I met the guys from NutshellMail earlier this year at SXSW and immediately knew they were on to something. For all of the social networking, blogging, tweeting, Skyping and so on that I do, email is still the killer app of the internet. I spend the bulk of my day in my email client.
One of the most important productivity tips you’ll learn from systems like Getting Things Done is to minimize your inboxes. In other words, the fewer places you have to go look for new "stuff", the more productive you will be.
That’s why it’s always baffled me in social networking sites when people tell me they were getting too much email, so they turned their email notifications off. That’s not a productivity gain — it’s just the illusion of it by getting it out of your face. If those communications are valuable at all, then the more you can do to consolidate them in one place, the better.
Another challenge is web-based email. If you have a personal (or personal business) account at, say, GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc., that’s yet another inbox to have to go check. Now, GMail does offer free POP/SMPT service, but many businesses won’t let you access other POP/SMPT services from their network (and besides, you may not want your personal messages coming in on your work computer). Last I checked, Yahoo and Hotmail both charge for POP access (correct me if I’m wrong). But back to the point… do you really want your personal email coming in to your work email client?
NutshellMail creates a digest of message headers from your web-based email accounts and popular social networking sites. This has a couple of major benefits:
1. You can keep up with all your social networking and personal email from work without having to constantly go check multiple websites and without accessing them via POP3. You can scan the headers, and if there truly is something urgent and important that you need to respond to or handle, you can go directly to the appropriate inbox and handle it.
2. If you work for yourself, like me, and don’t have some of those concerns, you still have the benefit of consolidating all your social networking messages in one place — still in your inbox for convenience, but without the clutter of having low-priority messages directly in your attention field.
I’ve been using NutshellMail for a couple of months have been very happy with it — definitely a productivity boost in dealing with my social networking, and I see tremendous potential for its application for accessing personal email and social networking in a work environment.
In fact, I liked it so much that I agreed to join their advisory board and have been working with them on their product roadmap, launch strategy, business model, etc. NutshellMail is one of the main components in what I’ve been talking about regarding the need for social web aggregation. I see a strong potential exit strategy for them being acquired as part of a larger social web aggregation play.
The only "sub-optimal" experience I’ve had with it so far has been recurring problems with some of the social networking connectors, particularly MySpace (although given MySpace’s reliability issues, I’m wondering where the problem really lies — I think NM is having to code around MS’s issues). That said, the reliability seems to be improving — I haven’t had a failed connect in about a week.
Want to check it out? NutshellMail announced the opening of their private beta at TechCrunch50, so you can sign up now (may take a few days or more to get access — be patient). You might also enjoy reading their blog for some great articles on corporate email policy, virtual communication and more.