Zombies Invade 500 Accelerator, Hungry for BRAAAAAAAAINS

Shaun of the Dead

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In recent weeks, residents of this quiet suburb have reported strange activity concentrated in the downtown area of Castro Street. There have been numerous sightings of zombies lumbering up and down Castro, mouths agape, in search of three things. Noted by many Castro St business owners whose shops and restaurants have been frequented by these zombies, they hear only these words coming from the zombies’ mouths over and over, in an erratic fashion: “BRAAAAAAAINS. CUUUUUUUUUSTOMERS.  MOOOOOOOOONEY.”

These are not your garden variety zombies. Despite their appetite for human brains, two of them were recently spotted attempting the Pho Challenge. So it is apparent these zombies have chameleon-like abilities and are able to disguise themselves as human beings – making them all the more dangerous to innocent civilians. Extreme caution should be heeded.

The 12th floor of 444 Castro St appears to be a hotbed of zombie activity and where these zombies congregate at odd hours. Rumor has it that they’ve infiltrated the 500 Startups Accelerator. Ignorant paparazzi have attempted to sneak up to the 12th floor to try and capture footage, only to never be seen again.

And one more thing…. these zombies got some serious moves. 😉

(You can also watch this on SwitchCam)

We’re GHOULISHLY excited to introduce you to our little monsters — the newest 500 Accelerator batch! We’ve got 34 creepy crawly startups spending the next couple months with us in the 500 Secret Lair in Mountain View. 24% of them have women founders, and 44% have international founders, hailing from countries like Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia, London, Estonia, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Happy Halloween!!

And now… meet the zombies. Er, companies:

Priority inbox for team conversations.

Founders: Mark Kofman and Anton Litvinenko
Where We’re From: Estonia, the country with a disproportionate number of startups per capita
Fun Fact: 300 milligrams (about two to four cups of brewed coffee) is a maximum safe dose of caffeine a day. Consuming more may cause: Insomnia, Nervousness, Restlessness,… We picked this name as http://300.mg helps teams to reduce number of coffee (water cooler) meetings to share the information.
Our Theme Song: “Poison” by Prodigy
Our Superhero: It’s Doctor House and his crew.



72Lux offers consumers a universal checkout and personalized shopping experience while also offering a white-label version for publishers.

Founders: Heather Marie, Founder / Team members include Michelle Montgomery and Jason Cain
Where We’re From: New York, NY “The city that never sleeps.” …and neither do we!
Fun Fact: 72 comes from the street address we launched from on the Upper East Side in Manhattan
Our Theme Song: Independent Women Part 1 by Destiny’s Child and Run the World (“Girls”) by Beyonce
Our Superhero: Supergirl



Bringing Google Adwords simplicity and reach to live event digital advertising

Founders:  Kenny Hawk, Tim Schoen
Where We’re From: Detroit, Michigan
Fun Fact: At a BBQ at Jim Steele’s house (COO of Salesforce.com), just before we launched product development, we learned Cisco had built almost exactly what we needed.  Later we were able to take over that product!
Our Theme Song: Eminem – One Shot
Our Superhero: Batman, because I used to dress up as Batman and try to fly by jumping off the top of the couch as a boy. Plus the Bat Beacon was Commissioner Gordon’s way of advertising a specific message


BrightNest is the Mint.com for home maintenance. We help homeowners manage their most valuable asset with customized tips and reminders.

Founders: Allen Shulman and Justin Anthony
Where We’re From: Denver, CO. We have 300 days of sunshine. That’s more annual hours of sun than Miami Beach and San Diego.
Fun Fact: Each member of the BrightNest team is required to learn how to properly caulk a tub.
Our Theme Song: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
Our Superhero: Al from Tool Time


Cadee helps golfers understand and improve their game.

Founders: Sean Rucker, Steve Noone O’Connor, Stephen Taubman
Where We’re From: Toronto, Canada
Fun Fact: Cadee was conceived at a weekly “dragon’s den” night; held so that one day we could be our own bosses.
Our Theme Song: How to Make it in America Theme song
Our Superhero: Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy



Central.ly wants to connect all of the social media profiles for small business owners

Founders: Chris Bennett, Arrel Gray, Edward Robertshaw
Where We’re From: San Francisco – The city stuck in the future.
Fun Fact: Central.ly started out as a project to sell unwanted airline vouchers and over crepes turned into a small business hub.
Our Theme Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCadcBR95oU – Because we are constantly pushing code.
Our Superhero: Professor X



Customer feedback without the hassle. Automatically extract meaning from thousands of customer messages as they arrive in real time.

