Zvi Band’s business, Contactually could change how everyone keeps in touch and just may be the biggest innovation to email since Google launched Gmail. The company is arguably DC’s hottest startup, making Band DC’s hottest entrepreneur. The DC-based company helps other businesses and entrepreneurs manage contacts, reminders and priorities.
“Band is both a great developer and great entrepreneur,” said Peter Corbett, chief executive officer of iStrategy Labs. “That’s not very common in DC. Most great entrepreneurs here are not developers, and most developers are not entrepreneurs.”
But Contactually is well-funded, well-connected and is generating paying customers. Band, who lives a few blocks south of Logan Circle, got the idea for the business last year when he realized how bad he was at keeping up with his contacts. Band began talking to people about his idea, especially those who manage a lot of contacts, like real estate agents.
At the time, Band had a Web development agency and one employee, Jeff Carbonella. Because the feedback they received from people was positive, he and Carbonella put together a prototype.
“It was just a basic, functional thing that we could start showing to people,” said Band. Then Tony Cappaert joined the team, and his first job was to show the prototype to as many people as possible. “That helped us gain further validation that [the prototype] was useful,” said Band.
It wasn’t until a meeting in California when Band met Paul Singh, a partner at startup accelerator, 500 Startups. According to Band, Singh said, “Honestly, you need to stop everything else you’re doing; focus on this full-time, and we’ll fund you.”
With that Band, Carbonella and Cappaert left behind their District lives and headed to the West coast. The team had four months to put together the best product they could before Demo Day, where they would demonstrate what they had created in front of potential investors. The trio worked 18-hour days, living in a two-bedroom apartment in California with three mattresses on the floor.
“We’d come home, take a quick shower, sleep, wake up and go back to the office,” described Band.
At the end of the four months the group demoed Contactually’s first product (twice in California and once in New York) and received funding for the concept. But all of that hard work paid off: the company now has a total of $500,000 in investment funds.
The original team of three at Contactually now includes three additional full-time employees and five interns in the company’s Dupont Circle headquarters. Despite the draw of tech companies to California, Contactually is planning to stay and grow in DC.
“We’ve seen that it’s really possible to build a very strong startup here in DC,” said Band.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;