There probably aren’t that many product managers who’d claim to love email. Turn your back on your inbox for five minutes and it’s cluttered again, often with stuff you don’t want and didn’t ask for. And as for coming back to it after a vacation, well, that’s a whole other story. But one tech startup CEO sincerely does love email, not least because everyone still uses it. And, says Lee Ott (co-founder and CEO of Palo Alto-based ‘Rokket Launch’) most of it, no matter how voluminous it might be, isn’t junk. Rokket Launch aims to sort it all out, making manageable and ordered molehills out of mountains of electronic jumble.
Product numero uno for the startup, which has raised $1.25 million so far, is the quaintly named app PeeqPeeq. What, the curious product manager will be wondering, is a PeeqPeeq? The clue’s in the sound rather than the spelling: it peeks through all the shopping-related emails in the user’s inbox, sucks them up and organizes them into a Web store accessible by desktop PCs, iPads and iPhones. And it neatly places all the shopping-related messages into a separate folder external to the inbox.
Ott likens it to a kind of Flipboard or Zite for shopping. And PeeqPeeq does some pretty clever things in addition, like picking up when a sale is due to end or combing a retailer’s website so that it knows exactly which items qualify for the storewide discount it’s just sent an email about. It becomes a continually updated catalog of things to buy. That’s a good deal more positive than all those apps out there pressurizing users into totally cleaning out their inboxes, as most product managers would probably agree. For PeeqPeeq, email is a resource, not a burden.
More in the pipeline
Shopping is just the first step. Ott has plans to create more apps aimed at grabbing a range of other content types from that groaning inbox, putting them tidily away but readily accessible in separate apps.
The money raised has come courtesy of Morado Ventures, Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, Farzed Nazem and Jon Rubinstein, most of whom (like Ott and his co-founder Anirbin Kundu) are erstwhile Yahoo executives with a dash of WebOS experience. Ott’s field at Yahoo was mobile but he became Hewlett-Packard’s head of product for webOS.