Founders: Dave Trindall, Dave Kuhn
Where We’re From: Sydney, Australia.
Fun Fact: Chorus development was fueled by Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper.
Our Theme Song: Incubus – Are you In?
Our Superhero: We too admire Professor X

Conta Azul


ContaAzul is a web based SaaS accounting system for Brazilian SMB’s.

Founders: Vinicius “Vinny” Roveda Gonçalves and José Carlos “JC” Sardagna
Where We’re From: Joinville, SC, Brazil – a city in southern Brazil colonized by Germans and with the highest growth forecast in the country.
Fun Fact: The first day of work, we had moving boxes all over the place since JC just moved in.
Our Theme Song: A dois passos do paraíso
Our Superhero: Iron Man


Contactually is a personal assistant for your professional email contacts that connects directly with your CRM.

Founders: Zvi Band, Tony Cappaert, Jeff Carbonella
Where We’re From: Washington, DC:  city of crooks, liars, and (increasingly) startups
Fun Fact: Our prototype was built when Zvi was heading to the beach for a few days, and Jeff needed something to do.
Our Theme Song: Wale – Chillin
Our Superhero: Harrison Ford.  In anything.  Or this guy.


A “Gilt for Weddings” Dress Rush is making Bridezilla’s everywhere clamor to get couture without the cost. Up to 100% off retail ain’t bad, right?

Founders: Aaron Hall, Sara Morgan, Mike Arace
Where We’re From: Washington, DC, recently named the city with the worst traffic in America (take THAT LA!)
Fun Fact: It’s Dress Rush policy for each member of the team to create their “100 List” of things to do before they die.  Each month we try to check one item off everyone’s list no matter how crazy!
Our Theme Song: “White & Nerdy” by Weird Al Yankovic
Our Superhero: Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, of course. He is going to shoot a big laaasser beam at the investors if they don’t give us one meeeeellion dollars.

eSpark Learning

eSpark Learning
eSpark is “Pandora for education” and creates custom playlists of super fun education apps on iPads for elementary school students.

Founders: David Vinca. And the entire team includes Maren McMullan, Faaiz Ahmad, Tom Wolf, Colleen Loftus, Shuaib Ahmed, Joanna Doyle, Mark Sneathen, Allyson Julian
Where We’re From: Chicago, IL  aka Silicon Valley v2.0 🙂
Fun Fact: One 4th grade eSpark student selected the “Entrepreneurship for kids/ Steve Jobs path” in eSpark’s curriculum and is working on an invention that he calls Brother/Sister Repellent. Move over Groupon, there’s a new startup in town.
Our Theme Song: ABC by Michael Jackson
Our Superhero: Justin Bieber. We’ll let you decide: villain or superhero?



Farmeron helps farmers across the world to manage their production data online and to do automatized farm performance analysis using exciting statistics.

Founders: Matija Kopic, Main Cowboy in the Saddle
Where We’re From: Osijek, Croatia, the most beautiful mediterranean country of them all!
Fun Fact: Farmeron was born in Croatia, from where it quickly spread out to London, then moved to the Valley. We’ve met quite a number of farmers along the way, some of them coming from cool places like New Zealand, Brazil, India, Spain and Russia.
Our Theme Song: Country Roads by Hermes House Bands
Our Superhero: Megatron from Transformers


Fileboard is a service accessed from the iPad that helps manage files and attachments across email, Dropbox, Evernote, and other cloud repositories.

Founders: Khuram Hussain, Waseem Sadiq,  Dinesh Duggal
Where We’re From: Netherlands, a place where we say why drink & drive when you can smoke and fly!
Fun Fact: Our founding team is Indian and Pakistani, arch enemies in the real world!
Our Theme Song: Survivor – Burning Heart
Our Superhero: Zorro


Fitocracy turns fitness into an addictive gaming experience where you level up in real life.

