is a pure web application and does not support mobile devices. "This product is clearly not meant for mobile devices although it currently supports iPad and Wacom Pentab," said Nigam.

Last year, Bubbles secured an undisclosed angel funding from a couple of investors. The startup is now looking to raise $3-5 million in seed funding to expand its IT infrastructure. "We are looking for credible investor partners who have had the gigs in pure consumer web growth stories." With a four-member team, Bubbles is currently targeting the North American market to scale the product.

According to Nigam, the e-mail market is worth $22 billion and more than 60 per cent of it contains formal mail.

Although the Bubbles platform is still in a nascent stage and cannot be compared with other popular e-mail services like Gmail or Yahoo, it still lacks certain must-have features. One of the major drawbacks we have noticed is its complex user interface (UI), which takes some time to get used to. It also lacks a live chat/instant messaging feature, another critical application. Also, you cannot send attachments using this service. But then, this service is all about bringing in the long-lost personal touch found in handwritten letters of the pre-PC era. If it can tap into the power of personalisation, that will definitely boost the business. Would you use BubbleIdeas for a different kind of mailing? Please share your opinion with us.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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