Here’s a relatable situation: coming back from a long vacation and seeing a completely disorganized email inbox. And the emails just keep on piling up, along with other tasks.
Drag App is a web application that is looking to make this situation less stressful for folks who may have a chaotic email inbox.
Drag Co-Founder and CEO Eduarda Bardavid connected with us to talk about her background and how it resulted in her starting the company. Bardavid also went into detail on how the app works, her time at Techstars Boston, and shares some advice to first-time founders.
Colin Barry [CB]: Before we start talking about your startup...let’s talk a little bit about your career. You’ve had quite an eclectic one and what roles have affected your career the most?
Eduarda Bardavid [EB]: I do have a diverse background, ranging from engineering, military and consulting across three continents until I decided to take a big leap and build Drag while pursuing an MBA from MIT Sloan.
All of my experiences have shaped myself in different ways. The military made me more resilient and a better team player. Having worked as a minority in the Middle East as a single, Latin, Jewish woman taught me about diversity like never before.
I have always considered myself a problem solver, and a big motivation behind starting Drag was to solve a real problem, for real people, with a real solution, properly implemented, and with measurable impact. I had never felt these things in my previous jobs.
CB: Now let’s talk about Drag. What lead you to start it? What was the “a-ha!” moment?
EB: I have always been obsessed with organization and task management. Having worked a lot with email for work, I have always seen myself going back and forth across my inbox and other task management apps, simply because email does not allow you to organize tasks (even though most tasks arrive as emails, and most emails require tasks to be done).
My co-founder Nick Timms has been a small business owner across a number of companies over the last 10 years. He has also realized that, even though most workflows in a small company start and end as emails (like Help Desk, sales, projects, etc), he was constantly trying and buying new software for his businesses all the time.
We came together to understand why this setting was so unproductive. In fact, researches show that 80% of workers need to consult information across a variety of apps to get their job done. Workers end up with endless tabs in their browsers, needing to navigate back and forth across a number of tools that don’t connect to each other, which is highly unproductive. Researches also show that people can lose up to 40% of their productivity just on context switching!
The “a-ha” moment was when we realized there is one thing that connects all of these tools together: email. All of these tools exist because email does not scale for teams. And Drag attacks this problem from the root cause: it makes email scalable for teams, allowing teams to manage multiple workflows right from inside their inboxes, with no need to navigate back and forth across endless tabs and applications.
CB: Say, I am a first time user...can you share with me how the application works?
EB: Sure! First, you install our Chrome Extension and, in 3 clicks, your Gmail will be turned into a kanban (Trello-like) board. This means your emails can be treated as tasks, i.e. you can prioritize, set due dates, add internal notes, organize them by stages (e.g. Todo, Doing, Done), etc. You can also add manual tasks. This is just the first step, the individual use case for users to organize their own inboxes.
Jumping to the collaboration part: you can add as many of these boards as you want and share each one of them with different teams. For example a “Customer Support” board, where you can share your support email address (like in the [email protected] example) and invite your customer support team to collaborate. This means emails sent to support email address will load on that board in real time, and anyone in that board can jump in to organize them by stages, reply to emails, assign emails to team members, collaborate on an internal chat, and other collaborative functionalities.
There are 2 types of boards: the “Shared Inboxes” or what we call “Custom Boards”, which are boards that start empty (like a Trello board) and you can populate as you want with emails and/or tasks. It’s ideal to manage things like projects, bookkeeping or any other type of pipeline that is not necessarily an email address.
CB: What kinds of problems is Drag looking to solve in its respective space?
EB: Teams should be able to work together without leaving their inbox, eliminating the extra steps of navigating to a Trello board (for Projects), Zendesk (for Customer Support), Salesforce (for Sales), etc. Especially because most of these activities start and finish as emails.
It takes an average of 23 minutes for an employee to get back to her original task due to context switching all the time, and this is a killer for small businesses productivity. Drag gives time back to small companies, by centralizing their main workflows right from inside the place they love and trust: their inbox.
CB: You’ve recently released an update to the app to focus on small businesses. When the company first started, was the focus always going to be on small businesses?
EB: As I said in the beginning, Drag started from my frustration to organize my to-do’s from one single place and Nick’s frustration as a small business owner to manage his companies’ workflows from one single place.
Our product reflected the same story: we started in 2017 as a tool for individuals to organize their own tasks right from inside their inbox (picture a “Trello and Gmail baby”).
As we got some traction with over 100,000 downloads and hundreds of paying customers, we expanded the tool to teams (beta) in 2018, bringing the collaboration features onboard. We are very happy with the expansion as not only new teams have been attracted, but legacy solo users are also bringing their own team onboard.
Our early adopters have been fundamental to help us test the tool during the Beta phase and give us the best pieces of feedback before launching the team version publicly in 2019.
CB: You’re currently part of Techstars Boston. Can you share what that experience has been like?
EB: Techstars has been a game-changer for us. It educated the team and I to truly understand our business. Before joining the program, we were growing based on intuition and learning things ‘the hard way’.
Techstars truly accelerated this learning curve and I can say that as a CEO I feel much more confident about our vision, the strategy to execute on that vision and how to measure success in the right way.
The network around the Program is extraordinary, including staff, mentors, peers, and alumni. I believe this carries a lot of the value of the Program and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people.
The name Drag definitely sounds very startup-y. How did you come up with the name?
It was very straightforward! First, we like short and simple names. We wanted it to reflect ‘simplicity’, a core value in our solution and vision.
Second, it naturally comes from “Drag’n’ drop”, which is a strong trace in our product, and which we believe has a big contribution for the ‘simplicity’ of the tool.
What advice would you give to first-time founders?
I want to share my biggest lessons learned along this entrepreneurial journey, and main pieces of advice for those starting their own businesses:
First, your company in the early days will be nothing more than your team. Pick these people very carefully as this is a decisive factor for failure or success.
Second, don’t let yourself down with ‘NOs’. Especially in the early days, you will hear a lot of ‘NOs’. From customers, from investors, from friends, others. Be strong and keep believing in yourself, in your vision and in your team that the YES’es will start coming.
If you would like to learn about Drag, check out our website and feel free to reach out at [email protected].
Images courtesy of Drag App