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Discover the “attached” man – Ben Coe





Let me welcome you to the new era. Everything is not working the way it’s supposed to, but there are some startups that are trying to fix that. I think that’s the best thing that can happen to us, and to our society. So don’t let anyone tell you changing the world isn’t possible, cause it is.

Cloud just got cloudier - save to drive option
Cloud just got cloudier – save to drive option

There are so many cloud services out there, and one wonderes, is it really cloud if at some point you have to use your hard drive? Attachments.me is like a bridge for a few clouds. One cloud being your email (Gmail) and the other being your online drive (Dropbox, Box, Google drive). At this point you probably guessed it right. When someone sends you an attachment, you can save it directly to one of the most popular online drives, or vice versa when you are sending an email, just access your account and attach it.

Epic? Hell yeah! You can even search all your attachments, but it works way better than looking up keywords in your gmail. Why? Because this is a specialised “attachments” search, and you lookup only attachments, they are highlighted, and you can see the preview. I gotta tell you, you have to see it for yourself. (Especially if you are already a Gmail/online drive user).

Correction, I managed to filter attachments
Correction, I managed to filter attachments

I wish I could give you a screenshot of that, but it’s way to personal. I’ve tried finding a spot where I don’t publish something that’s not supposed to go public, but no luck. So it is safe to say that attachments are reeeealy important to a business individual such as my self. And obviously I am not paying enough attention to them since so far I haven’t had any real help around with dealing with them.

You are just going to have to try it by yourself. Signing up is…well, you just login with your Google account, that’s how easy it is.

So, what they want to do is get you and your company’s files organized. They do this by making sure all the files you receive in email are easy to find and automatically put in their final destination. As I said before, they connect your email to cloud storage solutions like Dropbox  (Dropbox gives 500Mb for every user you send their way, so I would be thankful if you signed up with this URL) and Box. They follow you where ever you go, which means, when you are logged in to Gmail, or when you are browsing with your Chrome (Chrome Extension – Attachments.me for Gmail, Dropbox, …), or if you are on you iPhone! Attachments.me- Gmail inbox software to efficiently manage emails

Attachments.me was founded by Benjamin Coe and Jesse Miller. Originally they were located in Toronto, Canada. After taking funding from Foundry Group they relocated the business to San Francisco. Our office is in the sunny Mission district, in a shared space called Dolores Labs.

I’ve read Ben’s “confession” and instanlty I said to myself, I have to interview this guy, he is the real deal.

Goran: Ben, first of all thank you for a great blog “Confessions of a 20-Something Startup CTO” post with wich a lot of startupers can relate too. Do you blog a lot, and why do you do it? How do you manage to find time in your busy schedule? Why do you use Tumblr as a platform?
Ben: I’ve always loved writing as a hobby, and it’s a skill I’m constantly trying to hone. Most weekends I take a bit of time to write a blog post. Partly because I enjoy it, and partly because it helps me reflect on the week. I use Tumblr because it has an intuitive interface, and is easily customizable… in short, it doesn’t get in my way.

attachments.me - changing the way we attach
attachments.me – changing the way we attach

Goran: What about the beginnings of Attachments.me, were you excited about registering that domain name? How did you choose that name, and did you have any trouble with picking the right name for your startup? Did you feel from the start that something big was about to happen?
Ben: The domain name was actually registered by Joe Stump, who was one of the original founders of Attachments.me. This saved me some trouble, since I’m terrible at picking names (you can look at my Github page and confirm this). I definitely felt from the start that something big was going to happen with Attachments.me.

After university, I spent a year working at a startup called Freshbooks. This was an awesome experience: I got to work with a great team of people, building awesome features, and shipping them to millions of people. I learned a ton about the startup world, and about the software development process. I saw Attachments.me as an opportunity for me to take that next big step, building something I believed in from the ground up.

Goran: Can you tell my readers where did you learn to code so well? How would you compare yourself with some of the best coders in the world that work at Google, Facebook, Twitter? Would you say coding is your passion, and why did you choose this particular programming language?
Ben: I fell in love with coding when I was twelve. It matched my personality, a mix of creativity, science, and problem-solving. I didn’t have the Internet, so I’d buy programming textbooks from the bargain bins at RadioShack — In particular, I fondly remember Andre Lamothe’s, Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus. I read this from front to back several times.

I didn’t start learning to become a good software developer until my stint at Freshbooks. I think this is an important distinction to make, there’s a big difference between a good coder and a good software developer. There’s a lot of process outside of coding that goes into building good software — It’s a lot like an apprenticeship, you learn it from your peers when you’re in the trenches.

I don’t have a clue how I compare to the best coders in the world. I have a friend I hack with occasionally who was a developer at Twitter, I’m pretty wowed by how good he is. I think there are experiences you get when you’re developing at Twitter’s scale that I haven’t had. It changes the way you think about approaching problems.

