Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with founder Ben Duncan from Atmail.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Atmail develops modern messaging tools, powering large-scale ISPs for their email infrastructure and small-businesses around the globe. We develop webmail, mobile email and email server technologies, including collaboration tools for calendaring, file-storage and sync technology between multiple devices. Our software can be run on-premise or via our cloud infrastructure.
We are positioning our offering as an alternative to Google Apps and Microsoft 365 for small business. For larger ISP and carrier providers we are the go-to for our technology stack, powering over 40 million mailboxes worldwide.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Atmail began as a bootstrapped and organic growth company, enjoying over 10 years of operation.
18 months ago we raised our first Round-A of financing with a local Australian VC, and have used this capital to double our staff, invest in further developers, sales and marketing resources, and set up an R&D department for our many ideas to filter through.
Our primary strategy to grow our idea is setting up an outbound sales team, improving our sales funnel via our various touch-points in the business, and improving our technology stack for larger scale customers with millions of users.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Scaling from a smaller bootstrapped business into a company with five to 10 times more revenue, numerous new staff and challenges along the way. It’s all about scale.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
Our main point of difference is offering our software solution as an on-premise option, or under a cloud distribution. Many of our competitors offer one solution or the other. We combine both and let the customer decide what’s best for their business.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Probably not a surprise, but I live off my Atmail email client on my iPhone. I couldn’t live without email on my phone!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
In the early stages of Atmail, when I was in my twenties selling our full product solution for less than $500, I had an investor mentor in Malaysia explain to me why I needed to charge more for the Atmail product. This was useful advice, because it encouraged us to refine the product to be more enterprise-ready.
By doing this, we attracted the right kind of customers for Atmail. It was easier to scale support and sales, and gave us the opportunity to focus on improving the technology behind the product. This piece of advice catapulted our company and tripled our revenue within a few years.
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