Unroll.Me: The Startup Tackling the Toll of Disorganization and Distraction

Unroll.Me: The Startup Tackling the Toll of Disorganization and Distraction

Whether we know it or not, regardless of your age, location, or occupation, we’ve all faced the toll of disorganization. It manifests in the physical world when you spend 20 minutes looking for your keys because you decided—for some unknown reason—to place them in a drawer you never look in. And it manifests in the digital world in that giant data dump of unorganized files you’ve got to wade through each day to find the one document you actually need. Perhaps the toll of disorganization in the digital world is no more apparent than in our email inboxes, which are often cluttered far beyond the point of being usable.

A company called Unroll.Me, which was founded by two young entrepreneurs, Jojo Hedaya and Josh Rosenwald before they’d even graduated college, was built so fewer people would have to pay the toll of disorganization… at least as it relates to email. The idea for Unroll.Me presented itself organically and today that idea is making millions of people’s email inboxes far easier to manage. The short version of the company’s history is this: Hedaya and Rosenwald were exchanging emails and Hedaya was growing increasingly frustrated at the slow speed at which Rosenwald was responding to Hedaya’s emails. Hedaya thought Rosenwald was just being slow to respond, but Rosenwald explained that it wasn’t on purpose; he just couldn’t find Hedaya’s emails in his disorganized email inbox filled with subscription emails.

Among the few emails he actually wanted to read was a sea of subscription emails coming from businesses marketing their services, offering promotions, and announcing events. Deleting these emails helped, for a short time, but soon Rosenwald’s inbox was inundated again, sometimes within as little as a few hours. Unsubscribing worked to an extent as well, but the process of going through each and every email to unsubscribe was tedious. And after all, there were some subscription emails Rosenwald still wanted to keep; keeping track of which email lists he was still subscribed to and which ones he wasn’t was nearly impossible.

Unroll.Me Unclutters the Email Inbox

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Hedaya and Rosenwald set out to solve the problem they were intimately experiencing for themselves. And they did. After just three years, more than one million people were using Unroll.Me. Today, in conjunction with Rakuten Slice, a shopping and package app and a sister of Unroll.Me, the Unroll.Me app is reaching even more people, but more on that later.

The way the service works is simple. Users download the app, which then scans the user’s email inbox for subscription emails—ignoring any personal information—and compiles those subscription emails. The resulting list allows users to see exactly what lists they’re subscribed to. From there, users can decide to unsubscribe from one or many of these lists with a single click, or they can add the emails to a daily digest called the Rollup.

The Rollup compiles all the subscription emails that a user actually wants to keep into a single, convenient daily email. As you can see, Unroll.Me solved the two-pronged problem that Hedaya and Rosenwald kept running into when it came to using their email without being bogged down by subscription emails.

First, Unroll.Me helps you weed out unwanted emails quickly and intuitively. Rather than going through each email, searching for the unsubscribe button, clicking it, and hoping you’re unsubscribed, Unroll.Me allows users to complete this whole process in one click with no need to search for the emails yourself. Plus, Unroll.Me users can check their list of subscription emails to make sure they’ve unsubscribed from the lists they don’t want to be on.

Second, Unroll.Me helps you hold on to any subscription emails you do want. But, rather than forcing you to keep up with subscription emails that come in multiple times a day from all different email addresses, Unroll.Me enables you to compile all of these subscription emails into one daily digest.

Unroll.Me Makes Shopping Distraction Free

Image result for woman online shoppingWith millions of users and its simple interface, Unroll.Me is attracting plenty of attention. That attention turned into a big acquisition by a subsidiary of Rakuten called Rakuten Intelligence. Living under the Rakuten Intelligence umbrella, Unroll.Me scans and sorts tens of millions of emails per day, helping shoppers cut through the clutter and distraction of their subscription emails so they can do what they need to do more effectively and efficiently.

Whether that means removing the distractions of overzealous email marketers or consolidating subscription emails into a single email so shoppers can take advantage of promotional offers, the fact is that the retailers who can make everything run more smoothly for their customers—from the moment they log on to the second their package arrives—stand to gain significant market share in the e-commerce industry.

In fact, Rakuten Intelligence further signaled its serious investment in customer experience by not just acquiring Unroll.Me, but also hiring Jojo Hedaya as Chief Product and Consumer Officer for Rakuten Intelligence. That way, Rakuten can take advantage of Hedaya’s background leading development and product strategy in a way the best serves the customers of Rakuten’s many consumer brands.

On Unroll.Me’s side, the acquisition has paid off in the form of continued product growth and improvement. Josh Rosenwald’s quote in TechCrunch has proven to be predictive of exactly what’s happening with Unroll.Me today, five years after it was acquired by Rakuten. Rosenwald said, “By joining the Rakuten Intelligence team, we can continue to grow and improve the product even faster with additional resources as well as work with an expanded team of incredibly talented people.”

Tackling the Toll of Disorganization

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Today more than ever, the amount of information we consume is exploding. Even looking back six years ago to 2013, 90 percent of the world’s data had been created in the two years prior to 2013. The pace of this information and data growth only continues to increase. And as this information explosion continues, humans—with the help of machines—are left to grapple with the giant beast of digital data. As mentioned earlier, this manifests itself in the form of overcrowded file drives and email inboxes.

But what is all this costing us? Of course, there’s the extra time it takes to find the information we need, but there’s more to it than that. Unroll.Me’s founders often say their goal with Unroll.Me is to make email more fun. But this isn’t just a catchy tagline. Email without Unroll.Me is anxiety-inducing. Not only do we have to respond to emails regularly, carefully crafting our words to communicate sensitive topics, but now we also have to contend with organizing our email inboxes, a task most people procrastinate on until just signing into their email provider makes their throat tighten up.

