Midentity: Simon Grice
Simon Grice's contact management business which caught the net early
A precocious student, Simon Grice wangled a stint with the team responsible for the creation of the worldwide web. A first class degree in physics and computing, and three business successes later, Grice has made his latest move, launching contact management company Midentity.
And his success in raising first round funding of £500,000, plus a SMART award of £150,000, is yet more evidence that contacts – he has secured backing from some big names in the UK technology sector plus influential supporters in the US – and an impressive track record go a long way with investors.
An early exploiter of the internet, his work with the Swiss-based worldwide web team in the early 1990s convinced him of its commercial potential. As a consequence, he set up a website development agency. Then came The Personal Email Company, among the first group of businesses to offer web-based email, which he then sold to World Telecom Plc for $3m in cash and shares. Next up was etribes, a facilitator of online communities, where he remains a non-executive director.
But it was Midentity that stirred interest and investment from Esther Dyson, a pre-eminent figure in the internet arena and adviser to George W. Bush on such matters, and Ray Anderson, a self-made multi-millionaire responsible for Bango.net. They were among the group of private investors who stumped up the money to help develop and commercialise the unproven concept.
The first tranche came through in January 2003, more than a year before the company’s official launch. However, with the soft launch of Micircles, an interim product enabling users to send group text messages, his backers were forthcoming, which was fortunate considering even Grice wasn’t sure about what he was creating.
The product, which can be downloaded from the web (www.midentity.com), synchronises with Microsoft Outlook and automatically updates contact details of other Midentity users. It has an email alert service, giving key contacts priority, and subscribers can send text messages from their PCs. All these details are also backed up and stored securely so laptop users will not be stuck if their device is lost or stolen.
To boost commercialisation, Grice plans to raise a further £2m in the next six months and believes the company will have a million users in 18 months.
Company name: Midentity
Activity: Contact management
Turnover: ?1m projected first year