The Family CRM Service

I want a web service that I can enter all of our family's friends and other relationships into. We've been doing this by word and excel files for fifteen years and I am tired of it.

I am looking for a nice, clean, lightweight web service that can take word and excel imports. I want to tag our contacts with words like #christmasparty, #vegan, #potluck, etc, etc. I want to be able to search by tag, location, and of course name. I want to be able to make lists on the fly and email them directly from the service. I also want to be able to export these lists to services like Red Stamp and Pingg.

I would like to be able to access this service on my android phone or the Gotham Gal's blackberry either via a dedicated mobile app, or a nice mobile web app. Integration with the contact databases on our phones would be nice but is not a requirement.

So if you know of such a service, please let me know in the comments. The last time we did this, I ended up with a very nice printer on the Gotham Gal's desk. I'm hoping for similar results.


Comments (Archived):

  1. marfi

    I hove you find your service, or… why not help start it. If you could not find it, and if it is not popular, I sense a market oppurtunity here 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      what usually happens with these posts is someone has built it. but when that is not the case, someone builds it in a about a day or two and sends me the link. i am blessed that many of the readers of this blog are amazing coders.

      1. falicon

        Yes, those of us that like hacking simple projects together LOVE these sorts of posts/requests because it gives us just enough direction on an idea to throw something together (without being too restrictive about how/what we do and without having to worry about trying to make it into a business or for profit thing out of the gate)…and it never hurts to have a chance at getting a nod for your work on a blog like this (if Fred likes what you come up with) ;-)The only downside is that so many people read this blog, that it’s basically a race to see who can code up a solid solution fastest (but I think that’s part of the fun)…but if the project is too ambitious to be a one-to-two day hack (in this case I think it *might* be) or I’m too busy with other stuff (again in this case I am)…I don’t bother to even try throwing a solution together because I know/assume a handful of other readers will have beaten me to it…

      2. Jeremy Diamond

        Will you share your findings with the group? Many of us share this pain point. Great topic.

  2. Chris Swan

    I’m not aware of any CRM that’s targeted at families. This looks like one of those crossover type things where you’ve identified a consumer problem that can be dealt with using a business solution. How about using one of the SME focussed SaaS CRM tools like Capsule ( That should give you the basic functionality that you’re after. The potential issue here is that integration with contacts etc. probably works best when anchored to Google Apps, which requires that you use a domain for the family (I guess that you do already, but others might not). Until this morning I’d have also warned that Google Apps marketplace required premier edition, but it seems to be showing up in standard edition now too.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m never going to get the gotham gal to use a business oriented CRMi want something that is lightweight, simple, looks like it was designed fora family not a businesss

      1. SM

        Highrise is much more lightweight and less clumpy than most other CRMs.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Yeah, Highrise is very different from other CRMs. In fact I use it to manage all the people related with my business, not only customers. You have contacts (you can create them or add notes by email), tasks and tags. And you also have cases, which I use to group contacts around and event. Of course you have deals, but you can ignore them. Not very good with mobile though (I think there is an iPhone app, but that’s all).

  3. LIAD

    Shudder to think of the ramifications of being on the Wilson family #vegan list!Hate mail on thanksgiving?

    1. fredwilson

      i am literally rolling on the floor laughing

      1. Donna Brewington White

        The visual please?

          1. Donna Brewington White

            this is the best…thanks!contagious…now I’m rolling on the floor dying laughing…but will not reciprocate the visual!

          2. Senith @ Finance tutor

            Thats truly ROFL! Thank God no injuries were reported!

          3. Donna Brewington White

            The day is still young…

          4. kagilandam

            I have Read many ROFLs on the net…i will call this the best i have read so far. After reading i was LOLing.

          5. maverickny

            That cracked me up and burnished the grouchy mood of the morning!

          6. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

            I actually laughed out loud! still laughing!

          7. Guest

            Ha, love it… I give you credit for doing this hehe.

          8. Matt A. Myers

            This made my day. Thanks Fred.. Still LOL’ingP.S. It’s free smoothie day at Starbucks with your registered card. I’m not a Starbucks employee, but they should pay me for the amount of promotion I do, and the amount of money I spend. I do have many Starbucks Office locations though, and many more locations around the world waiting for me to do work at… 😛

          9. Dave Pinsen

            They must be feeling the heat (or the cold) of the new McDonald’s smoothies. My luck to be doing Atkins when they offer free smoothies though. I guess I’ll have my usual quad espresso over ice instead.

          10. CJ


          11. aanwar

            Nice.. lol

          12. daryn

            awesome!well, until it become the default picture they use of you on SAI 🙂

          13. fredwilson

            worse, gawker/valleywag

          14. ShanaC

            actually, there is a need for a politer more society oriented version in NY. Society papers are old hat, gawker just made them low brow

          15. Tereza

            LOLGodammit, Fred. You just killed my Like score.That one’s for the record books.

          16. Donna Brewington White

            “You just killed my Like score.”Well, Tereza. We can fix that. Get out your camera.

          17. Tereza

            Is that a dare?I am literally getting my gray roots touched up and it would be one FUGLY picture. So I’ll spare you all the pain.You’ll thank me later.But if you want the “before” picture of my eyebrow waxing…

          18. fredwilson

            honestly now Tereza?

          19. Tereza

            LOLThis platform is solo close to being ready.While I am very certain I need my eyebrows waxed, I am not so sure about my upper lip. Yet it hurts like a mofo when they do it so I’d like validation.So what I’d really like is to post it, have y’all, my trusted friends, vote Yes or No (anonymously), and….Brilliant, right?

          20. ShanaC

            threading, try threading

          21. Donna Brewington White

            uh…noEdit: Okay, now that I know what you REALLY mean, uh…yes, quite brilliant…honestly, now.

          22. Tereza

            HahahahahaLike I said, a picture’s worth a thousand words.Or maybe just one:”Sasquatch”

          23. Tereza

            Honestly now, folks…Roots now covered. Does Jason do a *great* blowout, or what?…

          24. Donna Brewington White

            Maybe I now know what Fred meant by “honestly now Tereza?”. You couldn’t take a FUGLY picture if you tried.This photo is more cute than funny so Fred still wins. (Had a Kid moment there — felt good.)Although I might want to look up Jason next time I’m in New York.

          25. Tereza

            What’s your email?

          26. Donna Brewington White

            dwhite AT bwasearch DOT comHey — I have a tentative meeting with someone who knows someone that I know you want to know. Think XX Combinator.

          27. ShanaC

            hehe, but what does happen to the vegans?

          28. Donna Brewington White

            or it may be what DOESN’T happen to them…

          29. William Mougayar

            Trying to rotate this one on the iPad 🙂

        1. Tereza

          I think we all owe Donna some likes for setting that shot up.A “Like Assist”?

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Am so loving this! Still laughing hours later. Fred made my day (and my kids’).This may even top poetry day at AVC for how much my sides ache.And on top of it, some excellent information in the comments.

          2. fredwilson

            yup, that was an alley oop to be honest. all i had to do was tap it inactually, i took that shot with my android phone so i had to guess where to aim itcame out damn good i think

          3. Tereza

            A picture’s worth a thousand words.And a thousand Likes, too!

  4. David Semeria

    A few years ago I was convinced this type of functionality would find its way into Facebook.I think it’s a very common requirement, and I would be surprised if many of the family – orientated SNs didn’t implement it to some degree.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great pointhowever, a family doesn’t have a facebook account. and there is no way thegotham gal and i can share relationshops on facebook

  5. Donna Brewington White

    Have you ever had a portfolio company emerge from one of these requests?

    1. fredwilson

      sort of yes, sort of nodisqus is close

    2. andyswan

      Fred’s holding out for the CONE OF SILENCE.

