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

The Helm. (Helm Photos)

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

Helm right this moment unveiled its $499 gadget 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 huge tech firms within the cloud are top of mind. The concept comes from Giri Sreenivas and Dirk Sigurdson, two entrepreneurs who already offered a safety startup and raised a $4 million seed round from high enterprise capital companies final yr.

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

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

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

The concept 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 desires to step in.

“With Helm, you might be protected, safe, and in management, understanding your knowledge is correct the place it must be: with you, so you possibly can dwell on-line on your personal phrases,” Sreenivas wrote. “It all begins with email, and over the approaching months and years, our workforce will probably be working on a variety of further 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 gadget 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 practically eight years earlier than becoming a member of T-Mobile.

Investors in Helm, beforehand known 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 folks.

In a blog post, Gerry Tan, managing companion at Initialized Capital (additionally run by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian), known as Helm “one in every of 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 simple to make use of — this gadget wouldn’t work with out each of these on the high 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: consumer expertise design, software program, safety, {hardware}, manufacturing, finance, buyer help, and operations.”

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

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