I was feeling mighty low—my email backlog was looming so large that I wanted to abandon my responsibilities and go all Nancy Botwin and live on the lam (I’ve also been watching a lot of Weeds lately). That’s when I came across an email from Paul Trevithick, with the subject line: “Pinterest meets email with Azigo.” A wonderful thing meets a horrible thing in my life. I was intrigued.
Mr. Trevithick was referring to his startup, Azigo, a website that gathers your commercial email—all those sales, announcements, newsletters, what have you—that you kind of want but you also kind of resent for cluttering your inbox. And you know you’re never going to create all those filters (and if you’re like me, when you create them, you forget to check them!). With Azigo you open an account, which gives you an Azigo email address. Forward any email that falls into the above categories to that address, and from then on those senders will be sent to your Azigo account. Or, when you sign up for new lists, just use your Azigo email address.
You’ll get a notice as many times per day as you’d like to check your account. When you do, you’ll see your emails represented by images pulled from the emails, accompanied by headlines summing up the gist. You can look at your messages as a list or in columns, newspaper style. You also can bookmark certain senders to easily find them later. It is rather Pinterest-y, minus the repinning. You can apparently play some games including Connect 4 though I haven’t yet tried that out.
Does it worry you trust your email to some startup? Check out Trevithick’s mad startup and privacy cred. It might make you feel better!
Azigo launched in beta earlier this month, but the company’s engineers have already built in some handy functionality: When you click on a Groupon, for example, a timer counts down and a map shows you the location of your deal. When you click on a Facebook email you can accept requests, post directly to other’s timelines, like things, and more, directly from Azigo. Same with Twitter: tweet, DM, reply, and retweet without leaving the page.
I’ve been using Azigo for about a month and it’s A REVELATION. My inbox is manageable, but I’m not missing anything. I can quickly scan all my sales, boutique newsletters, Facebook requests, etc. instead of opening then deleting one at a time. I am in love. And I guess it should be no surprise because I am Azigo’s target customer: a woman who wants the latest Gilt, My Habit, Style.com et. al. emails, but who wants to cry when she sees 348 unread emails in her inbox. Mr. Trevithick explains more about Azigo (which, by the way, is based in Wellesley Hills (near Boston) in Massachusetts), how he worked for President Obama (!), his serial entrepreneurism in my Q & A with him below! If you try Azigo, please let me know what you think!
Stylenik: How and when did you come up with the idea for Azigo?
Paul Trevithick: Since 2003 I’ve been working on technology to give people more control over their own digital data and communications. I’ve been involved in startups, non-profits. Even doing some policy work for the White House when Obama first arrived! That was heady! Over the years I’ve found hundreds of other people who share this vision. More and more all the time. But the challenge has been how to boil all this down into something that people can immediately get. After some false starts, last summer we came up with the idea to begin by helping people deal with their love/hate relationship with commercial emails. Especially women. Our thought is that once we’ve built up some trust with our users managing their email headache, we’ll broaden the product to manage other aspects of online life as a trusted assistant.
Sn: Who are your target users?
PT: The initial targets are mostly women who fall into one of two buckets (not literally I hope!). The first bucket are are fashionistas and shopaholics who love to see the latest stuff from their favorite stores and brands, but who have hit their limit as to the number of these emails they can handle in their general purpose inbox. The second bucket are those that have no time and they’re overwhelmed by the clutter of the emails in their inbox, and want them to be automatically organized for them somehow.
Sn: What kind of traction are you getting so far?
PT: Azigo is just getting started having opened up our site on September 10th. But as you know, one thing that’s fun about the online world is that we have all these dashboards showing us what’s happening. So we’re watching new visitors become users and we’re watching the number of users per day double in just the past week. It’s very encouraging. And exciting. And a bit terrifying–we worry we might not be able to keep up with the growth.
Sn: How will you guys make money?
PT: We’d like to offer a paid pro version, and we’re thinking that we’ll charge for our mobile apps that we’re working on. But there are also great opportunities for super-relevant advertising too after we grow a lot bigger.
Sn: Tell us a little more about you: what’s your background?
PT: I’m a serial geek entrepreneur. I dropped out of grad school at MIT to start my first company. I sold that to a Norwegian publicly traded company by the time I was 25. After that, I was hooked on the life of an entrepreneur. I figured I’d already made a lot of mistakes and yet ended up in a good spot, so I thought maybe I’ll just start companies for a living.
Sn: Tell us a little about the staff you’ve built so far?
PT: We have a wonderful team. Everyone is so passionate about what we’re building. There’s a great feeling that we’re both building something great and doing something good for the world. We really do believe in empowering people and protecting their data and privacy while we’re at it. One of the best things we’ve done is bring in a user experience designer from the very beginning of this product development process. Since most of our users are women, it probably doesn’t hurt that our design and most of our development team are women too!