Note: my personal blog doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic, so I’m trying an experiment. If you’re here and reading this, you’re a friend and I’d love your feedback and opinion on something. So, while we haven’t launched and this is all still secret, consider yourself inside the tent.
For the last year and a bit we’ve been working on a product which helps a business manage the work they do for their clients. Think of it like CRM+Project Management+Issue Tracking+Timesheets+Billing, all in one integrated platform. After reviewing our progress over the summer, we realized that while our active users love the product (more than 70% of them use it every single day), it was just too big and complex and tricky to grow and scale fast. Lead acquisition and SaaS economics for a “whole of business” product were also giving us headaches – more than happy to share war stories over a glass of beer or wine.
So, we pivoted.
What we’re launching next week is a new product, which we’re calling AffinityLive Sync, and I’d love to let you in first and hear your feedback on it.
So, what is this new product you might be asking?
In short, AffinityLive Sync takes all of the emails that you and your colleagues send to and receive from your clients (or customers, partners, investors – whoever you work with and care about) and makes them social, discoverable and collaborative within your team.
Think of it like a Facebook news stream of all the important client emails in your business, which happens automatically, in real time, and without you having to change anything about the way you use email.
Why did we do it? The average person sends & receives 26,000 emails a year at work. This real-time river contains the most important information in a business, but it is currently stuck in isolated inboxes. The most successful businesses today are social, collaborative and agile, but email holds everyone back – it isn’t shared, discoverable or accessible beyond a single user’s inbox.
AffinityLive Sync changes this, without users needing to change the way they use email – no plugins, no need to remember to tag stuff, and it works with all desktop, web and mobile clients.
How does it work?
In short, you set up your email client (Gmail, Outlook, etc) to automatically forward a copy of all the emails you receive across to a special capture account (the instructions below have the details). When the email hits AffinityLive, it compares the sender to the email addresses in the customer database, and if there’s a match, it captures the email (and any attachments). If the address isn’t from someone in the database – cause they’re a friend and not a client – it is ignored.
To make it easy to get contacts into AffinityLive, we have hooks and wizards for Google, Exchange or Office365. As a bonus, when you connect using one of these tools, and changes that you or your colleagues make to entries in the AffinityLive database are automatically pushed to your own address book, iPhone, etc.
And as a final bonus, you can connect it to Twitter to capture tweets to/from clients in the same way as emails, and if you’re a Yammer user, you can connect to Yammer and push notes about the emails you sent to clients to the Yammer activity stream.
How can you give it a try?
Giving it a try is easy and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
For most people (ie, if you’re not a domain administrator on a Google Apps domain):
- Go to https://signup.affinitylive.com/sync
- Fill in the form, verify your address and pick a domain (like yourbusiness.affinitylive.com or something). Easy.
- Log in, and from the “integrations” section, hook it up with up with Google Apps, Exchange or Office365. If you prefer, you can import contacts from a CSV file. You can also import from Highrise, Capsule, Basecamp and other products. More info at http://help.affinitylive.com/setup/import-data/
- Set up the email capture piece. Instructions, videos and unicorns at here.
For special people (Google Apps Administrators):
- Go to our Google Apps Marketplace listing and click “Add it now”
- Follow the wizard until you leave Google’s site and end up at page on signup.affinitylive.com.
- IMPORTANT: manually change the link in your browser to be http://signup.affinitylive.com/sync. This is so you can get into the special cool free stuff.
- Pick a domain (like yourbusiness.affinitylive.com), invite your colleagues, and then after a minute, you’ll be able to log in.
- Set up the email capture piece. Instructions, videos and unicorns here.
What happens if I actually like it?
Good news – AffinityLive Sync is completely free. We’ll be introducing paid plans for storage beyond certain thresholds, and we’re currently thinking about pricing tiers like Dropbox for people who want to go Pro. When we turn on the invitation feature we’ll also be giving people credits (again, Dropbox style) whenever they invite someone who then gets an account, so if you’re smart and popular, you’ll get to use it for free for a long long time.
What about the current AffinityLive product? I like the idea of an integrated business platform?
The good news is that we’re not killing the current AffinityLive product; instead, we’re introducing a lightweight version and an even more powerful version than we already have – another sneak peak at https://signup.affinitylive.com/tiers if you’re curious about (planned) inclusions & pricing.
Stuff we know sucks
It is still a bit rough around the edges and we need to improve things like the wizard you get when you first log in, and the invite feature doesn’t work yet (we’ll let you know when it is ready to roll) but we’re pushing code multiple times a day and will hopefully be ready to launch our new website (and the product officially) next week.
We’d love to know what you think – email email@example.com to tell us what you think!
Geoff – is there any integration into accounting apps like Xero or Sassu?
Yep, there sure is. And Quickbooks.
hey – why not just get user credentials for their exchange server and pull “read” mail from the stack and lookup their user record using the to: field (or listed aliases) of each email as opposed to forwarding every email ?
We that now as well using the EWS API. The issue is that email comms tends to be bursty between people, and the polling model isn’t as responsive/speedy as the forwarding method (and it is a *lot* more wasteful of resources on both ends). We sweep a mailbox, lets say every 30 mins, then we might get the conversation out or order or be missing up to date stuff whereas with forwarding we’ll sometimes have it in AffinityLive and processed faster than it hits the Outlook client, which then means when you reply, the thread is perfect.
That makes sense – the habitual nature and logic involved in communicating via email is more complex than one would initially think. I’ll give it a roll mate and hope to see you out in the Bay Area soon.
How did you end up going with this one Geoff? I’d be interested in any update?