With 2012 being the year when emails opened on smartphones beat out emails opened on both desktop and webmail, the quest to make email on mobile devices more productive was inevitable, with the demand showcased best by the long waiting list for apps like Mailbox, which is slowly opening up access to its app. Another startup, Austin, TX-based Taskbox, launched in October 2012 and today announced version 2.0 of its iPhone app, along with $600,000 in funding from the Central Texas Angel Network.
The app aims to turn a user’s email inbox into a task list with the help of simple gestures, all with the goal of helping people reach the elusive inbox zero while on the go. Prior to Taskbox, CEO Andrew Eye helped found Ciphent which was later sold to Accuvant, where he then led their professional services department. He spoke with BetaKit about the startup’s mission, and the importance of workers doing more with email on their phones.
“This is a personal pain point for me, I ran a 200-person consulting organization and I was constantly inundated with email requests not only from people, but from systems. Email has become the default notification center from every system on the planet, when I get a sales lead from Salesforce, I get an email…,” said Eye in an interview. “It’s the single largest source of tasks, and yet it’s a really bad task manager…we sought to change that.”
Along with co-founder Adam Cianfichi, the duo built out the first iteration, and have now revamped it with increased privacy and security paired with a gesture-based user interface. Available in the App Store for $2.99, Taskbox currently only integrates with Gmail. After downlading users can swipe messages to mark them as unimportant, spam, or to trash them, while compiling important ones requiring follow-up into a single list that can be filtered by due date or priority. Users can also track items delegated to other team members, as well as send Quick Response messages indicating absence, acknowledgement or immediate action.
Though the Gmail mobile app is noticeably lacking when it comes to task integration, other startups like Any.Do, a task-management app, have also added Gmail integration. Mobile email client Mailbox, which we mentioned above, is currently taking reservations on a first-come, first-serve basis, but where several apps target personal productivity, Taskbox’s approach is markedly different in its focus on teams and not the individual.
“It’s not just about personal productivity, I think a lot of solutions out there are about how do I make me more productive,” Eye added. “What we’re really focused on is team dynamics…making you and your team…those groups as a whole more productive. That’s why there are things like assignments, delegations, and being able to look not only at my inbox but being able to look at messages outbound.”
Though Eye did not reveal exact user figures from its version 1.0 launch, he did say the startup was seeing 500 percent daily growth since January 2013. Up next the company will use the funding to scale beyond its current iPhone/Gmail version, adding other email and web clients as well as additional mobile platforms. With smartphones becoming the default medium for checking emails, apps like Taskbox will likely continue to be in high demand, however whether it tops Mailbox and others is a battle that will play out over the next few months.