A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.
Sometimes the greatest ideas happen because of customer feedback. TechStars graduate Dispatch is precisely one of those stories. The service, which lets you easily communicate, collaborate and share files from just about anywhere, launched as a way to move files from one cloud service to another. This is the tale of how Dispatch came to be where it is today.
I met Dispatch when I was in New York, speaking to a TechStars class about how to work with the media. But even before then I had heard about them when I got an email asking about one of their competitors. It seemed that the Dispatch team had all of the right pieces, so it was time to see if they could make them all come together.
But Dispatch had actually been started at a TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon a few months earlier. It was initially built as a Chrome extension that would allow you to transfer back and forth between Google Docs and Dropbox. The private alpha came out on TechStars Demo Day, but the team had also included a “Conversations” function, where people could discuss the files that they were transferring.
As time went on, not only did the team find themselves using the conversations function more than the actual file transfer, their group of alpha users did too. According to co-Founder Alex Godin, the decision to focus on conversations became obvious.
“Nobody ever said ‘we wish it had more finder functions’. It was always ‘we wish it were simpler and more focused on conversations’. Come to find, people really didn’t have the need to drag and drop between services.”
What’s interesting to me about Dispatch is that it’s really flexible in how it can be used. Once you’re inside, you can start a conversation about anything, and that will remain in its own thread. So in that essence it’s somewhat like a task management app, though Godin tells me that “it’s really the perfect compliment to a task management system.”
Where else Dispatch excels is in the ability to move outside of your organization. Instead of being locked to only people with a specific @domain.com email address, you can send a Dispatch to anyone. Once you do, and they accept, they’re a Dispatch user and you can collaborate efforts inside of the app, while keeping all of that information in one intensely-organized space.
Of course you can add documents from Google Docs or Dropbox, but there are other options as well. You can add links, upload your own files or just post notes. Godin tells me that support for Evernote and Google Drive are coming soon, likely within a month.
As for that share-from-anywhere service? Godin says that it’s not dead, and will likely be a feature upon which the team will focus at some point in the future. But for now, Dispatch is simply the result of building the product that your customers want, based on how they use it.
The beta is still closed, but it wouldn’t be TNW if we didn’t offer you a way to sneak inside. So when you go to sign up at Dispatch.io, just click the “Have a signup code?” link and enter TNW. You’ll get priority access and be sending out your own Dispatches in no time.
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