InboxVudu And The Uber That Got Away

We hear a lot of startup origin stories here at TechCrunch, and sometimes they can blur together. But this one’s a little different.

It’s about Ramesh Haridas, an entrepreneur and angel investor. He’s backed some successful startups, including Rapportive, which was acquired by LinkedIn. What Haridas told me about, however, was the one that got away — namely, Uber.

As you can see in the screenshot below, back in 2010, Haridas was actually corresponding with Ryan Graves. At the time, Graves was running the company then known as UberCab, and they were scheduling a call to discuss a possible investment. However, when Graves tried to reschedule, Haridas said he totally missed the message, and eventually the round closed without him.

Missing the email was “very costly,” Haridas said. After all, Uber has been valued at $40 billion, and even before the most recent funding and valuation, those early investors reportedly saw a 2,000x return. So Haridas estimated that if he’d put in $25,000, his investment would be worth $125 million today.

uber email

(I reached out to Uber PR in the off chance they wanted to comment. They did not respond.)

To be sure, there’s no guarantee that the investment would have happened, even if Haridas and Graves had met. Still, Haridas said, “It should at least have been a conscious decision on my part.” And while Haridas’ current startup InboxVudu isn’t a direct response to the incident, it was created at around the same time, and it’s an attempt to solve the problem.

So what does this missed opportunity have to do with an email startup? Well, the whole point of InboxVudu is to make sure you don’t miss important emails.

I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an “invest in Uber” email, but there are still important messages, and I kick myself for missing them once they’re discovered under the piles of spam and random pitches.

What InboxVudu does is analyze your email account and send a daily digest of the messages that seem to require a response. Then you can either choose to respond or hit the “remove” button. (The company also launched a Chrome extension so that you can keep up in real-time.)

Hey, if he doesn’t want to miss important deals, maybe my soon-to-be-former colleague Ryan Lawler should give it a try.