Monday 23 January 2017

Irish start-up aims to protect you from work email addiction

Published 26/04/2015 | 02:30

Hiri was designed to stop workers from obsessively checking emails or group emailing too many people, and help them to easily prioritise the most important messages
Hiri was designed to stop workers from obsessively checking emails or group emailing too many people, and help them to easily prioritise the most important messages

A Dublin start-up revolutionising office email has signed up one of Facebook's top global directors as an investor.

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Hiri, the brainchild of Trinity College physics graduate Kevin Kavanagh and former O2 digital designer David Power, was designed to stop workers from obsessively checking emails or group emailing too many people, and help them to easily prioritise the most important messages.

Rick Kelley, head of global ad sales for Facebook's lucrative gaming division, has just invested in the fledgling company as part of a €700,000 seed-funding round.

Former Microsoft global director Thomas Witting, LinkedIn director Jeff Matthews, Enterprise Ireland and Telefonica also invested.

Hiri's function, its founders say, is "to fix email".

A study by the UK's University of Loughborough found that the average employee spends 2.5 hours a day on their work email and checks its 96 times a day - which equates to every five minutes.

"Email is a huge cause of stress at work," said Kavanagh.

"Microsoft Outlook is used by 95pc of companies and it hasn't really changed in a decade. Email overload is only getting worse yet we keep using the same tools."

Hiri looks similar to a Twitter feed. It reminds users not to check their email too often with a clock that shows a recommended time for when next to click into email.

It also asks users to identify an email as either a task or a piece of information before they send it.

The service is still in testing mode but it is intended that it will launch by the end of the summer. It is being trialled by two Fortune 500 companies, meaning two of the top 500 largest companies in the US.

It is also available for download on the company's website for people who wish to try it out.

The company was founded in 2012. Power and Kavanagh met while the former was working at O2, which hired Kavanagh's company to help build a software product. There they discovered a mutual love of technology and design.

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