Email has become an inseparable part of our work life. Even though its usage is thought to be a no-brainer, it actually is more complicated than most of us think.
Additional tools, extensions, and many more features can facilitate every single operation when it comes to email. Sadly, the fear of new technology often pushes people away from adopting innovative solutions that make manual tasks easier or even eliminate them altogether.
Today we are having a conversation with Tobias Knobl, CEO of Mailbutler, to gain more knowledge about mail extensions, issues that companies run into while managing worldwide teams, and what cyberthreats are most commonly carried out via email.
Let’s go back to the beginning of Mailbutler. How did the idea for this project come about?
Mailbutler’s story began when Fabian, our CTO and Co-Founder, was nearing the end of his studies. At the time, Fabian was using Apple Mail for his day-to-day email communication needs. He realized that the email client was missing quite a few helpful features, which is what inspired him to develop some himself in the form of plugins. Fabian also launched a simple website to let others download and install his Apple Mail plugins.
Several weeks and many downloads later, Fabian started selling his plugins individually. His core user base was constantly asking for more features, which led to the creation of Send Later, ForgetMeNot, Graffiti, CargoLifter, Face2Face, and EverMail.
Fabian’s hobby generated significant income, so he began contemplating starting his own company instead of pursuing a career in video coding. In January 2015, Fabian visited the Innovation Entrepreneurship Center of the RWTH Aachen University to seek expert advice. This is where I, Tobias Knobl, met Fabian for the very first time. I immediately recognized the potential of his business idea, and it took us only four months to find Mailbutler after we met.
Can you tell us a little bit about your email extension? What are its key features?
Mailbutler is an email extension designed for Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook. It integrates seamlessly into these email clients, meaning you don’t have to learn any new software programs to use it - you just need to install it.
Mailbutler puts a powerful set of features at your disposal, the main purpose of which is to make your inbox smarter. Two of our key features are Email Tracking and Send Later. As the name suggests, the Email Tracking functionality allows you to see when, where, and how many times your recipients opened your emails, as well as showing you how many times they opened any links you included. This helps you save time and follow up more effectively. The Send Later feature, on the other hand, lets you schedule and send emails at the time of your choosing.
Additionally, Mailbutler comes with customizable email signatures and templates, follow-up and attachment reminders, snooze and undo, send buttons, and notes and tasks which you can attach to specific emails and contacts. Each of these features helps you improve a different part of your email communication efforts.
What are the most common issues organizations run into when managing a team based all over the world?
Managing an international team is challenging for a number of reasons. Major time-zone differences make it extremely hard for project managers to ensure a steady workflow and track performance.
Working in different time zones can also negatively impact communication and slow down the decision-making process. Luckily, there are plenty of advanced communication tools (including email) that help overcome these challenges. At Mailbutler, aside from email, we use Confluence, Jira, and Microsoft Teams for internal collaboration.
There are also cultural differences and language barriers. These hurdles can make it difficult for managers to onboard new team members, implement fair compensation packages, and ensure compliance with local labor laws. Some of these obstacles can be easily overcome with modern HR solutions such as online training programs and self-onboarding procedures, while others require managers to keep up with relevant regulatory changes.
How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new features added to your services as a result?
Most of our customers are freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners. The COVID-19 pandemic hit their business activities hard as lots of regular clients decided to stop all current projects and cancel future ones. Unsurprisingly, this took away a huge chunk of our users’ monthly income, which forced them to cancel some or all of their SaaS subscriptions.
Luckily, we managed to keep most of our subscribers happy by letting them use Mailbutler for free for a certain period of time. This is how we showed our customers we care about them and, in a way, helped them get back on their feet.
To answer your second question: no, the coronavirus pandemic didn’t affect our product roadmap.
When talking about cyber threats carried out via email, what are the most common ones today?
The latest reports show that a whopping 91% of all cyberattacks begin with phishing emails. Email phishing is a serious cyber threat carried out via email because it makes use of social engineering to deceive people into disclosing sensitive information like their bank account or credit card numbers.
There are also spear phishing and whaling attacks which are more targeted and personalized. That’s why it’s essential to always be careful when opening emails, especially unexpected ones.
In your opinion, why do certain companies hesitate to implement new and innovative solutions, despite all the technological advancements available nowadays?
This is a very interesting question. I believe the simplest answer is that people, including business owners and managers, resist change because they fear the unknown or can’t anticipate the outcome. Fortunately, Mailbutler isn’t a new software program but an extension that integrates directly into our customers’ email inboxes. This makes learning to use Mailbutler’s features incredibly easy.
What’s more, we constantly listen to what our user base has to say about our product and use their feedback to improve it. For example, a while back, some of our subscribers started complaining about some of Mailbutler’s features, saying they confuse them instead of helping them better manage their email. We heard them out, realized our mistake, and removed the problematic features soon after that.
What other aspects of our daily lives do you hope to see automated or enhanced by technology in the upcoming years?
I live in Germany and I have to say that the level of bureaucracy is still very high here. I believe administrative processes must be digitized as it will significantly increase their efficiency and transparency, so I really hope to see that happen in the near future.
I’m also super excited to see how technology and automation will continue to change education, workplaces, and the global food system. I’m talking about plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy as well as lab-grown meat.
Besides quality collaboration solutions, what other productivity and security measures do you think modern companies should invest in?
To optimize their workflow and protect their daily operations from cyberattacks, I believe every modern business should invest in safe and reliable productivity tools such as Microsoft 365, Asana, Trello, and Bitrix24. Companies should also boost their cybersecurity by investing in EDR, antivirus software, next-generation firewalls, and DNS protection.
Can you give us a sneak peek into some of your future plans for Mailbutler?
Mailbutler’s future is bright and exciting. We are currently working on making our email extension smarter by improving its features. We are also working on transforming our dashboard into a personal assistant of sorts. It will remind the user which emails need a follow-up, what they need to get done today, and more. Stay tuned to find out what we have in store.