Earlier this week, Inbox, an email platform company, sprang onto the startup stage by announcing its new developer API and cloud service for building email apps. To learn more about Inbox and its offering, ProgrammableWeb caught up with co-founder and CEO Michael Grinich.
Grinich first gave us Inbox’s backstory. Grinich wrote his MIT thesis on email tools. During his research, he quickly uncovered the difficulty in working with the legacy protocols and formats that email requires. Specifically, Grinich explained:
I discovered how difficult it was to add features to email apps. One big issue was the underlying plumbing (IMAP, MIME, character encodings, etc.), which is what Inbox fixes for developers.
A key to Inbox’s “fix” for the typical problems encountered when developing email apps is its REST API. Grinich provided a quick overview of the API:
Inbox provides simple REST APIs for accessing, modifying and sending mail stored on existing providers like Gmail or Microsoft Exchange. You can use it to build custom filters, access attachments, create drafts and more. All API responses are UTF-8-encoded JSON objects, so you don’t need to think about MIME or obscure character encodings again. It’s the easiest way to work with email data.
The Inbox API is aimed at email app developers. The API allows developers to access data within electronic mailboxes and make use of it as the developer desires. As an example, Grinich provided a use-case scenario where an app shows details of flight confirmation emails over a given period of time.
As with all startups, a great product without a go-to-market strategy might as well not exist. Inbox, backed by industry-leading investors, has a clear strategy that Grinich shared:
Although some apps already utilize Inbox, the company is slowly releasing capabilities through private beta. Interested developers can email the team to learn more; however, public availability is not a top priority as the team focuses on product development and top-notch user experiences. Grinich describes email as the “database of your life,” and that is certainly true of many people from both a business and personal perspective. Inbox might just be the platform to unlock the data within one of the digital world’s most content-rich databases.