Boston’s E-Mail Apps Mini-Cluster Is Looking To Help Users Sell, Serve, Organize, and Even Play More Efficiently

8/15/11Follow @xconomy

The West Coast might have all the big names in e-mail platforms, but Boston’s doing plenty when it comes to building technology on top of those existing foundations.

There are a number of established players that have been around and working on technology for things like managing e-mail outboxes (SMTP), bulk mailings (Constant Contact), and e-mail marketing and lead conversion (HubSpot).

But a new crop of companies has been developing technologies that aim to make life easier for businesses and consumers via the e-mail interface. So look out, Facebook and other social platforms: it looks like e-mail isn’t going away anytime soon. We’ve rounded up a mini cluster of e-mail app developers that have come out of Boston, so take a look. (Side note: a good chunk of them have TechStars roots.) Feel free to suggest any I missed.

—Yesware, working out of Cambridge, MA’s Dogpatch Labs, specializes in making sales people more efficient and effective. The company offers e-mail templates to help salespeople better approach, pitch to, and manage customers. It’s also looking to create a system for helping managers better understand their sales teams by observing e-mail communication with customers and its effectiveness. Yesware has $1 million in its funding pot from some notable names related to e-mail (none publicly named yet, though.)

—TechStars Boston 2011 graduate Help Scout is looking to aid businesses better use the inboxes run by multiple people, say, something like help@xconomy.com (not an actual e-mail address, but you get the picture). The big focus is on customer service applications for Web-based companies. Help Scout users can track customer e-mails, assign them a ticket number, and collaborate with other employees on the problem or question in a more organized fashion than shouting across the office. It runs in existing e-mail inboxes or through its own external app.

—Who’s got skills? Senexx wants to help organizations better understand who in their workforce is skilled at what, and connect them to the people who need help. As you might have guessed by now, they’re doing it through e-mail. The company came from Israel to TechStars Boston this year.

—U.K.-based Mimecast has a strong Boston presence. The company offers software for helping companies better keep track of where e-mails go and when. The idea is to help employees focus less on e-mail and more on their actual business, while making e-mail more efficient, manageable, and secure. Mimecast has a big e-mail name as its chief scientist: Nathaniel Borenstein, an original designer of the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) protocol, which enables many of the e-mail features seen as standard, like allowing non-text attachments, header information, and different character sets.

—Cambridge, MA-based PowerInbox is looking to push a slew of different activities consumers engage with online—Facebook, Twitter, and browsing daily deals, for example—into the email interface. The startup is trying to make e-mail the centralized platform for these things, and to encourage developers to create more apps that can live on top of an e-mail inbox—for functions ranging from recruiting to watching videos. The startup, which came to Boston by way of the Bay Area, has raised $1 million in funding from Atlas Venture, Longworth Venture Partners, Correlation Ventures, and angel investors.

—Speaking of making e-mail more fun, Cambridge-born Baydin is worth a mention. The startup, now based in San Francisco to be closer to e-mail titans and its investors (that’s a funny story if you have the time), graduated from TechStars Boston in 2009. It developed an app called Boomerang for helping people write e-mails now and send them later and remind themselves of e-mails they need to follow up on. Building on that idea, it also developed an e-mail game to help people have a bit more fun while attending to the dreaded task of sorting, responding to, and deleting e-mails.

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  • http://epaley.posterous.com Eric Paley

    Don’t forget Sanebox. My personal favorite email app. I thank the email gods for it every day.