  6. CJ

    Springpad is the closest thing that I know of but it doesn’t meet all the requirements. They have apps, one is a ‘My Friends’ App, it allows you to import contacts from Gmail or Facebook. It supports tags, flags, reminders, notes, lists and media and you can send contacts via email or print them. It’s a nice interface but I’m not sure if you can import from Excel or Word, though you could import your Excel sheet to Gmail and then import from there, I’d think. And I’ve never heard of Pingg or Red Stamp so can’t say if there is integration there one way or another.

    1. fredwilson

      awesome malcolm. i will check out springpad. i can figure out the importstuff. it would be nice but the other stuff, particularly tags, is the mostimportant for me

    2. maverickny

      Have been playing with the Springpad iPhone app for a few weeks now and like it’s loosy goosy UI, definitely more fun to use for personal things than a business CRM.Not had much luck importing or exporting things though, and it only works well when you have internet access.

    3. Katin from Springpad

      Malcom – nice to see that you’re using Springpad this way! While this isn’t one of our frequently discussed uses, Springpad works pretty well for keeping track of contacts. For example, my husband & I share an account, so we are able to have one accessible list of friend/family contact info. Over the past year or so, I have added tags like ‘xmascards09’ and ‘babyshowerinvite’ – which have come in handy for organization, but mostly for reference after the fact. I’ll have to put together a post to share with our users…

      1. CJ

        Katin – With a little imagination you can do almost anything with Springpad, it’s a great service.

  7. Steven Plummer integrates well with Gmail, but I’m not sure it does everything that you’re looking for.

    1. fredwilson

      rapportive is cool but i don’t want to do this inside of gmail

      1. karen_e

        Because …. ?

        1. AnujMathur

          i don’t think it works that well within gmail .. you essentially have to write notes within gmail contacts to enrich information regarding a contact’s not easy to search these notes, you cannot tag them, you cannot dynamically manage relationships between contacts, you have to retype everything when you have 5 ppl in the same meeting, etc .. i am sure you can see the direction i am going – gmail’s capabilities are not robust enough for a personal CRM solution ..

        2. fredwilson

          i hate mail. every time i open gmail i cringe. i have to use it but i hate iti want this to be a joy to use

  8. awaldstein

    Your dreaming for me on this one.Organized. Integrated. Mobile. Shareable.The amount of connections even in a small family are daunting.I’m hopeful that the string will surface something. Many want this.

    1. fredwilson

      right? there has to be something like this out there

      1. awaldstein

        If so, a really well kept secret.If it surfaces, it will have a lot of new folks trying it.

  9. Mat Evans

    hehe kinda been thinking about this for a while.domain is ready to gowww.konkt.commay be this weekend will be quite productive :)oh and amazing blog by the way, it’s amazingly informative, I love MBA mondays.Mat

    1. fredwilson

      when you’ve built it, let me know

      1. Mat Evans

        Will do for sure.

  10. Ericlklein

    Have you tried looking at FreeCRM (… they seem to have most of what you are looking for including user defined fields and functions and can import.

  11. Sandro

    Have you seen Batch Blue? http://batchblue.comI had been looking for something like what you described to manage my own personal and professional relationships and settled on Batch Blue. It’s easy to use, handles emailing in, tagging, integrates with other services (like Shoeboxed which I use), contacts & activity (ie when did I last call/email a person?), reporting & exports, and other features. I just disregard the whole sales pipeline functionality that comes standard with SMB CRM.

    1. Boris Mann

      +1 for Batchbook. I’ve used it for a number of different cases, and the combination of SuperTags and Lists / Reports means you can use it to store pretty much any sort of people / company information you want to.I wrote a bit about it a while back:

      1. ksrikrishna

        +1 for BatchBook – nearly 18 months ago wrote a review that’s still relevant and appropriate for your use Fred. Check it out. The the BatchBlue folks who built it are incredible!

    2. Stefano

      +1 for batchbook!

    3. fredwilson

      i am going to give batch blue a look. thanks for the tip

  12. Harry DeMott

    What would be fantastic would be to have the ability to import lists that are auto tagged with certain data. So for example, in our house we always have a school phone book next to the gelato machine – would be fantastic to be able to just grab that file pre-tagged with all the names, numbers, classes etc… and dump it in. Do the same for a club (last night I was looking for a 4th for paddle tennis and couldn’t find the book) – then you need to be able to access all of this in the cloud – and I think you would want to be able to export to gmail contacts or exchange (shudder)

    1. karen_e

      Love that you have a home gelato machine. But please, do not tell my husband.

  13. Dan Cornish

    We have a side project which might just work. Will dust it off, add a few of the features you are looking for and send you a link when it is ready.

  14. RacerRick

    When my wife finally got an iPhone, she downloaded about 100 contacts from my macbook into her iPhone… restaurants, babysitters etc.So… also some sort of way to export each contact into Apple’s address book, Gmail, Blackberry desktop, etc.

  15. David Radcliffe

    Have you looked at Highrise? ( Is it too business focused for the context of your family?

    1. Jose Paul Martin

      Pretty much agree… u can use it for personal as well… I think backpack it would suffice with some hacks.

  16. andyswan


  17. Graeme Thickins

    hi, Fred – I’ve been working with an entrepreneur in Germany who’s been working on just such a product for about a year … I asked him to contact you (Peter J)cheers.

  18. Steven Kane

    sorry to be dense, but can’t you do all this using gmail/google apps?

    1. Alex Murphy

      I think so … my wife and I do this right now, we have a cal set up for both kids, contacts etc. We put tags in as well.

    2. fredwilson

      yes, if everyone in the family uses gmail and google appsbut that is not the casewe have a mixed setupand i really want a dedicated web app for this

    1. mark

      this one seems quite good, thx for the rec!

    2. fredwilson

      i just checked it outlooks a little too business focused for my tasteare there tags in the service?

      1. Dstruffaut

        There are ‘labels’ which serve as a tagging facility”What are labels? How can I use them?Labels are keywords that allow you to organize your contacts in a way that makes sense to you. For example, you can set a “Client” label to all your clients. Each contact can have any number of labels. Clicking on a label will show you all the contacts with that label. To add labels to a contact go to the contact’s page and click on “Add labels”.

  19. akharris

    That would be incredible. I would love some more organization for my social life.Lately, I’ve been wishing for a social/business CRM that can show me a visual map of my connections and who introduced me to whom. It would be a powerful web that would give you a much better idea of who actually provides you with great new friends and opportunities. I’m pretty sure it would be more than just a cool visualization.

    1. S. Pandya

      There is an app on Facebook for this. It used to be called the FriendWheel. Not sure what it is going by in its latest incarnation. Super-useful, but like all niche web services, not very extendable (would have killed for that to be integrated with Gmail)

  20. Kyle S

    Highrise? Aimed at small businesses but your family practically is one…

    1. mdoeff

      +1 for Highrise. I haven’t used either of these apps but it looks like there is an app for Blackberry called Bridge (… and an Android app called Rooftop (…. And like others have already mentioned, Highrise supports tagging.

  21. Scott Carleton

    I believe restauarants and country clubs use services like this. Maybe a spin off of open table?

  22. sanedevil

    I so very much need this too – and more! I am building it as i write this. I have hope since I’ll have at least one user 🙂

  23. Samuel Ian Rosen

    If I recall correctly from This week in VC, Cocodot, a competitor of Pingg, has some family based CRM built in.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, but i don’t want to be locked into a service like cocodot. i want the family CRM to work with all of those services

      1. Tereza

        Yeah needs to plug in and import/export from other places frictionlessly. As easy as setting up a Tumblog.One of our issues is that my husband’s calendar is on a corporate Outlook system behind a firewall. I’m sure it’s solvable but not in the 5 minutes I’m willing to stop the train and think about it.And if there’s a bug/mess-up it could be brutal. Imagine 3.5 year old waiting somewhere 30 minutes to get picked up if we cross wires.

