Business

MxHero upgrades its email-taming Gmail extension, lays the groundwork for an ‘in-app store’

Holding true to its promise to save us from email hell, the startup MxHero is launching an upgraded version of its Gmail extension today, which includes several more ways to manage your inbox.

Dubbed the MxHero Toolbox, the free extension is also the first step towards offering additional email services — think of it like an “in-app store” for email — from MxHero and third-party developers. The Toolbox is also available for anyone with a Microsoft Exchange-based email account, and it’s accessible through other services using subject line codes (no plugin required).

MxHero’s first Gmail extension let you send self-destructing emails and batch personalized private messages, and also alerted you when someone viewed your attachments. The company makes its features work in creative ways — for example, the self-destructing email actually shows your recipients an image of your email message, which is deleted within a few minutes. (Originally, the feature deleted the image after the first view, but the company says it’s trying to get away from Snapchat comparisons.)

In June, MxHero launched a professional offering for enterprises, which brought its suite of apps to corporate email systems.

Today, MxHero is also adding the ability to send a message at a later time and receive alerts when someone doesn’t respond to one of your messages. In the next few weeks, the company says, it will replace its attachment tracker feature with the ability to track if someone engages with your email (by adding a wrapper around things like URLs and attachments), and it’s also upgrading its unread message alert feature to let you know if someone doesn’t open your attachment.

Once installed, the Toolbox appears as a small icon in your Gmail composition window. Clicking it reveals all of the features mentioned above in an elegant interface.

Just like with the original extension, all of MxHero’s features worked as advertised. I’m a particularly big fan of the “Reply Time Out” feature, which alerts you when messages don’t get a response. I also appreciated MxHero’s focus on unifying several different Gmail tweaks into a single interface — it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the plethora of extensions out there.

Alex Panagides, MxHero’s cofounder and chief executive, admits that the Gmail extension is edging close to the territory of Boomerang, a popular competing extension. Panagides says MxHero offers a more streamlined interface, and it’s also completely unlimited for free, whereas Boomerang only lets you send a few messages without paying.

The MxHero Toolbox won’t just be filled with the company’s own apps, it’s also opening things up to third-party developers. In the next few months, Panagides tells me that it will add support for SeamlessDocs (one of the company’s classmates at the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in NYC) for legally signing files, as well as support for Pawaa, a company that can encrypt messages and also let you remotely self-destruct files after they’ve been downloaded.

Originally based in the East Coast, Panagides recently uprooted his family and moved to the Bay Area to help MxHero grow. (All of the big players that MxHero would need to partner with are located on the West Coast.) The company has raised $900,000 of seed funding so far.

I’m a fan of where MxHero is headed, not just because my inbox scares me. Email is one of the few things that everyone relies on, yet it hasn’t evolved much over the past few decades. It’s too late to fundamentally change the way email works as a standard, but MxHero has a shot at helping people to improve their email experience at the inbox level.


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