Dial2Do scoops Valley media and mobility award


DIAL2DO, a low-profile Irish software start-up, has won an award for best media and mobility company at a Silicon Valley event organised by Microsoft.

A spin-out from Dublin's Rococo Software, Dial2Do has developed an application that allows users send e-mail, text messages, set reminders or post to web publishing services like Twitter, Jaiku and Tumblr from a hands-free phone.

The company was asked to present at the prestigious "Launch: Silicon Valley 2008" event and duly walked away with one of the six categories.

Chief executive Ivan MacDonald says Dial2Do's target market is commuters who want to make use of the normally dead time they spend in the car. That's a potentially huge market - particularly in the US where MacDonald says 60 per cent of mobile minutes are initiated from the car.

"The US is a good market opportunity because they do a lot of commuting to and from work but also as part of their job," he says. "Handsfree legislation is also getting going there now, with California and Washington having introduced laws on July 1st."

Users register for the service on Dial2Do's website and can then dial a number in one of 19 countries, including Ireland, to access the service from their phone. Rather than develop the voice-recognition technology required to understand users' speech Dial2Do has licensed it, but MacDonald says it has wrapped its own technology around it.

"We don't want to be the best voice-to-text messaging service in the world," he says.

Instead the vision is to be used like directory inquiries in the US, where people call every day making the so-called 411 business a multi-billion dollar market.

Dial2Do is negotiating with manufacturers of Bluetooth headsets with a view to bundling the service with their products.

It's a space that Rococo has some knowledge of as a developer of Bluetooth software, which is embedded on handsets from Sony Ericsson and Motorola among others.

It has also just signed a deal with JaJah, the web telephony company with 10 million users, to make that service available handsfree.

Although the service is currently free, MacDonald says ultimately it will have a "user pays model to some degree".

To date Dial2Do has been incubated within Rococo, but he expects it to become a separate company shortly, at which time it will engage in a large-scale funding round.

Although the service has found favour with the Silicon Valley set, MacDonald has bigger ambitions. "I want this to be a service that will be used by ordinary people, not just the internet dudes," he smiles.