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Launch HN: Dex (YC S19) – personal CRM that reminds you to keep in touch
189 points by ksun on Aug 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 141 comments
Hi HN!

I’m Kevin, founder of Dex (https://getdex.com/). Dex is a personal CRM that reminds you to keep in touch with people you might otherwise forget.

I started working on Dex because I felt like I was falling out-of-touch with people I cared about. I wanted to be aware of “how long it had been” and more proactive about maintaining my relationships.

Looking to solve this problem, I tried data tools like Airtable, Notion, and Google Sheets. It was easy to setup a sheet to track relationships, but I eventually found these tools difficult to keep up with. I’d end up procrastinating on updating my records and would rarely find the time to revisit them.

Dex is a personal CRM that aims to be simple, intuitive, and accessible. To get started, users sign up for a web application that connects with their Google contacts and calendar (and optionally Facebook and LinkedIn data). With this information, Dex suggests people to contact every day. Over time, these suggestions become better as users customize how frequently they’d like to reach out.

Dex includes the functionality you might include from a CRM: logging notes, setting reminders, and organizing contacts. A feature which makes Dex unique is a Chrome extension, which allows you to view relationship history and add people without leaving social networking sites like LinkedIn, Messenger, Twitter, and Facebook.

Most people realize the value and fulfillment that come from maintaining relationships, but occasionally still fall out of touch due to forgetfulness. Dex helps these people with a system of regular reminders to keep in touch. I’ve noticed many people already have their own ‘system’ for managing relationships, and I’m always interested in hearing about different people think about dealing with staying on top of relationships.

I’d also welcome any other feedback about Dex! Feel free to also email me directly at kevin [at] getdex [dot] com. Thanks for your attention! :)

It seems you have fullstory.com tracking all input & mouse events. Can you confirm?

Every few seconds, a large payload goes to fullstory with all details:

  47: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day blank"]]}
  63: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day", [93, 2], "15", 96]]}
  71: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day", [93, 2], "23", 96]]}
  72: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day weekend sat", [93, 2], "24", 96]]}
  73: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day weekend sun", [93, 2], "25", 96]]}
  74: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [8881, -1, [[4405, 2], "cell day", [93, 2], 5593, 96]]}
  90: {When: 397746, Kind: 2, Args: [9087, -1, [94, "Last note6m ago on 8/14/2019"]]}
  91: {Kind: 4, When: 397746, Args: [8984, "class", "cell month selected"]}
  92: {Kind: 4, When: 397746, Args: [8986, "class", "cell month"]}
  94: {Kind: 6, When: 397746, Args: [8294, " in 14d"]}
  95: {Kind: 6, When: 397746, Args: [8876, "Aug 2019"]}

I'm getting the same. I checked after leaving my previous comments in this thread.

For example, began entering a manual contact and the name for that contact was sent to FullStory (that's as far as I looked.)

The privacy statement for FullStory appears much different than that of Dex.



That's enough for me. I understand I'm already sending my data, but there's no mention that my sensitive data is going to another service. And I would expect that my data is sent over a secure line and securely stored. And that it won't be "replayed" or otherwise viewed.

EDIT: How do I delete my account? Consider that a feature request.

I don't think I need to mention that this is a massive violation of the GDPR.

How exactly?

The above data shows someone clicked in a cell, and edited a calendar date. There's no personal data present there at all.

Even beyond that, site owners have a very colorable legitimate interest claim to look at site interactions in order to improve the UI.

It does log all private data when logged in/using.

Here is what is sent to fullstory when typing into an input. Below are the current filters in place for the fullstory config.

  19: {When: 1800813, Kind: 18, Args: [1621, "Th"]}
  22: {When: 1800932, Kind: 18, Args: [1621, "Tho"]}
  24: {When: 1800976, Kind: 18, Args: [1621, "Thom"]}
  27: {Kind: 4, When: 1801043, Args: [1667, "class", "feed- notice"]}
  28: {When: 1801052, Kind: 18, Args: [1621, "Thoma"]}
  31: {When: 1801157, Kind: 18, Args: [1621, "Thomas"]}

So your complaint is ... they collect the data you typed into the application? Fullstory almost certainly has a DPA with dex specifying Fullstory can't use the data for anything but servicing Dex.

How would any website or application these days work _without_ full-blown analytics tracking the hell out of every user?

By using a business model that doesn't require raiding the customer's personal information.

Hmm, FullStory would be hard to use for evil. It's used to creators can track down issues and bugs and provide better customer support, not to do anything malicious.

You can still argue you don't want your data sent to them, and that's very fair, but the only way this helps their business model is if their business model is "provide really good, tailored customer support."

Puh, not sure if that brings you the sweet, sweet investor money and some data leaks in the long tail. You should really go all in on data collection. Always!

My company doesn't. However, we've had a hell of a time finding a marketing firm that will work with us since we don't use Google Analytics. Seriously, we tell them over and over that we can't use Google Analytics (due to our site terms), and they are so confused and keep asking to be given access to it.

Anyone know and marketing firms that are privacy aware/friendly?

