98: How Nylas Aims To Stop Businesses From Giving Up On Email
Today we have some tech royalty. Michael Grinich has a remarkable story. He cut his teeth building iPhone apps, and he previously worked at Dropbox and Nest. He reached a point in his life where he had fantastic job offers at other startups and had to decide whether to accept one or follow his heart and create his own start-up. I think you can probably guess what he chose. He is the co-founder of Nylas, a company that has really taken off in the developer community. They have reached 20,000 on GitHub, ranking them 74th across GitHubs 3.4 million projects.
Can you tell the listeners a little about yourself and what you do?
My name is Michael Grinich, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Nylas, which is a start-up in San Francisco. We’re building a new email platform.
Can you tell me a little about your journey and how you started?
It’s hard for me to think about when I first became obsessed with email. It was years ago when I was at school at MIT. Where the journey started I was just building stuff for myself and spending nights and weekends working on ideas I had for new experiences I wanted to build on top of my mailbox.
The company really got started after I finished school. I moved out to San Francisco to do some work for a friend. I didn’t want to do a start up initially. I had seen other people do startups and knew how challenging they were and how much they could take out of you. The first few months I was in San Francisco I was actually job searching. I talked to a lot of great companies and had some great job offers. I ended up turning them all down and creating my own startup.
What is Nylas, for the people who have never heard of it?
Nylas is building a new email platform. What we believe is that email experiences are really valuable. Mail is something that people use every day. Especially if you’re a professional, your email is your battle station. It’s the hub of where all this information and communication comes in. If you’re a salesperson, if you’re a recruiter, if you do marketing, HR, legal, finance, business development, really almost anything email is the center of your communication world. Creating new experiences for those people is tough. Our mission is to make those experiences much easier to build. We’ve done that through creating developer tools and infrastructure and also through building end user products for people.
It seems people are growing weary of email overload. After failing to achieve inbox zero, many are even attempting to look for alternative communication methods such as Slack for example. How do you think Nylas can help people in IT and in business rekindle their love for email again?
I believe we ‘re in an interesting transition moment with communication technologies where things like Slack or Hip Chat before that are starting to come into the enterprise and foster more inter-team communication and real-time communication. Another thing is pretty much everyone that is using Slack is using email. It’s not that Slack has replaced email; it’s really a secondary communication method.
It’s like on phones we have to text, but we also have a voice. They are two different mediums. What we’re trying to do with Nylas and with N1 is build the companion app to Slack. For Slack, you chat internally. You might ask people questions and sync quickly on projects. But I can tell you if you are a sales person, a recruiter, or even a journalist you email people. That’s the default communication method you use to reach out to folks.
You’re not going to invite a sales prospect to a Slack room just to invite them onto a phone call later that day. Email is always going to be there, and the question we should be asking is not how do we kill email. The question we should be asking is what does email transform into over the next several years and how can we keep the huge benefit we have had from this system and take it into the future?
Is there anything you can share about what’s next, what direction you are heading?
We don’t really talk about future products or communicate that. I would say that if you look at N1 and the progression what we built initially was this incredibly powerful open source mail app that attracted a lot of developers.
The initial audience was developers and early adopters but transitioned pretty quickly to people using it at work. We have almost 50,000 unique domains that have been connected to N1, which are effectively companies. There has been a massive movement towards people using it in the workplace. So I think what you will see over the next six months is that N1 will become more of a tool that integrates with other services.
What’s the best way to find out more information about you guys at Nylas?
The best way is to go to our website www.nylas.com.