Pronounced ‘gist’, as in ‘getting to the gist of the matter’, Gyst is an acronym that stands for Get Your Stuff Together… or something very similar. It’s a personal organiser app but with a twist in that it puts text messaging at the heart of information management, treating SMS as a ground-zero around which calendars, tasks and contacts congregate. You can add attachments, send out details of your availability, label texts for making them easier to find or prioritise and more – think of it as the way you would do texting if you were inventing it today.
“A couple of years ago an idea hit me,” recollects Bruce Kornfeld, CEO and founder, speaking by phone from Austin, Texas. “Smartphones are becoming more and more critical for people in getting their jobs done and I kept seeing the massive amount of communications coming in, particularly texting. Everyone I know has the same problem: there’s so much stuff going on. I thought, why is there not an easier way to be productive when there are so many apps? But the problem seems to be getting worse, not better.”
Kornfeld did some research and concluded there was a need in the market for an app that could consolidate everything around texting. Didn’t he consider the (not so) new world of messaging apps over texting though?
“I’m very aware of course of what’s going on with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger… there’s hundreds of them,” he says. “Every single person I’ve asked answered it the same way: they use apps but they’re still using the SMS app that came with their phone, particularly for business.”
Gyst could work for consumers too but for Kornfeld, who earned his B2B knowledge working locally at Dell, it’s a case of one thing at time.
“One of the failures of startups is trying to bite off to much, too soon. Gyst is for anybody who considers themselves a busy person but we’re going to target the business person first.”
Of course there have been many approaches to organiser apps such as the hugely popular (and for some, addictive) Evernote.
“It may be a little contrarian but people are either list-makers and list-followers or not,” Kornfeld says. “For people who aren’t, they’ll never use them. I love Evernote and use it all the time and then a month later I only use it for my shopping list. But to-do lists are tough … it’s just another app on your phone. If you build tasks into texting it just makes it easier to implement.”
He is, however, a fan of Cola, a sort of ‘message in a bubble’ app that can send communications together with related data such as calendar schedules.
“The thing I like about Cola is they have the same strategy we do – text messaging is the most common thing people do on their phones so let’s make text messaging better.”
Gyst has started out on Android with iOS to come. There are no plans for Windows Phone currently (although Gyst can import Microsoft calendars, messages and contacts) or BlackBerry (although Jim Estill, a former RIM board member and a time-management expert, is backing Gyst).
There are also no short-term plans to work on deeper integrations with any of the other major platforms.
“They’re not motivated for cross-platform connectivity. Google wants you to use Hangouts, Apple iMessage, Microsoft their stuff. They’re not nimble enough to think about trends happening in the future because they’re having to serve billions of customers.”
So many apps come and go today that it can be hard to even generate awareness. Gyst merits attention though as a potentially smart way to do what we all need some help with sometimes: getting our… stuff together.
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