  24. Rob Freeborn

    How about Network Hippo?Blends different networks? CheckWeb interface? CheckMobile interface? Check

  25. Ray Bernaz

    Earlier this year my company launched a lightweight relationship manager on the BlackBerry called Scale ( that, while not 100% of what you describe, is getting pretty close.Scale allows you to group contacts already in your address book and will then automatically track your interactions with those contacts; reminding you when you need to reach out again via a red/amber/green heatmap. You can then send messages from the app or via your normal email/phone. Both are automatically imported and the heatmap is dynamically updated.I use it to stay on top of business contacts and my wife uses it to stay in touch with friends and our kids’ playgroups.Though just BlackBerry for now, we’re working on a web interface as well as the group messaging and shareable aspects you mention above. The tagging feature is one I hadn’t considered, but would be a good to add (thanks!).There’s a brief demo video on our homepage that will give you a decent sense as to how it works. ( There are more details on Scale here:….Oh, and if it looks at all familiar, that’s because I showed you an early beta version of Scale in Nov 09 at your DonorsChoose event.

    1. fredwilson

      my wife and one of my kids use a blackberrybut everyone else has moved on to iPhone and Androidi want an app that starts as a web app and then adds mobile apps, not the other way around

      1. Ray Bernaz

        Fair point on the web app. We’re working o that now. Our initial target market was mobile professionals, with whom BB’s still reign supreme and a web app is less attractive.And though the iPhone and Android are catching up, unless you define “everyone” as us tech geeks, I think it’s a massive exaggeration to even imply “everyone” has moved on to the Android and iPhone. Evidently your wife and kids are still in good company (according to Nielsen):

        1. fredwilson

          you are probably rightbut its only a matter of time

  26. Chris Phenner

    Awesome call-out — I’ve wanted non-business-y CRM (including for business) for some time — I’d call this a ‘proxy answer,’ as I don’t have a silver bullet solution.I’m a believer in picking the best platform and by way of that, picking the right developer ecosystem. Under that principle, Google Apps would be my ‘ecosystem of choice.’ To the point of ‘not wanting to do this in Gmail,’ perhaps that gets solved via a third-party native app with an IMAP interface.But at the heart of this, I see the core capabilities as being (i) import/sync with as many sources as possible, (ii) segment outbound messaging and (iii) reliably store thousands of personal contacts. Personally, I would add ‘Family Calendaring’ to my list of FamilyCRM requirements.And it’s the ‘reliably store thousands of contacts’ part that takes me back to Google Apps. Do you trust the companies behind the above-listed URLs to make an ‘ecosystem investment’ in them?I had 7,000+ songs in Lala for years, and on May 31st, they went poof. And Lala is owned by Apple. Plaxo was another where I invested a lot of time and hope, and that service took a turn for the worse.With great services like etacts, and thousands of others to follow, I’ll be this gets figured out by Google Apps developers sooner-than-later, especially as Google Apps Marketplace and Chrome Web Store become better-known as money-making vehicles for web-based apps.

  27. graubart

    From the comments, there’s clearly a ton of interest here.If I can add to the wish list, I’d love all the features described here and would also like some lightweight group scheduling features.

  28. ronaldoy

    Although not targeted for families, Highrise from 37signals may solve most problems and has some very useful features, if you forward an email from someone, it will identify and attach it to the correct person.You can tag any contact, create groups and attach tasks to it. It is inexpensive, very easy to use and has a free trial. I used both for business and for personal matters.

    1. fredwilson

      highrise has been mentioned a few times in this thread. i’m not excited about using a CRM designed for SMBs but i will take a look

      1. Tereza

        That would fail the “can my nanny and mother-in-law use it” test, which makes it a deal-breaker.Needs to be accessible to my entire “caregiving team”.

  29. Darren Herman

    While your at it, what about the bbm for families?

  30. Matt

    I would also love something like this, but keeping everyone’s information up to date has always been a problem as well. Initially thought Plaxo was the answer, but it’s too individual in nature. Seems like something that would fit in well with “family” oriented websites like or other similar services, but haven’t been added. Happy with Synergy on my WebOS phone, but again, no tagging and individual in nature. Will watch to see what comes up here!

  31. John Rourke

    Hi Fred,Greetings from SoHo/NYC. Try our social CRM app called Bantam Live, designed for small biz but I dare say great for your family. …It has nearly all your feature requirements. It integrates with social networks. It has a full-on Twitter client within it to import contacts and make comments to the family. It integrates with Google Apps such as Docs, Calendar, and Contacts. It’s lightweight, applauded for its design. It merges CRM with basic PM to assign tasks and get the family chores done. It pulls in LinkedIn profile widgets. When you add a person’s email it looks up 9M addresses to automagically display their social network profiles. It’s integrated with Rapportive. And in September we’ll be announcing email marketing integration. It’s hyper-simple to use.Bantam Live is the pioneer in implementing the real-time activity stream in a CRM app, similar to Facebook. I think you’ll enjoy seeing the activity of your family in your private activity stream. Check it out at …I’d be happy to give you a demo, too.

    1. fredwilson

      Hi Johni don’t want to use something that was built for a business

  32. Ben Werdmuller

    I’ve been gagging for something like this for years, and although some software has come close, it’s never quite appeared. I want something that’s simple to use, uses open standards, works well on my iPhone (and equally well on my Android handset once I flip to that), and doesn’t tie me into unnecessary features.So here’s what I’ve been planning to do:Building on my experiences as co-founder of Elgg, I’m going to build an open source CRM application with accompanying commercially hosted service. (Think WordPress vs The application will be designed with the understanding that CRM isn’t a “destination” app, but is instead something you want to use for 30 seconds in the context of doing something else in order to find or log some information.It will be flexible, highly extensible with plugins (allowing me to rely on the open source community to help me add functionality), have open APIs throughout, and take its cues from the social web in terms of search and sorting. Tagging will be at its core.If anyone’s interested, give me a shout; for now, I’ve got a stub page up and running at

    1. Marcossb

      Why don’t you take a look at Feng Office? It uses Open Standards and gets the job done.I’ve been using it for over a year to manage my contacts, sharing and tagging.

      1. Magui

        We use Feng Office just for that.Here is the link if you have a hard time to find it (as it happened to me):

      2. fredwilson

        i don’t want to use a business oriented service for this application

    2. Michael H.

      What is the font you used in “ContactFour”?

    3. fredwilson

      Ben – any idea when contactfour will be available for use?

      1. Ben Werdmuller

        It’s very much bootstrapped, so we’re currently talking an initial release sometime during the mid-to-late fall, with the hosted version popping up shortly afterwards.

  33. Stu

    Bento from Filemaker is an old-school “fat app” but it may do the trick

    1. Michael Melillo

      I would second Bento for a something like this. It’s one short coming would be that it doesn’t share well across multiple computers, however, it does if you sync it with Dropbox.And it’s elegant.

  34. Mark Panay

    Have a look at http://www.ContactZilla.comIt‘s not live yet, but it will do most of what you want, and the ones it doesn’t are in the pipeline (mobile)And it’s cute 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i will check it out

      1. Mark Panay

        The beta’s started now (a proper beta). Would be great to get some feedback.Current features:Import from nearly any CSV format, with merging, adding, etcTaggingComplete export of contactsFull activity (history/audit trail)Twitter feeds for per contact or aggregated, same for RSS feedsContacts can update their own detailsNotes and Tasks (can be assigned from nearly anywhere i.e. a Twitter post)Currently contacts are dependant on company, but this is changing next week…!!! :)App store for extra functionality…Totally free.Things coming next few weeks:incoming email integrationmulti recipient outgoing emaillist buildingLots of cool things to come after that…Got a bit carried away there. Didn’t mean to shamelessly self promote quite as much as that, just all pretty exciting around here right now.Like i say would be great to get some feedback?

