This is the story of how one major pivot helped CrowdX land the exit
Today CrowdX Co-Founders Gil Friedlander, Amit Lubovsky and Ori Goshen announced Cellwize’s purchase of their startup.
While the sum of the deal was undisclosed, CrowdX has raised over $4 million from prominent funds and investors like Janvest, Pix Vine Capital, The Time incubator, TASC, the angel Don Perrin, who was also an angel investor in Zipcar, Maxfield Capital and AltaIR VC to date. The company has also raised funding from Israel’s Chief Scientist as part of the national R&D fund.
From a radiation alert app to an asset to mobile companies
CrowdX is actually a reincarnation of Tawkon, which was established in 2009 by Gil Friedlander (CEO), Amit Lubovsky (Business Development Manager) and Ori Goshen (VP of Technology) to help users’ health with an app that can track a smartphone’s radiation level during a phone conversation, and alert the users when those levels are especially high. The company got attention following a correspondence with Steve Jobs, who refused uploading the app into the App Store.
While developing the company’s main product, CrowdX launched the Glove app, which helped it build their database, containing over a billion anonymous posts that described the quality of different networks.
After three years of work, the company realized that the information they had obtained, combined with their BI capabilities and understanding of the mobile network they had developed, could be a highly relevant product in the market of cellular companies. They started to collect information anonymously from mobile phones about the user experience in networks (QOS), and enabled the cellular companies to see what the user experiences in real-time were like in terms of reception quality, surfing speed, call disconnection, etc.
In an interview with Geektime, Goshen explained that, “The problem in the cellular world today is that communication companies use two methods to understand what is going on in their network. The first is fleets of vehicles that move around and map the network, [which is] an expensive and inefficient method. The second method is from within the network, using sniffers, probes and logs, that try to estimate what happens to users in the network. The innovation here is the use of crowd sourcing techniques to fully and accurately understand what happens in the network.”
Friedlander adds, “It is possible that a certain provider would enable better network performance, but it would be less relevant to certain users, according to the way they use their smartphone. The average is irrelevant in such cases, and the companies want to reach the paying customer, not the average one.”
The connection with Cellwize
Over the years the company got purchase offers from large companies in the field, but Cellwize made the winning offer. CrowdX’s product will be fully integrated into the solution Cellwize offers, but will also continue to exist as an independent product.
Friedlander explains, “When we reached the operators, we realized, time and again, that this information is very interesting to them, as well as the availability in real-time, but a problem that kept arising was the lack of relevant engineers and manpower to deal with these problems, and they kept looking for an autonomous solution for these problems. This makes the connection with Cellwize perfect.”
He told us, “We can feed the user experience into their systems, and they know how to take it and do whatever is needed to improve that experience. This is actually the first time a SON (Self-Organizing Network) knows how to automatically take a user experience, feed it into the system, and act according to the feedback. It is an amazing solution.”
The optimization solutions developed by Cellwize, the purchasing company, enable cellular operators to utilize the cellular network’s infrastructure in an optimal manner. The company’s products continuously improve surfing speeds as well as data transmission services and calls, and assist in automatic load balancing within the network. The purchase of CrowdX allows the company to advance from network-oriented optimization solutions to user experience-oriented solutions, thus improving the user experience, strengthening the customer’s loyalty to the provider, and increasing the provider’s revenues accordingly.
The entrepreneurs Gil Friedlander, Amit Lubovsky and Ori Goshen have known each other for more than seven years. Friedlander, who served in the Israeli Air Force and amassed experience at Celtro, joined Goshen, who served in the famous military intelligence unit 8200 and worked at the startup Fring. The two then joined Lubovsky, a serial entrepreneur who sold his startup Dorfour to the French company Sequans. The three established the company and stayed together until the exit.