Attachments.me solves a problem that we assumed Google would have been all over – indexing email attachments to make them searchable and usable. Sending attachments is old hat, and most email providers offer up enough room to store years of files. But searching out a document, PDF – or anything really – attached to an email is next to impossible, especially if you can only remember the containing details of the attachment and not the email contents.
When I spoke with Jesse Miller, the CEO of Attachments.me, which launched in 2011, he told me that they had hit 50,000 users the week before and were on track to hit 60,000 later that day – most of that increase has been attributed to Google launching Drive as well as increased interest from users on Dropbox and Box.
It hasn’t been without difficulties. Especially when building on the Gmail platform. Earlier in the morning, Miller had been awake fixing their latest update after receiving an email from his investor that it had just broken his email. Jesse realized that a lesser-known Gmail Labs feature was interacting with their latest update in a way they weren’t expecting. From now on, Miller says, they’ll be incrementally rolling things out and then going through stages of “push and refine.”
The startup launched in Toronto and quickly realized it was necessary to move to Silicon Valley to gain support, as well as to search out funding. They ended up teamed with the Foundry Group in Seed and Series A. It’s a marked change from stories Miller and his co-founder Benjamin Coe had heard in Toronto, where venture capitalists would only offer funding under contracts that would squeeze a startup out of existence. For instance, one company was offered funding – but only if they installed a CEO of the VC firm’s choosing at a salary that would drain the funding, as well as make regular interest payments on the investment.
Attachments.me’s two biggest challenges beyond that have been working the different email protocols for search indexing, and now scaling the product, while making sure it all makes sense financially.
“I feel we’re now moving really fast,” says Jesse, but he admits that he wants to “stay clean and lean for now.” They’ve also released an iPhone application which handles your attachments for emailing without actually transferring and saving them to your phone.
On the privacy front, which has become a major issue in the last week, Attachments.me is Trustee Certified and takes privacy very seriously internally. But Jesse says they need that external validation so people feel secure. As well, every other week, they organize an in-office hack day and try to break the site. Jesse says they’ve decided after their latest launch to “really polish this all up” and focus on discovery, sharing, and automation within their app.