        1. fredwilson

          just sent in my emailwhy not let people get going without having to do the email verification?you will lose a lot of people with that step

          1. Mark Panay

            Thanks for the heads up. We are using the default Mailchimp behaviour for the homepage registration. We’re fixing this today so that people are put onto the waiting list straight away, with no verification.I’ll send you an “update request” from me, and then you can if you wish get into the system. Really looking forward to some feedback.Thanks

  35. cyanbane

    Surprised no one has mentioned Evernote. Just keep a notebook for contacts and tag each entry. The API probably isn’t as lightweight, but the evernote clients are pretty decent on my ipad/iphone. They have an android app, not sure about BB though.

    1. fredwilson

      too heavy for mei keep trying to use it and i can’t get thereway too feature rich for me

      1. RichardF

        I agree every time I have installed it on my pc it crashes it and I can’t be bothered to find out why

  36. Sebastian Wain

    For many years I use a wiki for my family, I don’t know if it fits your needs. May be it needs tweeks for importing information, etc. But IMHO a WYSIWYG wiki is the way to go.

  37. ntoll

    FluidDB would be an excellent backend for such an application – hey… this might be an interesting opportunity for play/experimentation… (I know *my* family needs a CRM service).

  38. Laurent

    I wonder how many people would be interested in such a service and what the main functionality should look like (on top of the ones you already listed).A year ago, I designed a free CRM ( but was unhappy because of the tons of existing CRMs. May be this is a good opportunity to transform my application into something useful. I’ll have a look at what needs to be done.Laurent

  39. dyno

    Hi Fred,You can try the Tonido Workspace… application. It provides tagging support for contacts and implements horizontal information scheme. You can also have a family calendar there.

  40. jaretmanuel

    I used to work for Salesforce. As you know it is geared towards B2B but you could treat accounts as “Family Name” and you may get all the mobile functionality in their free mobile edition. Cost may be the issue as you may need Professional edition for the mass email (of your created list) and the mobile may call for pro edition also. This thread indicates a sweet opportunity for a simple effective – easy to use sCRM.May be worth a trial to toy around with it unless you come up with a better solution or a hacker geek in the bat cave snaps something together this weekend.Good Luck | @JaretManuel

  41. Joseph Turian

    The most important problem to solve is that when you do a search, or browse by a tag, that no one slips through the cracks. With a friend organizer, the worst possible thing it can do is become central to organizing your social life, but then silently “forget” about certain friends of yours.I’ve thought about this very application (I call it “CRM for hypersocial people”) and the most important component is the natural language processing. In particular, you want good autotagging and query expansion, with an emphasis on recall.More specifically, if one of your ballet dancer friends is manually tagged “ballet” but not “dance”, and you search for “dance”, you want this friend to appear in the results.Additionally, if you are looking for “hackers”, it should know that it should include people who are “hardcore programmers” or maybe those that program “ruby”.I already have built this NLP technology (browsing and search using autotagging and query expansion) for an alternate application. Let me know if you are building this CRM, or another application in which it is important that good results not slip through the crack, and are interested in using my tools. If you are building something open-source, I’ll share with you freely. If you are building a product to monetize, then we can figure out fair licensing terms.

    1. fredwilson

      so truedid you also leave this comment on hacker news?this is a very important point you are making

      1. Joseph Turian

        Yes, that was I who left a similar comment on HN.I developed said autotagger + query expansion technology, and have decided to reach out to others (like Ben Werdmuller) about the possibility of disseminating it more broadly.There’s actually a huge application area for this particular NLP API, if implemented correctly. The main difficulty is educating potential developers about the myriad situations in which its useful.

        1. Mark Panay

          Hi Joseph, I really like this. We’ve recently done something similar, but it doesn’t sound quite as clever as your solution.Do you have any online documentation?

    2. Tereza

      Really awesome point.Absolutely need to include moms in user requirements collection.

  42. Joran Greef

    Sorry I had an error with Disqus and my comment got posted thrice. I am thinking the same thing and building it right now. Sort of like a modern-day filo-fax. A place to put everything. Jot notes, keep a diary, collaborate with small groups of people, who don’t use Gmail, who need to send group-mail from time to time. It’s a people-centric approach to email rather than list-centric. And similar to Rapportive in some ways. Good for couples planning weddings, small businesses etc. It’s up at at the moment.

    1. fredwilson

      i like the feel of szpilclean and lightbut i can’t get excited about hand entering all of our contact listsany thoughts on word or excel importing?and what about tags and search?

      1. Joran Greef

        Thanks Fred.Search bar is top right and searches everything: name, description, company, profession, notes etc.I had some great HN feedback last month re: Szpil as a name (atrocious), home page marketing (atrocious), importing contacts (atrocious).…My flatmate also wanted tags and smart lists (e.g. email all architects she knows etc.) and the ability to email these lists for her work. I am working through all the HN feedback and hope to have the improvements up at soon.Can I let you know when it’s up?

  43. MKais

    it exists in France! may be everywhere else soon (@mrboo & @pocarles)

  44. Erica Brescia

    I was just talking about how someone needs to build that the other day! I would also like to see integrated shared calendaring and lists (for shopping, etc) that you can add to via SMS or from a mobile phone and that the whole family can access.

  45. mattb2518

    I’d look at as weird as that may sound. I don’t know if they have a personal edition or not, but it’s pretty inexpensive for super basic functionality like this and quite easy to use.

    1. fredwilson

      Hi Mattthanks for that suggestionwe could do that, but i really am hoping someone has built or will build a CRM designed from the ground up for families

    1. fredwilson

      i will check it out

  46. Nicholas Patten

    a customized Salesforce CRM would do this pretty easily. Or maybe even Bantam Live.

  47. RichardF

    this is good market research for something we are currently working on, although not exactly the same.

  48. Gschroeder

    We’d be delighted to show you ours! is exactly as you describe.

    1. fredwilson

      i checked it outbut idea2 is a “customer” relationship management servicei want a family relationship management service

  49. Jason Whitman


    1. Tereza

      The price point is totally off-base for family use. $24/month for a Christmas Card list is outrageous.

      1. ShanaC

        ok what is your pricepoint? Filofax is how much- and don’t work so well…

        1. Tereza

          I haven’t looked so I really need to answer it by seeing. Maybe $29-$49/year but needs to be accessed via freemium, so that price is an upgrade.Monthly makes no sense.And I would charge for renewal around Thanksgiving so there is an immediate pain to turning it off.

          1. fredwilson

            i would pay up to $10/month (that’s what we pay for mailchimp in our office) but i am probably at the very high end of the rangemy gut says $49/year as a premium/freemium upgrade makes sense

          2. Tereza

            Yeah that sounds right.For a full “family management system” with both CRM and calendar could swing a bit higher. I’d do as high as $149/yr but it has to be damn good and I probably still have to ease into it via freemium. As the reliability and productivity is proven I think certain folks would be willing to inch it ever higher, with certain features.Also while expensive I think a tablet is an ideal interface for the household to access the dynamic calendar and contacts list — and with multiple caregivers is essential.Or maybe an iTouch. But that makes me nervous because it’s small and would walk off in 5 minutes.

          3. candice

            Also…. Having gone through address hell while wedding planning earlier this year, there is definitely also an invitations market in this space.I of course, had to collate printed list from mother-in-law and word document from mom into a spreadsheet, and then write the damned things by hand from the merge. I would have paid for good software to make that easier.

  50. Noteleaf

    Hi Fred, You might find Noteleaf ( useful. We’re still in early public beta and don’t have all the features you mentioned, but our goal is to create an extremely simple tool to help you remember the people you meet. You can take quick, Twitter-style notes about people and do full text searching on them later (including #hashtag notes).Good luck finding a solution that works for you and thanks for the awesome blog.

