If you’re a TechCrunch reader — or, really, if you live in the 21st century — you probably get more than one or two emails in the course of a day. In fact, you probably get a lot more. For some of us, emails have a way of accumulating faster than trolls in a comment section, and it can become an arduous task to keep track of which emails are top priority and which are your ex-girlfriend telling you to come and pick up your stuff.
Thanks to Taskforce, a member of Y Combinator’s latest class of startups, organizing your inbox just got a lot easier. Taskforce, simply put, is an inbox extension that integrates with Gmail to convert your emails into tasks and makes it simple to create reminders.
To begin using the plug-in, you simply download the extension, and sign in to your email account. Taskforce will pop up (it looks like a tall-ish Google toolbar) and prompt you to begin creating tasks. You can then set due dates, add collaborators, delay the date, and make comments on your tasks. It also adds buttons to the top of each of your emails, allowing you to convert the email into a new task, or add it to an existing task. (And don’t worry, Taskforce doesn’t access your inbox, all actions take place through the extension.)
When you add a collaborator to your task list, Taskforce will send that person an email, alerting them to your shared task. If you then make updates, or add pertinent emails, it will automatically alert your collaborator(s). And the coolest part? They don’t even need to be using Taskforce — nor do they have to continue ping-ing you every time they need you to do something — instead they simply check the status of the task.
I recently became a user of Taskforce and so far it’s been great. There are a few kinks here and there, and it sorely needs to add a few minimization options so that you can hide the toolbar when you’re not managing your tasks, but overall the UI is terrific, as is speed. Plus, if you’re lazy like me, you don’t have to open a new tab.
For those Google Tasks users out there, collaboration is the main feature that distinguishes the two. Both task organizers are available on mobile and essentially offer the same tools, but Taskforce kills GTasks in design and UI (aside from bugs, of course).
Founders Niccolo Pantucci and Courtland Allen told me that the idea for Taskforce came from Pantucci’s experience during last year’s catastrophic volcanic eruption in Iceland. Pantucci was one of many in Europe grounded by the enormous, resulting ash clouds. During his three-week layover, emails from friends, family, and colleagues began piling up in his inbox — too many to keep track of — and he found himself unable to reply to the majority of them. And so, in a twist of the butterfly effect, a natural disaster gave birth to an email organizer.
The startup has been in beta for the past 5 months, during which it gained tens of thousands of users, according to the founders. The older version had a few bugs, so the guys completely overhauled the extension for today’s release. And as to funding, as part of YC’s class of 2011, Taskforce was included in Yuri Milner’s no-strings-attached convertible debt investment offer. They accepted.
If you need any assurance before adding the extension, you might want to know that the founders were advised by Paul Buchheit, YC Partner and creator of Gmail, during design and launch. “[Paul] was particularly excited about the fact that he could use Taskforce to avoid extra work,” Allen said of Buccheit. “He wanted to be able to convert people’s emails into tasks and have Taskforce do all the communication, and let people know that he’s ‘on it’”. And so it was.
Taskforce is currently available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, with plans to offer compatibility with other browsers and to add document management and CRM tools in the pipeline.