Currently, I spend most of my time writing Python and JavaScript: Python for building tons of random DevOps scripts for administrating our servers, something it’s well suited for; and JavaScript for Attachments.me’s Chrome Extension.

Ben Coe - co-founder of attachments.me
Ben Coe – co-founder of attachments.me

Goran: At what point and why, did you choose to go after the VC money? Was the process difficult, or should I ask, what was the most difficult part? How did you feel when Foundry group said they were interested in investing? How did they tell you the good news?
Ben: We were kicking Attachments.me along on evenings and weekends, and consulting during the day; we kept this up for a few months. venture capital was attractive, because it gave us the opportunity to make Attachments.me our full-time gig.

In hindsight, it feels like raising our initial 500k seed round happened really quickly. It was definitely stressful at the time, and made more difficult by the fact that Jesse (Jesse Miller – Co-founder of Attachments.me) and I were based in Canada (we’d have to deal with immigration issues when/if we closed funding).

Jesse spent several weeks on phone calls with VCs pitching the product. We managed to get to the next stage with several of them. Jesse and I then flew down to San Francisco for a whirlwind set of meetings. We hit it off best with Foundry Group, both on the phone and in person. Within a day of the final meeting, they had a term sheet for us, Jason Mendelson told Jesse on the phone I believe. It was exciting.

Goran: How are you coping with the company growth? Do you use any strategies, attend seminars, read any books, gut feeling? Werner Vogels for example likes to use small teames, and he calls it the 2 jumbo pizza rule. If you can’t feed your team with 2 jumbo pizzas, the team is too big. 🙂 Do you have any particular company culture, do you do something different?
Ben: There are only six of us, so we haven’t run into any huge growing pains yet.

We gun for constant communication: Jesse and I have a meeting at least twice a week where him and I catch up;
we have a weekly planning meetings, and daily stand-ups with the team. The planning meeting to make sure everyone is on board for the goals of the week, and the stand-ups to make sure that everything is going alright on a daily basis.

One thing we do that’s pretty neat, is a hacking day every two weeks. This is an entire day where developers can work on whatever they feel like, with an emphasis on getting a roughed out prototype of the idea done that day. This does an awesome job of encouraging creativity, and the features often make their way into production.

Goran: I see that your office is “in a shared space called Dolores Labs.”, can you share your thoughts on what it’s like to work in Dolores Labs? Does it have to do anything with CrowdFlower? Are there any other cool startups sharing space with you?


Ben: Dolores Labs was originally CrowdFlower‘s office, it was converted into a shared space by Trinity Ventures when CrowdFlower outgrew it. Working in shared spaces has been great for us. It gave us a good set of peers early on, when our company was small. We’ve shared offices with Card.io, Milk, Happiness Engine, and Tapviva, just to name a few. It’s been great to be able to bounce ideas off these fellow entrepreneurs, I highly recommend a shared space for early stage companies. (Goran: You can read more about Dolores Labs transformation to CrowdFlower in this great inc.com article)
We recently moved into our own offices, in the Hamm’s building in San Francisco. This is an old brewery that has been converted into a space for startups. Along with Attachments.me, Asana, Rdio, and Get Satisfaction are based out of here.

Goran: Hypothetically speaking, if you sold all your companies for $100 gazillionbazillion what would you than do?

Ben: I’d rock-climb for six-months, then build my next company. Afterall – Rock Climbing Saved My Life, and Made Me a Better Software Developer.

Goran: What does your typical day look now? Do you code late, or do you get up early? Do you worry about sitting wrong, or drinking too much coffee?

Ben: Hours are flexible, if there is a big feature we’re all working on, we’ll tend to put in longer hours. We encourage everyone to live a balanced life. For example, if you you want to leave early one night a week to go to Yoga, that’s awesome. I think we all do a pretty good job of staying healthy, because of this atmosphere.

Goran: My startup WhoAPI deals with domains, so I just have to ask you a couple of domaining questions 🙂 What was the first domain name you registered?

Ben: hackwars.net, a game I made in college.

Goran: Do you have any other cool domains except attachments.me? For example, would you be interested in buying attachments.com, or something like mail.attach? Why yes, why not?

Ben: We looked into getting Attachments.com, but it was a hassle as it was owned by a fairly large company. We own att.mn, which we plan on using for short-urls eventually.

There’s also this great review on domain.me about attachments.me, check it out. Attachments.Me Rethinks Email Attachments: How Dropbox, Box.net and Gmail Should Work Together




Goran Duskic

I am the founder and CEO at WhoAPI, entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in the hosting and domain industry.

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4 Comments

  1. […] As you already know, I interviewed Ben Coe, the co-founder of attachments.me. He certainly doesn’t fall into the previous category, but […]

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