    1. S. Pandya

      This is so close to hitting the sweet spot — at least for me. It’s not feature loaded and it’s mobile; however, it needs to have integration with the Google Suite (Calendar, Contacts, Gmail and Gmail Tasks) to be fully effective. Ditto for those who are on Live/MSN/Hotmail and Yahoo.The other thing is make sure you have a privacy policy and contact information for your service on your website. As a user, I am less likely to trust you if you are missing the above (which as of right now, you are 🙂 )

    2. fredwilson

      i will take a look. sounds interesting

  51. Kirk Kaiser

    Hey, check out They’re in the process of integrating hash tags into the family discussions. It’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s worth a shot for now. I could see it evolving into something more.

    1. fredwilson

      will dothanks for the tip kirk

  52. Joseph Turian

    The question really is: What problem are we trying to solve?The answer is: Allowing you to easily find certain types of people over your hundreds or thousands of contacts. Types = certain business or personal relationship, certain skill, certain place you met, etc.Here are the core features, the minimum viable product. In fact, I would avoid something that is bloated and doesn’t focus on these core features:* Automatically importing and deduping your contacts from a variety of sources: email contacts, linkedin, facebook, maybe twitter.* Automatically assigning a rank score to each friend, based upon your frequency of contact with them, and analysis of the social graph. You want your spouse to be ranked high, and the guy you met once at a networking event to be ranked low.* Depending upon interactions with people, you can upvote or downvote them, to change their rank score. Ran into someone you want to hang out with more? Upvote. New girl made a date with you and then stood you up? Downvote.* You can search or browse by tag. There is smooth autotagging and query expansion, to make sure searches don’t miss certain friends.That’s it.

    1. fredwilson

      i think one and four create a MVPat least for me

      1. Joseph Turian

        From a practical perspective, you need two to get four.There are a lot of tags I have in my head that are not reflected in my facebook and email information trail. “#dinnerparty” or “#witty”, for example. Hence, you cannot do complete autotagging. You can only do partial autotagging, to enhance existing manual tags.The problem is that I don’t want to manually tag my 1000 friends on facebook. I want to tag my top 100 friends, and then skim the rest of the list.Two is pretty easy to get, though. You just rank people by frequency of contact. That’s a simple technique and I think adds a lot of value on top of random sorting.

    2. Tereza

      Make sure the imports have dates attached to them.Certain times of year you will have batches — such as September, start of new school year.Then some in a ‘cohort’ age out — e.g. at the end of the school year.That dynamism is part of what would be very useful to capture.#margotsclass as a tag times out at the end of the year (but need it this year, for her birthday party invitations).I guess I could tag it #margotsclass2010-2011 but I feel that makes me do too much thinking. And I won’t keep up with it.I want a wizard for this kind of stuff.Seriously, must have a mom on the team. She will come up with every single use case.

  53. MS Internet

    If all else fails we will happily build this for you. See for more info about us and to get in touch. Martin

  54. Bob

    This could probably be done via a google doc spreadsheet or another service with an api, as long it is consistent in nature . Red stamp doesn’t seem to have an api and pingg not too sure about but maybe using vcf as a format and create a list then export.

  55. Don (Gear Offer founder)

    It seems like what’s required is a CRM API initially and not just a web application. A generic (not business or family focused) API would be a great starting point and then follow that up with a web front and, mobile clients, and maybe a light-weight desktop client.

    1. fredwilson

      so true


    If someone wants to invest in this idea I can take in this direction without a problem. [email protected]

  57. Arnor Heidar

    Highrise works pretty much that way. Excel import works smoothly. All your checkboxes are marked in highrise.

  58. DevelMasterPro

    I was looking for a similar service some time ago.

  59. Tereza

    I totally agree this is a huge pain point.Our family list is outta control. Ours is an uber-massaged 10-year old Excel spreadsheet and the thing’s damn ugly and inefficient to keep updated.Totally falls into my meme of “mashups, market and motherhood”. Prevailing productivity tools are neither turnkey to get started nor set up the right tags/structures that actually track to our needs.I also lack a really excellent web-based family calendar that is effortless to set up, and pushes changes to your handhelds (including the babysitter). So we still keep an At-A-Glance on our fridge. And then mess up family appointments frequently. If I were creating a family suite, I’d put it at the center. It could be the basis of really interesting information and services.I’ve said before but want to repeat. A Foursquare for carpooling. Link it to the family e-calendar. Not just where you are, but where you’re going. With multiple kids shuttled to multiple places, it’s crazy how complicated it gets. And birthday parties? You’re often not sure who else was invited. This would tell me who else is coming and going from the same place — a carpool recommendation engine.Between the calendar and the address list — which BTW should automatically upload kids’ school directories/class lists, which change every year — I want a recommendation engine of families we might try socializing with because we have compatible kids by age and gender. I can’t tell you how many times you only realize in February or April how compatible another family is and then it’s almost too late because the kids won’t be in the same class next year.We all want families who are well-matched with ours. So hard to find but so awesome when it happens. Where the kids get along great and run off and play while the moms jabber and the dads yuck it up too. Where the whole family hangs out, eats and plays together and you don’t need to get a babysitter.So “family matching” enabled by the web — that would make a lot of people happy.

    1. S. Pandya

      I am waiting for very much the same kind of tool/web service/killer app that you are (!), but in the meantime we use shared Google Calendars. You might want to try the following:- Create Google Calendars for yourself and members of your family, as well as an overall family calendar that is on one account, but has full read/write permissions- Enable tasks within Google Calendar- Enable both tasks and calendar widgets with Gmail.It’s not perfect, but it comes very close to the above, since most of the specialized widgets can plug into Gmail, and once you have the Gmail to GCal link set up, it’s a painless transition.Of course, the assumption is that you are using Google services, and the downside is that the mobile side for all this is currently somewhat limited (only some Android phones, for example, support multiple calendars).

      1. Tom Royce

        This is exactly how we do things in our family. My wife, my two boys, and I each have our own Google Calendar that roll up into a master calendar. We can all add items and my wife and I have android phones so the updates are in live time.Scheduling is not perfect but it is much better than our previous incarnations. Reminders hit us on the phone, computer, and we also do a weekly printout for the fridge. My work meetings and notes do not roll up into the family calendar, but if I have to block a period of time that is out of the ordinary schedule, I then push it to the family calendar.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Times like this I wish I could code. There really is something to all of these ideas you just threw out. Add in an evite-like app for play dates and letting family and friends know about kids recitals, school programs and sports events, etc. — that would be sent automatically once the event was logged in.Just for starters. Possibilities are endless.

    3. fredwilson

      these are the kinds of web services that women/mothers are more likely to invent than 20 something men

      1. Tereza

        Ya think?!:-)

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I was going to say something like this earlier in response to T but edited out the comment. I know the XX Combinator idea has gotten some flack for being sexist but in the end it is not about gender so much as it is about experience — and some experiences are just more gender-centric. Most web services are coming out of experience. And some experiences are under-represented in the developer world — which means some markets are not being maximized — or dare I say well-served!

        1. Tereza

          Often we are offered something developed for someone completely unlike us. And then all they do for us is “shrink it and pink it”.That’s not always enough.The pain points and their relative priority sometimes vastly differ, and lead to different things. Or maybe a very different UI, even is the backend is largely the same.

        2. Tereza

          In my mind an XX Combinator does not need to preclude men. In fact, I’d rather in doesn’t. I appreciate that to guys it sounds sexist and to high-flying women pre-kids, it evokes “B Team”.Whatever it’s called, I just feel it is critical that it is set up so that the time schedule is one that mothers can participate in.A number of fun alternatives have floated around:The “Kids-In-Bed Combinator” – prime work hours from 9pm to 2am! The “XXX Combinator” – co-ed fun! The “Cougar Combinator” — meow!I’ve proposed yet a different one in a piece I’ve written, but I cannot disclose as it’s awaiting publication. Stay tuned!

