Taylor Record
August 31, 2017

How to Lead the Inbox Revolution: An Interview with FLOW-e

Meet Monica. She's a former member of betahaus | Sofia and Head of Marketing for Kanbanize and FLOW-e. Kanbanize is software for lean project management based on the Kanban method. In the past two years, the organization has tripled in size and taken on their next challenge -- bringing efficiency to email through a new product called FLOW-e. We asked Monica to share why her team created FLOW-e, tips on how to organize emails, and insight into which apps can help.

Kanbanize's mission is to bring simplicity, productivity and efficiency to the way people work. Can you tell us more about the email problem that led your team to create FLOW-e?

"We waste over 657 hours of our time each year on answering and sorting emails. I don’t know how that sounds to you, but I can think of 657 better things to do with my time. But, I just can’t bid adieu to my email account, or in my case, accounts...

We waste over 657 hours of our time each year on answering and sorting emails. I don’t know how that sounds to you, but I can think of 657 better things to do with my time.

It seems that a lot of people share this position. The key phrase “drowning in email” generates over 40,000 Google search results. Ironically, “addicted to email” generates 943,000 results in the same search engine. A study conducted by the Radicati Group of Palo Alto posits that email is and will remain the predominant form of communication in the business space where the stakes are highest. A person working in an office most likely receives between 50 and 100 individual emails per day while CEOs, directors of companies and social influencers get twice as much. Professionals have developed the habit of fanatically checking their inbox on average around 54 times a day.

Within the Kanbanize team, we asked ourselves the question - how can we transform email into a vehicle of success and efficiency that makes our day-to-day lives easier rather than more challenging?"

With so many productivity and collaboration tools, teams can experience app overload in pursuit of productivity. What does FLOW-e do differently than conventional web apps to help teams save time?

"Built on top of Gmail and Office 365/Outlook, Flow-E visualizes the contents of your original inbox and helps you build a workflow process around the incoming emails. The flexible stages of the process visually distribute emails among different sections of your view based on their status. Everything is part of a streamlined workflow.

You don’t just have a calendar, you have an ongoing chronological timeline of your upcoming meetings for the day. You can add todos onto email communication instead of moving back and forth between external task management tools and your inbox. Use your inbox not just as a receiver of tasks and messages, but also as a place from which you can track and delegate among your team members.

By uniting two functionalities -- tracking email communication and managing the tasks related to it on your team -- the users ability to delegate can both forward tasks to the appropriate person on their team, but also tracks their progress status as they move towards completion."

By uniting two functionalities -- tracking email communication and managing the tasks related to it on your team -- the users ability to delegate can both forward tasks to the appropriate person on their team, but also tracks their progress status as they move towards completion.

Besides FLOW-e, what new web apps would you recommend to teams trying to get their inboxes in order?

"There are small number of web apps that have joined the conversation surrounding the prolific email problem. The ones we find most interesting are Dragapp (newly launched), ActiveInbox (works only with Gmail), and Sanebox (works with Gmail and Yahoo). These solutions work as “skins” for existing email clients and can help you organize your inbox."

Can you share some advice on small changes people can make with their email habits to become more productive?

"On the personal blog of Andreas Klinger, an Austrian startup guy and CTO of Product Hunt, we found a noteworthy article titled “Don’t Drown in Email: How to Use Gmail More Efficiently”. In Klinger’s article, emails lived in separate compartments in his general Gmail account. There were separate inboxes based on the status of the email. He used the following structure and policies:

  • GTD - Getting things done
  • An easy to manage, usually empty inbox on the left
  • All “todos” in the first box
  • All emails “awaiting a reply” in the second
  • All “delegated” emails in the third
  • All emails related to meetings, flights, etc easy to find in the fourth

Even before Klinger’s piece, we saw references to the plea for an email charter for email users put together by Jane Wulf and the curator of TED, Chris Anderson. The charter itself is made up of 16 codes of conduct that senders and receivers of email should follow. Suggestions include: respecting recipients time, choosing clear subject lines, keeping communications short, asking concise questions, etc. By reviewing the email charter and integrating it into your own email etiquette, you can start to create a culture of more respectful emailing."

 

Want to learn more about how to organize emails with FLOW-E? If you are part of a team working in betahaus | berlin, head to their website now for a 1 Year Free Trial of FLOW-e!

Found the content interesting? Want to join Monica and other entrepreneurs at betahaus? See how here

Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for‌ ‌example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”. 

Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?

It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌urban‌ ‌planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!


A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.

Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!


Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.


Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.


Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard.  The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.


Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one? 

Then head over to our Future Logistics Challenge! Applications are still open until September 23rd.

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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