For many of us, Slack has dramatically changed how we work. The tool has taken countless work conversations that would have happened over email and moved them to a chat platform where communication can happen much more efficiently. Except, you still need email. While Slack is a great tool, it’s not a substitute for good old-fashioned email. That means you need to pay attention to both of them throughout the workday. Now a new product called Redkix, which launches in public beta today, is attempting to change that with a product that combines your email with some of the best features of Slack.
“There are these cycles in collaboration software that have been going on for years,” says Oudi Antebi, cofounder and CEO of Redkix. He says that companies often reach a breaking point where they realize that just email isn’t quite cutting it for them anymore. They sign up for something and get so excited about it they don’t notice its flaws. However, as time passes, those flaws become more and more visible, and eventually, the team starts to transition back to email.
“I tried to understand why that is happening. If they’re so good, why don’t they stick around? Why don’t they actually replace email?” Antebi says. He thinks there are a number of factors at play, the biggest of which is that in order for these tools to work, you need 100% participation.
If you’re a Slack user, then Redkix will look very, very familiar. You can create channels for different groups of people, and direct-message colleagues. However, with Redkix all those messages are powered by email.
“100% participation is easy to reach when you have a team of 20 people. Once you start looking at larger companies, it becomes very difficult with different departments to have everyone on the same tool” Antebi says.
That plus customers and partners, and that one guy who just refuses to join for some reason, makes it so you still have to use email.
“Because you can’t get rid of email, you always have to manage conversations in at least two places,” says Antebi. “Not only do you have these two inboxes, those two inboxes are completely disconnected. They don’t talk to each other. So, you end up in a situation where some of your conversations with the same people are on one platform, and some people are on another platform. You can’t bring them together or move them from one place to the other.”
Enter Redkix. Rather than trying to kill email, it incorporates it.
With Redkix, messages you send to people not using the platform come through as just a normal email for them. When they respond, their message shows up within Redkix as if they just chatted it to you.
“We’re making the system inclusive, so you can add anyone to a conversation, whether or not they use Redkix; centralized, so it’s one inbox for all your conversations; and modern, which means its real-time, light, fun, and engaging. All the things you’d like to see in a modern tool today,” Antebi says.
That means you can go through an entire day emailing customers and talking to colleagues with just your Redkix window open just as if everyone you communicate with during the day was using the service. There’s no need to launch email.
We spent a few hours giving the platform a test drive—and while the concept doesn’t exactly seem ready for prime time yet, it is promising, especially the idea of ditching a traditional email client.
With Redkix your email inbox is positioned right at the top of the page, and you can respond to emails on the platform just how you might respond to a direct message. After using it, the email incorporation is a pretty killer feature. AI sorts emails into a Priority inbox (people you talk to) and Other (new senders) bucket. When you send email, you’re in essence doing the exact same thing as responding through your traditional email client, but something about it feels much more efficient. Messages are threaded just as if it was a chat conversation within Redkix, something I find a bit easier to digest that scrolling through a huge email chain. For your recipient, everything looks just as it always has–they’ll have no idea you’re using Redkix to read or respond.
Another thing that looks pretty useful: Threads. Within each channel you can create individual threads. Threads can be created from a message, for instance, “We should work on a proposal for this,” or can be created out of nothing. Within them, you can discuss individual topics without polluting the main feed with your convo. It makes it super simple to have a number of different conversations at once without talking over your colleagues or trying to figure out if a response is meant for you or another person. Slack enables something similar with replies, but this makes finding those individual conversations topics a bit easier.
Beyond that, the experience is relatively similar to what you’ve come to expect from Slack and other similar services but stripped down and with some limitations. Currently, the service is limited to just those who have a company-issued email address. That means contractors using Gmail and the like can only participate via email, not through Redkix proper. That’s something that might eventually change, but for now, some of your team might be left out in the cold. If that’s a lot of your team, then that can be pretty problematic.
There are also other hiccups: Sending messages requires you to physically hit a “Send” button on the page or use a keyboard shortcut (Command + Enter) rather than just hitting enter, which gets annoying fast. In our test-drive of the product, which is still in beta, we also ran into issues with new users finding channels that they were invited to by people outside of the organization.
Redkix will be available in two tiers: a free starter version as well as a Teams version, which costs $6 per user/per month. The company plans to eventually offer Enterprise-level support with Okta and Active exchange support.
Is it ready for you to move your team over now? Probably not. That said, it’s an interesting idea and something to keep an eye on once the kinks get worked out in the beta.