Seattle startup vets take on Google with Helm, a new $499 personal email server

The Helm. (Helm Photos)

A Seattle-area startup is aiming to take on giants reminiscent of Google and alter the way in which we do email with a new bodily personal email server.

Helm in the present day unveiled its $499 machine that lets customers ship and obtain email from their very own area, along with saving contacts and calendar occasions. It’s a daring guess that goals to supply consolation at a time when privateness and safety points associated to personal data hosted by large tech corporations within the cloud are top of mind. The thought comes from Giri Sreenivas and Dirk Sigurdson, two entrepreneurs who already bought a safety startup and raised a $4 million seed round from prime enterprise capital companies final 12 months.

The machine is in regards to the dimension of a router and appears like an upside-down ebook positioned on a desk. It connects to a dwelling community and pairs with a cellular app that lets customers create their very own area identify, passwords, and restoration keys. Helm helps customary protocols and works with common email shoppers reminiscent of Outlook or the Mail app, with encryption defending connection between the machine and the apps.

“Right now, almost all the information that contains your on-line life is saved in a huge information middle,” Sreenivas wrote in a blog post. “You don’t personal it. You can’t see it, you may’t contact it — and also you don’t know who can. That dream of a machine that may make information ‘ownable’ to the person — not a stranger — is what led to Helm.”

The machine additionally comes with 120GB of strong state storage, with the choice so as to add as much as 5TB with an enlargement slot. Emails, contacts, and calendar occasions are backed up with Helm’s encrypted service. It prices $499 and Helm expenses a $99 annual subscription price after the primary 12 months that helps the corporate present software program updates and new options.

The thought of a personal email server isn’t new — see: Hillary Clinton — however it’s troublesome for on a regular basis customers to configure and keep. That’s the place Helm needs to step in.

“With Helm, you will be protected, safe, and in management, figuring out your information is correct the place it ought to be: with you, so you may reside on-line on your individual phrases,” Sreenivas wrote. “It all begins with email, and over the approaching months and years, our crew might be working on a variety of extra companies, every bringing you one step nearer to complete autonomy on-line.”

Helm co-founders Giri Sreenivas and Dirk Sigurdson.

Sreenivas and Sigurdson beforehand co-founded Mobilisafe, a Seattle cellular machine safety startup that raised investment from Madrona Venture Group, Trilogy Equity Partners, and T-Mobile’s enterprise arm earlier than it was acquired by Boston-based Rapid7 in 2012. They additionally labored collectively at T-Mobile as cellular software program architects previous to launching Mobilsafe.

Sreenivas, a Stanford grad, additionally spent greater than three years as a software program engineer at Lockheed Martin. Sigurdson, a Harvard grad, labored at Wave Systems for almost eight years earlier than becoming a member of T-Mobile.

Investors in Helm, beforehand referred to as Privacy Labs, embrace Instacart and Coinbase investor Initialized Capital; Lemnos Labs; Liquid 2 Ventures; CrunchFund; and Fuel Capital. Angel buyers Steve Jang, Lee Linden, and Geoff Entress are additionally backers. The firm employs 12 individuals.

In a blog post, Gerry Tan, managing companion at Initialized Capital (additionally run by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian), referred to as Helm “one in all my highest conviction investments” out of the agency’s third fund.

“Dirk and Giri are nice security-first software program engineers who’ve constructed one thing each safe and straightforward to make use of — this machine wouldn’t work with out each of these on the prime of thoughts,” Tan wrote. “While we’ve funded a lot of startups, only a few have required such excessive ranges of excellence throughout so many disciplines: person expertise design, software program, safety, {hardware}, manufacturing, finance, buyer assist, and operations.”

You can learn extra about Helm’s machine on the FAQ web page here.

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