Interview with Raj Khera (MailerMailer)
MailerMailer is an email marketing and list management provider.
I interviewed Raj Khera, MailerMailer co-founder and CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and eighty first in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Raj!
Describe MailerMailer in under 50 words.
MailerMailer makes email marketing easy, fast and affordable. Clients get professional templates, automated list management tools, live reports and free phone support. For B2B and technology companies, we also have a library of fresh articles that clients can use, and even edit, to create their newsletter in minutes.
Describe yourself in three words.
(yes, that’s just two words, but why take up space when you don’t have to… whoops, I went over 3 words now, didn’t I?)
You co-founded GovCon in 1995, which you grew to be the largest business-to-government web portal before selling it in 1999 to a publicly traded firm for over $12 million. What led you to start working on MailerMailer in 2001?
GovCon changed the government contracting industry, which is why we grew so quickly. In 4 years, we went from being a start-up working out of a basement to the largest government contracting portal with customers like IBM, GE, you name it. The biggest pain we had was in sending our weekly email newsletter. This was in the mid-to-late 1990s when there were few affordable technology options.
After we sold GovCon, we figured a lot of other companies probably felt the same pain so we set out to build a robust yet simple tool to create, send and track email newsletters. Our tag line is “Create. Send. Relax.”
Do you work well with your brother, Vivek? What skills do you both bring to the business?
We have pretty clear roles so we don’t step on each others toes. Vivek has a Ph.D. in computer science and heads up our technology team. I’ve got a couple of engineering degrees, but I don’t really do much technical work anymore. My focus is marketing and operations.
What awards have you won?
The Stevies (American Business Awards), WebAward, W3 Award, Communicator Award, Montgomery County Economic Advancement Award (local but a biggie), Pride of India Gold Award, several others. We’ve been fortunate – we have an outstanding team.
What was the most challenging part of developing MailerMailer?
Like most product companies, deciding which features to build and products to add is part of our regular dialog. We get a lot of input from clients who request specific features so we take that feedback into account as we allocate our resources.
Did you expect the growth that MailerMailer has achieved when you first started out?
When we got into this business, there weren’t too many email marketing tools on the market. Now, there are quite a few to choose from. One of our big draws is our support – we regularly get very positive feedback about our support team, especially since clients can just call us up and talk to a real person.
How do you stay ahead of the competition?
Read every day. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever you like. Just read. Reading sparks new ideas and gets you to think in different ways. It helps keep your mind nimble so you can adapt to changes in the marketplace and come up with new products.
You also run MoreBusiness.com, another award-winning website for small business owners, which is regularly lauded as one of the best sites for entrepreneurs. In your opinion, are entrepreneurs born or made?
Made. I’ve seen so many people talk like leaders. So few actually do it and are successful at it. It boils down to persistence, openness to adapt and a bit of luck.
You write a blog, creating-luck.com, that tells people how to bring consistently good luck to their business. When did you realise that having consistently good fortune is not a chance event, but rather a mindset?
During the dot com bust. We launched MailerMailer in 2001, right at the peak of the bust. The first few years were tough. We stuck with it. I was absolutely determined to make it work.
What do you wish you’d have known 12 years ago that you know now?
It’s okay to take a vacation. If you have good people working with you, the world won’t fall apart if you’re not there.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
I’ve been very lucky to have had many milestones so far. Three that stand out:
1) selling GovCon
2) giving the commencement speech at the University of Maryland, my alma matter. I posted a copy of my speech on my blog.
3) publishing my first book, The IT Marketing Crash Course, and watching it go to #1 on Amazon in 3 business categories within days.
What key goal have you yet to achieve?
I have a bucket list of about 100 things I would like to accomplish. Too many things to mention.
What one piece of advice would you give to budding startup founders out there?
Get a mentor or professional coach, someone who has been in your shoes before and can show you the ropes. You can only learn so much by reading, networking and talking to colleagues. You need someone who can show you your blind side, be honest with you when you’re not executing and possibly connect you to others you should meet.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I’m very excited about our new tool, Presstacular, which provides a click-and-use library of business and technology articles that clients can edit. A big headache that many B2B and IT companies face is coming up quality content to share with clients and prospects. They’re often too busy or just don’t have the resources to do it.
Every month, we write timely articles that their customers want to read. Since we own the content, we can allow our clients to edit the articles without worrying about any copyright issues. This is a HUGE advantage over crowdsourcing or curating content. Our clients can take an article on computer security and add a case study using one of their own customers, which creates a much stronger bond with their readers. Presstacular saves our clients a lot of time because they don’t have to write anything from scratch.
Can you convince the reader to check out MailerMailer in under 50 words?
How much more business could you get if you had educational articles to share with prospects? Tap our article library and you’ll get more business fast, plus you’ll have your blog and newsletter done in 5 minutes – no writing required.
Finished reading? Check out MailerMailer!