TECH TALK

With Criptext, this conversation never happened ...

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Now you see it …</span> Messages on Mayer Mizrachi’s Criptext disappear after 15 seconds, and it is impossible to see the sender’s name on the message display. Criptext targets the business-to-business marketplace.
Now you see it … Messages on Mayer Mizrachi’s Criptext disappear after 15 seconds, and it is impossible to see the sender’s name on the message display. Criptext targets the business-to-business marketplace.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

Mayer Mizrachi and his team created a platform for text-messaging technology that makes messages disappear. One upping that, they created a cool iPhone app that lets users quickly and seamlessly add short muted video clips to their disappearing texts. For instance, instead of a text that only said “I got in,” the message could be accompanied by the teen sender jumping up and down with the acceptance letter from the university she applied to. In fact, the free app, called HASH, quickly gained more than 150,000 enthusiastic users, particularly teen-agers.

But there was a problem. The teen users were not the market Mizrachi was targeting. And the market the team hoped to tap — individual politicians, lawyers and other professionals who wanted to be able to send messages without a trace left behind — were not embracing it.

While working on the app as part of Miami’s Venture Hive accelerator, Mizrachi got a call from a Latin American government that asked for a version of Hash just for its group. Then a big Panamanian telecommunications company wanted its own branded version to offer as an exclusive service for clients. Then it hit him: The target is a business-to-business marketplace. “Companies don’t want to use Whatsapp; they want to have full control and they will pay for the service,” said Mizrachi, 26, whose team of five works mainly from Ecuador and Panama.

Now, while the HASH app is still available along with plenty of competitors in the consumer market, Mizrachi and his team are focused squarely on the business-to-business model. His company, Criptext, will officially launch next month at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York but Mizrachi has already delivered the product to his first big enterprise customer and has others in the pipeline.

“Criptext will be the LinkedIn of messaging. Work and play should be separated,” said Mizrachi, who came up with the initial idea while working on a digital strategy for a presidential campaign in Panama and seeing a leaked text message conversation crucify a candidate.

With Criptext, messages are protected three ways: Once you open a message you have 15 seconds to read it before it self-destructs from the phone and the servers. Unlike competitors, the message is also screenshot-safe by never showing the name of the sender in the same screen as the message, and it’s untraceable in the backend. Companies, organizations and government entities will pay a yearly fee for the users it specifies — Criptext is currently testing pricing models. It will also have the ability to send messages to specified affiliates.

“Sometimes you set out to build a product for a particular market segment and realize along the way that there’s a better, more viable business model in a different market segment. Criptext started out focusing on consumers but realized it made more sense to pivot to a government and enterprise market,” said Ivan Rapin-Smith, program director at Venture Hive. “Mayer is now laser focused on this b2b business model and building a profitable, sustainable business.”

Mizrachi presented Criptext for the first time on Friday at the Swarm, Venture Hive’s version of the demo day. There, he and the nine other accelerator companies from seven countries pitched to a roomful of investors and community supporters. “He represents us well and is a great example showing that world class tech companies can start and grow in Miami,” said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive, which is supported by Miami-Dade County and the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

At the Swarm on Friday, each startup team gave a six-minute presentation; then the teams were available for follow-up questions and meetings with investors. Other accelerator companies presenting Friday included Aprefis, which helps cruise companies increase profits through big-data pricing algorithms, Properati, an online and mobile platform for the real estate market in Latin America and now the U.S., and The Fan Machine, a social marketing platform in Latin America that is expanding into the United States, and Waleteros, a mobile wallet solution aimed at the unbanked U.S. Hispanic marketplace.

The Swarm closed out the intense 12-week program but the companies are provided free Venture Hive office space to continue working on their companies the rest of the year, and many of the companies from the first accelerator class, such as SWOL, Hair Construction, NightPro, Everypost and Raw Shorts, have stayed on at Venture Hive as part of its incubator. Mizrachi praised the structured program and the mentorship, and said the $25,000 grant each accelerator company receives allowed him to focus on building his business, rather than on raising money.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Read more Business Monday stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">FSU LINE:</span> Pictured is Guy Harvey artwork on an athletic clothing line. Artist Guy Harvey has developed his brand into a business empire.

    ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    Guy Harvey fishing new waters

    With more products, a new generation of fans and marketing that focuses on the man behind the brand, marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey is stretching his cast.

  •  
Marcell Haywood

    BUSINESS MONDAY CEO ROUNDTABLE

    Taxi alternatives could improve service

    Today marks the launch of the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable, comprising more than two dozen CEOs and senior executives in companies large and small from the region’s key industries. The goal: To provide a temperature check of local economic conditions and business opinions on current topics. Look for a selection of responses each week in print; to see all responses, go online at MiamiHerald.com/business. And keep an eye out for our live CEO Roundtable event later this fall.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">WAITING ROOM:</span> A horse waits in the stalls at Thebas Farm, one of a group of Polo horses heading for Amsterdam. Worldwide Livestock, owned by Alex and Tony Alessandrini, is overseeing the shipment of the animals. July 1, 2014 in Miami.

    Company profile

    Worldwide Livestock Services manages import, export of livestock through MIA

    Horses, cattle, pigs and more: World Livestock Services has carefully shipped four-legged creatures and flocks of birds through Miami International Airport to points throughout the globe.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category