L022: Good-bye, Copy/Paste -- Tout Tackles Repetitive Emails

Tout [ http://toutapp.com ]
LAUNCHER: Tawheed Kader, co-founder of HipCal (which Plaxo acquired) and formerly product manager/lead developer for a hedge fund.

SOCIAL PROOF: Got accepted to this summer's 500 Startups class after meeting Dave McClure at SXSW in March.

WHAT: Store and use templates for the emails you write most often, then see who clicks on them. This is a machine and a sniper riffle put together for sales people--or startups looking to flood AngelList members.

ALSO: Schedule your automated emails, and integrate Tout with popular CRM tools like Highrise.

WHEN/WHERE: November 2010 (beta) / New York.

WHY: Repetitive emails eat up precious time and there has to be a better solution than copy/paste. Adding CRM makes this extra delicious.

Tawheed tells LAUNCH: "We get it: you're trying to send an email to do one of these 10 things... We happen to do that right now with templates. We will probably evolve and do that with much richer emails with richer content --  maybe dynamic content, maybe show all the threads in an email in HTML for the group email threads. That's our strategy. We're going to recognize patterns that exist in communication and come up with better information architecture to display them."

PHILOSOPHY: Tawheed is all about helping people communicate better. Plus, he believes your customers are your biggest investors (hat tip: Esther Dyson).

WHO BACKED IT: Boostrapped so far, with funding from 500 Startups this summer.

WHAT TOUT CUSTOMERS SAY: Paris-based freelancer Etienne Segonzac loves Tout: "Sometimes I'll rush through 10 pitches and spread them [to send] during the day. That way I can fully concentrate on each conversation with my prospects as they respond."

Ginger Dhaliwal sells wholesale children's clothing: "I can spend more time on the phone speaking to customers that are interested in our products - which I can track through Tout. So we filter out the unqualified customer and really work with customers that are interested in our products."

Riel Martinez, who works in travel, says his sales have increased and the developer has been responsive. He's looking forward to getting social media and web contact forms.

LAUNCH Analysis: Although social media has created new ways to communicate, you still can't beat email for its simplicity and ubiquity. Smartly, Tawheed has focused on repetitive emails, a pain point familiar to all types of businesses, and the use cases keep coming. That's why Tout has experienced 50% growth every month--and why the testimonials above are so strong. Tout has a lot more planned: this bold team wants to build a full email client! (Hey, if SparrowMail has become 2/3rd of our Gmail usage it is, indeed, possible.)

ONE MORE THING: Tout is taking on Goliath: Gmail beats Outlook in search and filtering, but Outlook has legions of fans who are addicted to its non-email features, like contacts, scheduling and tasks.

AND ONE MORE THING: Tawheed will find an amazing mentor in McClure, who understands product design and marketing better than anyone (including Y Combinator).

AND ONE MORE THING: Tout's been trying to figure out how to bridge Twitter, SMS and email. If they can create a solution for power users, they might be able to go downstream (see video of how it works here).

Tout only asks for your email address when you sign up, but you have to promise not to spam.
The free plan is limited to 10 emails per day and 3 email templates. Premium versions range from $30/month to $199/month for a large team.

Your homepage shows the emails you sent (in reverse chronological order) and their status. Click on an email address to see the original message and stats on how often that message has been opened and when. 

The "new email" button takes you to a page where you can enter the email address or Twitter ID. Choose a template and tweak it as necessary before you send.
Open the "template" tab to see your templates statistics: number sent, open rate, clickthrough, bounces (you mark emails as "successful" and those get tabulated in the far-right column). With a team account, you can see your templates plus the ones shared across your team.

1. Why Email Still Matters (Tychoish, Nov. 11, 2010)

2. How Much Does Email Cost a Business? (Science Daily, May 9, 2011)

Tawheed Kader
Email: tk at braintrust dot co

Tout blog
Tout newsletter


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#66: If your email is over three page downs long it's probably not important.