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Interview with the CEO and co-founder of email enhancement solution, Mixmax

Discussion on the service, the hurdles, and their recent successful funding round

Entrepreneur interview by Josiah Motley
March 16, 2018
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4b33

Fresh off a successful funding round where the company raised over $10 million, Mixmax is continuing to enhance their email extension service meant for businesses. At its core, Mixmax lets teams work smarter, offering quick tools for a variety of scenarios you face on a near daily basis. Features include things like one-click scheduling, embedded calendars, and various templates.
 
Mixmax also serves as a great tool for sales teams, with it multiple read receipt features, as well as clicked-link analytics and scheduling for emails. All of these features integrate with popular email clients like Gmail, Inbox by Google, and Salesforce
 
I had the chance to speak with Mixmax about their product, as well as the recent funding round, you can find the interview below!
 
 
Care to introduce yourself and your role with Mixmax?
 
I'm Olof Mathé and I'm the CEO and co-founder of Mixmax. We’re reinventing email for business, helping people in sales, success, and recruiting, sell, succeed and hire better.
 
I’m from the US, but mainly grew up in Sweden, and studied in France, before moving out to San Francisco to immerse myself in the tech scene. I landed at Skype during the Silverlake / Andreessen Horowitz takeover of the company. Two years later, we were acquired by Microsoft, and it was time to move on. I joined an e-publishing startup, Inkling, where I met my co-founders, Brad Vogel, and Chanpory Rith.

What inspired the creation of Mixmax? Any interesting stories from the company’s conception?
 
Retrospectively, it was probably inevitable that we created a product to help people communicate better at work. As founders, we’re all communication geeks. We have backgrounds working on communication products like Skype, Gmail, and WebOS.
 
When we started the company, we knew we wanted to create a SaaS business, and we asked ourselves: “What’s the absolutely worst communications experience in dire need of improvement?” The answer to that question was, of course, “email”, and so we decided to bring the world’s most ubiquitous communications medium to the 21st century :).
 
After a couple of months of private beta, we launched and won the ‘best demo’ award at Launch festival in San Francisco, despite being called up on stage with only an hour’s notice.
 
As it turns out, there’s a lot you can do to turn email into a delightful, interactive, and productive experience.

Are you trying to REPLACE email?
 
Email will never be replaced. It’s too useful, too ubiquitous, and also has the benefit of being based on open standards and non-proprietary technology, unlike all the proposed alternatives. Products like Slack or Asana that try to replace email typically end up making email better, because they help declutter your inbox and remove conversations that fit better elsewhere.
 
We’re big believers in email as the default channel for any conversation that happens across organizational borders. That’s why email ultimately is here to stay and why it needs to be significantly improved. Anyone in a customer or candidate-facing role (sales, success, or recruiting) lives and breathes email, but email wasn’t designed for modern teams. It needs to become a smart, delightful and interconnected medium, rather than remaining flat, dull and unproductive.

At its core, what problems is Mixmax looking to solve?
 
Mixmax is a force multiplier for your team.
 
Whether you’re in sales, success or recruiting, we tell you who to reach out to and how, so you never miss an opportunity. And there’s more. We automate all your busy-work so you don’t get bogged down in admin.
 
 
Rather than having separate tools for email tracking, calendaring, campaigns, Salesforce sync, etc., Mixmax combines them all into a comprehensive and delightful package that sits on top of your existing email and system of record (whether that’s a CRM or an ATS).
 
A nice example is our integrated calendaring. Rather than going back and forth via email to find time to meet a customer, you can embed available times from your calendar in a keystroke. Once the recipient taps on a time the meeting is automatically set up and synced to your CRM.

What hurdles have you had to overcome during the process of launching a service?
 
Every phase of Mixmax has had its own unique challenges. In the earliest days, when we only had a prototype, the challenge was more existential: “Is there any value in what we’re doing?”
 
Now the challenge is one of scale: How can we continue to build a world-class team, enrich our culture, and accelerate the pace of innovation?
 
Right now, we’re particularly focused on building out marketing and sales teams. We grew the company to profitability with just the broader product team, so we know we’re leaving a lot on the table by not having a proper commercial team.

You’re coming off a recent funding round, where do you see those funds being utilized?

The funding is all about finding new and exciting ways to help our customers achieve more.
 
Tactically, we’re looking to double the headcount of both our San Francisco based team and our distributed team. This means building out functions like marketing, sales, success and finance. We’ll also continue to grow the product, design and engineering teams.
 
From a product perspective, we’ll be extending the reach of Mixmax to new platforms like Outlook/Exchange and mobile.

Anything exciting coming to Mixmax in 2018?
 
We’ve just barely scraped the surface of what Mixmax will become.
 
We like to think about ways to help people in sales, success and recruiting operate at their highest potential. These are pretty lonely and stressful jobs. If you’re lucky, you get a list of leads to close, accounts to retain, and candidates to hire, but you’re otherwise left to your own devices. If you’re not lucky, you start from a blank slate. In many organizations, there’s little to no effective training. Adding insult to injury, the toolchain is typically uninspiring.
 
If we help make people in these jobs more successful and less lonely, we’ve won. Ultimately, we hope to do for customer-facing workflow what GitHub did for engineering workflow.

Care to add anything before we close the interview out?
 
Silicon Valley is pretty obsessed with automation these days. In most cases, it’s about replacing humans with technology. There are even companies trying to replace salespeople and recruiters with AI. We like to think about it the opposite way: how can technology be put to our service, and help us achieve our fullest potential? How can technology remove barriers to making more and deeper human connections?