There are plenty of firms that don't do paid ads or any sort of data-based retargeting of users (think content firms), but the problem likely is that without some sort of analytics, it will be really hard for them to gauge the impact of their work.

For example, a content firm wouldn't need user data to write a blogpost for your company, but they would need some sort of event tracking to measure how many signups came from users who discovered your company via the blogpost.

Figuring out a way to setup attribution and basic event tracking without being invasive or sharing user data with third parties would probably make it easier to find a firm.

I've used this, and HotJar, to see if users are having problems using a site. They are mostly usability tools, not keyloggers sending your data to the KGB.

I have used HotJar, though not extensively. I played with it a bit and then handed it off to another dev.

I feel tracking tools are more for marketing and conversions. You're looking at what the user is doing when going through the process of getting the to signup.

I wouldn't think to use this tool in the inner portion of the app. On the outer part, there's not much to identify you. Anything session recording or heatmap is a step beyond what Google Analytics is doing, but it's not going to be sensitive data.

Everything inside the app is sensitive. If there's a possibility of my actions being recorded, I would rather get warned about that or given a chance to opt-in for a session in return for a credit.

This is the sort of thing I'm having less of a stomach for as the internet gets more nuts and my trail of dead sign-ups has grown over two decades plus some years. Your app better be damn good for me to get over that hesitance. And as I get older, I find that almost no apps are that good. I'll go to paper and pencil. IDGAF. Though I'm willing to give in a bit more to major names, even then we're seeing that Amazon and Microsoft is listening into voice from some of their products.

I also think this is lazy for getting info on the usage of the actual app. Go ahead and analyze how your conversion process is going as you change your design. But for the actual app, maybe sit people down in front of you. Have people take a video of their usage. Ask for surveys. Don't just record my session of entering all the times I'm getting laid (along with their vital stats) without me knowing about it.

The logs/tracking mentioned are from the internal/logged in app.

Ugh, thanks for the detective work. This is something I forget about and now it's back on my radar. I'm sure someone has already thought about this, but an idea might be a checklist on Github for things to check when evaluating an app. And yet another good reason for giving some sort of opt-out option on giving any further data than sign-up. IDGAF about what you think the starting experience should be like. Let me use the app before dumping all my data into it and then finding out 2 minutes later that it's not for me.

Remember kids, a shotgun can be a useful tool, but you can also shoot yourself in the foot with it.

If legislators and law enforcement won't stop the widespread various kinds of secret spying behavior of dotcoms, we could try social pressure.

Do you have a demo or some more insightful screenshots of what the app is? Even if I wanted to sign up to the site, I'd have to fill in a bunch of stuff to actually have a meaningful overview of the UI.

I appreciate you have two-way contact syncing with Google Contacts which is a big thing that's lacking in monica.

I also appreciate the Chrome Extension you mentioned. Is there deeper integration there, eg. do you allow me to back up / view data on my facebook friends through Dex?

What I looked for in Monica, and simply did not find, was a true single-source-of-truth for all my contact interactions, be those on Facebook, Twitter, Discord, SMS, Hangouts …. It's less a matter of wanting to keep in touch with people (I love being able to set reminders for specific things, but lacking a good UI I just end up making those in Google Calendar), and more a matter of being able to quickly find things I may have discussed with someone.

For example I talk to my girlfriend through all three of Messenger, Discord and SMS, and I'd like to be able to have a single history to sift through should I look for something she told me (groceries to get, an address / door code to remember, a photo she sent …).

Again, to me the selling point of these kinds of personal-service websites are to offload parts of my brain to software that is more efficient at the task. Notion does a great job being a generic note-keeping / database app. Calendar does a great job at helping me remember everything time-bound events. A personal CRM should do a great job at helping me remember everything there is to remember about another person / a relationship with that person.

Re: demo / screenshots, I totally get this. Honestly the landing page hasn't been a huge concern, but I'll take your feedback that you actually want to see the feedback first; we'll make changes.

The Chrome Extension unfortunately doesn't do a deeper integration -- we're looking into how to make this happen! You're absolutely right that a personal CRM needs to be a single source of truth -- the hard part is getting data in the actual product!

Do you consider messaging history as mentioned to be in scope? I'd love to be able to quickly refer to emails, convos etc. And the best CRMs do let you keep track of people based on conversations.

I get you that getting the data in is difficult though. A lot of API work. This is one thing where if you were open source and had a plugin / provider API people could contribute. I certainly would.

Emails is definitely a straightforward thing to do. SMS is also pretty possible. For really interesting use0cases like Messenger, the difficulty becomes more of collecting and storing user permissions. I recently came tooling like https://github.com/Schmavery/facebook-chat-api

Oh my god I have had the same idea and have hacked on the first pass.

Yes. Keep going ! It's a good idea.

1. Tiny bit confused over whether I was signing up or logging in.

2. I can't read their names on my phone (portrait mode). Landscape is ok. Maybe reduce the font size or something

3. What's the algorithm for displaying the recommend "get in touch"? Some people are friends I have a beer with some Inhomestly can not recognise

My idea was to only recommend people whom I had replied to on email - the presumption being I must have wanted something

So perhaps in the info field show me their last email or two so I can work out who they are

Keep up the good work !

Appreciate the product feedback -- it's super actionable. We haven't completed a full-on email integration yet because we want to be relatively conservative and make an email integration opt-in (but to come son!)

The algorithm is primarily focused on your calendar data and when you've last had an event (if you don't use your calendar, these recommendations might not be great but will get better as you snooze/check off people)

I like your idea on emails that you've actually replied too - will consider that for a future release!

Some more notes

1. You recommend I get in touch with me ... and I am only third on the list :-)

2. I generally don't book events / calendar things. It's one of the reasons i think focusing on emails is so useful - I do those all the time and there is digital footprint that can be used to help me (as opposed to sell me ads)

3. Maybe I missed something but I tried to click on the arrow and then the mail icon, but no mail popped up - I would like to send a mail right there and then as a minimum "get in touch"

Maybe #1 means you've recently connected with yourself and so it isn't the most urgent, but something is still there needing addressing, so it stays close to the top of the stack until you connect with yourself around it? ;)

Don't mind me. I'm just having fun projecting meaning onto things.

I have been searching for the real me for many years but never found myself.

Perhaps they are using a MetaPhysics engine to help me find myself?

If I feel connected I will tell you :-)

Had this idea in 2013, and I'm happy someone's taken the plunge to go all in on it!

I signed up and tried to skip adding a Gmail account but it wouldn't allow me. I really don't want to just dump all contacts into an app like this because I don't really use Gmail as my contact repository and there might be stuff in there I just don't want to see. I might trigger myself. And I would rather give it a spin before committing a load of my real info.

I instead used an alt which doesn't get much use. No contacts. Seems to work fine, why couldn't I just go with no contacts in the first place?

I added a contact manually and...

No pic? I can't upload a face? I'm visual. And what if I wanted to use this as my black book? I want pics! ;)

Nice effort but I'll need to hang on the sidelines a bit. Congrats on the launch!

Thanks for sharing your experience -- as you mentioned we've built Dex around the import experience for now [since typically those people get more value out of the product], but definitely trying to make Dex more fully featured for folks who would prefer to add manually!

Give me an option to pay and be more clear in your data policy and maybe I'll give it a shot.

I've been wanting something like this for a while but the privacy policy is pretty vague and far too broad for me to trust a service like this:


I'm happy to take your money and also clarify the privacy policy -- will follow-up with you when that's done!

The data security / privacy policy is super important. I've also wanted a personal CRM for some time so this definitely hits my pain point. However, I anticipate this would become most useful when I start adding personal, honest notes for all my contacts. That's obviously a problem if this database were ever to be leaked, or (worse) subpoenaed.

I'd be much more excited about this product if it used zero-knowledge encryption for my data. Yes you can't data-mine it (and if I lose my password I'm hosed), but I'd prefer having the only copy of the decryption key.

I'm confused; it goes beyond the big, GP social networks by focusing on more meaningful relationships (how?) but I create them by pulling directly from these sources of relationships?

What exactly is a "personal" CRM that doesn't focus on selling? A curated address book?

>> Most people realize the value and fulfillment that come from maintaining relationships, but occasionally still fall out of touch due to forgetfulness

I think these is the fundamental premise that I don't personally agree with; the value of the relationship is what keeps you engaged. It's not simple forgetfulness that causes you to lose touch - you are prioritizing other activities over the relationship.

This doesn't seem right or make me feel good though; it makes me seem like a self-centered jerk, so can't be true - I must be lacking (yet more) networking applications that "promote keeping in touch".

I think there is opportunity for very specific purpose networking tools, like linkedin before they decided to be a general-purpose social network or centered around communities and activities. I don't think "relationships" is specific enough, unless you're focusing on physical relationships like dating or hookups.

Also, the amount of private information you're asking to expose right out the gate is a non-starter for me. If it's curated (and thus meaningful) make your on-boarding & setup reflect this. I realize it's largely due to eas-of-use, but to me the process is a giant data vacuum.

I agree with your statement that the value of a relationships is what keep relationships alive. I'll add we do believe forgetfulness plays a role in how you prioritize. One benefit of using Dex is just having visibility into who you know so you can do this prioritization better.

Dex as a 'personal CRM' does intend to provide professional utility as a tool that helps you keep in touch. People who depend on relationships for their work, but might not already have a CRM with their company, are part of Dex's core target audience.

Thanks for your point on private information: we know that our onboarding experience isn't perfect and it's something we're working on.

I would be interested to hear from someone here who has utilized this method of networking effectively.

Over the past year I've met plenty of contacts/got cards etc. I have not felt the need to contact any of the people I've met, so I honestly don't know what it would be like if I did. I don't have any needs/problems that aren't already solved by the people who are in my life now, and if someone was really important I'd put them in my phone contacts, which also, is at about 5% utilization, compared to the total number of people in there, and all those people I at least had some good reason to contact at some point.

I think true meaningful networks cannot be built by exchanging a card on a one-off meeting.

Am I wrong?

Your expectations for performance in this task might be easily met by your background-level/automatic ability, but others will have either higher expectations or lower ability and a tool might make the difference.

Why the extension is targeted for Chrome only! What is so difficult about porting it to Firefox? When you come up with a product for mass user consumption, please don't assume everybody use Chrome by default.

When a product is targeted for Windows only, that means the product doesn't make sense to run in Linux. But, if the product is applicable to Linux, and the person or company who developed didn't consider porting it to other platforms, then it is left to the pain of users to find the possibilities to make it run on Linux. Or pray god one day it will be available in Linux.

In case of Extension for browsers, it doesn't make sense for users if the extension says it is targeted for Chrome browser only. Also, most of the extensions developed are not open source, so users don't have a chance to taken an effort to make it run on other browsers.

Hope you consider porting your Extension to support other browsers as well.

This, so much this. Chrome and Firefox both use the WebExtensions standard. There's no reason not to write one extension for both. There are a few incompatibilities here and there but I wrote a FF extension (with around 1K MAUs) that I ported and added Chrome support in less than 2 hours.

This is a great point -- will look into this. I have to admit I haven't looked into this but agree it's a good idea + probably a quick thing to do!

Great project. I don't see privacy being mentioned in your message nor on the website, that + the comment about the extension's permissions are a big no for me.

It's 2019, I would expect such info to be given when reaching to the HN audience. We know you need to make money, the website doesn't say how, the logical assumption is that we're giving data to pay you and personally I like to know how much I have to pay before trying a new service.

Totally get your concern. We'll surface the privacy policy more prominently (+ work on making this more clear), which you can access here https://getdex.com/privacypolicy.

Dex is run as a subscription service ($7.99/mo), something we'll also make more clear on the site. Appreciate your feedback here -- this helps me understand what I need to change!

> Add "Dex for Chrome"?

>> It can:

>> Read and change all your data on the websites you visit

No thanks

Not sure what functionality their extension has, but this is pretty hard to avoid. To run javascript you can basically do whatever you want — so the browsers let users know that. I wish the security could be more fine grained, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

Edit: Looked at the extension and maybe it could limit itself to social network domains though.

With chrome extensions, unfortunately that's the only option for developers; read all urls/data or no access to urls/data

Are you sure that's current? I made an extension (just for myself) a few months back and I could restrict the domains via the permissions array in the manifest.json

https://developer.chrome.com/apps/declare_permissions (see reference to "match pattern")

This then in turn populates the list of sites in the extension settings where you can choose to deny access to the aforementioned websites listed in the manifest

Oh sorry, yes I am mistaken (been a while for me). I guess a lot of developers just use permissions "host": " * " because it's easier...

What extension did you make? I made [1] an extension a while ago, and spent more time than I'd care to admit. Now that I think about it, I used "host": " * " too! (even though it's necessary for that particular extension)...

[1] https://newsit.benwinding.com/

Hey neat! See your extension would obviously need access to all sites to check against reddit/HN so that makes sense.

My extension wasn't published, it was targeted to a specific site (so could narrow the scope of the permissions) and was just set up to allow downloading of images individually (via an overlayed button) and an album as a zip. Pretty legal grey area hence me not publishing it.

Wow, this sounds an awful lot like the exact app I want. Was thinking about how to build it, but wasn't sure what services could be integrated.

Tell me if does this:

- Connects with FB, WhatsApp, Messenger, LinkedIn, and Gmail

- Checks the message history for each person

- Optionally coalesce users based on simple heuristics (similar name)

- Give you a list of people according to last contact

- Tells you the my turn / your turn of each conversation

I would really like for the version of the product to move towards something like this -- a big struggle with relationship management now is some degree of fragmentation.

Some of the integrations you mention (FB/WhatsApp/Messenger/LI) are hard to do since these companies don't expose API access (and we'd have to ask for user credentials, which aren't always straightforward!). I'm very curious -- would you be open to sending your credentials to Dex to enable these integrations?

When I looked at the docs it seemed a lot of the features used to be there but have now been removed, but I didn't spend much time on it.

Would I send my creds, I guess if it did what I need I'd click one of those give access buttons. I hope you don't mean give user / pwd.

Yeah it would likely be user password for services that don’t give API access. Access button means API.

Ugh, I wish this existed before I went to build a simpler extension to help remember my Facebook friends better! (http://trybackstory.com - shameless plug)

It's great that you support all the social sites - it was enough work for me just to integrate private notes and tags into Facebook. If only I had put in more time into Backstory to turn it from a side project into a full-fledged product like yours!

One thing I don't like is how intrusive the sidebar integrations are. They take up so much space that I can no longer see the other content in the sidebar at first glance. The Messenger integration also doesn't seem to be working for me.

Congrats on launch! I'm going to start using Dex, hope it helps me keep up with friends in the next few weeks! :)

Backstory looks super interesting! Will definitely try it out too :) Thanks for the feedback about the sidebar integrations; we're in the process of revamping it and will likely move some of this information to a popup instead.