Founders: Brian Wang and Richard Talens
Where We’re From: New York, NY
Fun Fact: Most people call Richard “Dick.” The founding team is “Dick and Wang.”
Our Theme Song: Europe – The Final Countdown (you knew that was coming)
Our Superhero: Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad. Those familiar with the show need no explanation.


Forrst is where developers and designers improve their craft and companies come to hire them

Founders: Kyle Bragger (@kylebragger)
Where We’re From: Brooklyn, NY
Fun Fact: No beards were harmed during the making of this product.
Our Theme Song: Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
Our Superhero: Patrick Stewart as Patrick Stewart in the hit show “Extras”


Gizmo is a cloud-based multichannel marketing platform for mobile, tablet, social, and web.

Founders: William Kasel (@wkasel) and Laura Castaneda (@Laura_Castaneda)
Where We’re From: Carbondale, Southern Illinois and Windsor, CA (“Wine Country”).
Fun Fact: Gizmo grew out of our last company which designed and developed the mobile & social strategies behind brands such as Kodak, Intuit, and Paramount Pictures.
Our Theme Song: “Everybody wants to rule the world”
Our Superhero: According to www.superheroquiz.com, we’re (collectively) the Green Lantern.


GoVoluntr is a social platform that brings together volunteers, nonprofits, and businesses to solve today’s social problems.

Founders: Young Han and Kevin Zittle
Where We’re From: Silicon Valley – The only place you’ll find pirates on land. (Arrrr)
Fun Fact: GoVoluntr was started late at night over a conversation about an iPod Nano watchband. . .
Our Theme Song: Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
Our Superhero: The CareBears! (Young as Polite Panda , Kevin as Champ Care Bear, MJ as Grumpy Bear, and the rest of the ‘Do Your Best Bear’ team!)


Hapyrus offers the easiest way of leveraging Hadoop to make your system highly scalable.

Where We’re From: Tokyo, Japan
Fun Fact: Notice that our name comes from “Papyrus”? (ancient Egyptian paper)
Our Theme Song: Coldplay – Lovers In Japan
Our Superhero: Doug Cutting – We wouldn’t be here if he didn’t exist.


HighScore House
HighScore House turns a child’s routine into a game, making the lives of families easier and more positive than ever before.

Founders: Kyle Seaman (@kyleseaman) & Theo Ephraim (@theozero)
Where We’re From: Montreal, Canada – An awesome bilingual city on an island in Quebec. We live in igloos.
Fun Fact: Moms LOVE us. Seriously. One of our moms calls our developer “Mr. Quick” for fixing bugs so fast.
Our Theme Song: Obviously we have our own custom theme song – listen here:http://bit.ly/hshdemo
Our Superhero: Buzz Lightyear


Intercom lets web businesses build powerful, personal relationships with their users, turning them into loyal customers.

Founders: Eoghan McCabe (CEO / visual design), Des Traynor (COO / UX design), Ciaran Lee (CTO / Ruby dev), David Barrett (front-end and Ruby dev)
Where We’re From: From Dublin, Ireland, recently voted “BBB+/A-2” by Standard & Poor’s. We like beer occasionally.
Fun Fact: Intercom will likely be the first 500 Startups product to literally get its users laid. With their customers. Jokes aside, people love using the product to connect with their customers: “Intercom has changed the way we talk to our users.”
Our Theme Song: Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Our Superhero: Dave McClure?


LookAcross helps you to have more conversation by improving your odd of connecting with people.

Founders: Meetul Shah and Jeff Nordlund
Where We’re From: We are from sunny Seattle, WA and warm Minneapolis, MN
Fun Fact: Our team mix covers Bengali, Persian, Indian, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian and French
Our Theme Song: Eminem – Lose Yourself
Our Superhero: Gandhi


LoveWithFood is the easiest way to find culinary deals & samples, curated by a community of foodies for foodies. For every deal, we donate a meal.