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I’m with you, T. Definitely don’t want to exclude men! The idea is to make the startup ecosystem less exclusionary — right? As I’ve said elsewhere, I truly do believe the exclusion of women that has occurred is completely unintentional and I truly don’t think the answer is to fight exclusion with exclusion. However, isn’t it ironic that it seems to take twice the intentionality to correct those things that occur unintentionally.I’ve been very interested in the comments from men that face some of the same barriers given their roles in child-rearing. I am not unsympathetic given that my husband was a stay-at-home-Dad for several years and continually goes up against “the system” to create a work schedule that allows him to share equally in raising our children. (I’ve been self-employed for most of my child-rearing years but even when I worked on staff at a search firm, I worked from home at least half the time not to mention the 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. shift.)No comment on Cougar Combinator — except that I just missed qualifying. My husband is 7 years younger. haha

          2. Tereza

            Yeah, I think dads don’t have it easy today.The dads I know try very hard to participate and they are caught between competing pressures — from family, kids and school, versus work/office and travel.I’ve met very few slacker dads in my sphere.

          3. fredwilson

            Elizabeth Stark and i were looking for a better name for “gender diversefounding teams”if you have any ideas, we are all ears

        3. fredwilson


      3. Alexandre Winter

        Thank you Fred! I am a 38 yr old entrepreneur looking for a project that’s in line with my life now – when I started my last company I was 28 years old and no kids.That might be it!

        1. Tereza

          Do it, Alexandre!!I’d happily be a customer and so would many, many people I know!

  60. Sloane Davidson

    Fred – As a former nonprofit development person (turned startup techie) it’s been impossible to find anything over the past 7 years that comes close to what nonprofits can do in having lists and CRM services. I’ve tried everything – including Highrise and never found a service I like as much as Raiser’s Edge – where you can create all sorts of lists and family categories to pull for fundraising purposes. So like when I worked at an independent school in LA we could pull lists for grandparents and people marked “special friends” for invitations. Or people we hadn’t heard from in x amount of time, or people making gifts within certain ranges. But Raiser’s Edge (and all BlackBaud instruments) are super expensive for the casual user.I read your blog all the time but haven’t ever commented, but as I read the comments today I see the nonprofit database side is missing, where relationships are everything. I thought I’d chime in.So this post is something I’ve asked people about for years. Like you, I don’t want it in my gmail or Facebook. Highrise hasn’t worked for me either.Last year, I added a script to my Apple address book where it’s coded “Add xTAGx to notes” – and then I can add “Family” “Holiday” “Los Angeles” “New Orleans” or whatever and then I use those groups to do emails and outreach.Of course, it’s not all synced with gmail, which makes it often frustrating, but I’ve found that it’s worked for me. I would love a service to find a way to do this (and linking to a pinng would be dynamite). But in lieu of that service, you could try the script I mentioned.It’s a hack, I know! But until something else comes along it’s quick and easy and does the job you’re looking for.

    1. Tereza

      That’s a great point because indeed this stuff comes up in Fundraising all the time.

    2. fredwilson

      thanks Sloanevery helpful commenti hope we don’t have to wait too long for another comment!

      1. Sloane Davidson

        Duly noted 🙂

    3. Mark Essel

      Great info, please comment more :D.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Great comment. Thanks for the info!

  61. Jonny Dollar

    It would be nice if it could merge with a Microsoft Access like database. Much better than Word or Excel in my view.

  62. Jon Ferrara

    Hi Fred,My name is Jon Ferrara. I founded GoldMine, a early pioneer in the Contact/SFA/CRM space. GoldMine was designed a Networked Relationship Manager for the Team. After selling GoldMine I contemplated writing a family SaaS app as you described but never pursued it. I did however create a new Social Relationship Manager that should cover all your bases. It’s called You give Nimble all of your communications credentials, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, IMAP, POP Exchange and Google and we unify all of your contacts, calendars, emails and social direct/indirect communications in one place. No more need to go to 15 places to communicate. Nimble integrate contacts, calendars and communications. It is simple enough to work for your needs but can grow with you too. It’s in private beta now but public beta is coming soon. Best of luck with your search,Cheers,Jon Ferrara CEO – Nimble

    1. fredwilson

      Hi Joni will give Nimble a lookout of curiosity, why didn’t you do the family CRM?too small of a market?

      1. Jon Ferrara

        Why I never pursued FamilyCRM#1 – You have to do what your passionate about in life and although the FamilyCRM idea is interesting it never “Fired Me Up” like GoldMine & Nimble. If you make a family more productive you make a mom happy, if you make a SmallBiz more productive you change lives.#2 – What family would pay for such a service? Ok, I understand the Mint idea of data and users but I don’t have to like it…#3 – I was not ready. I just sold GoldMine and I was having fun being a dad/kid and getting to know what it’s like to have time for friends again after 10 years of boot-strapping GoldMine into a multi-national company/ Nimble uses MongoDB as it’s back end….. Be sure to peek at us, Nimble will AMAZE you.Best,Jon

        1. Tereza

          I think a Mom absolutely has to lead product development for it.She will feel it changes lives and doesn’t ‘just make a mom happy’.I am sure there is a mom out there who is passionate about this and can crack the code.The amount of time we moms burn on this stuff makes us want to pull our hair out.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          From what little I’ve seen thus far, Nimble does seem exciting. I know that GM had an amazing impact — will look forward to seeing how Nimble develops. I think that a family CRM will do a lot more than “make mom happy” and could potentially change lives. Nimble seems to have at least some features that might make some moms happy — especially those combining business pursuits with running a family and wanting to do both with elegance. However, as Tereza states, it may just take a mom to develop a service to truly address a family’s needs. I understand your point about a family paying for such a service but aren’t there ways to monetize so that the full cost is not incurred by the user/subscriber. So many examples of this. Anyway, obviously this is not your fish to fry.All the best with Nimble.

          1. Jon Ferrara

            Dear Donna,I hereby apologize to any ‘mom’ who might have taken offense to mycomment ‘make a mom happy’I spent the last period of my life being a stay at home dad so I getthe issues moms face. I actually think being a present/involvedparent can be more challenging than running a large corporation.Spending the last 8 years of my life as a stay at home parent hasgiven me a deep respect and understanding of the challenges ‘Mom’s’face and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be one and wishmore dads were able to. If more dads spent real time at home doingall the things moms do I think the world would be a better place. Atleast the guys would know what the moms went through each day.I do agree that families need a shared relationship platform thatintegrates contacts, communications, scheduling & shopping lists. Itshould integrate easily with other systems such as google, exchangeand iCal calendars so that the family calendar would map onto theworking parents biz cal and any shared sports/outside activities. Itbe great if the grocery stores gave this system access to our purchasehistory so the platform could create shopping lists based on ourhistorical purchases.This system would make it so dads and the children would not have toalways ask mom what the ‘plan’ was for the day/week. Everyone in thefamily would have the calendar on their phone/computer and takeresponsibility for managing it.I could go on for ever on this subject. I get what moms go through andthey deserve a better tool. I did design Nimble to fit both biz andnon-biz people so I believe it could cover a lot of the issuesfamilies face. We have also designed Nimble to be an extensibleplatform like WordPress so whatever is missing could be easily added.Humbly yours,Jon – a passionate involved father and husband to an amazing mom.

          2. Tereza

            Hey Jon — totally appreciate what you’re saying and where you’re coming from.We all have things that come out the wrong way sometimes.I bet you’re an awesome dad and also an excellent entrepreneur.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Jon,Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. No offense taken. Although I am salivating over the “shared relationship platform” you just described. Hopefully, someone will develop this! Interestingly, my husband was a stay-at-home-Dad for several years and continues to share equally in the time commitment of parenting. Even still, I have always been the one who “manages” our kids lives and our family-life in general, but that may be a function of playing to strengths. Again, Nimble seems fantastic — a brilliant and timely concept — and I’m glad to see a new tech business in the neighborhood! Will be very interested to see how this unfolds and also what developer partners emerge. I can definitely see how my very relationship-driven field (recruitment and executive search) can benefit from a product like Nimble, especially with some add-ons. (BTW, I was recently with a firm that used Goldmine.) Best,Donnap.s. Inspired by what you shared about your own parenting experience.

