TechStars Alum Baydin Launches Gmail Plug-In to Keep You From Forgetting to Send Important E-mails
It’s no secret that consumers are looking for technology to help better handle e-mail communications. We’ve written about strategies for keeping the volume of your inbox down, and applications for reminding you to follow up on an e-mail conversation.
Alexander Moore’s Cambridge-based startup Baydin was originally focused on helping consumers better bring in relevant files to e-mail conversations, but he switched focus this winter, and is instead developing an application that allows users to compose an e-mail immediately but actually send it minutes, hours, or days later.
He launched his plug-in, called Boomerang, for Gmail late last Wednesday, with 250 invite codes. People found their way around the invite codes, and as of this morning, more than 25,000 people had downloaded the Boomerang for Gmail plug-in.
“The Gmail version just kind of exploded on us,” he says. “I think we touched much more of a nerve than we thought we were going to touch.”
As I mentioned, we’ve covered other technologies that are looking to remind you when to follow up on e-mails, or to help manage the flow of communication in your inbox. But the Boomerang plug-in seems to be one of the more intuitive ones I’ve seen. It doesn’t require you to go to a separate screen or website, or add an additional e-mail address. The Boomerang button just appears with the text “Send Later” alongside the standard buttons in the composing an e-mail screen: send, save as draft, and discard.
You simply type the e-mail as you would, and click the Boomerang button. The dropdown menu allows you to select what future date, time, or increment of time you want the e-mail to send, and off it goes at your selected hour. It appears to the recipient as if you had physically hit the send button yourself at that future date.
Users can also utilize Boomerang on e-mails in their inboxes that they want to be reminded of at a later date. Just hit the Boomerang button on your selected message and choose from the dropdown menu when you want it to reappear at the top of your inbox. It sends the message back to you, with a star and the “Boomerang” label alongside it, and organizes all the messages you have handled this way in a Boomerang folder on Gmail.
“What’s going to happen is that people are going to realize that this enables them to do a different email workflow than what they’re used to,” says Moore, who’s working on his startup out of Polaris Venture Partners’ Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge.
Moore, who formerly developed switches for HDTV inputs at Analog Devices, was accepted into the startup mentoring program TechStars Boston last summer with a different focus. He was originally developing software that uses semantic Web technology to scan a user’s computer for files and data pertaining to an e-mail, and then drag and drop the relevant information to where it could be easily seen in one spot.
But friends, other entrepreneurs, and even mentors were telling him that technology that helped people better time and manage how to send e-mails would be far more beneficial.
In January, he finally had the epiphany himself, Moore says. He received an e-mail from a prospective advisor for his company, asking him to follow up in a week when he was back from vacation. The e-mail ended up getting lost beneath a slew of other more pressing messages, and was untouched by Moore for another seven weeks. He realized how big of a problem following up on his e-mails really was, and decided to officially shift the focus of his technology.
He first launched Boomerang for the Microsoft Outlook e-mail client in May, offering it for a one-time cost of $14.99. (He didn’t give figures on how many Outlook plug-ins the company has sold.) So far, the Gmail version of the plug-in is free, but Moore is exploring pricing models for the tool based on what he observes in the rapidly growing user base. He’s leaning towards charging for the Boomerang plug-in on hosted versions of Gmail used for company e-mail services (like Xconomy has).
With the massive response to the Gmail version of the technology, Moore says his startup has the validation that it’s focusing on the right problem. Now, he and his co-founder are working on scaling their technology to make sure it can handle the big customer demand, and also provide an easier user experience. He’s also developing it so that users can edit an e-mail draft even after they’ve set the time they want Boomerang to send it. (At present, if you edit a draft after selecting a time to send it, the outgoing mail gets cancelled.)
“We’re making an interface that allows you to change it and pop it back into drafts,” he says. “It’s going to be a much better experience. “
Moore is also looking to gear up to raise seed funding for Baydin, which didn’t look for any investors upon exiting TechStars last year. “We’ve got some traction now with the launch,” he says. “That’s the thing we were missing.”
[Updated August 18 at 12:39 pm] Readers, you can bypass the 6,000-person waiting list for Boomerang, by entering the code “Xconomy” here!