I was very excited to try this. Particularly as a hypersocial super-connector, I've dreamed about my ideal personal CRM.

What I want is:

* The ability to do something like a spaced repetition with my contacts. If it proposes I connect with someone, and I'm like "great", they stay high priority. Or I can snooze that contact for a little while or a long while. (There might be an orthogonal feature to track who is important but I only need infrequent contact with.)

* The ability to accurately search my contacts. e.g. Friends who are into crypto and art.

So I went all in on Dex for ten minutes and granted read permissions for my calendar + contacts and added the extension access to read and change data on all websites.

The results were pretty underwhelming. It showed me a handful of contacts scraped from Google, many of which I didn't even recognize. I understand that this is perhaps I'm not much of an email guy, so I do know that a scrape of my Google contacts (or even my emails) will poorly reflect my social graph.

Here's what I want:

* Scrape and import my contacts across all platforms. If you need to use a Chrome extension to read my Facebook activity (not the messages, but just the people involved), fine. If you want me to spend 20 minutes downloading Facebook exports that don't include message text, or maybe screenshotting my message feed subjects for Facebook and Instagram and emailing them to you to OCR, to avoid you being liable for TOS breaking, fine.

* Auto-tag contacts, and allow me to update my tags.

* Auto-prioritize my contacts, and allow me to update the priorities.

Dex isn't really what I need, but thank you. I appreciate you trying to solve this problem.

[edit: Give me a Chrome extension to take screenshots of pages with key information about my social graph, whenever I browse onto them, that will then find sensitive info like message text and black them over and then allow me to easily email them to you?]

Appreciate this feedback -- I recognize Dex is underwhelming for you and we''re working to fix that. We actually do have an experimental feature for Facebook import (it does take a few steps), but I don't think we come close to the automation you're looking for unfortunately (we're trying to get closer!)

I think the end goal of a product we're looking to build might not be too far off from what you're looking for, and I appreciate your comments on what you want. (it's always nice when someone directly lists features they are looking for). I'll make a note to follow-up when Dex is a better solution for you!

Reading your responses up on the thread, where people are also like: "Free my WhatsApp contacts" and your only response is: "Would you give me your username and password?", you're thinking about this in too basic a way.

Legal and safe ways to help users export their own data from other platforms could be the innovation of your entire company.

I might not give you username and password, but if you gave me an Electron app to run (with source code I could verify, executables for the newbies) that would read, using machine vision, certain websites, WhatsApp desktop app, etc. you could get a lot more data without breaking the TOS. Since it is I the user who is initiating the data transfer.

Funny coincidence, just today I was toying around with Monica and looking around for another person CRM.

I'm a bit frustrated by the lack of features in Monica.

What I want is this, reminders to stay in contact with someone. I want a notification to appear on my phone saying something like, "hey you told us to stay in touch with Bob every month, click to open WhatsApp and message them." Or slack, text, email, etc.

I also want a central location for all my contacts and info about this. Notes, when we last got in touch and how we communicate (messenger, slack, email, LinkedIn, etc.) I really want it to stay synced with iCloud, Google, Next loud, etc.

I want as much automation as possible.

Every CRM I've looked into seems to revolve around a lot of manual work.

I'll have to give getdex a try.

Automation is definitely an area I've thought a lot about -- it's the most common feature request by far. If you actively use your calendar, Dex does a reasonable job of integrating your calendar events with your records. Email is on the roadmap.

We've built the Chrome extension as a temporary substitute, but full automation is definitely the eventual vision. Unfortunately the more interesting channels (Messenger / Facebook) don't have accessible APIs so integrating with them has been an ongoing challenge. Would appreciate any automation suggestions as you try it out!

I really, really need something like this in my life. In a previous life, I ran for political office and raising money would have been so much easier if I had kept those contacts warm over time. Big problem here is that it requires Google Contacts. Do people actually use that? Phone/FB contacts would be much more useful in my book.

I actually was just thinking about this type of product just yesterday while walking around a part of the city I've never been to -- how cool would it be to proactively shoot folks a text whenever I'm in their part of town (determined by GPS)? I end up doing this manually and I always forget folks until it's too late.

Google Contacts are useful for email data (since folks often add to Google Contacts, which does create issues with noise...)

I'll add you can add your iCloud contacts into Dex if you're an iPhone user!

Doesn't every Android phone sync to google contacts by default?

Cool! I keep a personal CRM in Airtable. But, my biggest problem is that it doesn't have an awareness of when I contact people (e.g., via email, messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, etc). How do you plan on addressing this with Dex?

Right now we do this with the Chrome extension (you can have a panel in Twitter / Messenger without leaving the page). The calendar integration also helps if you use calendar invites, but that isn't relevant to all interactions. Email is on the roadmap.

For other channels like Messenger and Whatsapp, a big constraint is no API for messages. Making an integration for these channels the 'right way' is a challenge we're still working on -- we could ask for user credentials but that doesn't seem like a great long-term solution.

