The e-mail mistake. Anybody using a computer has been there and done that. You add your name to a business message and click the Send button. The message leaves your screen just as your eye catches a glimpse of an error.
It used to be too late; that message was gone for good — the Uh-Oh e-mail! No matter how much you cursed or cried about it, the results were always the same.
However, not any more. Thanks to a similar mistake made by 39-year-old enterpreneur Darin M. Myman, mistakes and guffaws caused by errant e-mail content can now be a thing of the past.
Early in 2003 Myman sent a potential customer of his new software company an e-mail containing the wrong prices for a new anti-spam and antivirus product. The mistake cost Myman that customer. However, it spawned the idea for a recallable e-mail service that would eliminate the chance of that mistake ever happening again.
Myman and three partners launched Recall Mail, a New Jersey-based software company that earlier last year debuted BigString.com. The e-mail management service allows users to change an e-mail after the message is sent, altering content, adding an attachment, or deleting it altogether.
Myman and his co-founders raised money from friends and relatives. They dumped their earlier software venture, EmailEmissary, in search of an innovative product that would let Myman undo his e-mail mistake the next time it happened.
They mustered enough seed money to fund a start-up service called Recall Mail. By the end of last year, BigString.com was in testing mode. The recallable e-mail service officially entered the dot-com world in March.
What It Does
“What sets us apart from all the other mail services is that we give users outbox management control,” Myman told the E-Commerce Times.
He said the service will revolutionize the way people and businesses communicate and use e-mail.
Recall Mail is a proprietary service that stores e-mail sent to any user on the BigString.com server. The mail recipient receives a ghost message of sorts. Clicking on the mail in the recipient’s inbox opens the actual message on the server.
“The recipient sees the mail in our mail box. We automatically link to the recipient’s inbox. The process is transparent to the recipient,” Myman said.
Recall Mail uses a patent-pending technology that allows e-mail senders to recall (erase), change the content or set an expiration date and time for messages. The sender can do this even after the recipient has read them.
When the sender erases a message, the recipient will only see the original subject line. The body of the message will be completely blank.
Perhaps one of the most useful features for businesses is the ability to block the printing of an e-mail message.
“This gives users the option to have virtually reproducible e-mails,” Myman said.
Someone who was computer savvy could use a software program that records screen images. If the e-mail were visible on the computer screen when the screen copy was taken, a recipient could then print the computer screen image of the e-mail as a graphics file.
“Otherwise, received e-mail can be made totally unreusable,” Myman said.
Attachments such as documents and photos can be locked as unprintable as well, he said.
Easy To Use
BigString works with all the major e-mail programs. Its interface resembles traditional e-mail accounts. Users can even use an alias or pseudo domain name to personalize an e-mail address.
BigString scans all e-mail for viruses and offers a proprietary anti-spam service. Subscribers decide the level of spam protection they want.
Subscribers can also block a specific address or decide to create a closed e-mail environment so only mail from approved recipients is delivered.
Unique E-Mail Features
Compared to what the other e-mail services provide, nothing comes close to Myman’s recallable e-mail system. Other e-mail systems only suggest that they have some of the same features as Recall Mail.
For instance, America Online lets subscribers recall an e-mail message sent only to an AOL e-mail account until the message is read. Once the recipient opens the message, the sender cannot retrieve it.
AOL’s latest software versions also give users the ability to embed pictures into an e-mail. However, AOL does not let users protect that picture from being redistributed after it is sent. By comparison, photos embedded in e-mail sent through BigString.com can be set to self destruct if the recipient sends it to another e-mail address.
Internet-based e-mail systems such as Yahoo Mail and Hotmail do not provide any sender controls. However, Microsoft’s Outlook mail client does offer a very limited recall feature similar to AOL’s.
With the Outlook program, the sender can only set a recall stamp on messages sent to recipients using the same server or mail client as the sender. After the message is recalled, the recipient can still read it but sees a red line through it indicating that the sender recalled it.
Like most e-mail services, Recall Mail has a limited free service and a tiered price structure for additional consumer and business needs. However, the price structure makes the service very attractive.
The free service was added more out of frustration, Myman explained.
“I got tired of answering all the questions from potential customers so I added the free service as a try-it-before-you-buy-it promotion. Most users go with the upgrade,” he said.
The Bigstring Free package gives users 20 e-mails per month. It includes all the standard features: Send Recallable e-mail, Send Non-printable e-mail, Send Self-Destructing Pictures, and 1 MB of storage.
The Bigstring Plus package costs US$12.95 per year. It upgrades the number of e-mail messages to 300 per month and increases storage to 25 MB. This package includes a feature that reports back when the e-mail message was opened and the erase e-mail feature.
The Bigstring Premium package costs $29.95 per year. It provides unlimited messages and 50 MB of storage. It also includes the when-opened report, the erase e-mail feature, and an option to use a pseudo e-mail address.
The Bigstring Business package costs $12.95 per month plus additional fees depending on the number of e-mail accounts needed and the storage capacity desired. It provides unlimited e-mail messages plus all of the features noted above. Also included is a unique domain name.
Myman said about half of his customers have business accounts. The service is getting more popular as people learn about it, he said.
One of the biggest sources for new users lurks in the online dating industry.
“That industry has 150 million users, and half of them met on line,” Myman said.
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