A Q&A with mxHero founder and CEO Alex Panagides. The San Francisco-based startup, which has built a platform that enables developers to build and sell enterprise apps on top of large email clients, closed a $1.25 million Seed funding round in mid-June, its third Seed round. Investors this time include White Star Capital, Esther Dyson and other Angels. It was founded in 2010.
SUB: Please describe mxHero and your primary innovation.
Panagides: mxHero is an app store for email. It is also a platform for the development, distribution and use of email apps. With mxHero, a developer can reach all email platforms, like Gmail, Exchange, Zimbra, etc.—cloud and on premises.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Panagides: Business email users, whether via cloud email like Google Apps our on premises like MS Exchange.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Panagides: The platform has no direct competitors, but the apps we build do have competitors. For example, our Hero Attach app competes with HighTail.
SUB: What differentiates mxHero from the competition?
Panagides: Our platform unifies apps into a cheaper and more comprehensive offering for the user. We also provide a unified management interface which allows IT admins’ control over email app usage in the enterprise.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Panagides: First, we market tested to ensure we had a viable product and rolled out to a number of paying customers in the Brazilian market. Then when we decided on global expansion , we joined an accelerator [Entrepreneur Round Table Accelerator, NYC] to connect to an investor network.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for mxHero? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Panagides: Over more than a decade of working in the email space, providing email services and technology, we were constantly frustrated by the difficulty of bringing advanced capabilities to the medium. MxHero was developed to solve email’s inherent inflexibility and allowed us to greatly expand its possibilities. We realized that his product would have a global appeal.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story, or meaning, behind it?
Panagides: Email delivery is governed by the DNS MX record. Geeks see right away the meaning of the name—in geek-speak it translates to ‘email hero.’
SUB: You recently raised $1.25 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Panagides: Email is at a moment ripe for innovation. Also, we find many companies now looking to bring their technology to email.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Panagides: Accelerate product pipeline and go to market.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Panagides: Move from South America to the U.S.
SUB: Why was this move particularly difficult? Was it more the actual logistical issues that come with moving, or specific differences between operating a startup in South American and the U.S.?
Panagides: The logistics of moving people and family from one continent to another was a significant part of the challenge. Adding to that was putting down an operation here in the U.S. This wasn’t as difficult for us as it would be for most Latin American startups because of my American background, but nevertheless, deciding on a location (San Francisco), building a U.S. team, building a presence and sales effort in a new market were additional challenges. We are now operating with sales and marketing in the US and engineering in Latin America. This geographic split also requires special attention and continuous effort with regards to keeping the team cohesive.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Panagides: We sell software licenses and cloud service subscription.
SUB: What are your goals for mxHero over the next year or so?
Panagides: We have a pretty extensive pipeline. In the near future we are going to be rolling out a consumer chrome extension for Gmail users and making some interesting integrations with a large cloud storage partner.
mxHero – www.mxhero.com