TalkingHeadz with Mathilde Collin of @FrontApp

by Dave Michels

The Front story is fascinating. Front raises the question: Is it easier to replace email or fix it? Mathilde thinks fix it, and that’s a road less traveled. Even better, Mathilde wants to fix calendaring too.

The Front App is an IMAP email client. Most IMAP clients are pretty similar – they  send, receive, and sync messages. It just takes an IMAP compliant email server (and most are).

Front does all the usual IMAP stuff plus adds a group collaboration capability. Front allows a message to be delegated (rather than forwarded). Users can collaborate on responses, and that’s important because sometimes a decent response takes a village!

I’ve lamented over the years on how calendaring needs a face lift too. Microsoft and Google bundle calendaring and email together, but the apps are inherently separate. I think there’s a lot of potential to reimagine calendaring for collaboration. For example, finding a group meeting time is a surprisingly primitive function. Suggesting a time when everyone is open rarely works because it doesn’t take into account individual or team priorities. Especially since our calendars are filled with placeholders such as times to “process email” or “be available in the office.”

I also have to force loosely timed commitments into specific times on my calendar. For example, “pick up clothes at the cleaners” takes an hour, but it can be any hour. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell most calendars “any hour.” The result is my calendar appears to colleagues as rigid and unavailable.

Calendars and emails need to be redesigned for collaboration. The current bolt-on methods are no longer acceptable.

We didn’t get into roadmap details on this podcast, so I’m unsure what Mathilde, Front, or Meetingbird have planned. The fact they are looking at it and making progress is what excites me. I wish them the best of luck.