Chris Perret is no stranger to solving IT problems that vex major corporations as they try to keep pace with technology. He headed up the first mobile and automotive division of Wind River, which was later acquired by Intel. He founded one of the first Mobile App Management providers, which was purchased by Symantec within 18 months. And now, with his newest venture, Nacho Cove, he wants to tackle email, a productivity-killer that Perret contends has yet to be truly innovated. BendTECH sat down with Perret to learn more about his startup, how to eliminate the time suck of email and the story behind his company’s name.

Startup: Nacho Cove
Founders: Chris Perret, CEO; Jeff Enderwick, CTO; Steve Scalpone, VP of Engineering
Started: 2012
Employees: 8
Located: Bend and Portland

What exactly is Nacho Cove? We provide an intelligent email plus calendar client, built for desktop and mobile. We want to increase enterprise productivity by streamlining communication. As you manage your email, Nacho Mail learns your priorities and continually presents you with the most urgent actions from your important clients and contacts.

Chris Perret, CEO of Nacho Cove
Chris Perret, CEO of Nacho Cove

Why do you think a new email client is needed? The average employee receives 150 emails per day, while an executive may receive close to 500 or more. About 30% of those are relevant to their work. Today it’s left to the email user to sort out the emails that matter — and if you spend even 30 seconds on each email you can take up a large percentage of your day.

Your team has a lot of experience developing enterprise solutions … We do. I’ve been a developer for more than 30 years. I headed up the mobile business line for Wind River and helped grow that portion of the business to $100 million in annual sales. Intel acquired Wind River in 2009. After helping the team transition in to Intel,  I left in 2010 to start Nukona, which was a provider of mobile application management software. We saw all these devices coming on the market, people were using them for work, but the data wasn’t secure. It was a big compliance problem. Nukona was acquired by Symantec 18 months later. Now although enterprise mobility is definitely happening, a corresponding increase in productivity has not happened. As we thought about it, it became clear that email is the next  big problem to tackle.

What are some of the primary features of Nacho Cove?  One of the top features is the Hot Item Action list, which presents you with a curated list of the emails that are most important to you. If you rapidly move through your hot-list first, you will have likely attacked the most important emails of the day. You can also click on an email to instantly create an event and  even sort your inbox by interactions, attachments from contacts, etc. Leading researchers have pegged the cost of email to be as much as 50% of all payroll , and yet, we continue to use the same  old, outdated and fundamentally inefficient systems.

Nacho Mail at work.
Nacho Mail at work.

What makes Nacho Cove different from other email clients? There have been consumer email products launched every day, but they’re fundamentally flawed as they are not architected to work within a compliant environment. Our target customers are large Fortune 500 companies subject to compliance regulations. For example, with our product you can do personal and work email on the same account, but then if or when you leave the company, you can keep your personal email but your corporate information is wiped. We do not store any company information on any servers, or create any issues for IT compliance. We are first and fundamentally an enterprise product that delights consumers.

What’s your presence here? I moved to Bend in 2012, and have several of my team based in Portland. We have a team of eight right now, but we were challenged to find developers in Bend — it’s not that people didn’t want to move here, it’s that they quite rightly were concerned with moving to a smaller city and uprooting their families for a startup, few of which succeed. We are headquartered in Portland, but we’ll hire the right person in any location. Our focus is always that the right person will get the job done, no matter their location. We believe in the power of collaboration tools and have successfully built world-class products with a distributed team in past.

What’s the status of Nacho Cove now? We have our first limited functionality product available in the App Store. We’re being evaluated by some government agencies in the UK as well as some Fortune 100 companies in the U.S. We have been seed-funded by some pretty great angels (as well as putting some of our own savings into it). We’ll probably embark on a larger fundraising round later this year.

And I have to ask, what’s behind the name? When I used to surf in San Diego, I had some great spots and people would ask where they were. I’d answer “Nacho Cove,” as in “Not-Your-Cove.” I was telling my co-founders that story, and we thought it’d be a great name for a company. What do you call email that’s not yours? Nacho Mail.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley