People now spend an estimated 20% of their work time on email and a further 30% of their work time hunting for information. This is something we all appear to have simply come to terms with, but it’s getting worse and those numbers trend up with every consecutive study. Email has become such a black hole of not only our time, but also our understanding, with businesses ‘locked-out’ from analyzing email data beyond high level activity metrics.
Handle was created to give organizations access to ‘pulse’ data on what their customer base are asking (e.g. how frequently Competitor X is being mentioned) and then push the right messaging and/or collateral to that rep at the exact moment it’s asked. This bypasses the entire cycle of hunting for information, whilst significantly decreasing the time actively emailing as well.
What inspired you to start this company?
I spent 5 months trying to find a solution that solved the problem because I genuinely wanted to buy it for my day job. When I couldn’t find it, I checked with others to see if they had the same problem then when that was confirmed, we created Handle.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in development?
We had to put a lot of effort into scaling back our idea, it started out as something quite complex but we knew we had to start simple and go from there.
I’m technically minded but I’m not a developer, I’d describe my coding ability as I can read but I can’t write. So I hired a company I’d worked with before to build the initial tool. What was really cool was that the lead developer, Alex, liked the idea so much he then joined Handle as a co-founder
What milestones have you achieved so far?
We released V1 of Handle a few weeks ago as an automation tool for canned responses and email snippets. After we got some initial users and spoke to them about the problem they were trying to solve, it quickly became clear that we had built something much more exciting. We literally just released our newer, more ambitious product and our next goal is to repeat the process of getting users, measuring what they do, speaking to them and taking it from there.
Our goal right now is simply to find people who are passionate about making access to knowledge suck less. It just so happens to be about email… for now.
How do you see your company evolving in the next few years?
It’s hard to ignore large language models like GPT4, I can’t think of a more disruptive technology in my lifetime.
The number of things you could do with this stuff is endless, but ideas that I think are really exciting are things like being able to change the tone of responses based on an individual user by learning how they talk, or being able to run mini company specific assistant-type chat bots on your company knowledge base. Some of these are already coming to life, but the ‘hallucinations’ LLMs can face are putting us off right now.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting a company?
Just do it. I built my first startup straight out of university with no experience, no money and no idea what I was doing. Now I’m building Handle which I funded myself and have experience and direction. So 2 very different scenarios and I’d happily do them both over and over again. There’s never a perfect time, you just simply either want to do it and find a way to get it done, or your don’t.