Rethinking Messages from the Ground Up with Moped

By David Knight |

Tucked away in a spacious loft at the back of a quiet, unassuming building in leafy Prenzlauer Berg, Moped’s office reflects its ethos pretty accurately. The web-based messaging service has been developing on the down-low, avoiding hype and keeping its cards close to its chest. But that is set to change now that the platform has opened to the public with the introduction of its iPhone app.

Schuyler Deerman, founder and head of product, says Moped is about “rethinking messages from the ground up” – now, finally, everyone has the chance to find out for themselves.

For the sake of clarity, let me say that I have known Schuyler for more than five years, and I have looked on as his vision and his company take shape. In addition, I’ve been using the beta version Moped for months.

So what does it do? Moped is a simple yet powerful way to communicate. Sending messages is as convenient as instant messaging and as quick as texting. Users aren’t tied to a particular device, with messages accessible from desktop, mobile and even your email inbox.

Universal Access

Users direct messages to each other by @-mentioning the intended recipient(s) (e.g. “@dave what time does your flight arrive?”). They can also create message filters on-the-go with hashtags (e.g. “@sarah, arriving in #Berlin around 8ish”). All messages are private.

“Moped gives you universal access to your messages, like email, but it’s much lighter weight,” Schuyler says.

The platform is also integrated with Dropbox, allowing you to share files within the service, while the Chrome extension enables users to start conversations from anywhere on the Web. Currently, you need to login in via Twitter, but further third party service integrations and authentication methods are planned.

The Twitter similarities are obvious – using hash tags and @s especially – but Moped brings something new to the table. Schuyler says: “If you like using Twitter for public conversations, try Moped for private conversations. @-mention others to send them private messages, and filter your private stream with hashtags.”

An International Feel

The company itself, meanwhile, will keep its collective head down and carry on working even as Moped goes public. The team has a very international feel, consisting of six techies from six different countries. That’s also reflected in the funding which the company secured earlier this year which has come from leading European and American investors including Earlybird, Lerer Ventures and SV Angel.

It also represents the first Berlin investment for Betaworks, which can count Bitly, Path and Tumblr amongst its portfolio companies.

Schuyler originally moved to Berlin from the US six years ago, working as open source communications platform Digium’s first employee in Europe. His entrepreneurial desires drove him to start thinking about founding his own company, and after some time spent in San Francisco, he returned to Berlin to put his plan into action. Moped as an idea and as a company has been in development since last September.

Ciarán O’Leary is a partner at Earlybird, which led the $1 million financing round. He says: “One idea, for example, is to make email better by building something on top of it. The other idea, what Moped is doing, is to start from scratch. This, coupled with team’s incredibly strong product DNA, is what got us really excited about backing the company.”

Many in the Berlin scene will have already known something about Moped before today – everyone knows Schuyler – but you can now expect to be hearing a lot more from the boys in the loft.

Here’s a special Moped invite link for Silicon Allee readers