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Groupiter makes workflow as simple as Dropbox

Tiny two-person startup brings conversations about shared files up to date.

Groupiter is perhaps the simplest workflow product I have ever seen. It's brilliant, instantly understandable, and looks (based on the demo I saw at a 500 Startups event) highly usable.

I am not yet convinced it is a long-term business, but the product concept is spot-on.

This concept screenshot shows what a Groupiter popup may look like when you save a file to Dropbox. Groupiter

Here's what it does: When you save a file in Dropbox, Groupiter pops up and asks you to enter a comment about the file. Other people you're sharing with can see the comments attached to versions of the files. That's it.

Groupiter CEO Chris Dyball says that since we now have easy file sharing, with services like Dropbox, the nature of group work around files has changed. With Groupiter, the conversations happen when the app "meets people in their workflow," instead of requiring the old and now obsolete model, in which you first create a conversation, and then attach files to it. File transfer is no longer the problem, he says. Communication is.

Once a file is saved and noted, other people you're sharing it with will get your message about it. Groupiter

Dyball claims that Groupiter says, "Hey, I notice what you're doing. Want to talk about it?"

As much as I love this idea, I do have reservations about Groupiter as a long-term business. It's a feature of a file-sharing service, not, as pitched, a complete service itself. It requires a file infrastructure, like Dropbox. Dyball says that's exactly right: he says there are 60 million Dropbox users, many of whom were invited there by people who wanted to share files with them. It's a big enough market, he says.

Furthermore, there are other file-sharing services, like Google Drive. And there's an opportunity to build a communications layer on top of all the services, to bridge them.

Reservations notwithstanding, I liked this service and so did most of the people I talked to about it at the pitch event. After his pitch, Dyball told me quickly that he was there to raise money from investors, and scurried off. Talking to him the next day, he said left the event with a pocket stuffed with business cards and that "my e-mail is like a Twitter stream."

Groupiter should be available to Dropbox users in September. It will be free with paid upgrades. Based on the demo only, I would recommend it.