I've tried Monica, and am optimistic about the future of personal CRMs, but nobody has taken advantage of the most obvious data source for determining frequency of communication:

Why are there no apps that will read my SMS / call history and remind me to follow up with people I haven't interacted with?

Monica only allows contact import, there's no direct syncing and no automatic updates when you call / text / email someone. That seems like a no brainer of a feature before anything else? Is there some huge technical barrier I'm missing here?

Would like to add that there is a "siri suggestion" in iPhone since iOS 12 that might remind you to call someone back if you missed their call.


Interesting, but I think this would be relegated to the same category as the "nudges" that Google gives you to follow up on an email in the new Gmail.

That's not really what I'm (and perhaps most people) looking for in a personal CRM. I think the potential value add is the ability to "follow up" with long neglected personal relationships. (Friends who you've fallen out of touch with, etc...)

Trying to fetch my Gmail contacts at the first sign-up? No option to continue without that?

I am sorry, I can't do that. I don't know anything about your offer, how you will be using my data. Will it be resold later? In your privacy policy, there is an option of using my data (my contacts network) to run targeted advertising, etc.

While I need something like this, I'll now have to search for more privacy-conscious alternatives.

Great stuff!

I've been thinking about a way to solve the exact same problem on and off for a long time (I'm terrible at proactively keeping in touch with friends).

My original solution was the same as yours, but it quickly broke down for me because I just couldn't get all of the data (in particular when I last talked to someone) into the app. I imagine you'll face the same challenge.

Two approaches have worked well for me though...

1. a dumb version of Dex. Basically just a list of friends/acquaintances and a periodic reminder (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to make sure I'd been in touch

2. a weekly prompt to reach out to anyone who fits a certain set of criteria. For example, "send a message to the last person you met at a networking event" or "reach out to the contact you'd be most likely to recommend for a marketing role"

Weirdly, the latter version has been way better for me at maintaining and growing relationships outside of my closest circle of friends. Especially on the professional side of things.

If you want to chat more about my experience or the problem in general, my email is in my profile and I find this super interesting :)

Good luck!

Will follow-up via email :). I'll note I think one thing that Dex does different is it tries to be actionable as best as possible (like your #2 weekly prompt). Without a prompt, it's much harder to get regular value out of the product!

How do you plan to make money?

Right now everything seems to be free. I'm asking because I hate to be surprised after investing time to curate a CRM.

There is a free tier now; we'll be building out the features of a premium tier ($7.99 / month) for other features. Since data is meant to be private and never shared, we're following a subscription model.

Quick thought: $7.99 looks like it should be the highest tier in a four tier scheme (free, a dollar or two, way less than $7.99, and $7.99) since you're talking about per month prices. Even then the price looks steep to me (currency conversion and other factors considered).

Thanks. So the features we see now will always be free or might some of them change to paid only?

Why you are collecting personal contacts pervasively, then?

I mean, the app is meant to help organize your contacts, is it not?

If I see an app ask for my contact data without good reason, I'm immediately out in most cases. But they've got a good reason: it's what the app is supposed to do...

The app is "a personal CRM that reminds you to keep in touch". There are people that I want to keep in touch with (which I can add manually), and the rest of my contact list, who don't need any organizing.

A suggestion that I also proposed to the Monica's founder (with no reply, though) - make it possible to organize contacts around interests. In real life there almost always is some kind of common interest that you share with people - computer games, politics, cars, cooking, whatever. However with different people you have different shared interests.

Thanks for this suggestion -- this is something I've thought about (especially in relation to helping users remember a good reason to reach out). You can do this sort-of with the tags in Dex now, but admittedly not a perfect solution.

My first CRM implementation in a large enterprise was back in 2004, so 15 years ago, OMG. Since then, I have seen and heard of many implementations that failed miserably because one critical factor: data entry was too hard/complicated. Just look at any CRM solution out there, pick up any entity, let's say, an Account. Click 'add new' and you will see 3 thousand different fields populating your screen, for those you won't have 30% of the data to fill in. Some process will mandate that you fill in at least 60% of that data somehow, so you cancel that creation and move ahead using a workaround.

In my opinion, CRM data entry should always be incremental/progressive, very granular, allowing processes to flow without frustrating users. That is key to user adoption and to any project success. Just my 2cents on this.

Sounds exactly like what Socialfly was doing several years ago. (Different Socialfly from what you'll find from a Google search now. I couldn't seem to find any trace of the Socialfly I'm referring to online.) Anyway, I did find that service helpful so I hope Dex works out.

Thanks for the note! Curious to hear more about Socialfly if you have any more info -- there have been a lot of attempts at a Personal CRM and always interested in learning from past examples.

I don't remember much about it tbh. It would import contacts and let you add birthday info and other personal details and schedule follow ups. I don't think it was anything groundbreaking tech-wise, but the concept seemed unique at the time.

Interesting product! I recently used a mind-mapping tool to make a web of everyone (EVERYONE) I've ever known. I started with my family, all of my jobs and all of my schools, added everyone from those places and methodically looked at each person in the list adding people I met through them. Later I added trips like vacations, conferences etc and added everyone I met there. I was a nice nostalgic trip but I was amazed how many people I genuinely liked but haven't talked to in years. The thought crossed my mind to somehow track 'last contact' dates and have something popup to remind me to get in touch with people but it seemed too daunting a task to keep it up to date. I'll take a look a Dex for this now.

