I have yet to see a demo of Acompli, a new mobile email startup, but one feature in the iOS 7 app hit me right between the eyes: sharing availability for calls or meetings. This has got to be one of the greatest time sinks across the board.
Consider what I believe Acompli offers, based on reading about it from a write up by Liz Gannes:
In an in-person meeting this week, Soltero demonstrated some of Acompli’s features in a forthcoming iPhone app, which include all sorts of shortcuts to help people schedule appointments and do other productive things within the context of an inbox, rather than switching to another app.
So, for instance, if you wanted to reply to a scheduling email within Acompli, you could select a little calendar icon next to the message, and tap on windows of availability you want to show to the other person. If you receive a formal invite email, Acompli will show within the inbox that you have a conflict, and you can long tap to deal with it directly.
Yes, this could be considered ‘just’ a feature, and one that could be knocked off by others, but one of the largest headaches I have — and one universally shared — is sharing availability with others in order to schedule a call or meeting.
I was talking about this by email yesterday with the Michael Galpert, the CEO of Super.cc, and I suggested this scenario:
[Super.cc could] Come up with a better way to schedule meetings with multiple people, or multiple meetings in the same timeframe. As just one use case: imagine I would like to schedule meetings for a several day trip to SF, and I would like to set up meetings on (let’s say) Tu, We, and Th for companies X, Y, Z, A, B, and C. I’d like a system where I could hand this over to a bot that would do the following:
1. Would read the emails I create suggesting possible meetings, and note that there is possible contention. 2. Would read emails proposing times, and would ‘pencil’ them into the calendar (perhaps a ¿ and ? at the start and end).
3. As I start to accept proposed dates/times, it would convert penciled to ink, and send emails under my name to others who had not yet responded updating them on now-unavailable times. 4. If two or more parties request the same time, I could pick one, and the others would be informed that the time was no longer available, along with information about other available/unavailable times.
Looks like Acompli is offering up one fragment of that: Someone asks for my availability on a certain date, and I can pull that into an email reply with one click. A good starting point, at least.
Acompli was founded by CEO Javier Soltero, whose SpringSource was acquired by VMWare. They have announced $7.3 million in funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with Harrison Metal and Felicis Ventures joining the round. Former Zimbra CEO Satish Dharmaraj is the lead investor at Redpoint, where Soltero was entrepreneur-in-residence, and the two and others pulled together the ideas that led to Acompli.