How We're Fixing Email

The story of how existing solutions were too big for us By Rory Garand
Mon, Jan 16, 2017
Filed under: saffron, mettle products, email, saas, passion project, react, laravel,

TL;DR

Regular old email works at a personal level, but not for organizations. Here’s our solution. We’re currently running a promotion for our first several customers.

An Introduction

Let me just say that I have always disliked email. Using email feels slow, clunky, and almost acts like a hinderance to communication compared to newer technologies. Considering those feelings, not too long ago I never could have conceived that we would have sunk dozens and dozens of hours considering the technical minutiae of what makes an attractive and useful email service.

This journey began when we set up an account with a “group email” product for a small organization. And wow, it totally changed my concept of what email could be for a team. I liked using it. I actually liked using email. The approach seemed so novel at the time, but in retrospect it really shouldn’t have. This was the way email should be, at least if you’re operating beyond just yourself.

However, as time marched forward we gradually started to notice a few incongruities that didn’t quite mesh with our particular use case. So we decided to build our own, and tweak the feature set to meet our needs.

A Question of (Organization) Size

Our particular team was a tight-knit group of volunteers helping to manage a coworking space. We set up a few high-level email addresses (e.g. help@sample.com, booking@sample.com) to showcase on the website, but internally we would use the collaboration tools provided by the group email product to coordinate and decide how to respond to inquiries. Emails trickled in fairly consistently at a rate of about 4 - 5 per month and our group of 4 - 6 would collectively reply.

The problem for us was that this was really expensive. Most, if not all, of the team inbox services available today bill per user. Here at Mettle we are proud to pay for the products and services that provide measurable value to us. However, in this case the price didn’t feel to sync with our usage. When we responding to emails it was great. It just wasn’t happening very often.

It eventually occured to us that a different pricing model, one based on total monthly email volume, would suit our situation much better.

Inbox Management Didn’t Jive

We realized fairly early on that the interface didn’t make a lot of sense in terms of inbox organization. Switching between help@sample.com and booking@sample.com was a pain. Emails that had been assigned to a particular person may seem to have disappeared only to be rediscovered within some unexpected folder path. It worked fairly well if incoming emails were resolved relatively quickly but not as much if someone had to go back to an older message from a month or so before.

Simplifying inbox management was the primary improvement we thought we could make in our own product. We took notes on our favorite software. We looked at what worked, and what didn’t. We painstakingly considered how we could apply the best design principles towards creating the greatest inbox organization possible.

A Dream of Being a Product Focused Company

Mettle has primarily operated as a consultancy for the past 18 months. While helping our clients breathe life into their ideas we’ve also remained mindful of our own internal guiding principles. Generally speaking, that translates to making a large positive impact on the world. Our clients are doing wonderful work within their domains and we excitedly remain commited to partnering with them in their future endeavors.

At the same time we have a vision to create our own impact, in the same way we have helped our clients create theirs. True ownership over every aspect of Saffron provides us with a direct conduit to shape the impact we wish to enact in a way we cannot match operating as a third party.

Looking Out for the Little Guy

Small business is important to us. As a result, making Saffron accessible to as many organizations as possible was a primary focus from the earliest design stage. Whether you’re a scrappy startup hustling for your first check, a non-profit with a legion of volunteers, or something else we couldn’t conceieve… we’re not going to penalize you just because you convinced a lot of people to join your cause. It’s our belief that pricing via total email volume will scale to organizations of any size.

On the flip side, Mettle is also a small business. Saffron is still in its infancy and we fully realize that our first customers are crucial to its success. Furthermore it’s likely those first organizations are going to shape what Saffron eventually becomes (a process that has already begun!).

We appreciate this greatly! So much so that we want to reward these people where it counts: their wallets. We have decided to implement a sliding discount to early adopters. The first 10 customers receieve 75% off, the first 100 receieve 50%, and the first 300 receieve 25% off. Forever.

Forever!

Additionally, each tier of early adopter discount comes with a faster lane of customer support from us. So if you get in now you’re going to have our ear if you encounter problems or want to request new features. It’s likely we’ll put it in for you as long as it’s not too far fetched from the main product offering.

Summary

We can’t wait to change your mind about email. Reach out to us at iwant@saffron.email for more information or just to say hello. (We’ll use Saffron to respond!) Let us know what pain points you have experienced with email that Saffron might solve for you.