The 410 Labs team went into the first Startup Weekend with a plan. We wanted to temporarily step away from the long hours we were spending building Shortmail, and build something brand new to give us some perspective. And we knew it would be a fun and rewarding experience to work together as a team for the weekend.
Dave Troy, Nick Gauthier, and I entered the weekend with vague thoughts about an app idea Dave had been mulling over – what if the emails in your inbox were examined and analyzed to make beautiful graphs and charts? The name came quickly from a brainstorming session in the ETC that Friday night: Mailstrom (a modification of “Maelstrom”).
Mailstrom would give folks a way to get back in control of their unruly inboxes. They would quickly see which senders and threads were taking the most space, and they could quickly delete them.
We wrote code all day Saturday, then took a break for dinner and beers, We spent all day Sunday getting the app presentation-worthy – it was pretty hectic! Our brief presentation was fun – we were able to show off a working app and promise to invite the audience to use the tool in the coming weeks.
In the end, I can say the weekend was successful – we walked away with a prototype, as well as an appreciation for the rapid-prototyping and agile development processes that we continually try to employ every day.
A year later, now that 410 Labs has a few new employees and a successful Shortmail launch behind us, we’ve decided to re-visit Mailstrom. It’s been basically re-built from the ground up, and we’ve added new features such as list unsubscribe, email reminders, and a fantastic new user interface. In the past few months, we’ve garnered much praise from our loyal user base. We think we have a winning formula!
Although we were already an established company at the time, Startup Weekend allowed us to focus on a new product as if we were just formed that weekend. It was great fun for all of us, and a very valuable experience for 410 Labs.