Local company makes finding e-mail attachments easier
I, like many people out there, have a long list of e-mail pet peeves. Unnecessary use of the reply all button, e-mail newsletters that make it impossible to unsubscribe, and spam to name just a few. But near the top of the list is the dreaded e-mail attachment. I've often realized I need to find a really old copy of my resume, or something equally as random. Since I no longer own the IBM Thinkpad that I used to write my first resume, finding an old copy in my e-mail attachments is my best bet (nope, I didn't discover backing up your hard drive until recently). So I search "resume" in my e-mail inbox and find countless search results, leaving me to filter by those little paper clip icons and open each attachment to see if it's what I'm looking for.
But a new local company is recognizing the frustration involved with searching for attachments in your e-mail, and providing a solution that presents an attachments-centric view of your inbox. Attachments.me, currently in private beta, promises to help people hunt down attachments quickly by indexing attachments and making them searchable.
While Attachments.me is a local company, the idea comes from the tech hotbed of Silicon Valley. San Francisco-based entrepreneur and SimpleGeo founder Joe Stump originally came up with the idea and initial prototype for the company, and brought on Toronto-based developers Jesse Miller and Benjamin Coe as partners. "Joe pulled in Ben and I very quickly and it soon became our baby," Miller says. "The idea has grown a lot since its beginnings though and really taken a life of its own."
As you add e-mail accounts to Attachments.me the site crawls them and indexes all attachments. The process only takes a minute to complete, and you can then view a list of your attachments as thumbnail images. You can sort the list of attachments by date or alphabetically, search for keywords, and bookmark searches for quick viewing on the sidebar. The service also breaks your attachments down by file type, so you can see how many images, documents and movies you have at any given time, and view them by category. You can share an attachment on Twitter, Facebook, or via a shortened URL, and download attachments from within the site.
The service supports not only text documents and photos, but outside services including YouTube and Flickr. The site crawls text on YouTube to tell you what videos are actually about, so you can search them by keyword. So now when your mom asks you to find that hilarious video of a cat playing the piano, you can find it by searching "cat" even though all she put in the subject line was "OMG I WISH WHISKERS DID THIS."
Miller says he speaks to so many people who identify with the main pain point his company is trying to solve. "That being the problem where someone has sent you an attachment, but written nothing useful in the subject or contents of the email. Later you try and find the attachment and it's just impossible," he says. "Our technology reads through anything readable and creates filters that truly uniquely identify each document so it becomes extremely easy to find."
One downside to the service in its current form is that it's only accessible via their website, not as a plug-in or mobile app. Miller says they're working on a Gmail plug-in, API, Chrome browser extension and an iPhone app to make it easier for people to interact with the service and search their inbox, regardless of where they're accessing it.
Another limitation to the service is that it only supports Gmail, but Miller says their technology can easily support adding other providers. The team is currently working on adding support for Yahoo, a general IMAP connector and Facebook. Similar to Dropbox, Attachments.me will offer a tiered pricing model. Users can sign up for a free account, but it will only index a certain number of attachments before requiring an upgrade. The free account will also limit how many e-mail accounts you can add. A future upgrade will also include an option for SMBs with more functionality, and will support collaboration and group management.
The company announced last week that they raised a $500,000 round of seed funding from Boulder, Coloardo-based Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that counts gaming behemoth Zynga and recent RIM acquisition Gist in its portfolio. Miller says the funding will allow the team to build out the product and add functionality. "With the money we finally get to go full-time and hire up some more engineers. Then it's head down for a bit to build out the product some more."
While the idea for Attachments.me originally belonged to Stump, he now acts as an advisor and its growth will be dependent on the work of Miller and Coe. "Joe has been a close advisor from the start and plans to continue to be," Miller says. "He is very busy as CTO at SimpleGeo but we have quickly become friends and talk all the time." Miller says they aren't planning to launch the service to the public for another six months, though they're giving out access codes through the "Let me try it!" form on the homepage and want to build the group of beta testers.
Lead photo by MayaEvening on Flickr.