Email, email, email. It’s the bane of our life but it’s also incredibly necessary. But out of the hundreds of emails you might get a day, perhaps only 25 are actually really, really important to you. These are the conversations that you look out for, nurture and really put a lot of effort into. They are key projects. But email gets in the way. You have to send multiple replies, you have the cut and paste and re-edit in order to get your information across. And it’s a huge, time-consuming issue.
Many startups have tried to table this, perhaps by reinvention the clients or doing something weird with threading. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Knotable, a new entrant thinks it has the answer.
And they say they’ve actually been working on this for a year. They are starting alpha signups today and folks who say they saw Knotable on TechCrunch and promise to help make something great will get invited early.
With Knotable you log in and get a username. When you are in your normal email client and you want to break out an email conversation into a thing on knowable, you start a ‘Pad’ by moving a thread from email through the Chrome extension or tagging in Gmail. You do this via three ways: you’ll cc Knotable or connect Gmail or people just reply on their email into your replies.
In Knotable you can edit stuff, add people, highlight key points, drop in content, and use actions that do more than words would do in email. You can email create a checklist, a deadline or get people to vote.
But it’s important to note that while YOU may be using Knotable, the person you are interacting with does NOT have to be on the platform. All they see are your email replies sent from inside Knotable. But if they want to super-charge their interactions, they can also join. That’s important for those who just want to use email.
What are the key differentiators between them and other players? Well, this is not chat, IM, slack, IRC, Yammer, etc. It’s also not project management like MS Project, Basecamp. It’s also not better “email” like Mailbox, Gmail, Yesware or Streak. Google Wave is perhaps the closest analogy, though, frankly I could never work our Wave, and Knotable seems way easier.
Co-founders Amol Sarva and Edward Shenderovich (also investor and chairman) say that in the same way that Gmail transformed our experience with email by taking it from individual messages to conversations, Knotable takes conversations further, into shared spaces. You can then share information across spaces, merge and split things, clean up, comment on stuff, add deadlines, checklists and all kinds of apps. Think dropbox for key threads. Other things like files, or meetings, or professional contacts which you might move out to dropbox or calendar or Linkedin Knotable works like this.
It was founded by Amol Sarva (CEO and cofounder of Knotable, and VirginMobile USA and Peek, the simple smartphone, and advisor to Fon) with the help of Edward Shenderovich (Chairman of Knotable, founder of Kite Ventures and formerly head of strategic development at SUP/Livejournal). I’m told the platform was inspired by a few sessions with Stepan Pachikov, then a bit too much vodka at the Russian Samovar with Edward and Amol.
The company has raised $1m from investors and customers. Investors including Bloomberg Beta, Tom Glocer, Masoud Kamali and customer including the newly public 2U. Advisory group is a good group from New York: Anil Dash, Khoi Vinh, Ross Mayfield from Slide and Socialtext, Lars Kluge ex-CTO of Kitchensurfing, and Andrew Rasiej from NYTM.