A group of current Waikato University students have turned an award-winning assignment into a ground-breaking business venture. Vmail, the innovative new voice messaging app for smartphones, is about to be launched and offers some unique differences over its competition.
Vmail started life in March this year as an entry into the inaugural Dragon’s Den business case competition, part of the Waikato University MBA programme. When the group won the competition, the urgency to take the product to market became obvious.
Vmail is voice messaging software that allows a smartphone user to send a short voice message to any recipient with a mobile phone or email address. The concept of voice messaging for smartphones is not new, however, unlike its competition, Vmail message recipients don’t need to have the app to download the message.
“It means you can send voice messages to virtually anyone, not just those with a smartphone,” says Vmail CEO and current MBA student Ahmed Basha. “It makes Vmail much more user-friendly and gives it a unique advantage.” Vmail also offers users the ability to send other ‘rich content’ formats, such as images and maps, and will introduce video soon. Users can opt to send messages via email, SMS or Vmail’s own messaging service which automatically syncs with the phone’s address book.
The app is not yet publically available, but is scheduled to be launched in August this year. A beta version of the app is currently being tested by those closest to the company. “We put it out to our Facebook followers about a month ago to see how they liked it and to iron out any bugs,” says fellow MBA student and Vmail team member, Austen Clarke. “The feedback has been extremely helpful to ensure we have the best quality product when we go live.”
Mr Clarke says they are constantly finding new ways to use Vmail. “We also have lots of ideas in the pipeline, which we will develop and implement. But first we want to capture people’s attention and gather a decent user-base.”
Mr Basha says the Dragon’s Den challenge was a good learning curve and helped the group to sharpen up their business plan. “The collaboration was an interesting experience. We did not know each other going into this, so it is fantastic that we have been able to keep it going and transform it into a real business venture.”
Mr Basha says that the university environment has been a fantastic incubator for the fledgling business. “Much of what we are learning in the MBA programme we are applying to our business as we go, especially in the areas of strategy and marketing. Other members of our team are students in the Computing and Mathematical Sciences school, so it has been a real joint university effort.”
You can find out more information about the app at www.vmailapp.com and follow their journey on facebook at www.facebook.com/vmailapp