How this Techstars company is making it easier to collaborate over email

Sam Dewey

File 52653

Tribe co-founders Sam Harris and Henry Vasquez

2.5 billion — that’s the estimate some reports have given for the number of people around the world using email. That’s a lot of email users, and if it’s anywhere near accurate, that number also implies email has cemented itself as a foundational form of modern communication.

But that doesn’t mean email has already reached its innovation peak. If one Techstars company has its way, they’ll be the harbinger of a new, transformative way to approach email communication.

Meet Tribe, an email task manager that makes it easier to collaborate with people working outside of your organization. Based on conversations you have via email, Tribe can organize and assign task lists with just about anybody.

“We recognized a problem, and that is that most productivity tools are based on internal teams,” said Tribe CEO Henry Vasquez. “When people want to work with others outside of their business, they always go back to email. Instead of building an alternative solution that pulls them away from this experience, we decided to build a layer on top of email.”

How it works

Think of Tribe as an automated personal assistant that lives in your inbox. Any email forwarded to Task@Tribe.do will be scanned for certain data points, like people involved or task date and times. Then, Tribe automatically creates a task and sends out pertinent emails to whoever’s been assigned to the project.

Users can follow up on tasks, poke certain project team members, and track progress until the task is complete.

Vasquez said Tribe gives companies “the visibility they desire — to look at a person and not necessarily a project.” He added that when companies work on a project with other companies, there is a lot of overlap in shared tasks, and workers ultimately end up duplicating a lot of the same work.

“The normal practice is to either always bring someone into your own tool or work independently in completely siloed environments where you actually duplicate all the work,” Vasquez said. “We uncovered massive flaws in every productivity tool we tried. One of the biggest flaws was not being able to have one record of the shared task between you and the client that everyone could update.”

Tribe is free to use, for now, and users never have to register for an account or download any new software. 

Gearing up for Demo Day

Tribe, which launched in February, is the youngest member of Techstars’ upcoming graduating class. They’ll debut at Techstars Demo Day next Tuesday, after months of what Vasquez called a “complete bootcamp.”

“[Techstars] is psychologically intense and physically intense,” Vasquez said. “I've been used to working 60 to 65 hours a week ever since I’ve been in startups, but this was a whole ‘nother level. This was Saturday and Sunday until 10 p.m. every night. You’re trying to run a business, and you’re in five hours of classes and workshops and tutoring sessions everyday for three months. There's no way for people to know how it’s going to be until you dive in, and it has all been incredibly rewarding.”

Following Techstars, the company will focus on closing a round of funding and growing their team, which currently sits at three full-time members, including CTO and serial entrepreneur Sam Harris.

Tribe has had 1300 registrations at this point. Vasquez said that following their beta launch in August, every activated Tribe user invited on average four other people to use the service.

“There’s a viral potential that’s really exciting,” he said.

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