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France born, Filipino-American Andrea Loubier, @loubier, is the CEO of MailBird
1. How would you describe yourself? (first thing people would think about when they meet you!)
I am like the friendliest person ever. I laugh and smile a lot and enjoy making people happy! When it comes to business or getting things done, I am also very structured, direct and action oriented. I am someone who is a networker by heart, I also love to travel given my multi-cultural background and upbringing. I love taking on a spicy food challenge. Chocolate is my weakness. I am 200% dedicated to leading by example, empowering more women to take on executive roles and to do something they love. I am someone who believes in what I do, who is humble and open to learning. I am passionate about exploring means of better productivity and online communication solution for the modern work force we see evolving today. I believe it hard work, but I’m also not afraid to dance and have fun either! It’s important.
2. What made you get into running your own startup?
Well I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and to start a business from nothing. I love creating something amazing out of nothing and to watch it evolve with every decision I make as an executive on the team. Also I still feel we have a long way to go with seeing more women in executive roles, especially in tech companies. So I have always wanted to solve the problem with email – simply because I’ve had my share, much like the rest of the world – of mismanagement of email that would negatively affect my productivity at work as well as my level of sanity at work. So I’ve been determined to research, test and execute different strategies to help people with the many shared problems we have with email – not to replace it but to make it more effective, faster, easier, smarter and more beautiful. To innovate our relationship with email and make it dedicated to people on Windows – which is a very much underserved market for email tools, yet still the #1 operating system used worldwide. I was introduced to my co-founders who had passed experiences and successes with tech startups and we shared a lot of common ground and decided to assemble the team and let it take off. We’ve been working at it for 3 years now, with an amazing amount of development and progress with the business – and are soon launching the latest big update to our software called Mailbird 2.0 – you’ll have to try it if you are on Windows to see what I’m talking about 😉 In fact you can sign up to be the first to be notified when its live here .
3. As a sole-founder, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated, what keeps you motivated? Any secrets you can share?
I am actually a co-founder with two ridiculously creative yet structured Danish guys. One of my strengths as an entrepreneur is being able to stay motivated. I am easily motivated by honest feedback, and even more so when that feedback is positive and reinforces a decision I made for the business. You make so many decisions as a CEO of a company, like A LOT of decisions to the point it can be very exhausting, but its what comes with the role and you get better and better at it with time. Another thing that motivates me is when I get to work with a brilliant team who respects each other and the hard work we put in everyday into Mailbird. Finally, I am most motivated when I interact and engage with Mailbird customers who are so keen on sharing feedback both positive and negative. The negative feedback is motivating because it tells me that we have some great opportunity for improvement and to make our users happy – the ultimate end goal. The positive feedback is perfect to share with the team, because it goes to show how all our hard work pays off and to keep going, to keep fighting our way against competitors, those who say we cant do it or won’t succeed, those who don’t trust our team is the one to get the job done etc. It’s a roller coaster being the CEO of a startup, a female entrepreneur in Asia (we are few and far between), leading an international team, being non technical, while also dealing with the challenges of living with Diabetes – a full time job on its own. But you learn as you go, and I love what Richard Branson says which is like a big shout out to all the ladies out there….”If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
4. Tell us more about your startup
Mailbird is a productivity powerhouse packed into an email client made for Windows users. We decided to focus on Windows due to the lack of innovation and well designed email management software that is available on this OS. The best part of all is that its adapted for modern work flow, while continuing to innovate with technology. We observed a simple email client for Mac called Sparrow that was acquired by Google in 2012. They were nothing more than a simple, well designed email client to manage Gmail accounts for those who despised the web experience for email management. So we decided to make a “Sparrow for Windows” as named in the TechCrunch and Lifehacker articles that accompanied our public launch of Mailbird in April 2013. Only that Mailbird was going to be way better than Sparrow in that it wouldn’t only serve Gmail email accounts, but all IMAP and POP3 email accounts from Outlook.com to Yahoo and so forth. Mailbird would be your one productivity hub for ALL your email accounts, with one beautifully synced UX that allows a user to customize their email experience. As mentioned before, we are not own our way to launching the biggest design overhaul, called Mailbird 2.0. We are currently on a TV show called StartUp by Channel News Asia and running a crowdfunding campaign as one of our challenges! We need as much support as we can get to win this, with a lot of stake given that there are 15+ million viewers following this. Also, it would be a dream to see Mailbird – a female founded tech startup – WIN and to be an inspiration to many women in Asia Also once we pass our $10k SGD funding goal – all extra funds we raise will be donated to http://www.idf.org/lifeforachild – something close to heart since I have lived with the disease all my life. Again its all in the name of launching Mailbird 2.0 – delivering a fast, secure and innovative email solution for the whole world of Windows users.
5. What has been your greatest challenge so far in running your business?
It would have to be facilitating work with distributed teams, and working with cultural differences. But we’ve been doing for 3 years now and have almost nailed it all down to a science. Otherwise, the challenges with budding entrepreneurs as myself include following dedicated time management, prioritisation and decision making – all things I feel you get better with over time and with experience
6. What is your greatest achievement so far in life?
Launching a new business from scratch and building a tech startup team! Then having BBC come to Bali to interview me about startup life in Bali. You can read it here in their article titled “Forget Silicon Valley, meet Silicon Bali” that article opened up many doors for me and for Mailbird as a business.
7. You travel a lot, how do you get into a routine and stay on top of your work when travelling?
It was something that I learned from an awesome startup/entrepreneurial community in Bali called Livit. Before I moved to Bali from Cincinnati, Ohio – I worked a typical 9-5 job, didn’t give myself much time for working out and essentially being healthy while enjoying work. So when I quit and moved to Bali to join my co-founders and start and lead a new business idea, the community at Livit was awesome at teaching me about the importance of work-life balance. Here I set up a routine of working out 4-5 times per week, while being able to dedicate focused time to building and developing Mailbird into an epic global business. So once I established these routines, finding ways to implement them into my daily life even when travelling became natural and easy. It also helps to be around other people when travelling that are also somewhat structured and like-minded in maintaining their own routines that impact their life in a positive way. Pretty cool. Internet and 3G/4G data connections on mobile phones are essential for travel in being able to maintain work no matter where you are, another awesome thing with technology and how the modern work flow has evolved.
8. One book you recommend everyone reading?
Because I just read it and was rather inspired by it, and appreciated the fact that Ben Horrowitz referred to the audience (CEO’s) as a “she” – the book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” particularly a good read for new entrepreneurs and for me it hit home as even after 3 years I could relate to the experiences shared in the book. It’s all about planning, what to consider, having some grit and getting over it even when all things fail – persistence, intelligence and never giving up keeps you afloat through the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship – and it is awesome! Quite an inspiring book – and makes you reconsider and think things through a lot more strategically when planning for your businesses growth.
9. Finish this sentence
There is no difference between __a__female entrepreneur_ and_a male entrepreneur, both have to work hard, play hard and deliver. No one cares about how you feel, but about what you get done and how you lead.
10. Your advice to anyone woman starting their own business?
Be insanely persistent, build relationships that can help move your business forward, learn from failures and move on and finally realize that it is NEVER too early to start engaging with your potential business customers so you get the feedback early on and can adapt – a la “lean startup” methodology.