Speaking with Sanebox Founder Dmitri Leonov

Interview with Dmitri Leonov of SaneboxMore than just a mere email filter, Sanebox has evolved to offer comprehensive communication management solutions for anyone feeling overwhelmed by their email inbox. With impressive AI capabilities, SaneBox works with any email server in the world. Founded in 2010, by Dmitri Leonov and Stuart Roseman, continues to grow and develop new features.

InsiderApps sat down with Leonov recently, who shared SaneBox’s origins and gave us hints about the future.

SaneBox seems to do everything. Tell us a little about how things got started.

DL: It’s funny because when we started, we weren’t really solving a problem that needed to be solved. At least not compared to today’s world. In 2010, though, we were looking for a possible application to develop and noticed that people were complaining, in their blog posts, about their full email inboxes. So, when we developed SaneBox, we focused on just that; filtering and prioritizing. At first, it only worked with Gmail, but now the program is completely agnostic about which email service, clients or device. It lives in the background, keeping it simple for the user. They don’t have an interface that they have to learn and juggle. SaneBox just does its thing, and it works everywhere on every platform you can think of.

How did you get your first customers? Did they come from those blogs that you were following?

DL: We were lucky. We started in the heyday of Twitter. So, clients who were well established, like CEOs, investors, and publicly known entrepreneurs, needed this solution. So, they would sign up and tell others. Our initial growth really came from word-of-mouth. And where the luck came in, also, was how we continued to grow to include anyone who is feeling that their email inbox is bursting at the seams.

"It’s really difficult for the brain to determine the difference between a signal and a noise, especially when it’s already feeling a little overwhelmed with information."
SaneBox relies on AI to sort things and begin the prioritization of emails. Tell us a little more about that.

DL: It’s really difficult for the brain to determine the difference between a signal and a noise, especially when it’s already feeling a little overwhelmed with information. And what SaneBox AI does is deal with that “noise.” It should be noted that we don’t deal with SPAM. There are many other programs out there, and most mail servers utilize them. We focus on helping someone sort out their email, so they can focus and pay attention to signals, and the program sets the noise aside for them.

I should also point out that SaneBox never takes possession of an email. We don’t look at the text of the email at all. What we look at is the user’s behavior. Which emails do they open, which do they respond to, and what’s the length of the correspondence relationship between our user and the sender? So, the AI kicks in almost immediately, and in its initial learning, it’s about 95-98% accurate. From there, the user can teach the AI by moving things around that might have been categorized incorrectly. Once they move it, the AI knows better where that type of email should go.

We’ve built modules that users can utilize, like Do Not Disturb, which is one of our newest features. It keeps the inbox quiet during off-hours, or when someone just needs a break from seeing new emails. They can then check the Do Not Disturb folder when it's a better time for them.

My favorite feature is SaneBlackHole. Tell us about that.

DL: That’s a favorite feature of many. It’s basically where you can banish an unwanted sender to the SaneBlackHole. Never to be seen or heard from again. It’s so much faster and easier than “unsubscribing,” or reporting something as SPAM. In fact, as many people know, going through the official “unsubscribing channels” is actually very dangerous. It exposes you to even more phishing email lists. With SaneBlackHole, once you train SaneBox, anything like that will go into the SaneBlackHole for seven days, so you can review to make sure there’s nothing that accidentally got in there. But after those seven days, you’ll never hear from that sender again.

What’s in SaneBox’s future?

DL: We’re always working on three basic things. First, security and privacy for our users. We are also always constantly working on improving the AI - it’s surprisingly complex, especially when you factor in all the different email platforms and servers out there. Finally, we base new feature development on feedback from our customers. Our next feature that we’ll be unveiling in the near future is Storage Optimization. If your inbox is already bloated, it will organize it and clean it up for you - automatically.

What makes SaneBox stand out from your competitors?

DL: You know, I think it comes down to that they all offer what we offer, but maybe just one or two things. We combine everything someone needs when it comes to managing their email inbox.

Any advice for an entrepreneur who is growing and scaling their own SaaS business?

DL: (laughs) Stay away from email. Of course, I mean that half-joking. We don’t need the competition. But, more seriously, it’s a very, actually extremely complex problem to solve. Whatever you’re working on, make sure it’s solid, and that it works. I see so many startups, in our industry and outside of it, who don’t have a solid product or program, and they’re here and gone in six months. You also have to stay on top of new channels and technologies. Stay current and informed.

InsiderApps: What are some of the apps and programs that SaneBox uses in its operations?

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Alisa Cook
Alisa Cook is a former educator and researcher. She has written over forty books for entrepreneurial clients, and countless articles. In addiition, she has written four books on travel, business and health.

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