Interview With Twist Co-Founder and CEO Bill Lee

Posted Nov 5, 2012

Twist is a startup company that makes it easier to send messages to a person or group of people if you are running late.  When you have a meeting you can enter the destination, time, and contact info of the participants.  The app will send you an alert to inform you when it is time for you to leave so that you will be on time and it keeps the meeting party informed about your estimated time of arrival.

The meeting party will get two messages.  The first message is when you start heading to the meeting and the other one is when you have arrived on location.  If you are running late, then everyone will get a message saying that you are behind.

When working with Harris Interactive earlier this year, Twist conducted a national survey about how Americans inform people when running late.  Twist and Harris found out that 24% of Americans have sent a text or e-mail while driving to tell someone that they are behind, which can be very dangerous when on the open road.

Twist co-founder and CEO Bill Lee said that there has been previous attempts at notifications, but they have focused more on location rather than time.

I spoke to Twist co-founder Bill Lee the other day and he told me a little bit more about his background and the company.  He told me that he is an angel investor and did over 200 meetings last year.  What he noticed from that experience that a lot of time can be wasted when people are running late and it can be dangerous during commutes.

“Time will be a critical component of mobile,” said Lee in an interview with Pulse2.  Twist released their iPhone applicationback in July and the Android version is coming in a couple months.  An HTML5 version of Twist is coming in the next couple weeks.

Mr. Lee told me that Twist started in July 2011.  The founding team at Twist have successfully exited 6 companies.  Twist co-founder Edward Marks was able to pay his way through school at Stanford University by creating viral mobile apps.  Another Twist co-founder is Mike Belshe, who is known for inventing the SPDY protocol.

Mr. Lee told me that the Department of Transportation estimates that there are around 1 billion rides taking place per day so tapping into that market has an enormous opportunity.

When I congratulated him about David Sacks (the founder of Yammer) in joining the board of directors, he told me that Mr. Sacks is very active in Twist.  Mr. Sacks gave some ideas around the user interface and he uses the Twist app every day.  Mr. Sacks said that the app makes it easier for his wife to find out when he is on his way home.

I asked Mr. Lee about how the maps work on application.  He said that they have been using APIs through Bing and Google to set up the maps.

Some of Twist’s features include:

– Location sharing – Send an update to your friends, family, and colleagues

– Appointment manager – Create, share, and manage appointment times and locations

– Real-time location updating – Share your location to save time from having to call when running late

– Meet up with friends – When entering your destination and your friends’ info, they will be invited to share their arrival times and location

– Social integration – You can share your Twist via Facebook and Twitter.

Twist has raised a $6 million Series A round of funding from Bridgescale Partners, Eric Hahn, and Jeff Skoll.  Check out some screenshots and a demo video below: