David Heinemeier Hansson

February 14, 2023

Hey, is that a CRM?

When we first started work on HEY, we didn't mean to build a general-purpose email service at all. We were looking to create Highrise 2. The successor to our beloved small-team CRM system from 2007. We had several skunkworks attempts at that in the past. One was nicknamed Glenn Gary. Another was Chestnut. But it was realizing that email is the true center of the CRM that paved the path toward a real product. Only, we didn't build the CRM part before we released HEY!

That's changing now. With the release of two new key features for HEY, we're finally returning to the roots of why we set out to build a new email service in the first place: To make a worthy successor to Highrise.

The first is HEY Workflows. This is a flexible version of Highrise's Deals feature, minus the basic financial calculation. Now you can setup a workflow to capture the lead funnel from prospect to outreach to meeting to won or lost. No, it's not going to replace Salesforce for huge enterprise teams that need to calculate their pipeline value for the VP of Finance for next quarter. We don't know anything about that world (and would prefer to keep it like that!), so we don't build software to serve it.

But it is a killer feature that works for a bunch of other workflows that small businesses deal with all the time. Like hiring (applied -> considering -> shortlist -> finalists) or even invoices (received -> paid). For every workflow, there's probably a dedicated SaaS solution that you could add to your monthly nut, but do you really need it? If you only hire a couple of times per year, you don't need a dedicated hiring app. If you only process a few dozen invoices, neither a full-blown billing service.

So that's HEY Workflows. That's the big one. A smaller one is Contact Notes, which address the first part of the issue for centering all the loose information about a contact for all in the company. It's not yet a full-blown contact manager, but it's a great step in that direction.

We have a bunch more ideas on how to bring the best of Highrise into HEY, but we've started with these two, and there'll be more to come. All in service of that original mission that we sought to solve back in 2007:

Your address book doesn’t do enough. Traditional CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software tries to do too much. That’s why we built Highrise. It’s the just-right, more thoughtful way to keep track of the people, conversations, and tasks that are the lifelines of your business.

All these features are also available for the personal version of HEY, but I think they'll make the biggest difference for the small business users who just need email++ to run their shop – not a ton of individual, expensive services. Give it a try!

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.