Israel-based InPhoDrive sets up shop in Franklin

Metro Detroit’s ties to Israel’s burgeoning entrepreneurial culture recently grew a little stronger now that Israeli-based software firm InPhoDrive is sinking roots in southeast Michigan.

InPhoDrive is creating a combination of smartphone applications and software as a service program called Synphony that allows drivers to consume Web content without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel. The app will allow people to operate their smartphones through voice-control software. The app will route itself through the car’s speakers to perform a number of tasks, such as read emails or send tweets.

“It basically solves the enormous problem of driving your car and accessing the Internet,” says Howard Brown, a serial entrepreneur from Franklin who is heading up InPhoDrive’s North American operations. He says he was connected to the start-up through the Michigan Israel Business Bridge program, which works to connect businesses and entrepreneurs from the Great Lakes State to Israel, which is the country that produces the second largest number of start-ups behind the U.S.

InPhoDrive has been developing Synphony since 2007 and has created an English-language version of the technology that is set to launch this spring. The company plans to offer the app for free first to iPhone and in the near future Android users along with a 30-day free trial service followed by a monthly subscription fee through its own website. “This isn’t a 99-cent game,” Brown says. “This is a service.”

InPhoDrive currently employs about half a dozen staffers in Israel and one person in Metro Detroit. Brown expects the Metro Detroit staff to grow to half a dozen this year, before the company is acquired in the next 24-36 months.

Source: Howard Brown, head of InPhoDrive’s North American operations
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.