Interview with Brandon Watson, CEO and Founder of IMSafer
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
IMSafer: IMSafer helps parents protect kids and teens from predators that approach online while still giving them the privacy they crave.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
IMSafer: The products for protecting children online are overwhelming for parents, hard to use, and require too much work on the part of the parents. IMSafer is “simple,” “easy to use” and “effective.” The basis of what we do is built on the perception of trust and communication. We don’t allow parents to spy on every conversation their child has online, if our language analysis identifies a threat, we let parents see that threat and enough of the conversation to give them proper context.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
IMSafer: Our language analysis notes text that may be inappropriate or may be indicative of predatory behavior and gives parents a notification with a ‘snapshot of the conversation’ along with a ‘rating’ of that screen name that is generated by other parents. They can then vote themselves on that person to help other parents make informed decisions. Users of our IMSafer Social Networking Service can also be notified when their children receive links to social networking sites.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
IMSafer: Parents of kids and teens that go online who respect their children’s privacy as well as their duty to protect their kids should check out IMSafer and give it a try.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
IMSafer: We are constantly improving our language analysis engine. We think of it like an anti-virus database, people are always trying to figure out new ways to do harm, and we’re trying to stay a few steps ahead of them.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
IMSafer: We’re going to stay a few steps ahead of the predators. For example if kids start moving away from social networks and into something new like mobile group chat, that’s where we’ll be.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
IMSafer: Criticism comes for the most part from people that don’t understand how our service works. A parent’s first job is to protect their child. We give the parents a tool to help them do that while giving the child as much freedom and privacy as we can to still be effective. Once kids see that we aren’t spying and that their parents only get alerts on clearly bad language, they are generally in support of the program.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
IMSafer: Each of us had at least one conversation with a guidance counselor who said, “If only you could use your powers for good.” This is our chance.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
IMSafer: We started with a simple plan: to rethink the problem of protecting kids online. “Simple,” “easy to use” and “effective” are our guiding principles. The products for protecting children online are overwhelming for parents, hard to use, and require too much work on the part of the parents. IMSafer is simple, easy to use and effective.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
IMSafer: IMSafer does not disclose current funding.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?
IMSafer: We launched IMSafer on October 3rd, 2006 and added IMSafer Social Networking Service on October 18th, 2006. Today, 1/17, we announced support for Microsoft Vista and the Mac. We’ve tied in to Vista’s Parental Control API’s to build on the great work that Microsoft has done and created a Wizard to make it as easy as possible for parents to protect their kids online. Our complete announcement is up at http://www.imsafer.com/splash/press
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