In the last few years there’s been a resurgence of startups setting out to “fix” email, as zero inbox remains the Holy Grail of productivity. Fantoo, based in London, is another that’s picking up the mantle.
Today the company is announcing that it’s raised a tad shy of £450,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube — a seed round it says has been oversubscribed, surpassing the original £400,000 target. It plans to use the investment to launch its AI-driven corporate email solution.
Fantoo’s cloud-based email client will use machine-learning to anticipate and automatically categorise a user’s email, presenting it as an optional tapestry of images (Pinterest-meets-email!), each with an estimated reading time. The idea is that by intelligently categorising email, with Fantoo continually learning from and anticipating a user’s inbox activity, and giving a heads-up on how long it will take to process each email, managing your email inbox becomes less stressful, and in turn, you’ll become more productive. Users will even be able to tell it how much time they currently have to spend doing email and the system will suggest what email topics to tackle first.
In addition, Fantoo’s data-driven approach means it can provide email “analytics”, enabling users to see how productive they are compared to others in a company or more broadly across the startup’s customer-base as a whole, based on demographic (anonymously, of course). It’s hoped that this feedback loop will also help improve productivity.
How well the product works in practice, however, we won’t know till launch, pegged for April next year. I’ve only been privy to a brief demo of a much earlier version aimed at consumers, developed while Fantoo went through UK accelerator Ignite100. It’s since pivoted to target B2B only, a decision founder and CEO Jordan Fantaay tells me was partly taken in search of a business model, since consumers now expect email to be free. In contrast, it’s hoped that businesses will pay for a service like Fantoo.
“Fantoo sees Email as a commodity, it’s like water running all over the world,” he says. “Fantoo is focused on turning that water into ‘Smart Water’, and providing users with an unparalleled level of productivity thanks to metrics, and productivity tools borne from the users’ own data. Fantoo aims to bring down stress and raise productivity by saving people time on how they go about processing their emails/messages, and collaborating with others.”