Andrea Loubier lives in Bali, and she believes she can save you an hour or more of email time with her new email client for Windows, Mailbird, our newest featured startup. Andrea and her team are building Mailbird, a Windows client, to improve email management and productivity. They recently launched IMAP support, which means they connect seamlessly with Outlook.
You can download the Lite or Pro versions here.
Andrea Loubier, Co-founder, CEO
"When I was working on the Windows platform, there was no email client that delivered the same simplicity as Sparrow did for Mac. The idea for a “Sparrow for Windows” came about, and now Mailbird has evolved into so much more than what Sparrow was doing," says Andrea. The company uses several Microsoft tools to build Mailbird.
- SQLite for the database (fast)
- Lucene for the search (fast)
- WPF .NET (beautiful interface)
- Mail.dll (mail engine)
- Awesomium (content display)
- Html Agility Pack (parse html content)
- Crypto Obfuscator (code encryption)
Andrea is one of those founders who really wants to differentiate on her product via the "Why."
"We hope re-invent and innovate the most frequently used form of productive communication, email. We want people to feel so happy, productive, and in control of the information that they manage daily via email. We want people to remember the awesome little international Mailbird team who created the most amazing email client ever that help them and their business, and provided the best full user experience ever."
What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?
Don’t add a ton of features just because people request it. Stick to and focus on your roadmap and milestones for development and tweak as you go along. Users are the most valuable part of learning how to build your business.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding?
We received an initial $100k usd from our CFO, and are currently seeking $1mil usd for our first seed round.
How many employees do you have? 8
How many of them are developers? 4
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
Scale first, with revenue in mind. Our freemium model with strategic conversion in place fits for our plan to increase user base first and foremost, then monetize along the way after.
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
We made reasonable predictions based on market size, marketing efforts, CPA, and careful strategic planning. We definitely started with a business model, but monetization strategy was based on market research and trends in our vertical.
What questions do you think a startup non-technical founder needs to answer when considering a cloud architecture for his or her startup, specifically during the business model generation period?
Does it provide high control and high economy of scale. If yes, then go with a cloud architecture solution for your startup if it makes sense for your product.
What questions do you and your technical co-founder / engineering team feel are the most important to solve about the business aspects of your company?
How to increase retention and acquisition while effectively communicating the software as a service and all its functionalities for users?
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
We include technical members in all aspects of the business plan because every part of the business involves some technical planning, even when considering marketing and investment strategies.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
I would say all of the above honestly, because we are solving a real problem with the experience users on Windows have with email by offering an optimized experience via our technology and design. Our team loves working with email since it is such a global product where every design, pixel and click is what millions around the world will touch and work with. At the same time we want to build Mailbird to help people and create a sustainable business of it, which means making profit.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
The day we realized there was no email client like Sparrow on the Windows platform. Sparrow did very well on the Mac platform, but nothing like it exists for Windows.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
You breathe and live when you commit to a startup business idea. It definitely affects your social live, but we believe in balance as well. You spend a ton of time working because you love what you are doing and are excited about end results and how you are making life better for people all over the world. You definitely have less time for family and socializing when building something from nothing, but we firmly believe that these outside elements are very important to the success of your business as well. They are variables that affect you as a person and your perseverance in delivering awesomeness through your business.
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
I am very easily motivated. I love building something from the ground up. I love building and creating something amazing from nothing. I am a networker and very goal oriented and when I love what I am doing, I am fully dedicated to it and know how to have fun while putting in those long hours. What makes Mailbird a startup is that we’ve been in a developing product beta for the last year, we’ve established product/market fit, and we are releasing amazing updates and gathering tons of feedback through testing with users that helps us deliver happiness to them. Mailbird is a very new business, not yet profitable, has not received any outside investment yet. We are very user focused with great innovation in mind. So that is why we are a startup.
Do you have any advice for young startups?
Connect with your early adopters as soon as possible, get your idea out there as fast as possible so you can start building it with the feedback you get, connect with influencers in your space or vertical, and remember to have fun! It’s a lot of work with a lot of challenges, but the payoff makes it so worth it.
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
We are in the BizSpark network, we are all avid Windows users and/or developers. I’ve connected with Douglas Crets when in Mt. View to check out the Microsoft office there and the set of the BizSpark show – which was awesome. I love the giant touch screen in the building we were in for the show, super cool. Outlook.com team tweeted about our IMAP launch since it supported Outlook.com given their recent announcement for IMAP support. I’m also very close with Norman Sasono who is a Windows evangelist for Microsoft Indonesia. Would love to have more support in spreading the word about our startup to the market of Microsoft users.
What do you think of the BizSpark Program?
It is wonderful, I only wish I was getting the most out of it in terms of building our business. Some other things would be getting presence for our startup to the Microsoft user base and network, exposure to the Microsoft investors as we would love to have Microsoft on board with partnerships or exit strategies. Microsoft advisors that help direct the business in a way that is best suited to meet the demands of the Microsoft users worldwide.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
If they have software or a product that uses Microsoft technology or is targeted to the Microsoft market of users. Microsoft was small at one point in time too, and look at where it is today. The experience, knowledge and expertise from Microsoft would be very valuable to any tech startup in the Microsoft/Windows space. In turn, a fresh new application that gives Microsoft a nice updated feel as it has been criticized for being old school or too corporate feeling, would be an amazing addition for learning to the Microsoft team as well.