A Q&A with Mailjet founder and CEO Julien Tartarin. The Paris–based company was founded in 2010 and closed a $3.3 million in new funding in early-December. Investors include Alven Capital, Airtek Capital Group chief Laurent Asscher and eFounders.
SUB: Please describe Mailjet and your value proposition.
Tartarin: Mailjet is a solution to send, track and deliver both marketing and transactional emails. Our cloud-based infrastructure is highly scalable. A proprietary technology optimizes the deliverability of the messages and allows us to offer the best prices.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Tartarin: A few years ago, you could send emails with your own SMTP server. Your messages were getting delivered and that was it. However, with the surge of spam messages, ISPs have set up some very tough rules. The best practices in terms of deliverability are always evolving. When you route the email flows of your app or ecommerce website with Mailjet, you can forget about all this complexity. The email is tracked and delivered, and the sender doesn’t have to worry about the technical aspects such as throttling, authentications, feedback loops, etc.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Tartarin: The email routing market is very big. In fact, clients switching to Mailjet come from everywhere. Our solution can fit with some very different needs. Therefore, we could name: ExactTarget, Sendgrid, Mailchimp, Emailvision or Postmarkapp.
SUB: What differentiates Mailjet from the competition?
Tartarin: What we hear very often is compliments about our UI. It is really quite popular—there clearly is a ‘Mailjet touch’ when it comes to user experience. There is not a day without a tweet about our simplicity and ease of use. Our developers are 200 percent UI/UXP oriented.
On the pricing side, the fact of having a proprietary technology allows us to be highly competitive. Our platform does not rely on a third party technology to deal with the routing of the emails. We combine this with a SaaS approach to offer lower CPMs, and we don’t need to charge some extras to offer access to all our features. For example, our newsletter editor is available for free.
On the deliverability side, we have an excellent expertise when it comes to dealing with local ISPs. Compared to the U.S., Europe is very specific and more complicated—we have this intelligence and our senders love it.
Last but not least, our platform is highly reliable. We invested a lot of time and money in our technology and what we have built is a very robust routing engine. It allows us to offer high scalability to our clients. Startups experiencing huge growth love to start with us, as they know they will be able to scale up without any problem.
SUB: What’s the evidence of traction?
Tartarin: We already have over 10,000 active clients, including some very smart people: MIT, TheFancy, Overblog, etc. Today, we are routing in one day what we used to route in one month. The institutional funding is also a sign that we are doing quite well.
SUB: How does the technology work?
Tartarin: We don’t communicate the specifics of our core proprietary technology yet. But the main idea, concerning deliverability, is that our algorithm integrates all the best practices. Under this layer, there is a powerful native cloud email platform that will allow us to launch revolutionary features during the coming 12 months.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Tartarin: Mailjet was founded in summer 2010 and the official launch took place in February 2011.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Mailjet? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Tartarin: Even during its creation, Mailjet was already very simple and efficient. The whole project took off in less than a month. At the end of May 2010, Wilfried Durand and I met in Nantes, France, our city of origin. We chatted over drinks. I had an idea in mind: mutualize email sending. Our competences were complementary, so we promised each other to do something together.
A few days passed by and Wilfried went to a web event in Toulon, southern France. There, he met Thibaud Elzière, a person who loves good ideas. Enthusiasm, first drafts—off it went! The team was being finalized and Quentin Nickmans, Thibaud’s partner, joined the project.
We pulled all-nighters and the product took shape. A beta version was launched after Le Web 2010. The first version went live in February 2011. One year after, Mailjet gathers more than 15 collaborators and sends tens of millions each week.
SUB: Why was the company founded?
Tartarin: Deliverability has become a very serious issue. According to Return Path, globally, more than one in five legitimate emails get lost. I got the idea after I had to solve deliverability issues repeatedly in my previous projects—high volume websites and ecommerce. This was a recurring issue, but there was no affordable and reliable solution on the market at that time. This is how the idea of Mailjet was born.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Tartarin: We deliver emails. We do it fast, using a cloud infrastructure. From this, the name ‘Mailjet’ was pretty obvious.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Tartarin: I would say managing our super strong growth. Because the product is good, we don’t really have difficulties to find clients. People really enjoy the platform; but going from a few hundred users to 10,000 in a little more than a year, that’s a huge challenge. However, I believe we’ve done it right.
SUB: You recently raised $3.3 million in new funding. What are your plans for the funds, and what are your goals for Mailjet over the next year or so?
Tartarin: The funds raised will allow us to accelerate our commercial deployment for the next two years and to continue structuring the company to support our very strong growth while maintaining a very high level of service. We are also recruiting on an international scale, to be ever closer to our customers, the ISPs and the developers, in Europe and in the rest of world.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Tartarin: This is Mailjet’s first institutional funding round. It was a good time because of the reasons I evoked earlier—we need to manage our growth and maintain our high quality of service.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Tartarin: We have pricing based on the volume of email sent. It’s a pure cloud ‘pay as you go’ pricing. The first plan is free, however—6,000 emails a month.
Mailjet – www.mailjet.com