The Skqueak That Roars: New App Combines Drawing, Audio, Images

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lot of patent searches, and Nichani says they discovered that Stanford University holds or has applied for a lot of patents in related mobile app designs. Nichani tells me, “We have an exclusive license to all Stanford patents (in addition to our own) and they are also an equity partner and a collaborator, [so] we view this as a barrier to entry for other competitors.” What sets Skqueak apart, though, is the ability to simultaneously sketch and record audio with a photo or video, making it a multimedia message.

“The innovation and our patents all deal with the fact that you have a format that allows you to combine these different elements, and the app allows you to create these things pretty easily and pretty quickly,” Nichani says. He acknowledges that some voice memo apps and certain instructional and educational apps developed for iPad presentations come close. He even sees similarities with Instagram, the photo-sharing mobile app. “There are apps that have some elements, but we haven’t seen anything that combines everything. None have this integrated aspect that Skqueak does. It’s an app, a website, and a format.”

After launching a beta version in March, Nichani says Apple approved the Skqueak app for its iTunes store, and it became available there earlier this week.

Nichani and Fix have mostly self-funded and bootstrapped Pelfunc, and Nichani says their next move would likely be to apply for residency in an incubator like the EvoNexus program operated by CommNexus, the San Diego nonprofit industry group.

Pelfunc’s business model is to initially attract as many users as possible by offering Skqueak as a free downloadable app, with a one-year pro subscription service that includes unlimited storage available for $5 a year.

Customers would also be able to take advantage of features allowing them to create separate private and public channels for their Skqueaks. And with such features, he adds, “We think there will be opportunities for advertising on the website as well.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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