Interview with Ben Duncan (Atmail Cloud)
Atmail Cloud is a hosted email, calendar and contacts service.
I interviewed Ben Duncan, Atmail Cloud CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and seventy eighth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Ben!
How would you describe Atmail Cloud in under 50 words?
Atmail Cloud is a hosted, full-featured business messaging platform. We put in email, groupware, and mobility; we take the stress of management, administration, and hosting out of the equation.
What gap did you see in the email market which inspired you to create Atmail Cloud? Do you feel you’ve successfully targeted this niche?
We found that a lot of businesses needed email, but did not have the resources to host their own on-premise server. So we figured: why not make their lives a little better?
Would you ever considering targeting Atmail Cloud to a more personal audience as opposed to the business market?
It’s definitely a possibility. And we’re up to the challenge. Who knows? We might have more to say on this in the next few months…
How long did it take to put together Atmail Cloud? Did you experience any major technical difficulties in launching it?
We had a brief period where we had to reinvent the way we replicate data between the servers without sacrificing speed. Besides that, we’ve found that most of the time it’s not really an issue of software, but of approach. Everything is process.
As your headquarters are based in Silicon Beach, Queensland, Australia, do you experience any time difference related barriers to communication?
While time differences may cause issues, nothing can’t be solved with the right processes. We make sure that we have a man for every timezone, and we always make a point of syncing up at least once a day. You gotta talk to your mates. :)
You claim to have very few meetings with your colleagues yet you still constantly interact, is this via Atmail Cloud?
We have our own instance of Atmail that we use to keep in touch, say g’day, and generally keep tabs of what everyone’s doing. It also helps that my colleagues and I are mates; we go to the same places and do the same things to decompress and just hang out.
Going from a small garage in a backyard into a multi-national company, have you been at all surprised by the success and growth you’ve experienced?
If Present-Me was to talk to 17 Year-Old Me and say how far we’ve gone, 17 Year-Old Me wouldn’t have believed it. So in a way, a part of me still finds things a little bit surprising.
However, while luck can be a factor, I also believe in the element of hard work. Luck sets off the spark, but it’s determination that keeps the fire aflame.
You seem to be constantly updating your product, how do you prioritise new features?
We keep a long-term, but flexible roadmap. Far enough to have a clear vision of what we want to do, but not so set in stone that we can’t squeeze in One Cool Thing every now and then.
With the knowledge you have today, would you do anything different if you were to start-up Atmail Cloud again?
No, not at all.
You’ve recently secured $2 million funding from Starfish Ventures. In which area are you currently focusing this investment?
We’re putting our resources at the core: product development and staff. We want to focus on building a good base for the platform to grow on.
Atmail is currently available in 16 different languages, which languages brought in the most rapid growth in users?
Our Italian language pack brought in more clients, and our Spanish language pack brought in more end-users.
How do you focus on differentiating yourself from competition?
We’re veterans of the industry, but we still keep a small team. We move quickly, and our development is much more agile. I like to believe that we have the experience of industry veterans without the baggage that goes with it. :)
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the startup world since launching in 2001?
Everything is faster now, the pace much more aggressive. The competition is filled with fresh new faces with bright, new ideas, and startups live and die by the day.
To paraphrase William Gibson: it’s almost like a deranged experiment in Social Darwinism, with one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
Try to push the boundaries, but don’t ignore the basics. People come for a product that’s cool and new, but they stay for one that works 100% of the time.
Can you convince the reader to start using Atmail Cloud in under 50 words?
Atmail Cloud has 100% of the features you need as a business, at 0% of the work required.
Finished reading? Check out Atmail Cloud!