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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 8, 2008 at 4:36 PM

Startup’s calculators show how much e-mail, meetings cost you

If you’re looking for ways to save money nowadays, perhaps you can start by cutting down on e-mails and meetings.

The interruptions they cause can cost you thousands of dollars a year in lost wages.

At least that’s the message from Bellevue startup Kamune, which debuted this week. The company is offering free online calculators to help estimate the cost of e-mail, meetings and disorganized information.

Of course, the calculators are intended to show how much companies can save using Kamune’s online collaboration tools, but they’re still fun.

Especially if people want to pump up their blood pressure by analyzing just how much their lives resemble “The Office” or a Dilbert cartoon.

For instance, the calculators suggest that a 100-person company paying an average of $20 per hour is wasting $462,222 per year if they are each interrupted by 50 e-mails a day.

Kamune‘s product won’t make annoying e-mail and meetings go away, but it’s intended to reduce its effect by introducing more efficient tools for groups to communicate and share documents.

“If you just decrease them a small amount, you still get substantial savings,” said founder Raja Abburi, a former MSN manager who left Microsoft in 2006 after 16 years.

Enterprise collaboration is a hot market now, or at least it was before the market crash, with Microsoft, IBM and others offering industrial grade services such as Microsoft’s Groove and Sharepoint and IBM’s new Bluehouse service.

Kamune (think “commune”) has the feel of a consumer Web application — it runs in a browser — and a nifty interface that uses the metaphor of an office building to navigate the service.

Companies subscribing to the $50 per head service get their own “building,” within which there can be conference rooms, labs and individual offices. Within the rooms are tools such as recorders and logbooks for keeping track of meetings and shared documents. It almost feels like a multiplayer game.

Unlike instant-message systems that require members to add people as friends to communicate, Kamune lets people form ad-hoc messaging friendships when they assemble in a room for a meeting.

Abburi is funding Kamune himself and initially wrote much of the software himself. He now has a team of four in Bellevue and five in Hyderabad, India, which is near his hometown in India.

The company has been refining the product with the help of a number of potential customers in the U.S. and India.

Kamune filed for patents on the platform, which Abburi said could someday be used for other applications besides business collaboration.

A screenshot:

kamune.JPG

Comments | Topics: Microsoft, Startups, Web

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