Merge innovates and expands, months ahead of schedule
Just over a month ago, AGBeat introduced you to Merge, the app that tracks common business activities in a timeline format that notifies all parties of updates. The company is now launching a revamped platform that promotes collaboration, is bringing in keyword-specific emails as timeline updates, simplifying to do lists, and facilitating information sharing and requests.
After an overwhelming response in their first target market of real estate, the company has released their updated software to serve all industries. This launch has long been part of Merge’s expansion plan, and comes many months ahead of schedule, thanks to a growing and enthusiastic team.
Four hot new widgets
The company is also unveiling their updated app design, and four new widgets within the system. Merge lets you choose, a la carte, the productivity widgets you need to get from A to B in the most professional, elegant, and logical way possible. Widgets can be removed or added at any time, without having an impact on the data within them. Although all four widgets are hot, our socks are knocked off by the first two:
- Request Widget: this secure feature allows users to request anything from anyone at any time and tracks which items have been requested and fulfilled, without requiring the other person to sign up for an account. For example, a mortgage broker can now ask an applicant for a copy of their driver’s license, and the fulfillment is tracked within the timeline, without “assigning” a task, rather “requesting” any number of items electronically.
- Email Connector Widget: users may now automatically add emails to their timelines by searching for keywords, or sender names. Any email service supporting IMAP is compatible, from Gmail to Outlook. For example, if an event planner searches their email from Merge, using the term “Atlanta Hilton,” they can select any email from the results to send to their timeline.
- Collaborator Widget: now, users can invite other people into their timelines to actively participate by commenting and sharing items, without any other user being forced into opening an account. Collaborators receive an email link to participate, and may only see widgets designated by the primary user; permissions may be added or restricted at any time. For example, a bridal gown designer can invite in his bride and the entire bridal party for input on ideas and things that need to be done.
- List: rather than offer tasks with due dates, the List Widget offers a simple checklist of pending activities that can be pushed to the timeline as completed. This new feature will offer public list items which can be viewed by those with access to the timeline, or may remain private, viewable only by the creator. For example, a land developer can share active tasks with her team and client for their input and to show when tasks have been completed, all without requiring a due date, as some tasks are simply active business tasks, not projects.
Innovation so big, a new software category had to be trademarked
Merge is pushing the boundaries of innovation so far that there has been no assignable category for their software as a service (SaaS). Merge is a hybrid task manager, customer relationship manager (CRM), and so much more, meanwhile not fitting any of those categories, leaving the app left out of common software categories.
In response, Merge has recognized that the mold has been broken, therefore trademarking “Active Business Manager (ABM)” as the newly launched industry category for their unique product. A CRM only manages the relationship with a customer, a project management app only manages a product for teams and groups, while an ABM allows you to manage your active business, regardless of industry.
Merge Founder and CEO, Joel Beasley said that Merge helps professionals to interact with their active business like never before, describing the revamped SaaS as a management tool for business interaction with customers that adds selective transparency to existing data sets, features an API to push activity, and allows for collaboration.
“Merge does not interfere with existing systems,” Beasley said, “rather, it streamlines many products professionals use in the field every day. People will always try to figure out how to manipulate software, so flexibility is key, and we deliver exactly that – ridiculously simple software that is flexible and solves core problems in professionals’ active business.”
Building a quality team
Beasley credits team members’ enthusiasm for being many months ahead of schedule, promoting agile development rollout principles, working in tandem with his team members, and hiring only those who are the most passionate about their industry. “I won’t accept anything less than someone who loves their job,” Beasley said. “You can’t buy passion – that’s how products get magical.”
In getting to know Merge through their support of AG, we have learned the refreshing tale of how Merge has grown so explosively and so quickly, which is welcome news, as we continue to hear of so many companies struggling to stay afloat.
In pursuit of his dream to simply build pristine software, Beasley has done in a month what most startups take at least a year to accomplish, and his enthusiastic ambition shines in every cultural aspect of the company, like his requiring all employees to spend half of one work day each week to read a book that pertains to their role in the company and write their impressions on what they read.
“If you do not want to be better at your job, don’t work here,” Beasley said. He also confessed that as a long time coder, he will sometimes sneak into the office at 3am and write some code, just “to feel normal,” and shares that when he brought on several highly skilled coders to be on the Merge team, opening up his code to the them was like “letting someone read my diary,” it is that personal to him.
With the young, super intelligent, motivated, business savvy coder at the helm, not only is an amazing product hitting the market, we might have the next Tony Hsieh on our hands.
Photo tour of new Merge features