YC Backed Polymail Raises $1M, hits 20k Users with CEO Brandon Foo


In Episode #480, Nathan is joined by Brandon Foo, co-founder and CEO of Polymail (YC S16) – an email platform making businesses and companies more productive. Previously, he co-founded CTRL LA Collective, a co-working space in LA. He graduated from UCLA where he co-founded Bruin Entrepreneurs which is now the biggest entrepreneurship organization at UCLA. Listens as Brandon shares how he built Polymail and why entrepreneurs prefer it over Gmail



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Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – N/A
  • What CEO do you follow? – Aaron Levie
  • Favorite online tool? — Asana
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— 7-8
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Spend more time with side projects and less on school work”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:35 – Nathan introduces Brandon to the show
  • 02:08 – Polymail is a super-powerful email platform designed for business users
    • 02:18 – With just 1 app, you can do a lot with your email
    • 02:37 – It is a complete stand-alone email client
  • 03:15 – How are you convincing people to make the switch?
    • 03:20 – Polymail supports multiple accounts
    • 03:52 – People are looking for a complete product experience and Polymail has that
  • 04:31 – A lot of features of Polymail are not in the regular Gmail
  • 04:54 – Polymail started in 2015
    • 05:02 – Launched a Mac prototype in December 2015
    • 05:12 – There’s a tremendous traction
  • 05:38 – Brandon built a small community of people who were invited to try the app
    • 05:48 – They have a Slack group so Brandon can get feedback on a daily basis
    • 06:10 – When they officially launched Polymail, these people downloaded the app and left reviews
  • 07:12 – Polymail is a free app at the moment
    • 07:20 – Polymail pro is in the works but you can sign-up for it now
    • 07:41 – Polymail pro has much more advanced features
  • 08:00 – Over 20,000 daily active users of Polymail
  • 08:12 – 150,000 total downloads and people who signed up
  • 08:27 – Every time Polymail will release a new feature, they will email the whole list of people who signed up to get them engaged in using Polymail
  • 08:52 – Brandon had raised around a million dollars
    • 09:12 – Brandon used a convertible equity
  • 09:24 – Team size of 5
  • 09:48 – The goal for Polymail is to build the platform for external communication on top of email
  • 10:08 – “Email is a critical product for business people so we saw the opportunity there”
  • 11:23 – Polymail is not for a short-term outcome
  • 12:00 – They just wrapped up their seed round
    • 12:30 – They wrapped it up in September 2016
  • 12:48 – Target people
    • 12:56 – A lot of the users are solo entrepreneurs
  • 13:45 – There’s no significant changes with Gmail for the past 10 years
    • 14:09 – Maybe because they make money from ad revenue and let Gmail be a generic email platform
  • 14:40 – Find Brandon on Twiter
  • 16:44 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. An update on a product can make non-active users use the product again.
  2. Consistent feedback from a group of customers can significantly improve the product.
  3. Spend more time with side projects and less on school work.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to the quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • Assistant.to – The site Nathan uses to book meetings with one email.
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel.
  • @Foolywk – Brandon’s Twitter handles
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives