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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Startup Gives Twitter a Private Messaging Option


Name: Umagram
Quick Pitch: Umagram lets you tweet private message links to people who don’t follow you.
Genius Idea: We’ve all done the Twitter direct message dance. We look up people we’re trying to get in touch with on Google and find their Twitter handles. We send a message asking them to DM us. After they follows us, we send back another DM with our e-mail address in it. They e-mail us. We reply, and are thus FINALLY able to convey the information we wanted to.
Umagram aims to help its users skip this tedious process and instead cut straight to the private, unrestricted conversation.
Here’s how it works: A user logs in with a Twitter account. To initiate a conversation, the user composes a tweet that mentions anyone with whom that person wants to participate in the conversation. Umagram posts the tweet with a unique link to the conversation on its messaging platform. Because users need to sign in to Umagram with a specific Twitter identity, only people named in the initial tweet have access to the conversation.
The conversation looks like a commenting platform, has no character limits, and allows users to attach documents. If someone responds to the conversation, he can choose to tweet a reply message to the person who initiated to indicate he’s done so. Unlike the DM approach, the solution keeps e-mail addresses on both sides private.
Founder David Rostan built the platform, originally referred to as “Unnamed Messaging Application” (hence, UMA), when he ran into problems making professional connections for his other startup, corporate social responsibility forum Socialyell.com. While he knew the Twitter handles for the people he thought would participate on the site, the DM dance was growing tiring.
Rostan started the platform to solve this problem for himself and others, but in the future, he thinks that Umagram could be a good solution for customer service via Twitter, pitching media outlets, and a convenient way to make introductions.

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