Working with people you trust is a must

FLOW-e transforms your Gmail or Office 365 inbox into a visual task board

Please introduce yourself and your startup FLOW-e to our readers!
I’m Monica, a Lean marketer dedicated to making the inbox a better place for professionals through my work as part of the team at FLOW-e. FLOW-e is a unique web app that transforms your Gmail or Office 365 inbox into a visual task board. By uniting your inbox with a Kanban workflow and a dynamic timeline of your meetings, FLOW-e positions itself as a command centre for any busy professional. FLOW-e lets you delegate and track actionable email communication, add todos to messages, schedule meetings without having to switch views and a lot more, without ever storing your personal data. Give it a try for free and find out how awesome your inbox can be (I *unintentionally* rhymed those)!

How did you get the idea to build FLOW-e?
Late last year, while the Kanbanize team was going through a period of growth with our first product (check it out here), our CEO, Dimitar Karaivanov noticed that every task chronicled on our visual team Kanban boards was being tracked while actionable e-mail communication was often slipping through the cracks. Further research and interviews with team leads, managers, CEOs and other busy people in positions of leadership, confirmed that this problem was widespread. The list format of the traditional inbox just couldn’t support the reality of getting 100+ emails a day.

Many tasks were initiated via e-mail and then manually transferred, labelled, written on palms etc. Without a set process, this type of approach was extremely inconsistent. But what if your daily workflow lived inside your inbox? If making an email into a traceable task on a visual Kanban board was as easy as a click and drag, this could serve as the basis of a different, improved, level of personal task management.

In the beginning of 2017, a special task force of frontend and backend ninjas was put together to begin building an MVP, code-named Wall-e. In May, we opened it to the public and we’ve been skyrocketing, and learning a lot, ever since.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
We were lucky enough to have an amazing resource of talent on our side. We were already working with great people on Kanbanize, some of whom moved to the FLOW-e task force. Further, they had their own network from which we could draw to hire the experts we needed to make our vision come true. That’s just what we did! So starting wasn’t as hard as it might be for other people in different positions. The main challenge that exists for us is related to our reliance on the APIs of other companies.

There is no other way to make FLOW-e work. We visualize existing Gmail and Office 365 inboxes and update them in real time. There is little that can go wrong there, but if extenuating circumstances kick in on the side of Google or Microsoft, our hands will be tied. At the moment, we are working hard to make sure everything on our end is excellent, reliable and polished!

Who is your target audience?
Any team lead, manager, CEO or professional leader who is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email they receive on the day-to-day. Those who want to be more productive with their vital, actionable emails, to never drop the ball and to make the most of their inbox – those are the people we want to reach because we believe they will benefit most from our feature set. On a personal note, I’ve noticed FLOW-e also works miracles with the inbox of a freelancer who is working on several projects at once.

What is the USP (unique selling point) of your startup?
Our extensive experience in Kanban and Lean methodologies definitely transfers to our new product, FLOW-e. We have been working with the leadership of organizations to provide them with the highest quality Lean process management solution for over 5 years. FLOW-e is the missing link between where tasks initiate (communication channels, mainly e-mails in a professional setting) and how they get done well, on time and by the most qualified people. We’re filling in this gap by changing the way professionals work with email by moving the email process to our visual, intuitive and easy to use web app.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Since the inception of our first product, we have always been a very can-do, waste-free organization and that is continuing now. We run on the principles of Lean and the Kanban method. So, naturally, our team’s day starts with a speedy stand-up meeting in which each member has approximately 2 minutes to share what they accomplished yesterday, what they intend to do today and any challenges they might be facing.
We are constantly iterating and improving.

Personally, I open FLOW-e right after the morning stand-up to catch up on emails. Using FLOW-e, I attach some in-app ToDos to new messages, delegate some threads using the engage feature and archive old messages that might have been resolved already. We also have two FLOW-e Kanban boards within Kanbanize – a Marketing and RnD board – on which our tasks are mapped and prioritized. The marketing team responds to the release of new features by making more content about them available, we structure email campaigns to better retain users and constantly look for opportunities to share FLOW-e with more people.

Where do you see yourself and your startup FLOW-e in five years?
We are aiming to create a unified system of personal task management that busy people will love to use. A FLOW-e of the future might be decked out with integrations to all of the general inputs from which our tasks derive – Slack, several email inboxes, etc, coupled with a process layer for personal use and outputs to other, more complex process management systems like Jira (that your developers, for example, might be using). As we learn more about the people that are already using FLOW-e regularly, we might tweak this a bit and choose another path of execution. However, we will remain steadfast in our goal to combat the tyranny of email and transform any inbox a supporter of the work process, instead of an obstacle to it.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Be specific and selective. Don’t target “everybody” because you simply can’t cover all of that ground. Not spreading yourself too thin is one of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur, including us. We recommend checking out the book, “Crossing the Chasm” for a very persuasive view of why choosing a beachhead niche instead of trying to serve everybody will actually keep your business alive longer.

Fire your friends. Working with people you trust is a must, but when it comes to business, only work with your friends if you’ve signed the appropriate documentation. Keep contracts, non-competes, NDAs at the ready even for people you might have known your entire life.

Stay Lean in terms of all of your resources and don’t waste your most valuable resource – time. When you’re excited about an idea, it is very easy to start multi-tasking in an effort to go to every event, speak to everyone and pitch everywhere. Don’t waste your time with startup conferences that resemble parties more than they resemble actual learning opportunities for you. When you’re trying to beat the clock and release your innovation on the market before your competitor, every second counts.

More information you will find here

Thank you Monica Georgieff for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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