Founder: Aihui Ong (@aihui / @lovewithfood)
Where We’re From: Grew up in food mecca Singapore and now a California girl living in the ultimate tech mecca – Silicon Valley
Fun Fact: Engineers can cook too! Our BACON macaroons won the Hormel BACON Showdown challenge! (see recipe here > http://lovewithfood.com/r/jmz1  )
Our Theme Song: ”Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast
Our Superhero: Kung Fu Panda – always pursuit your passion with a full tummy


MelonCard removed your personal information from companies selling it.

Founders: Robert Leshner & Geoff Hayes
Where We’re From: Built in Chicago
Fun Fact:. Geoff returned from the jungles of Indonesia to build MelonCard. Robert might be an idiot savant.
Our Theme Song: The Kingsmen, Louie Louie
Our Superhero: Arch-nemesis: Rapleaf


MeMeTales is a mobile game like reading platform for kids. Fun like Angry Birds without the guilt.

Founders: Maya Bisineer & Pree Kolari
Where We’re From: MeMeTales was born in Seattle. Now firmly settled in the Silicon Valley. The founders? They are mostly wanderers.
Fun Fact: Company name comes from meme, but we changed the way we said it when we realized kids love to say Me-Me-Tales.
Our Theme Song: The Alphabet!
Our Superhero: Super Why


MoPix is going to define what the movie experience can be on tablet devices and make distribution accessible to anyone with film or video content.

Founders: Ryan Stoner & Drew McAulifffe
Where We’re From: Los Angeles, City of Angels, City of Dreams
Fun Fact: Ryan left the entertainment industry to build a new technology. Drew left Silicon Valley to become an actor. They met half way to solve a problem.
Our Theme Song: My Time to Shine
Our Superhero:  Solomon Grundy


OneSchool is a free mobile app that connects students to the people, places, and things around them.

Founders: David Adewumi, Zach Johnston, Pindi Albert.
Where We’re From: We are from Penn State. This summer we made the 48 hour journey from Happy Valley to Silicon Valley.
Fun Fact: We dropped out of college but ended up being more engaged in education than the average college student.
Our Theme Song: Can’t Touch This- MC Hammer…because he touched us.
Our Superhero: Justice League- we’re liberating data in higher education so it can benefit universities and be used for the greater public good.


Never front money for group purchases again. We coordinate your friends’ payments to the merchant so you can plan activities hassle-free.

Founders: Camilo Acosta, Frank Langston, Dan Oblinger, and Azat Mardanov.
Where We’re From: Washington, DC, Capital of the Free World!
Fun Fact: Camilo & Frank met as freshmen at Princeton and are on their second startup.
Our Theme Song: Run This Town (Jay Z and Rihanna)
Our Superhero: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Redeemr helps businesses and celebrities get un-ignored by their social media fans.

Founders: Tim Chae, Murry Ivanoff, Mike Maghsoudi, Kevin Liang
Where We’re From: Where the sun don’t shine: Boston.
Fun Fact: We took a leave of absence from Babson College and drove out to SF from Boston in Tim’s small 5-door Mazda in hopes to get into 500Startups and live our tech entrepreneurial dreams.  46 hours, 2 dozen packs of 5 hour energy drinks later, we completed the 3,000 mile journey and moved into our new home in SF.
Our Theme Song: Rick Ross “Every Day I’m Hustling”
Our Superhero: The Joker – Why so serious?


Rota Dos Concursos
The best test prep to get in to the government positions.

Founders: Helio Guilherme, Henrique Guimaraes e Wagner Donizeth (@rconcursos)
Where We’re From: Brasilia, Brazil – Capital of Brazil – city with the best quality of life.
Fun Fact: We took a airplane from Miami to San Francisco and it didn’t fly. After that, we took another airplane and it turned into an emergency landing and finally got the third airplane. At the end we won 10,000 miles as a gift!!! The first Brazilians in 500 Startups.
Our Theme Song: Aquarela do Brazil
Our Superhero: Rocky Balboa. Strong and persistent


Website targeting triples your conversions, but you’re probably not using it because it’s too complicated. Spinnakr makes it possible.

Founders: Adam Bonnifield and Michael Mayernick
Where We’re From: Proudly Made in Washington DC 😉
Fun Fact: Co-founders were fierce rivals in college debate – after neither seemed able to destroy the other. It only made sense to join forces and build something cool.
Our Theme Song: I Like To Move It, Move It – King Julian (Madagascar)
Our Superhero: Batman – no superpowers necessary, just some creative tools in the right hands can kick ass.


