Starting a Business from Scratch: MailTrack’s Next Challenges

Things can move fast in the startup environment. Weeks before launching the MailTrack Tool for iOS and MailTrack for Work, Nacho González-Barros believes MailTrack can’t forget it is still a starting business, and the project will go wherever its users take it to.

Last month, an unplanned landmark arose for MailTrack.io, one of the most important since the start of the business in November 2013. After reaching 400,000 sign-ups and closing an investment round that made the project reach €1 million in total investment, our startup from Barcelona raised some Spanish eyebrows after being called by Wired as one of the hottest startups in Europe in 2015.

August was supposed to be a slow period for us, since most of the businesses in Spain save their vacation for that month. But there is a growing consensus that the months ahead will be key for our continued success, especially with the decisions we make until the end of the year.  We took one week off to relax, and saved the rest of the month to design and plan some important strategies for our business.

The release of the MailTrack Tool for iOS and our professional plan under MailTrack for Work are the best examples of the key moment we’re going through, and — still — reminders that we are a startup, going mostly through a learning process.

But what does that mean for MailTrack? I sat down with Nacho González-Barros, CEO and one of the founders, and asked his opinion on the future of our email tracking tool.

 

NACHO GONZÁLEZ-BARROS, FOUNDER AND CEO, MAILTRACK.IO

“We’re still starting our business”

Nacho González-Barros

Nacho González is 41 and CEO at MailTrack.io. He has been a serial entrepreneur since 1995, and founded websites such as InfoJobs and Niumba (sold to Tripadvisor).

 

I remember the nice feeling of starting a business at the beginning of MailTrack.io. We were a team of 4, and now we have sometimes up to 10 people in the office. Maybe we aren’t a startup anymore…
I think you’re wrong. I like Steve Blank’s definition of what a startup is: a project that is trying and defining a business model. That’s who we are. Somehow, we’re still starting our business, defining everything from our user profile to how we’re going to make the whole thing sustainable.

But it’s clear we have already advanced a lot.
Of course. There are things that are consolidated: for example, we want to keep MailTrack’s simplicity, while being one of the few solutions in the email marketing industry with a completely free, unlimited version. There is also great evidence that our ambition of reaching markets everywhere, much beyond United States and Europe, was a correct choice. But I think those points are the exceptions to the rule.

In that learning process, then, how would you describe the moment in which MailTrack is now?
What defines MailTrack in its business strategy right now is monetization and taking our email tracking software to mobile. Those two points fold into MailTrack for Work, which is MailTrack’s premium version with professional features, and the MailTrack Tool for iOS. We’ll be launching both of those officially in the next weeks.

We’ve decided to release the MailTrack Tool as an accessory app to our Chrome extension. What is behind this decision?
We discovered that our users can’t wait for our mobile app, but that they don’t want to stop using their native email app on their smartphones. So the MailTrack Tool is an email app for you to carry on your cellphone for whenever you need to use MailTrack away from your desk. That’s, in fact, how I already use it as a beta tester. When I need to know if an email I sent with MailTrack has been opened or not, or to track an email on the go, I open the MailTrack Tool on my iPhone and do it even before reaching my desktop computer.

What about Android?
We’ll release the MailTrack Tool for iOS first. Android imposes extra challenges, because of the range of different devices that support the operational system. Besides, the feedback for the iPhone app might help us improve it as well.

MailTrack for Work is an interesting case already. We haven’t launched it officially yet, but it already has some interesting numbers.
We’ve in fact surpassed the goals we projected for this testing phase of MailTrack for Work. Even before launching it, we already have over 1,000 clients. I think it’s an interesting indicator that MailTrack and our professional features might be useful to our users. And since MailTrack for Work is still at its beginnings, I hope that interest increases as we develop it further.

“If what we’re doing does not interest our users, everything loses its point”

But if we’re to release the MailTrack Tool for iPhone and MailTrack for Work, why do you think we’re still to define our business strategy?
Because when you’re starting a business like we still are, you can never assume that what you’re doing is completely right. You try to get the best evidence from indicators, surveys, and interviews, but one assumption is key: you might be wrong.

What evidence do you think is the most compelling when defining that path?
How useful it is to our users.

…that’s it?
If what we’re doing does not interest our users, everything loses its point. At the same time, keep in mind that to know if we’re useful or not to them is not trivial. To begin with, we have all sorts of users, with different backgrounds and applications for our tool: families, businesses, entrepreneurs, salespeople and job seekers. To find out what are the most important profiles using your product is a hard task. And then you have the difficulty of actually assessing it: all the methodological limitations, biases everywhere, and the difference of what one says and one thinks. And of course, the need to make this whole process and our business sustainable.

As a CEO and Founder, though, what ambitions do you have for the startup?
I believe MailTrack has the potential to become an absolutely must-have tracking software for everyone who uses email as a productivity tool. And although we have much to go through, I think it’s clear we’re following the right approach.