Hiya: The Smartphone Protector of Fraudulent Calls
We live in a smartphone-dominant era where 6.4 billion people use mobile phones worldwide. As the number of smartphone users grows, the number of issues with spam messages and annoying phone calls from unknown numbers increases. However, many smartphone users weren’t expecting those difficulties, and the situation made them feel unprotected.
Looking back, Alex Algard was one of the few people who recognized the problem and the need for a solution on time when he launched Hiya in 2016. Hiya is a Seattle-based Caller-ID app that sells caller profile information to identify incoming calls or block unwanted numbers.
With a mission to modernize voice calls and protect customers from spammers and frauds, Hiya helps companies connect easily with their clients. If you are curious to learn how Hiya developed a great caller identification app to provide a better smartphone experience to mobile users, we’ll unfold the whole story below.
Born to Make a Change
Alex is a son of a Korean mother and a Swedish father. Born in 1975 in Stockholm, Alex was a noisy kid that always wanted to spend their time hanging out with his friends and sharing interesting ideas. As a teenager, Alex moved to Vancouver. He then entered Stanford and studied economics and engineering.
Soon after he graduated, Alex became a junior analyst in New York, and in 1996, he thought about starting an online directory. Two years later, in 1998, Alex got an MS degree in Engineering for Stanford University. Eager to prove that hard work pays off, Alex combined his two passions and started generating revenue by enjoying his hobby of displaying ads.
As soon as he noticed that his free-time activity brought him a higher income than his day job, he encouraged himself to quit his job and follow the dot-com dream. His entrepreneurial spirit motivated him to do extensive research, fly to Los Angeles, and launch a company to bring his idea to life - Whitepages.com.
Although Alex began earning money, things weren’t going smoothly, and in 2010 the revenue lowered significantly. He faced a huge problem with two possible solutions, but he needed to choose wisely and make the right decision. He spent long sleepless nights to bridge the gap, and in 2012 he decided to get a bank loan pledging his family's house, using his savings accounts as well as other personal belongings as collateral.
The deal made Alex turn the company into a subscription business model. The point was for users to have a chance to get details on customers who they are looking for, including bankruptcy records and mobile numbers. Alex also created an advanced product called Whitepages Pro for business users.
Changing the Focus
Alex's early vision was to connect people's identities and their smartphones. He started designing mobile apps to block spam and created Hiya to introduce his products into the world. This brand was initially a Caller-ID application for Whitepages since it was the most extensive databank of American residents’ contact information.
April 2016 was significant for Hiya as the platform spun out of Whitepages. This happened to be the best thing he had done so far, as the same month, the Hiya application had a whopping 25 million downloads. Alex saw this as a sign to step down from the primary company and focus entirely on Hiya.
Hiya first assigned a deal with the manufacturing conglomerate Samsung, and its Galaxy 7 model soon integrated their caller profile and spam protection services. Afterward, Hiya extended their partnership and, in August 2016, offered their services in the mobile hit known as Galaxy Note 7. Alex worked harder than ever and expanded the company's coverage to 28 countries launching Hiya Cloud, which offered network-level caller identification and call-blocking.
The team behind Hiya was undeniably doing their best to feed their hunger for success. As soon as they offered a limited version of the Hiya application for iPhones, they revealed that they were preparing a full version of the Hiya app for iOS 10.
The year 2017 brought enormous benefits for Alex since he managed to enter in partnership with ZTE offering call spam protection for Axon 7 users. Later in the same year, Hiya received money from their funding and used it to expand globally.
Recognized by the Best
Alex’s primary desire was to design good products that he could distribute worldwide. Additionally, he enjoyed taking risks, so he decided to expand Hiya and signed contracts with more companies. The customers soon recognized Alex’s courage to make a global impact, and in 2019, the team behind Hiya was delighted to win 2 awards. They won one award for Best Company in Seattle and one for Best Company Outlook.
Even though in 2020 and 2021, the world stopped, Hiya continued to offer its services and receive recognition for its work. Alex was happy knowing that he had achieved his goals and created a highly renowned company that was growing fast to meet the tech requirements of the market. Their mission to modernize voice calls turned into reality, as in 2020, Hiya was placed 86th on the list of fast-growing companies by Deloitte and the following year reached a prestigious 27th place.
Today, Alex is a super successful Internet entrepreneur, and Hiya is a stable company that counts over 140 employees in their Seattle, London, and Budapest offices. Hiya provides service to more than 200M active users and businesses globally.
The Unstoppable Vision
Initially, some customers didn’t know how to use the Hiya services and experienced some problems installing it. Alex and his team focused on those issues and made some improvements that benefited both the company and the customers.
As of today, Alex is happy that he has helped loads of people to block scams and annoying Fraud calls. He also included a premium option for users who want to have the opportunity to identify phone numbers that belong to certain people. Moreover, the skillful team behind the company designed a free trial option, so new members can sign up and explore the services for 7 days. When the trial period is over, customers can proceed to make a monthly or yearly subscription.
The team behind Hiya offers customer support services that smartphone users can take advantage of as soon as they join the big Hiya family. Many other companies, such as Nomorobo, CallApp, Truecaller, and Mr. Number, try to offer similar services as Hiya. Still, the features Alex has applied are too solid and original, making things harder for its rivals.
As a successful company that powers services for the biggest mobile providers, Hiya has raised $18M in funding so far. In October 2017, Alex announced a Series A round, through which he raised the whole sum. Balderton Capital led it with contributions from Lumia Capital and Nautilus Venture Partners.
Alex was more than happy with the Series A and revealed they would use those funds to expand Hiya worldwide. Following the investment, an early executive at Dropbox and Uber, Balderton’s Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, joined Hiya’s board. Hiya Future Plans
As a fast-growing company, Hiya is passionate about building a culture where staff love to work and feel energized and supported. They are constantly working on new plans for expanding the company and the services they provide. Alex and his team continually seek talented, enthusiastic, and driven individuals to join their growing team and add more value to the company.
The money Hiya gets is always channeled into improvement and better service, paying serious attention to the users’ feedback and the constantly changing business needs. Alex plans to open new offices soon to be more available and concurrent on the market.
Thanks to Alex’s forward-thinking and the help of like-minded individuals in his team, we can expect bigger protection and better services in the field. With a good funding start and many more products in the making, the future of Hiya is nothing but bright!