Andrea Loubier is the badass female CEO behind one of the better-known tech startups in South East Asia. She is the CEO of Mailbird, working with an international team to improve email and productivity experiences for millions of people worldwide.
She’s passionate about getting more women involved in entrepreneurship and tech. This American entrepreneur is slightly addicted to spicy food, loves the outdoors, and dedicated to making people’s day-to-day activities a little better with a tool we use daily — email.
Mailbird is the first to unify online communication with a productive, beautiful, and innovative email client.
It is quite an uneasy task to take on email giants out there. The dedication, capital, grit, and strategy involved must be in their top forms for such a company to succeed.
- Thank you for agreeing to this interview despite your busy schedule, Andrea. I’ve been wondering, why and how did you start Mailbird?
- Wow, that must have required a lot of hard work, but how did you gain initial traction?
- That’s awesome. But, you must have faced a few challenges or failures, what was the biggest failure that you learned from?
- Ok, you mentioned that you were 3, then 5, and today, 13 people spanned across the globe. How is your team set up, especially the “across the globe” thing?
- What a web of networks. So, what is next for Mailbird?
- Wow, that would be awesome as I use my android for most of my day-to-day activities. Lastly, what would you like to tell our readers/listeners?
- Final thought on the interview with the female CEO
Thank you for agreeing to this interview despite your busy schedule, Andrea. I’ve been wondering, why and how did you start Mailbird?
Totally frustrated with email as a medium I used more than anything, I wanted to revolutionize and change the email experience, with confidence and without any intimidation from the big email companies known worldwide today.
Mailbird came about from a Bali-based entrepreneurial event where my co-founder realized that there were no alternatives to Outlook for managing email. On Mac, there was an email client called Sparrow, simple, great UX and worked really well for multi-Gmail accounts.
But on Windows, there was nothing. Only Outlook, which everyone was complaining about. Google acquired Sparrow in 2012, then Mailbird was born. We started with building the Sparrow for Windows.
Today Mailbird does so much more than Sparrow. You can get it for free. It manages unlimited multi-accounts from both IMAP and POP3 email servers, so you aren’t just limited to Gmail.
It’s more than just email, it’s a great user experience. It has the ability to be tailored to the user’s preferences by look, feel, and interaction with the app. Best of all, it integrates with the many awesome communication, messaging and productivity apps used today.
Wow, that must have required a lot of hard work, but how did you gain initial traction?
Well, we started with a landing page and invited people to be the first to get their hands on the Sparrow for Windows. We built an alpha tester group, engaged them and asked them to spread the word once we launched publicly.
We connected with the top tech blogs and news outlets that get millions of visitors each day like Lifehacker, TechCrunch, ITWorld, PCWorld, The Verge, The Next Web, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and The Huffington Post to name a few.
Also, we put an embargo on the launch until we gave the green light. And it was perfect with the timing of the Sparrow acquisition by Google. Awesome launch.
We were 3, then we were 5, today we are 13 people spanned across the globe, building an epic email communication technology and productivity suite, helping people around the world without boundaries to be more efficient and effective with their workflow and communication across universal channels.
That’s awesome. But, you must have faced a few challenges or failures, what was the biggest failure that you learned from?
That’s true, Saheed. We are building a global company, that means people all over the world will and can use it. We started localizing Mailbird so that it was available in different languages.
However, we failed to be diligent about planning and research with the Chinese market which is quite a different market to approach when it comes to launching your product or marketing.
We didn’t translate our marketing ads accordingly, and we marketed through the wrong channels. Since then, we’ve learned that we need more than “just 1 week” to prep for a big localized launch, and we really need to hire a local marketing team in that region to help us out and engage with customers in their own language.
Today, we’ve integrated Sina Weibo and WeChat; two of the biggest social media, “do it all” apps and channels used in China. We launched on “Singles Day” which is one of the biggest sales days in China, similar to “Black Friday and “Cyber Monday” in the U.S.
Next time, we’ll be better prepared.
Ok, you mentioned that you were 3, then 5, and today, 13 people spanned across the globe. How is your team set up, especially the “across the globe” thing?
🙂 We embrace the remote team structure in that it enables us to be flexible, hire the best talent without limits of geographic location, gain larger coverage as we build an international product and brand, and giving us the ability to work from anywhere instead of one static office that limits a business.
However, in order to have this structure you have to have the right team so really being diligent about hiring the right people who are self-motivated and with great work ethics and awesome communication skills.
You also need to have the right tools that allow you to work with a distributed setup. Finally, you need to stay in touch to build that “water-cooler” culture.
This can be hard to do when you’ve never met a team member; however, we circumvent this by hosting an annual 1-month hackathon anywhere in the world and bring all the team members together.
I understand that we can do this now since we are a small team, but as we get bigger, we may set up different hubs in our top performing geographic locations. Then those can be the destinations for team members who work away from the main hubs.
Very interesting time to see this type of distributed work culture form and grow in popularity considering all the benefits it provides.
What a web of networks. So, what is next for Mailbird?
We continue to build our core product which is Mailbird for Windows laptops, desktops, and tablets. We continue innovating the unification of communication online with email at its core and all those other apps that help us work more efficiently when integrated together into one place.
Next, we are looking to bring Mailbird to mobile, and likely starting with Android since it holds the majority of the market share for smartphones.
We are excited to give people around the world a full Mailbird experience across devices from mobile, desktop, laptop, and tablets. Email, communication and project/task management in a tool that streamlines workflow and communication.
Wow, that would be awesome as I use my android for most of my day-to-day activities. Lastly, what would you like to tell our readers/listeners?
As a female CEO and entrepreneur, I hope to inspire more women to pursue careers in computing technology and to go for executive roles within those awesome career paths that are paving our future.
You can do it, just takes your drive and persistence coupled with a smart and dedicated team.
Final thought on the interview with the female CEO
Nowadays, “female CEO” is becoming a usual phrase.
However, just wishing to become one won’t automatically make you one. You need to wish it, think it, plan it and act on it. You may be the next female CEO, but to achieve that, you need to start now! Trust me, you would be amazed at how far you’d go in a year.
You can also check the top tactics adopted by famous entrepreneurs to grow their business into success here.
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