Eyecon is a caller ID and dialer app that transforms the default phone application on your mobile device into an interactive communications center. In this interview, CEO Ken Zwiebel discusses the advantages of using Eyecon and invites users to give it a try.
Please describe the company’s story: What is your mission? What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
Eyecon was founded by Yuval Samson and Erez Dado a few years ago with the idea to create a better interface and better interaction for people who have been using their smartphones for a long time as their main point of contact.
We find ourselves in a world with two kinds of applications that use our phone as a calling device. Especially on Android, there’s this application called “Phone”, and from that, you have your contact list or address book, a dialer, and any other functions that you might have depending on the type of device.
Technology-wise, all these features are stuck 10-15 years ago. What Eyecon wants to do is to take new ideas of how the brain processes information or pictures, and how it reacts and remembers things. If I see your picture show up on my screen, it’s a big difference than if I see your name, as it evokes a much stronger emotional reaction.
Eyecon combines all of those worlds together and puts caller ID, contact list management, dialer applications, and all kinds of communication streams in one place.
When you look at your contacts or history list, instead of having just names and phone numbers, you’ll see photos of your contacts.
It turns out that Eyecon is very special, because so many people are using the application and we’ve done almost no advertising for it. Our growth has been almost entirely organic and in the last 2 years, we’ve had over 45 million downloads of our application; We have a 4.6 rating in the Google Play Store, the highest rated app in this category. We have millions of daily active users all over the world, including places like India which is our largest market, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the United States, and many other countries, who all found us through word of mouth.
Our vision is to make Eyecon not just about the contact list, dialer and caller ID, but to make it a communications center. We add all kinds of features into Eyecon that allow us to communicate better.
For example, if you wanted to send a message to someone on WhatsApp, instead of searching for their name on WhatsApp, you would open Eyecon, find that person’s picture, and click the WhatsApp icon on their profile to compose your message within WhatsApp.
You’ll also see all kinds of other communication features or pointers that you can get into. So, you could go directly to their Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, and send a direct message through any of these channels.
We also have a new feature we released about a month ago called Toki, which is like a Walkie-Talkie. Clicking the Toki icon would open a direct communication channel where you can have short audio conversations with your friends. Unlike WhatsApp, where you can press and hold to send a message and then the message gets uploaded and downloaded. This is a direct back-and-forth kind of conversation for up to 9 people together, and it’s just like the Walkie Talkies we had as kids. You can do it over international networks and it’s a really powerful feature.
Who are your typical customers, and what do you think is the main challenge that Eyecon solves for them?
One problem with cell phones is that their most basic function, which is making phone calls, is antiquated. It looks like an old list, and even though you can search that list, it doesn’t take advantage of all the great things that come from having a smartphone. When you get a phone call, you can see what makes Eyecon so much more powerful than just your default app.
Lots of people in the world use Caller IDs and different kinds of dialers than the default one on their phone, and they are always looking for better ways of doing that. That being said, it’s mostly people in their 20s and 30s who use Eyecon, though Toki seems to attract an even younger audience, namely teens.
The challenge that we try to solve is the huge user experience gap when interacting with your device. Unlike the apps we all know and love, the default functions on our phones don’t give that kind of humanized, interpersonal interaction. Eyecon reorganizes your device to give you the things you actually care about rather than just names and phone numbers.
That’s the problem we’re trying to solve, and it’s also what our customers say about us, how unbelievably inspiring and fun it is to see pictures of their friends, family, and colleagues when they call.
Where do you pull user data from?
Everything that we do is through public sourced information. We don’t take any personal data from anybody, certainly not from our users. Unlike TrueCaller, which pulls data from its users’ phones, Eyecon goes out to social media and tries to find the most perfect match for each of your contacts.
Keep in mind that if, for instance, your name appeared in someone’s contact list as “Ditsa Reporter”, other people might not find that useful because it doesn’t show your full name or information.
What we do instead is show you the closest match that we could find and ask you a simple question: is this the person you are contacting? Other people have said it is, do you verify that? This user-generated verification enables us to grade these publicly sourced databases.
Again, we don’t take information from our users. We ask for their help, but the actual data comes from open public sources and we display links to all of those sources.
Clearly, we don’t listen to our users’ phone calls or read their messages. We only know about the number of phone calls they made or received. The reason we know that is because as soon as the phone call ends, we show an advertisement, so we can just count the number of times that advertisement is displayed, and that enables us to know how many times they made or received a phone call.
What happens when I get a phone call from someone who isn’t on any of those databases?
Let’s say, for instance, we don’t have any knowledge of the caller. If we’ve never seen that person and they are not in our lists, you’ll just see their phone number, as with any caller ID application. If we do know that person, and our list expands to much more than the 45 million people who downloaded our platform, then we would have a verified photo or a verified name which we’ll display on your screen when that person calls, even if they’re not in your contact list or database.
Of course, the user can control which picture they want presented on their profile depending on how they want to be viewed by other users.
Can I control which Social Media Platforms I want my profile to display?
We allow the users to control which data they want to display in their profile. We get users that don’t want to be in our data streams at all. Upon request, we take their phone number, name, and social media links, and we wipe them out completely. We do this not only because we want to be GDPR compliant, but because we respect the privacy of our users.
We wouldn’t force someone who doesn’t want to be seen to be seen, and if you want any particular link to show or not show on your profile, that’s completely up to you.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and customers?
In March of last year, we had a major drop in both new user acquisition and in the usage of the app. We had a tough couple of months when we lost about 200,000 daily active users, but we’ve already recovered from those times and even exceeded our previous levels. We’re back to an upward gain and we keep getting more and more users without advertising.
One of the interesting things we get to see is the way people use their phones and how many phone calls they make. An average person in the United States only makes 10 phone calls a day, but an average person in India makes 25 calls a day. But even in the US, people are now making more phone calls than they did previously. We like to encourage different forms of communication and we’re seeing that people are reaching out and talking to each other a lot more now than they did before Covid.
What are some trends or technologies that you find to be particularly interesting these days?
First of all, we’re in a field that has been around for decades, long before cell phones. One of the things that we’re trying to do with Toki is to make phone calls more appropriate for the 21st century.
If my wife has to make a phone call when I’m out shopping to tell me to buy something, that’s a very long loop. It takes a long time to make that connection, for the cell tower to find me and for my phone to ring. Then I have to answer it, if I hear it at all, etc.
So one of our goals with Toki was to create a much faster communication channel that will allow my wife to just press a button and start talking. We’re trying to make communication not only more fun and more humanized but also more efficient in today’s day and age. That ties with the way people use their smartphones these days and it’s very interesting for us.
We think that the future is very bright, not only for Eyecon but for everyone, as the world slowly starts to move into the post-Covid era hopefully. We’ve already seen so many great things that have developed over this period, which challenged all of us to step out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. It might sound like a cliche, but I think great things came out of a tough situation. People rose to the occasion and were able to create new technologies that inspire people. We want to be one part of that as well.