It looks like Dex is fairly early stage and has a single founder(?). Many people including myself see this as a fairly rare occurence though YC insists otherwise (and YC is likely correct). I wanted to ask you a few questions about your company and journey leading up to to YC.

* When did you start the company and how many founders are there?

* What was your traction (MAU or anything else) prior to being accepted into YC?

* How do you plan to grow the userbase? Content marketing, ads, partnering with other companies?

* How do you plan to make money?

* How big is the market size?

* Are there any adjacent markets that you could see yourself expanding into?

Good luck!

You're right on both counts. The company started approximately 9 months ago, focused on different ideas in the relationship management space; traction prior to YC was minimal.

The plan to grow the userbase is content marketing + advertising as we figure out unit economics. The plan to make money is to charge $7.99/month for the product. Market size estimates this early are tough to get right, but we believe anyone who uses LI (645 million users) can manage relationships better with Dex.

I've been thinking about solving the same problem for myself personally (Even made an app here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/prim-relationship-manager/id14...).

How are you avoiding manual data entry given social media's reluctance to release this information? Semi-related, how are you respecting user's data?

Thanks for sharing Prim! Really interesting. Manual data entry as you know is the hard part -- any personal CRM will require some data entry. We try to make this easy with a calendar integration and Chrome extension, but it's not perfect and always a challenge.

With user data: our privacy policy is here (https://getdex.com/privacypolicy) and we chose a subscription model so your data stays yours -- and private.

Looks like you are heavily utilizing Segment to funnel lots of private user data to unknown third party providers as also use CloudSponge -- which also basicall sucks up to all of my contacts and nobody knows what with it. That's too much third party data access without proper justification.

BTW, Kevin, in your graphics you have a Russian name as an example. Are you Russian and just pretending to be westerner or you just like Russian names?

Well, I plan to built this since last year, but haven't got energy to actually build that. Congratulations on launching!

From the website it seems that your MVP is a Chrome extension. A lot of time I remember to keep in touch with my friends are when I'm outside, away from my keyboard. When using computer my mind is habituated for works and leisures. Do you have any plan to build apps for mobile?

From the privacy policy:

We also may collect limited information from the people with whom you interact by email when you use the Site and Services. This information may include the recipient’s name and email address, the number of times that the recipient opens your email, the recipient’s IP address and the computer platform that the recipient is using.

Is there a way to turn this off?

I've been looking for something like this for a while -- months.

The key for me -- other than privacy etc -- is that it be automated. It should take the info from my email, Facebook and maybe messenger/text and figure out who my friends are and who I have not been in touch with.

How does this decide whom to recommend to reach out to?

Right now the recommendations are based on your calendar history and your past activity with recommendations -- we're hoping to include more signals as we develop ways to ingest this data.

One of the biggest challenges is the interesting integrations (Facebook/SMS/etc) aren't super easy to do (unless we straight up ask for credentials!). It's an area we're still working on, as more automation is the most requested direction of features.

Interesting because I did contract work for a very similar app about a year ago.


What happened to the company/app since?

I don't think they got much traction.

Comparison with Monica?

Overall: Dex isn't open source, but integrates with your Google Calendar, has a Chrome extension that integrates with social media workflows.

We're definitely solving a similar problem, and in the past I was a user of Monica until I found it too much work to keep up with. Monica notably does have more fields and performs functions (like journaling) that Dex does not.

Keep up the good work. Some HN types beg for freeware and yet wonder why they cant escape the rat race. Quality software should be rewarded and should not be free of cost.

Free =/= open source. What these HN types you are so aggravated by are asking for is open source (not free as in beer) software, which some (like me) consider an ethical imperative.

Can you explain why having the source code to the software you run is an "ethical imperative"?

See the entire exhausting body of "Open Source is not Free Software" arguments from fsf apologists. RMS literally stated once he wanted proprietary software to be illegal.

Properly answering the question you asked is a whole can of worms, much like asking "vim or emacs" or "macOS or Windows or Linux" or maybe even "python or ruby or rust / go?".

I agree with open source =/= free but what most comments like “open source alternative to” mean is exactly that. HN is a forum promoting ideas both for the benefit of everyone and / or commercial, yet each time someone showcases their work there is someone posting a “free alternative” post as if it’s meant to mean something. Cargo culting open source is really not doing anyone a favour and instead it is pushing more and more entrepreneurs types away from hackernews. Unless some drug maker made a commercial drug to cure cancer and someone else made a free open alternative to it, i really don't care about free github star whoring on hn.

I think a personal CRM should include knowledge of Dunbar's number.[0][1]


"You are spending too much time with C people. Is C person Andrew now a B? B people like Joe and Jane need more attention."

"You could use another A relationship. The following B people might be good candidates based on your contact frequency."

