Recently ASBN attended the Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit hosted by The Bridge Community and Metro Atlanta Chamber. Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Joe Uhl, VP of engineering at MailChimp about their commitment to the Atlanta start-up community and what the next steps are for MailChimp in the small business landscape.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a brand that you know and love, right? You guys have been around how long now, MailChimp?
Joe Uhl: MailChimp, the company’s been around about 18 years. It’s been MailChimp the product for about 10.
Jim Fitzpatrick: About 10 years?
Joe Uhl: Yeah.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay, yeah. I know you guys kind of switched over to email marketing, right?
Joe Uhl: Right, the original founders, it was a web development, consultancy type business, built MailChimp to help their customers, and it ended up gaining traction and they doubled down on it.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So tell me, what brings you guys out today to the Innovation Summit?
Joe Uhl: I’ve been in MailChimp for about eight years, when we were a much smaller company. We’re in a real kind of transitioning phase, where we’re definitely not a startup anymore, we’re not a corporation in the sense of A Coke or a Cox in terms of our size yet, but we’ve got some traction. We’ve got a lot of people and we need to continue to think about innovation and where we want to head with our product. And so, we’ve started to build a corporate development function and are trying to get more connected to the startup community in Atlanta and to find companies that could help us with that roadmap, either now or in the future. So we’re here just to connect with startups, to help them. I mean, a lot of it’ community, it’s giving back to Atlanta as well, but I’m trying to find companies that we can either use internally or use as part of our product in the future.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah for sure, it just seems like a natural part of the landscape for a company like MailChimp to be here, because your product also helps companies that are just starting out, right, as well as thriving companies?
Joe Uhl: Our customer base is all about small business. The whole company is built for it. It’s what we’re really good at. We’ve got large accounts, but we’re focused on a small company, a few people that doesn’t have a marketing person full-time, and they want to do marketing at the level of their competitors or the giants they’re trying to compete with, and we help them do that.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And you’re looking at all kinds of companies. There could be somebody that’s got an idea here today that says, “Hey, I haven’t developed it. There’s really been no proof of concept so to speak, but we’ve got our idea here and it just needs to breathe a little bit,” right?
Joe Uhl: Yeah, and I’m happy to talk to all stages. I mean, some of those, my background’s actually all in startups too, so I have personal interest in talking to these groups.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh cool, yeah.
Joe Uhl: And there’s always ways we can help. If it’s not an investment short-term, it could just be advice, or getting them connected to people at MailChimp that could help them out and point them in the right direction.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, and Atlanta has become such a hotbed of startups. Talk to us about that for a minute.
Joe Uhl: Yeah, Atlanta’s changed a lot, so I did a bunch of startups 10, 12 years ago kind of was when I stopped doing that, but it’s changed a lot. There’s a lot of incubators that have developed. There’s a lot of funds that have developed.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I know.
Joe Uhl: So a lot of the resources that have been here a long time, like ATDC and our colleges, they’re still here, but there’s a lot that has built up around it, and it definitely feels like a different environment than it did.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, I’m sure it does. Talk to us about MailChimp, and some of the exciting things you guys are working on right now.
Joe Uhl: Well, MailChimp, our big focus right now is we are transitioning to a marketing platform for small business. E-mail is how we built the company and found our success, but what we’re trying to do and what we’ve learned from talking to our customers is they love our product. They wish they could use it for all of their marketing.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, good point.
Joe Uhl: So this past year, year and a half, we’ve added a lot of channels, automations, landing pages, postcards, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, and we’re trying to position our product as a platform where a small business that has no marketing person, has very little time, not a lot of resources, could come to MailChimp and figure that out quickly, and do marketing that doesn’t, at a level that they normally wouldn’t be able to produce on their own. They wouldn’t normally have those capabilities.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And you guys are a phenomenal tool for those small business operators. You mentioned your average account has less than 10 employees in it, right?
Joe Uhl: Yeah, it’s very small, so when we say small, we mean really small. I think each company you talk to that says they target small businesses will have something else in mind. I know of companies that say 1,500 employees is the small business cutoff, and for us it’s a few, and mostly, they do not have a marketing person.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us on ASBN. Hopefully, we can have you back on the show to talk to us a little bit more about marketing and some of the things you’re rolling out at MailChimp.
Joe Uhl: Sure, I appreciate it, thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you so much.