          4. nakisnakis

            Hi Jon,I believe that #languagematters and was surprised to learn about your use of stay-at-home mom when you spent some time being a stay-at-home dad. What about changing the conversation to parent? I can also imagine working parents needing to sync with the most up-to-date calendar schedule, especially if they’re on their way to a business meeting/trip when dropping off, or picking up, a kid. You also mentioned the ability to have kids manage the calender, as well. It’s more than a tech solution for parents–it’s a tech solution for the family. I very strongly reacted to: If you make a family more productive you make a mom happy, if you make a SmallBiz more productive you change lives.I can understand, like Fred said, if you’re not passionate about it. However, from a business standpoint, the “mom” market might be bigger than the client base of a small business, ergo having the potential to change even more lives. Thanks, Donna, for also pointing this out.

          5. Jon Ferrara

            Hi Natalia,Thanks for your feedback on my previous post. I agree that a family CRM system is sorely needed and should be a huge market. As I said before in a lenthy follow-up to my initial post, my choice of words about making moms happy was poor and deserved a the response that Donna and others so properly shared with me. I hope that you have read my response to the other posts and understand how much I respect what is done by the people who nurture and guide our families.Best,Jon

        3. fredwilson

          #1 is enough for me. passion is so important. i will check out nimble

  63. JoAnn McCullough

    evernote would probably work great unless you tried to pull out the info for a mailing list…. maybe now with their new trunk feature it may be enhanced.i love it for keeping track of random things that come up when i’m away from my laptop and keeps me from having to carry around notebooks

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t get into evernotei’ve tried a bunch of timesit is too feature rich for my taste

  64. William Mougayar

    The 3 SMB CRM’s I was going to name have already been mentioned: Capsule, HighRise, BatchBlue.

  65. Aaron Klein

    Going to go way old school but I searched this post for Outlook and it’s not there. :)I’ve got several thousand contacts in Outlook. I put tags just like this in the big memo field. I use categories for the big 30,000 foot groupings of contacts.Search is crazy fast with Outlook 2007 or 2010. The BlackBerry search app can easily and instantly search the tags on my Bold 9700. (Don’t know about Android.)When you search in Outlook, you can easily select all the search results and send an e-mail. Export to Excel could be a lot cleaner but it’s possible and not too hard – that’s how we mail merge the Christmas Card list.There are a number of reasons I can’t live without Outlook, but as a result, I’ve had the chance to see MSFT get their act together in a number of key areas. Outlook 2010 is one amazing piece of software and it’s a long time since you could say that about a Microsoft product.

    1. fredwilson

      that would be like going back to high school for mebeen there, done that, not going back

  66. Brian W. Williams

    My wife and I use Highrise for exactly this, as a few people have mentioned. We have an #xmaslist tag, for example, and can export that for our annual mailing. I even have my wife using the email-in dropbox to add new contacts and notes.Fred, why doesn’t Highrise work for you? It’s not perfect, but in terms of being simple and doing the basics, it works well. True, it’s “business oriented” but I don’t think overly so.

    1. fredwilson

      i’ll give highrise a shoti just think family life is a lot different than business life and a crm designed for family life would be awesome

      1. Brian W. Williams

        I agree. Highrise works for me for now (both business and family) mostly because it doesn’t try to do too much, but it’s far from perfect. I look forward to the follow-up post to see what you settle on. Perhaps we *should* build something new …

        1. Tereza

          I truly want to see something that is optimized for real family life.It should be a pretty big market!

    2. Joran Greef

      I used Highrise for a colleague and myself. After a year of enjoying Highrise, we started using a lightweight CRM we coded up ourselves and never looked back.Re: “I want to be able to make lists on the fly and email them directly from the service”Highrise won’t help you there.

    3. Tereza

      I’d want it to include contact info from school directories and all the locations we come and go and for it to really work for us it’s got to be bloody simple — so much so that my nanny (with an 11th grade education) and my mother-in-law (77 yo retired nurse tech luddite although she’s active on Facebook!)Unless my expanded caregiving “team” can use it with confidence, we’re back to directories hanging off a string and a nail and it hasn’t brought me the value I need.

  67. Eric Greenberg

    Hello Fred and Thread,I recently released a web app in ‘semi-private’ beta (not anymore I guess!) called conXt ( I built conXt to solve my wife’s and my perennial Holiday Card issue, where we never seem to have a list of updated addresses to send out cards too. Although there are still features to be built, pending funding, the core of this flexible system is in place and works. conXt is a free, private address book that lets you (optionally) connect to other people using conXt. The idea being that over time all of our address books will be self-updating.You can import contacts directly from gmail or import csv from Hotmail, outlook, etc.You can group/tag/label your contacts into as many groups as works for you. I personally have things like Holiday Cards, poker buddies, Philadelphia Network, etc.Also (important!) if you choose to ‘conXt’ to other people, you can share only parts of your info with the different Groups: share work info with work people, Home with Family/Friends, just your email with ‘casual contacts, etc., so that you retain total control, and privacy, over your contact info.You can also interact to some degree with the contacts in your address book: email, skype, access social networks easily.Thus far, conXt has been self-funded (much to my wife’s dismay! Holiday cards weren’t supposed to cost THAT much). If anyone reading would like to pick up the ball here, I am about 4 months and $30,000 development costs away from being able to offer everything that, say, Plaxo would offer in their Premium account, but for free, such as a mobile web version, merging contacts, etc.Additionally, conXt even comes with an ethical and respectful B2B revenue model. I am happy to discuss this, but not on this thread.I am in Philly and have a day job as a Senior IT Project Manager at Wharton. conXt has become a passion of mine and I am looking forward to seeing where the conXt community will eventually take this tool.Thanks for reading!

    1. fredwilson

      this looks close to what i wantcan i email from conXt?and how would you suggest i import contacts from excel and word?

      1. Eric Greenberg

        Hi Fred – I’m glad to hear it.Yes, you can email from conXt. You can either email individuals or Groups (I call them Groups in conXt, but they are the same as labels/tags, for the most part). You can also skype from conXt.For the moment, the best that I can offer for uploading from a *personalized* excel document is to download a ‘contacts’ csv from Hotmail/yahoo/gmail, and then copy/past First Name, Last Name, Email Address from your excel doc to the csv doc. Not great, I know, but Hey! I’ve been a one-person business until lately, so I had to stop somewhere. However, I actually just performed this copy/paste service for my dad’s account and it only took about 5 minutes.The problem with Word (and personalized excel docs) is the variety of formatting that someone could just make up to store their contacts in. Pretty much any app is going to need some kind of consistently formatted data so that it can map correctly to the database schema.If you would like, I would be happy to give you a brief walk-through. As I mentioned in my post, I am just at the beginning of trying to raise funds in order to take conXt to the next level of functionality (after all, what good are contacts if I can’t get them on my phone or other device?).Thanks for the interest.Eric

        1. fredwilson

          erici’ve put together a short list of four or five web services to focus oncontxt is one of themi’ll be playing with it over the next few days

          1. Eric Greenberg

            One year later….I thought I would update this to mention that conXt has been totally revamped and meets these initial requirements, plus more. You can tag, search, email individuals and groups, as well as ‘on the fly’ selections, send physical mail (like holiday cards, letters, postcards) get driving directions, keep track of notes, etc.Thanks!

          2. Eric Greenberg

            Fred, I made a short video of how to use conXt if you or anyone else reading is interested:…Eric

    2. PhilipSugar

      Eric look me up “philip sugar” -don (I have to buy some of that guys music just to see what it is like) ……philipsugar at google’s service. I’ll spring for lunch at Sang Kee.