Switchcam recreates the concert experience by combining and syncing fan-recorded videos.

Founders: Chris Hartley and Brett Welch
Where We’re From: Sydney, Australia, home of the world famous Biannual Kangaroo-drawn Chariot Race. And Dropbears.
Fun Fact: Switchcam was called Veokami only 4 days ago.
Our Theme Song: Cinema by Benny Benassi (Skrillex Remix)
Our Superhero: Link from the Legend of Zelda. He’s good at pretty much everything, especially kicking ass.



Talkdesk lets your company have a contact center in the browser. It provides information about the caller by integrating with services such as Salesforce and Zendesk.

Founders: Tiago Paiva and Cristina Fonseca
Where We’re From: Lisbon, Portugal, one of the oldest cities in the world
Fun Fact: Talkdesk was born after 320 hours of coding, 50 hours of lost sleep and 1/2 bottle of Red Bull
Our Theme Song: The Proclaimers – 500 miles
Our Superhero: Yoda – Small and fragile but amazingly powerful!

Tiny Review

Tiny Review
Tiny Review is “Instagram for Yelp reviews”, or a fast and fun way to say what you think about a place.

Founders: Melissa Miranda and Dick Brouwer
Where We’re From: Peru and Holland via Washington DC and Palo Alto.
Fun Fact: Get a “Bowl of pho as big as your head” at Bewesnick Pho and Crepes
Our Theme Song: Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere  
Our Superhero: Mini Me from Austin Powers


WeddingLovely is building tools and directories to promote amazing small and independent wedding vendors.

Founder: Tracy Osborn
Where We’re From: San Jose, CA (Tracy is a California native, which seems to be a rarity now.)
Fun Fact: Tracy is a designer and learned Django programming in order to build and launch the first product, WeddingInviteLove.com, in 6 weeks.
Our Theme Song: Entire Girl Talk “Feed the Animals” album
Our Superhero: Westley, Princess Bride (incidentally, also the name of Tracy’s cat)

If you thought that was the end, think again. We leave you with one more Halloween treat – “Michael Jackson” does a solo performance.

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Why We Started A Company to Eradicate Credit Card Debt

ReadyForZero recently announced that they closed a seed round of funding. We’re excited to welcome them to the 500 Startups crew! In this post, co-founders Ignacio “Nacho” Thayer and Rod Ebrahimi share their story on what inspired them to build a startup focused on credit card debt. ReadyForZero is currently in private beta, but you can visit www.readyforzero.com and sign up for the waitlist.

We’re technical guys. We left infrastructure startups and big search companies to accept an invitation to join Y Combinator in the spring of 2010. We were a technical team that would take on a technical problem. Less than 6 months later[1] (footnotes in the style ofPaul Graham) we’ve evolved into a technical team trying to hack a very non-technical problem. We’re striving to eradicate American consumer debt.

A little about us

Rod, my co-founder, started an ISP[2] while he was still in high school. In the late 90’s, at 17, he was lured into the second California gold rush by former Netscape executives. He went back to college for a degree in Cognitive Science and Human Computer Interaction instead of following his colleagues to Google and other sexy startup opportunities. Most recently, he was the first non-founder at Membase (the data management layer supporting Zynga), where he led their first product launch.

I worked on statistical machine translation for 6 years – first at USC, then at Google. Google was an amazing place to work, and the Translate team was second to none[3]. But Google started maturing, as did machine translation as a field, and I decided to look for fresh challenges. Leaving Google is quite shocking both technically and socially, but I’ll leave that for another post. What I took away from Google and machine translation was an appreciation for data. More is better. More than everyone else is best.

Starting ReadyForZero

Here are the observations and beliefs that led us to start ReadyForZero:


    • Indebtedness is all around us. All around you[4]. We strike up conversations with old friends, new friends, people at coffee shops, online, in our office, in the supermarket, and we find all kinds of people are in debt. If you actually talk about it with people you know, you will be surprised. We’re relatively young (for now), and we have found many young people struggling – from professionals that make $300K a year to graduate students[5]. What do they have in common? Their debt causes them a lot of stress. According to Paul Graham, “hair on fire” problems, like debt, make for ideal startups.


