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Email More Faster: How SendGrid Applied the 7 Keys to Startup Success


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Recently, David Cohen, co-author of the newly published book Do More Faster, was interviewed by Andrew Warner on Mixergy.com. Throughout their conversation, David and Andrew discussed the seven themes that are covered within the chapters of the book. In this post, we will explore each of these themes in the context of SendGrid.


#1 Idea & Vision

Look for the Pain

SendGrid CEO, Isaac Saldana, contributed to this theme by explaining where he got the idea and how he formed the vision for what has grown into the company that is now SendGrid. The story is pretty straightforward: Isaac felt the pain associated with managing email systems for web applications that send transactional email. After experiencing this pain multiple times within several different organizations and talking to many of his colleagues, Isaac determined that he was not the only one experiencing the problem. Furthermore, he realized that the problem was so significant that there was an opportunity to build an entire company that exists solely to solve this problem for others. And here we are!

#2 People

At SendGrid, we consider ourselves extremely lucky when it comes to the people in our company. We’ve tripled the size of our team in the last 6-8 months. With that kind of growth, the biggest challenge is hiring the right people. With the help of advisors, mentors, investors and board members, along with some great recruiting (Cory & Kristi), we’ve built an all-star squad across two states and three countries.

#3 Execution

Since our days in the Bunker, our engineers have continued to build a reliable, full featured (and ever-growing) service. Our sales & marketing and user word of mouth has attracted over 12,000 of the most awesome users imaginable, and we’ve sent almost four billion emails on their behalf. Our strategy to accomplish all of this: work as fast as we could to scale our software while maintaining maximum stability and performance; sign up as many users as possible as quickly as possible – to push our limits and gain maximum feedback; focus on what we do best: delivering email from your application to your customers’ inbox.

#4 Product

Thanks to the feedback of our early users, we’ve been able to continually improve our service, our site, and our overall product/service offering. And after many months of work, we recently launched SendGrid 2.0.

#5 Fundraising

Our investors are key to our success. We thank them all for helping us get to where we are. The book talks about the investor / startup relationship being something like a marriage – we are happy to be married to such swell folks. It is no mystery that the exposure to the TechStars mentor network and the opportunity to pitch at Investor Day helped immensely in proving the magnitude of the problem we are solving – which is what investors were looking for.

#6 Legal and Structure

Email is a huge part of our everyday lives. For that reason, we take the responsibility of handling our customers’ email very seriously. Part of that is making sure we have all our ducks in a row – Jason Haislmaier and HRO help us do exactly that. We’ve also enlisted the services of Square 1 Bank to handle our banking and Trinet for our human resource needs.

#7 Work & Life Balance

Working in a startup is grueling for all involved – both the employees and their families. A big part of our company culture is focused on making sure that each and every employee is HAPPY. In order to be happy, we have to have balance in life. We promote this internally by doing fun stuff as a team and encouraging time off when it is needed.

We encourage you to watch the video for yourself, especially if you are an aspiring entrepreneur hoping to turn your own idea into a business. Learning from the successes and failures of others is a great way to get ahead and avoid certain pitfalls.

If you would like to further discuss the lessons that we’ve learned throughout our growth, feel free to leave a comment!

[photo from: mixergy.com]

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Director, Developer Relations at @SendGrid. Passionate about bringing people together around things they love. I tweet at @TimFalls.

4 thoughts on “Email More Faster: How SendGrid Applied the 7 Keys to Startup Success

  1. Thanks, Andrew!

    You do a great job with the interviews in terms of selection of interviewees, content, presentation, etc.

    We're all very appreciative of your efforts and proud to be a part of the Mixergy community, through our inclusion in the discussion within this video as well as your interview of Isaac earlier this year.

    Keep up the awesome work and always feel free to reach out to us if we can help in any way!

  2. I wonder if you listed your priorities to Tech Stars in this order when applying, if having Life Work Balance would give you points or take away?

    In IDEO's Book "The Art of Innovation" they talk about this being a great way to encourage creativity and innovation…Something that is core to every start up.

    I noticed, work life balance is #7. This is something everyone acknowledges is important and you see it in the start up environment. But it is on the bottom of the list. I think that the fact it has placed at #7 shows correctly where it lies in the priority chain.

  3. Pingback: A word from your friends at SendGrid - SendGrid Blog – Email Delivery. Simplified

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