By ISADORA VAIL
Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News
While boasting the free solution to endless and unwanted emails, Austin startup OtherInbox, has had nearly 2 million users since the service began in 2008.
Founded by Austin entrepreneur Joshua Baer, the company offers two ways to instantly organize and prioritize email. The Organizer product looks for lower priority messages, such as newsletters, e-receipts, social media notifications or coupons, into one folder. An email summary is sent to the Organizer user each day, summarizing important and unimportant emails.
The second free product, Unsubscriber, is named quite literally for the product’s duty of automatically removing your personal email from a mailing list. The service works with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other email providers.
OtherInbox didn’t start with organizing emails, said Hoon Park, client services manager. At first, the company helped protect emails by using other emails to sign up for sites online while protecting the main address.
Park said some email unsubscribe lists create a lot of hoops to get your email removed, and some even require a login. But OtherInbox users place the unwanted emails into an unsubscribe folder and the rest is history. “You will never receive an email from them again,” Park said.
Since 2009, the company has generated revenue by selling market data two different ways: to email marketing companies, and by advertisers who pay to target OtherInbox users that receive specific coupon deals. Park said all user identification is kept private.
OtherInBox has also raised $4 million in funding during two rounds of venture financing, according to its Crunchbase profile.
“It was just a very powerful way to protect emails, but as a startup company that creates products for clients,” Park said. “We think we can be very useful for clients who are getting a ton of unimportant or unwanted emails everyday.”
After the company reached a landmark earlier this year of 1 million users, the numbers continued to quickly rise. Park says they expect to have 2 million users by the first quarter of 2012. Customers of OtherInbox primarily use it personally rather than for business or large corporations.
The company grew from six people when it started in 2008 to 10 employees by 2010, and Park says there are plans to add at least two more to their team. The diverse group of workers have ranging backgrounds from linguistics to human biology to political science majors. There are no plans to move the team from their office space in downtown Austin.
Their operation not only runs concise, but inexpensive — everything is done in The Cloud, Park said. Having servers purely online can also be the source of unavoidable technical issues.
“Sometimes we’ll have a hiccup in our service and we just have to figure out a way around it,” Park said.
With three people for customer support, including Park, he says it is important for them to communicate about the customer’s issues. “That is where we find out something is wrong and through day-to-day collaboration we have to fix the problems,” he said.
One of Park’s favorite perks of working at OtherInbox is the company’s compassion for other startups. He said found Baer reaches out to newbie startups to help them, and often ends up being somewhat of a mentor by offering advice on public relations, branding, marketing, and how to network.
“For about three years we’ve done this thing where we team up with startups, sometimes even letting them work out of our space, and incubate them until they can stand on their own feet. I just enjoy being able to help out the community of my peers,” Hoon said.
As for future email products that may further de-clutter your inbox? Stay tuned. While Park said there is nothing to “officially announce,” he assured us that OtherInbox programmers are always experimenting.