    • The stigma associated with personal debt needs to be lifted, decimated, and eradicated. Over-consumption and irresponsibility are problems, but people get into debt for many different reasons. Common patterns that we’ve seen are lack of education and lack of options. Ignoring and marginalizing the problem lets finance charges fester. The credit card industry made about $75B in revenue from finance charges in 2006[6]. Recently people have begun sharing their stories about debt, on and offline (the Huffington Post articles about debt stories and the CNBC show ‘Til Debt Do Us Part’ are great examples). Let’s keep encouraging people to be open and seek education early.


    • There can be better options for people in debt. This is not fantasy. Existing institutions and risk assessment models have not evolved to accommodate the new reality: Debt is a part of American life. College grads start their careers with average of more than $20,000 of student loan debt[7]. The entire credit establishment is using technology from the time of Sputnik. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington recently couldn’t get a credit card from American Express. The industry is out of touch.

We believe that the current options are so bad, so predatory[8], so unaligned with consumer interests, and so inefficient, that there is a valid, honest business in helping people get their balances back to zero. Naive? Maybe. Bold? Definitely. Unlike existing options, ReadyForZero connects with people and empowers them with the right information, personalized advice, and access to the better lending products.

What we’re doing

We’re building a product that will give people insight into their financial situation and help them get to where they want to be. Specifically:


    • We can automatically link credit card, bank account and credit report information to provide a personalized and structured plan for getting out of debt.


    • We’re trying to improve on traditional ways of gauging your creditworthiness to give people fairer financial products.


    • We’re forging relationships and creating information products for lenders to help them provide targeted consumer products that don’t exist today.

If you want to be done with debt and are ready for zero, our goal is to give you what you need to help you conquer it.

Where we are

The financial industry is hard to break into, and we’re still learning about the space. Information is hard to come by. But through sheer tenacity, we’ve made unbelievable ‘Hail Mary’ connections with the Right People to make some awesome deals happen[9]. We’re aggressively building product and have recruited some old friends to help us out with marketing and design. We have larger-than-life advisors on board and incredibly connected investors that _hustle_. We are excited about the future.

Go Giants!

Ignacio & Rod

[1] Y Combinator is about 3 months long (June through August). 18 hours a day * 3 months = 1620 hours. Incidentally, that means my weight increased about 4.5 grams per non-sleep hour of YC. This is roughly equivalent to 1 paul gram. Note that I didn’t follow his advice to maintain an exercise schedule.
[2] The old-fashioned way, with a screwdriver and a line tester, instead of with AWS credentials.
[3] Really. Google’s results ranked 1st in the yearly NIST competitions every year they’ve participated: http://www.itl.nist.gov/iad/mig//tests/mt/2006/doc/mt06eval_official_results.html
[4] 1/3 Americans don’t pay off their credit card balances every month. This is almost 100 million people. Think about how mad you are when there are 10 people in front of you in the post office line. This is like 10 million of those. That’s how mad we are at debt.
[5] The average outstanding balance on graduate student credit cards is $8,612 in 2006 (median is $3,874) and only 20% pay off their cards in full. From “Graduate Students and Credit Cards in 2006: An Analysis of Usage Rates and Trends”, Nellie Mae.
[6] www.creditcardreform.org/pdf/credit-card-facts-stats.pdf. And if you’re thinking that banks are just being fairly compensated for risk that they’re taking, see: Adam J. Levitin. “A Critique of the American Bankers Association’s Study on Credit Card Regulation” 2008. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adam_levitin/4.
[7] From: http://projectonstudentdebt.org/files/pub/classof2009.pdf. Also includes information about percentages that graduate with debt.
[8] Debt consolidators and settlement companies make so much money that they can afford to pay $30 *for each click* on one of their online ads. If you know what Google’s keyword tool is – just check it out.
[9] This is no accident, Rod is a tenacious entrepreneur. He doesn’t need to use the door; he just walks through walls. That’s critical in the financial space (see Paul Graham’s recent post about Bill Clerico, founder of WePay). Plus, he’s a sweet talker on the phone.

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