While most tools of the digital communication age continue to evolve, for some reason email has been curiously (and tragically) stuck in the past. Online email clients have replaced clunky desktop software, and spam filters have vastly improved, but at its core, email today functions much like it did in the ’90s.
MxHero, a New York City-based startup (and recent graduate from Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator), hopes to save us from the archaic limitations of email with a universal platform that can work across any email provider.
Today the company is launching a Google Chrome extension that will give any Gmail user a taste of its platform, including the ability to send a self-destructing email, notifications of when recipients access attachments, and the ability to send batch personalized emails. The latter feature is particularly intriguing, because it solves the ugly blind carbon copy hack for sending batch messages without sharing all of the recipients (i.e., putting your recipients in the “BCC” field and your own address in the “To” field.)
While the extension is MxHero’s first direct-to-consumer offering, the company’s technology has already been implemented by the likes of Zimbra, Box, and VMWare. MxHero’s technology can be implemented as both a cloud service and an on-site service (which should make stodgy IT departments happy). It also works across any email platform.
MxHero’s full suite of plugins includes the ability to control the delivery times of certain types of email (for example, all of your newsletters can land after the work day ends), a simple method for sending large attachments (despite your email provider’s limitations), and the ability to be notified if a recipient doesn’t respond to your email in time. These are seemingly simple additions, but they’ve been difficult to implement so far in decades-old email standards.
Alex Panagides, MxHero’s founder and chief executive, tried to push forward the potential of web apps with his previous firm, Inova. He’s also committed to maintaining the open nature of email standards — MxHero’s technology is open source, and it has made an API available for developers (though it’s not fully documented yet).
I’ve been testing out the Chrome extension for the past week, and I can confirm that all of the plugins work as advertised. After a short setup period (which simply involves granting the MxHero extension access to your Gmail account), you’ll see two new buttons when you’re composing a Gmail message. To use one of the extension’s features, simply choose it from the “Apps” button and then click the MxHero “Send” button (not the standard Gmail send button).
To add new features to email, the company takes some creative routes. For example, the self-destructing email feature turns your message into an image, which is what the recipient actually sees. Once the image has been viewed once, it is removed from MxHero’s server. A shady recipient can still take a screenshot of the message, but the feature still adds a helpful layer of security.
MxHero is about halfway through raising a $900,000 seed round, Panagides tells me.
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