This is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it is often true that people don't attend to relationships with apprppriate priority. And, knowing your situation with regard to various relationship levels provides insight for growth.

[0] https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/social-med...

[1] https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2004...

This is an interesting insight -- definitely aware of Dunbar's number but haven't thought about the best way to incorporate it into Dex. Appreciate the suggestions!

I thought I was going to have to build something like this myself but finally found a “good enough” app (ABC / Always Be in Contact). It has a few warts but since it’s free I can’t complain and it’s definitely helped me stay in touch with people

Shit. Companies with "my idea" keep getting into YC ... I always feel that my ideas are too crazy but then I see companies with exactly my idea getting into YC. I should just start building them out I guess ...

Looking forward to what you guys build, Dex!

Are you me?

do you want to pair up on something and mash something out over the course of a few weekends?

Hell yes, feel free to reach out to me (website is in my profile)!

https://github.com/dexidp/dex is an existing project which was part of CoreOS's commercial kubernetes offering.

"dex" is also the file extension for Dalvik VM bytecode files, and "Pokedex" is for keeping lists of Pokemon, "Roladex" is yet another product for keeping lists of people, and it means "dexterity" in role playing games, but nobody is getting confused with CoreOS's thing.

I have literally no idea why I'm getting downvoted for pointing out something with the same name. I just figured it added value to the "dex" convo. I realize it isn't going to confuse people as it is vastly different. It is still relevant as it has the same name, even if you downvote me.

It is probably because you seem to be unaware of rolodexes, which is what everyone used to manage contacts before computers, and the source for all the "dex" naming trends: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolodex

I was born in the early 80s, can confirm, am aware of a Rolodex :)

Congrats on launching, and good luck with your startup. Personally I am much more old fashion - I stubbornly don't want a CRM to remind me of keeping in touch. I want to have my own mind to tell me...

> Personally I am much more old fashion - I stubbornly don't want a CRM to remind me of keeping in touch. I want to have my own mind to tell me...

My own mind has proven itself incompetent at this task, so I'm good with a little assistance.

I was actually planning on re-reviewing Monica soon, so I'll add this to compare against. For me my goal is just about tracking what people enjoy or don't, what we last did, important developments in their lives, whether I've updated them on my own important developments, etc...

Just offloading all the things my brain has repeatedly failed at in favor of garbage like song lyrics or API documentation.

Nice. I so wanted something for quite a while. Brainstormed, sketched out quite a few times with my friend. Would be intereting how this progressed.

Was using Contactually but was not happy.

I don't use Chrome. Or Gmail. Am I SOL?

Also, I used to use Contactually for this a few years ago, was great with email integration and FB before they killed the API. Good luck!

I currently use Notion for my personal CRM but I'm frustrated by the reminders and poor note taking features. Will be giving Dex a try.

I'm curious, what's your workflow in Notion for CRM stuff?

I built something just like this years ago!

It’s called Contact - People Organizer by App Addiction

PS: I don’t track anything you do!!

Do you have a privacy policy? I don't see anything on your landing page, or in the web app.

Yup, the privacy policy is on the start page (https://getdex.com/start) and can be found at https://getdex.com/privacypolicy. I'll work to make it more clear!

It took me awhile to literally find the exact same thing. What is your goal for monetization? This looks really nice, but how do you plan to make this viable in the long run? You can have a million users and still lose money. Just look at Uber as an idea of how not to build a company!

A personal CRM should be federated. I shouldn't need to keep my friend's contact details up to date manually. If they run a digital address book of some kind, my software should just ask their software for the latest data and subsequently update my local data. This should be an open protocol like email or calendaring.

Any functionality to log text messages, WhatsApp, and email?

So basically a smarter address book?

I need this in my life. Great idea!

What's behind the name?

It's meant to evoke 'Rolodex' but not directly :)

I also planned on doing a startup for this, but didn't have enough time. Best of luck to you!

An open-source alternative, Monica, has been discussed before:

* (2018) "Monica – Personal CRM, Remember everything about friends and family" -> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18318547

* (2017) "Show HN: Monica, an open-source CRM to manage friends and family" -> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14497295

Thanks for bringing this up! Monica is definitely an inspiration for what Dex is working on. I think it'd be fair to characterize two main contrasts: 1) Dex is for relationships that are both professional and personal 2) tries to be more integrated with existing workflows (using your calendar)

I've been using Monica for a couple of years now and I'm very happy with it for my personal network. It's a great tool to remind me who is connected to whom and what to ask about before attending a party. The online version is here: https://app.monicahq.com/register

Any thoughts on the security model for the hosted service?

We stopped using them at our workplacedue to compliance. they have a lot of issues and not interested in fixing them

Can you expand on these issues?

No. But if you’re a startup you are probably okay. If you are a Fortune 500, probably not. May I recommend reaching out to their sales team to find their customers or better recent customers and why they left

Why would you use Monica at a start-up or Fortune 500 company? I had assumed that Monica was purely for personal use. It never occurred to me that a start-up, much less a Fortune 500 company, would use Monica for anything.

Downvoting any “open source alternative” to anything as those are usually crapware.

"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."


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