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Jeanne Roué-Taylor is a cofounder of Successful Workplace.
We’ve entered 2014 and most of us are dragging last year’s email baggage into the new year. Social media was supposed to change all that, but ironically, we even use email to sign up for most social platforms. In fact, thanks to smartphones, email is more accessible and used more often than ever before.
The truth is, we can’t quit email because it’s how we store, share, and sort all our important stuff. DropBox and other file sharing/storage apps provide alternatives, but these tools are document-focused and break the workflow of project management. Project tools like Basecamp or Asana are great for managing projects but lack integration with email and require 100% adoption by every one we want to communicate with.
But what if we could work within email to create the organization, collaboration and file sharing that we’re looking for? Here are the three companies that are promising to let us do exactly that:
The first option comes from startup ccGenie, a Silicon Valley-based angel-invested startup that eliminates the silos of separate inboxes. Rather than prioritizing, making lame replies that kick the can down the road or deleting with your fingers crossed, ccGenie allows users to forward to ccGenie, start conversations from their app or cc a common workspace in email. ccGenie takes content (attachments, links, contacts, threads) from any number or type of email accounts and organizes them into topical workspaces. Best of all, it does it without the user having to set up complex and fragile rules (think: Outlook). CEO Eric Brisson says that ccGenie was created, “to integrate all aspects of productivity, which include file sharing, email, project management, and collaboration using algorithms that analyze emails and curate them.” Brisson says, “We do not need another productivity tool added to the mix, we need more sophisticated email.”
GrexIt, an angel-funded startup located in Palo Alto, is another way to unclutter your inbox by sharing your Gmail labels and using them to assign emails as tasks. Like ccGenie, it also creates a shared email archive and allows a team to collaborate by putting notes on shared correspondence. This makes GrexIt a task management system, in effect, for those using Gmail. As cofounder Niraj Ranjan Rout explains, “We were inspired to start GrexIt from our experience trying various approaches to collaboration that always fell back on email. So we thought, ‘how do we make email work so that people can stay inside their inboxes and still be efficient?’”
The third application is SquadMail, produced by a German-based startup of the same name that has angel investors but is also partially funded by European micro-seed investment program SeedCamp. Like GrexIt, SquadMail uses Gmail labels as its vehicle for collaboration. It works across email clients, allowing users to create SquadMail topical folders with unique email addresses. Email can then be directed to a given folder. By sharing SquadMail folders with multiple team members, each having their own SquadMail email address, collaboration can take place. The company got started in early 2012, and cofounder Philipp Mayer says, “We had originally set out to build a messaging SaaS aimed at replacing email. But we quickly learned that there was no market for another ‘email killer’ and what people really wanted was a way of integrating teamwork and workflows with email.”
Whether you choose to go with an email collaboration tool like ccGenie, GrexIt, or SquadMail, lock yourself in a room until your inbox is empty, or cover your eyes and press the delete button, you have a chance for 2014 to be the year you own your own email destiny.
Jeanne Roué-Taylor is fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. She is a cofounder of Successful Workplace and lives in Los Angeles. She is also an adventurer and world traveler and trekker who can’t get enough of new ideas and new places. She is a tech geek, mother, writer, attorney and also acts as a part-time legal counsel.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
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