Toronto Startup: Quimby Technolgies Creates Self Destructing Mobile Messaging

Have you ever been in a relationship and maybe sent a naughty message or two, possibly with a picture? Did you live to regret that message when you broke up with that person? Now we’re not talking about kids or teenagers and sexting here, real adults do this kind of thing, especially those that travel a lot. Maybe you had a really rip roaring night at the club and sent a bunch of photos to your posse, perhaps you wanted them to live the moment with you, but not on Monday morning back at the office. What about this, have you ever had an idea you may have wanted to share with some somewhat trusted colleagues, but just enough so they could grasp the idea, not steal it down the road?

If you’ve ever found yourself in one of those scenarios or millions of other similar types of situations than you’d be happy to know that Heather Burns and her Quimby Technologies, a Toronto Startup, has created a self destructing messaging platform. Burns teamed up with Alkarrim (Alex) Nasser of BNotions, to create Quimby Technologies and Quimby the self destructing messenger app.

Now Burns is pretty sharp, she is well aware that there are some people who are going to shout out at the rooftops why this is a bad idea. The same kind of people that can’t get over the fact that Craigslist or Zaarly exist, and in our exclusive interview we asked her about just those types.

More after the break

While this is Burns official startup she’s also a consultant on another project called You may think it’s ironic that someone who has created the self destructing messaging app is also involved with a children’s monthly subscription book box, but she is and she makes a great case for Quimby.

We got a chance to catch up with Burns over the weekend.

How did you come up with the idea behind quimbey messenger?

“I’m a big believer that people’s private lives should stay private. I felt like there were so many stories of celebrities and their ‘mistakes’ and I wished that we could go back to a time where we focused on whatever someone was famous for and not their private lives.”

Who is your target? Business people with sensitive data or sexters who dont want to get caught?

“Truthfully the target is everyone – everyone has stuff they are nervous about sending via smartphone. It could be friends sending each other credit card info, it could be a couple in a monogamous relationship where both parties travel a lot for work and sext to keep the magic alive. Yes, I know that it will also be used by cheaters…but I think there are a lot of people who need privacy for all sorts of reasons – both legitimate and not. Even when it comes to sexting, a lot of people sext with someone that they are in a monogamous relationship with, and then they break up and suddenly those photos are available for revenge. This helps to keep things sent ‘in the moment’, in the moment.”

Ok here’s a tough one, how are you going to prevent people from using Quimby to send things like child porn

“Don’t worry – I get it. I know a lot of people have criticized the concept as being a tool for cheaters. We can’t control exactly how people use it – and that means there is always the risk that people will use it for immoral or even illegal purposes. But the actions of a few shouldn’t prohibit everyone from access to privacy. The same debate is going on in many places right now on a much bigger scale – I think a private conversation between two people should stay private!”

Whats your monitzation strategy?

“I’m not sure I have a good answer on this one – the app is $0.99, so there’s that. It is currently in ‘working beta’ and once we’ve refined and enhanced we are also hoping to white label to brands.”

Is there a hard copy of the message saved on your servers?

“BNOTIONS developed the app, so they’re the ones to talk to for the technical stuff – but short answer is once something destructs, it’s gone from the server as well.”

Have you faced any challenges founding a startup as a woman? What advice could you give to other woman entrepreneurs

“I’m not sure I’ve faced any challenges related to being a woman. I think overall my advice to any timid/new entrepreneurs is not to be afraid to talk to people. I think there is this real fear that someone will ‘steal’ your idea – and so people have ideas and they just keep them to themselves and never do anything with. Once you open up and trust people, it’s amazing how partnerships form and suddenly ideas come to life.”

Whats the best part about doing a startup in Toronto?

“Toronto has an amazing entrepreneur scene – people are so collaborative, so helpful, so inspiring. You quickly build a network of support – people will to give advice, guidance, etc. There is no way Quimby would have got off the ground without that.”

A couple things you need to know about Quimby, it’s a platform by itself. That means that in order to use the Quimby features you need to be writing to someone with a Quimby account. It’s not like an anonymous remailer where you can email anyone and have the messages self destruct from a general delivery box.

Burns is serious about privacy. You can make up your own username and your real name is never tied with your username so if you want to be incognito you absolutely can be.

So while we were vetting this story in the office Cameron Wright our managing editor and I had some heated discussions about the app itself. Cameron was concerned about what would happen if say an estranged ex-husband used the Quimby app to threaten the estranged ex-wife. Well, to that we have to ask what happens if the ex-husband calls and threatens the ex-wife. Under normal conditions theres no recording of that conversation.

I have a lot of friends out there that are message hoarders. They hold onto everything as “evidence” later. I know this so sometimes if I have something funny I hold it back from them. Now with Quimby I won’t have to as long as they are Quimby members as well.

While Burns even hinted to the fact that sure some may use Quimby for immoral or unethical reasons, they do the same thing for just about everything on the internet. People use FourSquare to stalk, Facebook to stalk, Craigslist and Zaarly to hook up etc. There are enough good people out there that would really benefit from something like Quimby.


Check out Quimby in the iTunes app store, soon to come to Android

Check out the developer Bnotions

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