Q&A with Tigits co-founder and CEO Sean Miller
Tigits is a provider of temporary changeable secondary phone numbers. The Toronto-based company was founded in 2010.
SUB: Please briefly describe the service you offer.
Miller: Tigits (short for – “temporary digits”) is a new service that offers an anonymous and second changeable phone numbers that are linked to users’ permanent wireless or home phone. This allows users to maintain safety and privacy while making and receiving calls. Tigits subscribers can give out their Tigits temporary number when dating online, protecting their permanent home phone and wireless numbers, as well as their home address. If a date goes bad, the Tigits subscriber can quickly change their temporary number, preventing unwanted calls. Email services like Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail have provided this type of anonymity, safety and privacy online for years and now Tigits delivers the same features over the phone. It can also be used for business dealings, buying things online, dealing with salespeople or anytime someone doesn’t want to give their permanent number to a stranger.
SUB: I noticed a testimonial from LavaLife on your website and other references to online dating, so I assume that is a key target market for you, but what other groups are you going after with your service?
Miller: Tigits is also great to use when buying or selling something from a stranger on an online classified site like craigslist. It is also good for small business owners who can’t afford to set up a full separate phone system for their business. They can use a Tigits number for business and their personal number for their personal calls. The service is useful for anytime you have to give out a phone number but you don’t want someone to have your permanent number. It really serves as a second phone number without the expense of having to set up another cell phone or land line.
SUB: How does your service work on the back end?
Miller: We worked with one of Canada’s largest telecom companies to design a flexible and scalable platform to complete calls. We’re leveraging our telecom partner’s backbone to handle our call traffic, and we’ve built a custom software system to manage phone number assignments.
SUB: How are you marketing the service? Is it available everywhere, or does availability depend on phone service provider?
Miller: Tigits works with all home and cellphone carriers. We have launched in Toronto but will be rolling out nationwide in a few months and then North America-wide soon after.
SUB: How did the idea for the service come about?
Miller: I have done quite a bit of online dating over the years and I had a specific incident that sparked the idea for Tigits. I was meeting a woman for a first date she showed up late, she was at least a decade older than her profile picture, she was intoxicated, she was rude, and she kept touching my ear. Then after the date she kept calling me on my main phone number for weeks. After that experience I decided there had to be a way to go on a date without giving my personal permanent phone numbers. So I created Tigits, which in this case would have been perfect because I could simply have changed my Tigits number and that bad date would never be able to contact me again.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in starting the company (did you assemble a team first, build a beta product first, etc.)?
Miller: The first thing i did was present Tigits to one of Canada’s leading telecommunications companies who liked the idea and signed on to help develop and deploy the technology. I then was lucky enough to get Bruce Croxon, the founder and former CEO of Lavalife, to also become a partner. I then raised capital and assembled a great team and we developed the infrastructure
SUB: Have you raised outside funding? Do you plan to in the near future?
Miller: Yes we raised outside funding and we may raise more money in the future.
SUB: Finally, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out?
Miller: Don’t listen to the naysayers and if you believe in what you have stand your ground and sell like hell. Make sure you develop a great team that you enjoy working with. Remember it is a long haul so be prepared for a lot of ups and downs, but just push through them because things change all the time and when you least expect it. Be fully open-minded, but at the same time your intuition and gut feel is your best tool, so trust that. Most importantly have fun with it. If your readers have any advice for me I would love to hear it.
Tigits – www.tigits.com