Introducing My New Company: Braid Labs

I’ve been a bit quieter the last couple of months on my blog and Twitter, and it’s not for no reason. Since the beginning of June I’ve been working on a new project with a team in San Francisco (I go back and forth), and I wanted to wait to talk until I had part of it to show. First though, let me tell you about the team and why I was so excited to work with them.

(Short version: I have a new app I’m working on with a team, we made a Passbook pass, and you should go get it.)

The Team

I’ve known my friend Zain — who’s been a longtime Django developer — for about four years. We met around the time that I had just spoken at the first or second 360iDev, and Zain at DjangoCon, before having a crazy fun time hanging out in Boulder Colorado for a couple of days. We’ve been friends ever since, and in between Zain went through Y Combinator, worked for Trulia, been a big Django contributor and continuously worked on neat things. He’s absolutely one of my favorite people. Which is why — even though I’d never considered doing this sort of thing before — when he told me he had a new company he was working on and they needed a fourth guy who was an iOS developer to be a founder, I was interested to find out more.

The other two guys are Jason and Idan, who are also Python developers (everyone on the team has a technical background). Jason handles the business side of things, and also helps Zain with developing the backend for our app. I’d describe him as one of the nicest and most immediately likable people I’ve ever met. Idan works on design, and if you’ve ever worked with someone who considers their designs sacrosanct and is unwilling to consider the opinions of others, then something like the opposite of that is Idan. He’s a great designer and will absolutely defend things he thinks should be a certain way, but he’s never made me feel as though we weren’t designing the app together. Because I love design myself, and care so much that the end product is the best it can be, most of the times I’ve worked with someone else it’s felt stifling more than anything else. With Idan, I feel like we’re able to collaborate and that our mutual goal is to make the best app possible.

The App

Of course, the best team in the world wouldn’t mean much if I hadn’t also been excited about what we’d be working on. The app is an e-mail client, and it’s called Braid. One of the first decisions I was a part of making was that it would be iOS 7 only, and we’re working hard to get Braid ready for the release. I’ve almost always used Apple’s Mail clients, and although they don’t have the most features, they’ve always worked the best for me. The reason is that everything else I’ve tried that’s different has wanted me to treat my e-mail in a special way to take advantage of it, or tack a bunch of things onto e-mail that don’t feel like they belong. Braid is about making e-mail better, not about fundamentally changing the way you think about it or turning your inbox into a to-do list.

One way we’re doing that is with our follow-up feature. Follow-up in Braid isn’t about pushing things out for a specified amount of time regardless of what happens between now and then, it’s about saying “If I don’t hear back from this person by a certain date, remind me to follow-up.” You tell Braid to do this at the time that you send your message, because usually that’s the time when you have the most context for what’s going on with this person. Instead of turning your inbox into a to-do list, we’re giving you an additional “waiting for” list. To us that’s a lot more useful, because the alternatives have always been flagging/starring messages — which have limited context — and apps that continuously pop the same messages up over and over again in your inbox, turning it into a to-do list.

Add to Passbook

The app can’t come out until iOS 7 does, but we wanted to give people who are interested something sooner. So today, you can add us to your Passbook. It’s be the best way keep up to date with us, and we’ll even periodically send you interesting stats about your e-mail (and possibly other goodies). Go to our website from your Mac or iOS device, select “Get a Pass”, login with Gmail and we’ll show right up in your Passbook.

Collin Donnell @collin