  68. Mark Essel

    Could what you require be accomplished with tagging friends/relatives emails with labels? Even for relatives without an email address, a contact can be created with a physical address and phone numbers. Should be simple to search for specific tags in gmail.If you want to be more specific you can tag things with family and vegan, or friend and vegan. It’s really up to you.Hmm, the more I think about what’s really needed is a tag per contact that should be an easy gmail labs hack.Checking contacts now: I’m already seeing most labelled message types next to contacts. Sweet. Gmail allows custom fields for contacts there, should work fine. Also there is relationship info.

  69. Tereza

    Anyone on AVC gonna be in London Tues-Thurs this week?If yes lemme know at @terezan and we’ll see if we can intersect.

  70. Erin Newkirk

    Hi Fred et all.My name is Erin Newkirk and I’m the CEO of RedStamp. What a wealth of information for our company + our space! Thank you so much. Truth be told, we have also been searching for a consumer/family/boutique business CRM service that is simple, social + compatible with our services. One that incorporates everything from twitter handles to physical addresses. Obviously familiar with many of the suggestions given here, but we haven’t found the right one yet. We have even contemplated building one, but think it would be more interesting to partner with someone who is as passionate about CRM as we are about correspondence.So, if there is someone out there who is passionate about doing this, I’d love to chat. With 5+ years of experience in the correspondence field + lots of personal family/mom/wife/head of household experience, RedStamp could be an excellent resource. Even if it’s solely for the greater good of building a product that is so obviously needed. Love that.Fred, thanks for the mention.

    1. nakisnakis

      Hi Erin,I love the potential for efficiencies in having RedStamp participate in the creation of this FRM (family relationship management) platform. You can provide a helpful and aggregated perspective.

      1. Erin Newkirk

        FRM…like that!Thanks for your reply. Pipeline looks like a smart initiative. Would love to hear more at [email protected].

    2. Joanne Lang

      Erin – does RedStamp send out cards for people too?

  71. Tim

    I have this currently in my product that’s for small theater companies managing their contacts (patrons, donors, actors, directors), etc. There’s a nice drag-and-drop interface for building mailing lists on the fly. You can email to them or export them to csv. You can import contacts via csv.There’s a rapportive plugin to have this data show up in gmail and make it easy to update.I’m currently working on a redesign that will not have a mobile app, but will work on a mobile screen efficiently.Is this really a niche that hasn’t been filled as a simple app? It would be fairly easy to pull this out and make a standalone app.

  72. Guest

    Fred-I’ve been building a web service (accessible by smartphones) for most of this year to solve this problem. But instead of just a Family CRM, our service is a life manager that not only keeps tracks of and organizes personal contacts & relationships but also personal projects and tasks, and family records in an easy-to-search and visualize format. We should have a working prototype ready by this winter. Dosydo.comBrian

  73. 5ooyoung

    I recommend Upvise. There are mobile clients for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and probably other mobile platforms. Disconnected mode works well. And they’re a fellow Singaporean company.

  74. RacerRick

    Hey Fred – what was the final analysis of your “Family CRM” idea…Did you find a service?Did you get any takers?

  75. Jamie Pullman

    Fred, is this what you’re looking for?

  76. Stefan Fountain does everything you mention including integration with all the various contact databases on phones. The only thing we don’t do is emailing directly from the app. Our philosophy has always been that you already have apps that email much better than we would (, Gmail, Outlook etcetera). You mention in many of the comments that you dislike Gmail, what about – or is it the fact that you will have to filter through all the ‘irrelevant’ business mails to get to the family based email?Joseph Turian (great comments btw!) mentions 4 points, of which you say #1 and #4 would make an MVP. That currently is Soocial. We are aimed purely on the address book and unification. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how our service ( would be able to provide your with what you want without needing to write a full-scale email client. If it’s merely sending to a group that wouldn’t be hard although I still struggle to see the added value over doing it from Gmail/ if you have the correct groups there natively (which is what Soocial provides).Do you think there should be some form of multi-user intergration. That is if you change a contact your wife/daughter should also get that change? If so then that would be another element still missing from Soocial’s current offering.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      I’m not sure if is the best pick for what Fred is asking because his wishlist is really broad. But I can say that I love Soocial.I prefer to keep some email separate and I have seceral GApps and Gmail accounts. With Soocial I sync all the address books automatically and keep only one version of each contact. Then I sync the main one’s address book and calendar with my Blackberry with Google Sync… Syncing nirvana!

  77. Joanne Lang will cover most of your wish-list and more (with added wisdom and magic) when it launches in September. We call this aspect – “Connections”If you want a preview prior to the release in September please let me know.The AboutOne alpha product is currently in use with our early customer program. We will also release our updated website in September for more detailed information.For a demo before launch please send me an email.RegardsJoanne – [email protected]

  78. Allan Knodel

    Have you considered AirSet? AirSet ( ) has more features than what you are looking for, but you can turn off the apps you don’t want and use only what suits you.Good calendar and group (family) features, but lately they seem to be moving towards more of a business model. See their announcement last month about changes to their service:

  79. J.P.

    I came across this today and it seems as though it might work for what you need. The interesting thing is it’s a modified WordPress theme for contact management.Since it’s WordPress it handles tagging and search out of the box.Anyway, here’s the link. It may not work for you but when I saw it I thought I should share.

  80. Allan Knodel

    Have you considered AirSet? AirSet ( ) has more features than what you are looking for, but you can turn off the apps you don’t want and use only what suits you.Good calendar and group (family) features, but lately they seem to be moving towards more of a business model. See their announcement last month about changes to their service:

  81. Philippe Cases

    Sorry, I was travelling during this very interesting conversation and I am just know catching up with my blogs. For the last year, we have been developing a Personal Connections Management Service that enables people to keep their lifetime of personal contacts updated and organized with minimal effort making the contacts available for a variety of daily uses both professional and personal. In order to manage thousands of connection in the right way, we thought that a Personal Connections Management Service should gather all connections in one place; annotate, clean and fill-in missing information about a contact; keep those contacts updated automatically; organize contacts automatically into sharable and mailable lists (Family, Christmas list, VIP, Keep In Touch….); and enable fast retrieval based on reach, needs or domains-of-shared-interests. We are not integrated yet with either Red Stamp and Pingg but thse sounds like a great feature. Regarding uploading information, assuming you have sent one email to this group, the group will be automatically created.

    1. fredwilson

      I am still making my way through the various services mentioned in thisthread. Is yours live?

      1. Philippe Cases

        We are in private beta running within Outlook for now. This is a version that I have been using to demonstrate the functionalities while we are building our web based version with integration with all social networks (i.e. you may not have email adress or a phone number but you may be friend on Facebook or LinkedIn and can reach the person that way) which will be available by 10/31/2010. if you can play with it using Outlook, I can shoot a version.

  82. John Rourke

    Kinda surprised by that reaction, so I took off the testimonials. Perhaps I was a bit over-eager. But do know that what Fred has asked for is precisely what the app does. The features I mention are over and above what Fred is asking for. I was simply trying to provide more color.

  83. Rpetersen

    You’re supposed to be a shameless self-promoter John. That’s why you’re an entrepreneur not a product manager.

  84. John Rourke

    Ha! Thanks for that. And what’s so bad about promotion when a person is literally asking for a product? Perhaps I should have said this:Fred Wilson: I am looking for a nice, clean, lightweight web service that can take word and excel imports. …Check, Bantam Live.Fred Wilson: I want to tag our contacts with words like #christmasparty, #vegan, #potluck, etc, etc. …Check, Bantam Live.Fred Wilson: I want to be able to search by tag, location, and of course name. …Check, Bantam Live.Fred Wilson: I want to be able to make lists on the fly and email them directly from the service. I also want to be able to export these lists to services like Red Stamp and Pingg. …Check Bantam Live (full embedded email integration coming in September).

  85. fredwilson

    yes, my wife doesn’t use gmail

  86. John Rourke

    I wish you well on your “awesome product launching in September.” …Cheers.

  87. Prakash

    Does it have mobile integration?

  88. Graeme Thickins

    hey, Charlie – how’s the country life in PA?

  89. iamronen