An übermensch of the city’s startup community, Marcadia Biotech co-founder Kent Hawryluk is backing a project management software firm.
Indianapolis-based Sendgine LLC plans a formal product unveiling this summer, although its Web and mobile platform is already available.
Hawryluk co-founded Marcadia with former Eli Lilly and Co. scientists Richard DiMarchi and Gus Watanabe. Swiss life sciences company Roche bought Marcadia in late 2010 in a deal worth more than $500 million.
Hawryluk, who is chairman of Sendgine, could not be reached for comment. The company identifies Hawryluk as a co-founder. It declines to elaborate on his financial stake.
It’s fair to say that Hawryluk, who’s also been a partner of Twilight Venture Partners, brings the kind of resources for which many an entrepreneur would kill.
“He has just been an ideal co-founder for us,” said Jeff Goens, an attorney by trade who is Sendgine’s CEO.
Sendgine describes itself as a “social productivity platform.” It’s essentially a collaboration app that allows professionals and other collaborators to more easily communicate and to share documents and other information in an organized fashion.
Time savings and improved productivity are the goals.
Collaborators can share e-mails, documents, spreadsheets and photos, for example, within the software. It can save hard-drive space and mobile data usage because users can view files with a click, without having to download them.
The concept is somewhat similar to Yammer and iBrainstorm. Sendgine claims its tool is better than project management suites, which can be complex and unwieldy.
The idea dates to 2009 when attorney Goens, and software writer Colin Mathews, were working on an attorney/client communications platform. They realized such a product had legs.
“We thought it would have huge personal and professional applications,” Goens said.
The name of the product alludes to a train engine, only in this case we’re talking trains of thought. The software allows participants (think of them as riders) to set a goal, known as a destination in Sendgine-speak. They also set an arrival time—also known as when the project is to be completed.
From that moment forward, the e-mail conversations between participants are visible in a running dialogue, along with any files they elect to share.
The format allows participants to chronologically view and track progress toward completion.
“You have an entire working archive of everything that happened,” Goens said.
There also are “to-do” lists established for participants. If one person sends a document to another person, that sender is able to determine whether the document was opened, so there’s no need to backtrack to confirm that it was read.
“We can work asynchronously and feel confident,” Mathews said.
That’s in contrast to using conventional e-mail that allows various people outside of a particular project to flood one’s e-mail box.
Many e-mail users flag a conventional e-mail for its importance, as a way to get around the clutter.
“The problem is, the context is lost,” Mathews said. “I see companies trying to fix e-mail. We view it as, the whole thing needs to be rewritten from scratch.”
The e-mail in-box experience today “is fundamentally broken for so many people,” Goens said. Using Sendgine, “right away, you have a major reduction of noise.”
Another aspect of the software is that it allows participants to pull down a tab that shows all the tasks ahead—avoiding that time wasted on Monday mornings trying to figure out what’s to be done in the week ahead.
One aspect of the software that might not be appreciated by all workers is that it shows when a participant aboard the train is late in completing a task.
“We consider transparency a big deal,” said Mathews, who noted that his company is actually using the product as part of the company’s development.
He’s also using the tool for his personal life. Registering for fatherhood class (his wife is pregnant) is one of his “to do’s.”
Technically, the product is still in the testing phase, but it’s available online. Pricing plans range from free, for minimal use, to a subscription fee of $8 to $19 a month.
An official launch is set for this summer. It’s been picked up virally already, so there hasn’t been much need for marketing.
Goens sees particular potential for Sendgine in niches such as health care and insurance.
“But we think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Goens said he’s considering other ways to generate revenue from the product but is keeping that close to the vest.•