Google, DuckDuckGo and other search engines help you find information from the Internet. But it is difficult to find documents, messages, meetings and emails from your own accounts. You have to go to different applications to find things that may be related to one project. A Y-Combinator supported app called needle helps users with that.
Needl is a cross-platform application that allows you to search your local file system and accounts such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Notion, and Slack. The free version — available on the web, Windows, and Mac — lets you connect one account per integration. If you need more account connections and integrations like Jira and Linear, you’ll have to pay $10 per month.
The application is easy to set up and use: once you install it on your system, you will be prompted to link your Google, Slack, and Notion accounts. Once that’s done, you can search for files, events, emails and other things in all these accounts and your local file system. You can filter these results by files, messages, events, tasks, and emails.
If you’re a keyboard ninja, the app has handy shortcuts to launch and navigate the interface. Users can customize shortcuts to launch the app and go to the home view. The default view of the app shows the activity feed, which shows you contextual information about different apps, such as your upcoming meeting.
Needl founders Max Keenan, Angela Liu and James Liu are all Chicago University alums who met at a hackathon. They worked on a few side projects, such as an essay writing tool using GPT-2 and a TikTok for blog posts. After college, MaxKeenan worked in investment banking at Moelis, while Angela Liu and James Liu joined Microsoft.
The trio said they had to organize as soon as they got to their jobs and closely follow naming systems and folder structures to easily find information. They wanted to solve this problem of constantly and manually reorganizing information through search.
“We were looking for a problem that had never been solved in the past, but which could be solved through improvements in language models. When we were on board virtually during the pandemic, it hit us right in the face — information was stored on all these different platforms and we were able to improve the search and discovery of information,” Keenan said in an email conversation with australiabusinessblog.com.
The Needl team wrote the first line of code in June when it was cohort of the Y-combinator in the summer of 2022. The company has raised $2.5 million from several investors including Fuse, Y Combinator, Palm Drive Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Collin Wallace and Nathan Wenzel.
The company rolled out the product in August under closed beta to about 200 users. Now the company is making it available to everyone under public beta.
Keenan said the company plans to focus over the next 12 months on improving its contextual and semantic search through large language models (LLM). In addition, the startup wants to add more premium integrations, such as Asana, Hubspot, and Salesforce.
The startup considers Glean, a startup that enables enterprise search in apps, to be one of its main competitors. In May, Glean raised $100 million in its Sequoia-led Series C funding round with participation from Lightspeed, General Catalyst, Kleiner Perkins and the Slack Fund at a $1 billion hindsight valuation.
Keenan said a key difference between Glean and Needl is the shorter setup time for the latter.
“The biggest difference with Glean is that our product is self-service and can be set up by anyone in less than 2 minutes, regardless of company size. Glean sells through sales-driven processes that require full company adoption, can take months, and are inaccessible to individuals or small teams,” he said.
Neeva, a search engine built by a former Google ad manager, also offers search features through app integrations. However, it is only available in the US while the European expansion is underway.
Long-term, Keenan said Needl wants to avoid the need for information search and presentation through its own recommendation engine.