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Mailman's new Gmail Assistant goals to tame your inbox

Mailman, a new startup, recently launched an email assistant that gives Gmail users better control over their inbox. Unlike many email launches that require users to switch to a new platform or even adopt a new email address, Mailman works with your existing Gmail account to block annoying emails, for example, Batch send email messages, configure VIPs who can bypass filters, and even turn off your inbox for a period of time.

Credit: Postman

The service is the latest in a long line of email startups that have arrived over the years and promise an improved email experience. The latest is Hey from Basecamp, a new app that offers a hosted email service with advanced tools for debugging your inbox.

However, many users don't want to switch to a new email platform or client app, and generally don't want to accept a new email address. They just want to tame their existing inbox. This is where Mailman comes in.

The service authenticates itself to your Google account, where you give it permission to manage mailbox labels and basic email settings (e.g. moving emails to a folder that is asleep). They also give Mailman the ability to view and change, but not delete, email.

This latter permission is worth mentioning and should be carefully examined. People with sensitive information in their inbox may not want to allow third-party access to manage their email inbox. But really sensitive material shouldn't initially move through email as any security expert would tell you.

Mailman says it doesn't store any data that isn't used directly by the customer in the Mailman interface, and that your email data isn't monetized – like Gmail itself does. It also claims to only read the timestamp, return address and subject line, not the body of your emails, when it helps you manage your inbox. Mailman also claims to encrypt the data stored in its database on servers in the US, Canada and India. And it's GDPR compliant – which means you can permanently delete all of your data with the click of a button.

Regardless, you need to weigh the risks against the potential benefits of using an email add-on because it requires inbox access to operate.

If you want to go ahead and Mailman has access to managing your inbox, you can use one of the features to curb the flow of email.

One of the biggest problems with email is that it comes in throughout the day as soon as email is sent. This means you end up replying to emails on the sender's schedule instead of your own.

Mailman offers a few options to address this problem.

If you want to save some email-free time from work without being disturbed by incoming email, you can set up a Do Not Disturb schedule that will hold your emails during the window you specify.

Credit: Postman

Another function allows you to choose whether emails should be received in batches at a specified number of times per day or at specific times you have configured. In this case, Mailman will hold the emails in your inbox until these delivery windows. This allows you to schedule the times you work on email instead of focusing on email throughout the day.

Credit: Postman

The service also allows you to prioritize important emails and block others. You can add senders, domains and even keywords to a VIP list that those emails can bypass filters so that you always see urgent emails. This is a great way to ensure that you don't miss any critical emails from your boss or an important customer, even while using other tools to tame your inbox.

Credit: Postman

Unimportant email can be blocked automatically, as Mailman can block newsletters, notifications, and email from senders you've never interacted with before. However, these emails are not deleted. Instead, you get a daily overview in which you can choose how these e-mails should be handled in the future – for example whether they should be automatically blocked from now on or sent immediately.

Over time, Mailman can practice this to ensure you get your important email with fewer distractions.

You don't have to use all of the tools provided by Mailman. You can choose the tools you need while leaving others out, according to the company. And since all of the filtering is done in the Gmail service itself, you can still use whatever email client you prefer.

The startup was founded by serial entrepreneur Mohit Mamoria, the current CEO of Mailman, and Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab, who now invests in and collaborates with startups through Tiny. Mailman is incubating under the umbrella of Tiny, where it receives help with marketing, UX and early customer acquisition, among other things.

Mamoria explains that he and Wilkinson were both looking for different ways to tame their inboxes. Mamoria had created a script for it called Duggo. When he saw a tweet asking about Wilkinson's inbox tools (below), he held out his hand.

How can I achieve this with Superhuman + Gmail:

I want to receive batches of email a couple of times a day while email just keeps coming in.

I only want 2-3 emails a day. Like an old school postman.

Any ideas?

– Andrew Wilkinson (@awilkinson) February 17, 2020

The two decided to work together and launched Mailman into beta in August 2020, where it has already gained almost 3,000 users. Starting last week, Mailman was made available to the public. It was announced via a Product Hunt post that was endorsed by a number of co-entrepreneurs and founders. Some have also contributed testimonials to the Mailman website.

You can, to some extent, manage your inbox today using Gmail's own filters, but they aren't that easy to use. And email services don't offer tools to configure batch deliveries or quiet times, so users tend to silence their interruptions by turning off push notifications on their devices instead. Due to the lack of innovation in email apps, new services like Hey, Superhuman, and others have popped up in hopes of providing power users with a better experience.

Mailman, like some of its competitors, generates revenue through subscriptions – it costs $ 10 per month or $ 96 per year. That's cheaper than the newly popular Superhuman email service, which manages Gmail for its $ 30 per month customers, but it's too expensive.

The co-founders believe Mailman has the potential to reach a wider audience than other startups that are taming the inbox because they respect that users want to keep their existing email and client app.

"Almost everyone who has tried to fix the inbox congestion has created an email client," explains Mamoria. "(Basecamps) Hey took it a step further in building an email service. What they are missing is that changing an email client or service is easier said than done. It requires a huge change in behavior and is usually the biggest hurdle for an average user, ”he says.

Mailman is available now and only works with Google Accounts. Support for other email providers may be provided in the future, but nothing is planned in this area at this time.

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