SquadMail goes public beta, scoops top startup prize at NEXT

SquadMail winning team
SquadMail winning team

It’s a big week for Berlin startup SquadMail – first a public beta launch and now taking the €10,000 top startup pitch prize last night at NEXT.

SquadMail winning team
SquadMail, the self-described “Dropbox for email”, lets groups and teams share certain email folders. It’s an obvious alternative to irritating multi-person email chains for colleagues working too closely together to avoid overlap, say, or for a group of friends trying to plan the party of the year.

The startup’s co-founder Philipp Mayer pitched directly to a jury panel made up of Stefan Glänzer (Passion Capital and White Bear Yard), Nate Elliott (Forrester), Charlie O’Donnell (Brooklyn Bridge Ventures), Jörg Rheinboldt (M10), Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Peter Borchers (hub:raum) and Patrick Meisberger (T-Venture). The jury picked Squadmail from 12 finalists, named from over 100 applicants.

SquadMail won by just one vote, with several other contenders close behind. The deciding factor seems to have been the service’s wide applicability, including to the investors and business analysts on the panel. “Building products that VCs can use is really smart,” as O’Donnell observed.

Tonight’s prize, worth €10,000, must be claimed via Deutsche Telekom’s just-announced Berlin incubator hub:raum.

More about SquadMail, please

Mayer describes it as a three-step process: login to SquadMail, open a folder and invite others, share. Shared folders are instantly loaded into collaborators’ email clients – it works with all of them, apparently, from Gmail to Thunderbird. Sharing is drag-and-drop, replies are synchronised and each folder has its own email address, so you don’t necessarily have to give your “real” or main email address out each time.

Philipp Mayer

So far, SquadMail’s private testing phase has drawn in users from 70 countries, including a large number of corporates. Users from the United States make up about 50 per cent; uptake in Germany is about 10 per cent. Corporate users will eventually be targeted with additional paid-only features.

Some would argue there’s little to stop the likes of Gmail boosting up similar services. Little, perhaps, except the advantage that SquadMail is cross-client. Will it really make shared work more efficient than a simple “CC”? Decide for yourself – and please let us know what you think in the comments below.

For more Berlin Web Week reading, check out:

Strategy, startups, sausages and Smurfs – the best Tweets and quotes from Heureka!

Deutsche Telekom backs new Berlin incubator Hub:raum

Heureka! conference – the citizen photo gallery

Featured photo of the SquadMail founding team – credit Alex Hofmann