Tools for the Trade: Mingly makes it easy to stay connected with contacts
Mingly aims to make it easy to stay connected with important contacts and bring order to the chaos of social networks.
We're likely all familiar with the adage that business is all about relationships. As our world becomes flat and more connected, I think this adage rings true more than ever. But managing and organizing these relationships can be the most difficult task in business. How do we stay in touch with everyone? How do we remember who to contact and how we met them? Thankfully, a tool like Mingly is working to tackle this problem.
Mingly is a social CRM that plugs into your Gmail inbox. As the Mingly website states, "Relationships are about people, not contacts, messages or updates. Mingly was founded to help people stay better connected with an easy-to-use, lightweight relationship management tool." I like that, simple and straight forward.
What makes Mingly great is the company's laser focus on the experience and simplicity of its product. Mingly's goals are to build tools to keep you connected, organize all your social connections across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and do both of those things within your Gmail inbox. That last aspect is why I personally enjoy Mingly. I already have so many networks, sites, and apps to visit, but the one program I always have open is Gmail. With Mingly I never have to leave my inbox.
Mingly integrates with a user's Gmail inbox, making access to important relationship information easy and quick.
To learn more about Mingly, I conducted a Skype interview with Tyler Koblasa, founder and CEO, in early January. Koblasa spoke not only talking about his product, but about product design and the Lean Startup method. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Silicon Prairie News: Tell me what makes Mingly unique and what problem you're solving in the marketplace?
Tyler Koblasa: Mingly is focused on personal relationships, there are many CRMs out there to track leads and opportunities, but the problem we're addressing is people have many relationships and connections. Your true social graph is across all of these sources. A traditional CRM is going to help reach a sales goal, but we want to make a light weight tool to personally connect.
SPN: Where did the idea for Mingly come from?
TK: It first started as Twitter gained traction we started to see our communication getting scattered across different channels. I was working on a non-profit project and using a spreadsheet to track all my relationships. It quickly became a challenge to keep track of this conversation. With relationships everything boils down to follows up. I didn't want to miss any connections or any VIP opportunity was a big chance.
SPN: How do you recommend someone uses Mingly to get the most out of the product?
TK: You have to link up your social networks. The principle is that all contacts/all conversations is in one place. So first link up Facebook, LinkedIn, or both. Secondly, go into the my contacts screen and skim through and ask yourself is this someone that A) I care about or B) do I have a business goal with. Then set a time-based reminder. Check a couple times a day.
SPN: What is the current status of the Mingly team and what are you focusing on?
Koblasa: We currently have five employees and a couple part-timers. Our core focus is being lightweight and easy to use. We focus heavy on UX and design. Right now we're staying in beta, adding new algorithms and intelligence to improve the product. We hope to answer questions like who should you stay in touch with? How long has it been?
SPN: What type of advice would you give to anyone thinking about creating a product?
Koblasa: You must read Eric Ries ("The Lean Startup"). Follow the steps and actually do it. Externalize your personas. Really get to know who your users are. How old are they? What do they carry in their backpack? Talk to hundreds of potential users. Take the "u" out of users. Build a paper prototype, a physical prototype and test it. Use Post-its. Create tons of Post Its and then dump and sort. Also, test with pennies, build with dollars. Validate everything.
SPN: What changes or evolutions should we expect from the product?
Koblasa: We have a new UI coming soon, it will be more Steve Jobs-ish. We're going to bring more emotion to the experience. Some new functionality will remove the heavy work. There will be less clicks, less work for user. And a mobile app in the near future.
Image credits: Screenshot and photo of Tyler Koblasa from ming.ly.