As the Small Business Chronicle points out, there’s a clear connection between your mental, physical and spiritual health and your ability to stay organized. This is because when you’re disorganized, you’re more likely to feel an increased amount of stress and anxiety. And, though you can’t actually see the effects developing in many cases until it’s too late, stress and anxiety can cause real physical ailments such as backaches and headaches. These ailments make it harder to perform your best which degrades your ability to be as productive as you can be.

But even beyond work, the toll of disorganization can seep into your personal life. After all, when you’re experiencing more anxiety and stress at your job, you’re going to have spillover effects into your interactions with your spouse, children, friends, and other family members.

Even if you think you’re avoiding the stress that can be caused by disorganization, it’s a sure bet that you’re losing a significant number of working hours to low-value activities that result from disorganization. In fact, when Express Employment Professionals conducted a survey of business leaders, more than half (51 percent) of the respondents indicated that they lose up to 9 hours each week due to disorganization. If you’re a manager who makes $50,000 per year, that means you’d be losing $11,000 worth of hours to disorganization each year. Multiply that by a few employees and you can see that the toll of disorganization can be quite significant to a business’s bottom line.

Of course, the good news is that there are apps like Unroll.Me developed by savvy entrepreneurs who recognize the colossal toll that consumers and businesses alike pay when they’re in a constant state of disorganization. It’s this understanding that leads to great apps such as Unroll.Me. But not all entrepreneurs are looking to solve the problem of disorganization. Many of them look to capitalize on consumers and businesses with product designs that use our neurology and biology to get us to pay attention to their products.

Using Apps for Efficiency, Not Distraction

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Unfortunately, with so many very smart and well-financed companies vying for our attention, many of us find ourselves in a constant state of distraction from a variety of different social media, music, news, and entertainment apps. Of course, sometimes we need a distraction—to relax at the end of a hard day or to get our minds off of tough problems that we’re dealing with. For years, books, music, sports, puzzles, socializing, and other activities could help us distract ourselves. But today it’s different. Because today, these distractions can (and do) all fit in one convenient package that fits in our pockets. And the nature of these distractions is different; with notifications and other clever product design tweaks, these distractions have been specially engineered to attract our attention away from whatever it is we’re focusing on.

Unroll.Me, of course, is an app that does not distract. In fact, it does quite the opposite. By consolidating emails and making it easier to unsubscribe from unwanted emails, Unroll.Me makes it possible for users to actually remove more distractions from their lives. The same goes for Rakuten Slice, Unroll.Me’s sister app. In both cases, these apps are designed for people to use to make themselves more efficient, not to distract themselves.

But why is it so important to use apps for efficiency and not distraction? That’s a tough question to answer in just one way. Unroll.Me makes it easier to manage emails, removes distractions, and ultimately saves you the time and stress that comes with sorting through a sea of emails. But there are other apps that make you efficient in other ways. So the most simple answer is because using apps for efficiency gives you more time to do the things you truly want to do while using apps for distraction does the opposite.

Perhaps the greatest argument for using apps for efficiency rather than distraction is evident in what happens when you do use apps for distraction. In fact, according to The Guardian, “We check our phones every 12 minutes, often just after waking up. Always-on behavior is harmful to long-term health, and we need to learn to hit the pause button.”

The article goes on to explain the negative effects on IQ that distraction caused in test subjects. Which, by the way, turned out to be an effect that was twice as significant as the effect of smoking marijuana. But it’s not just IQ. The interruptions caused by constant distractions can impact our ability to sleep, concentrate, and be productive.

And just as disorganization takes a toll on your physical and mental health, using apps such as Facebook for distraction, rather than apps such as Unroll.Me for efficiency puts you in a never-ending state of vigilance in which you are never really concentrating fully on any one thing but rather always scanning due to higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are two stress hormones. These two hormones, though they help us switch quickly between tasks, have a negative long-term effect. Over time, they start to degrade the effects of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which help regulate our heart rates.

The Good News: Unroll.Me isn’t the Only One Focused on Efficiency

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As scary as the effects of using apps for distraction rather than efficiency are, there is a silver lining. This issue isn’t something that we can’t address. After all, humans are the ones who created these apps that are designed to distract us. Just as we are the cause of this problem, we can become the solution by giving our attention and dollars to the apps like Unroll.Me that makes us more efficient without causing undue distractions in our daily lives.

In fact, with the co-founder of Unroll.Me, Jojo Hedaya working in a prominent leadership role at Rakuten Intelligence, you can rest assured that we have leaders in the tech world who are focused on developing apps and experiences that help us be more efficient, not more distracted. Moreover, as an increasing number of consumers start to understand the long-term negative effects on their health and professional performance that come with using apps for distraction, people will start demanding that more entrepreneurs follow the path set out by those like Jojo Hedaya and Josh Rosenwald at Unroll.Me.

Of course, knowing what you do about the very real financial, physical, and emotional toll of disorganization, the impact of using apps for distraction, you don’t have to wait until more entrepreneurs like Jojo Hedaya develop products that make you more efficient. Instead, you can focus on finding more apps like Unroll.Me’s email app and getting rid of the apps that don’t actually help you be a more effective person in your daily life.

True, it may not be easy to get rid of your most distracting apps, but that’s kind of the point. These apps have become so much a part of our daily, distracted lives that they become difficult to let go. More than anything else, though, having a difficult time focusing your attention on apps that make you more efficient and getting rid of your distracting apps means it’s time to let go of that sneaky addiction to those constant distractions.

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