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The founding story of Mailbutler

The Mailbutler story is a long and interesting one that started way back in 2015. It has its origins even earlier. Read our article to find out more about our story.

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    By James

    James has seven years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.

    Mailbutler, the email extension that makes your inbox smarter, has been around for a long time now, offering its services to users like you who want to get more from their email communication.

    Mailbutler is used by over 100,000 users and was named industry leader by GetApp in both 2021 and 2022 and is a four-time winner of the G2 High Performer award in the categories of Small Business.

    But how did it all begin? Not many people know the story of Mailbutler, so we thought it was about time to let you all in on the history of the company.

    It's a long journey that started all the way back when our cofounder, Fabian, was at university, trying to do something a little different. Read on to find out more about how Mailbutler began.

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    The origins of Mailbutler

    While Fabian was studying, he came up with the idea to develop a VPN client, because the current ones he could find weren't good enough. He ended up creating Shimo – a replacement for an existing VPN application provided by his university.

    Word of his invention spread quickly and he started receiving requests from fellow students who wanted to have access to his VPN client as well.

    He decided to launch a new and improved version of Shimo which financed itself solely by donations - until several universities contacted him directly, asking if they could grant access to Shimo to all of their students.

    This was when Fabian introduced his first licensing model - and “Shimo 3” was born.

    The switch to email plugins

    Towards the end of his studies, Fabian started focusing on email plug-ins. He was using Apple Mail at the time and realized that the email client was missing important features, such as attachment reminders and email scheduling.

    He decided to develop those features himself in the form of plug-ins that he started selling individually. The first features he came up with were: Send Later, ForgetMeNot, Graffiti, CargoLifter, Face2Face and EverMail, many of which, under different guises, would later become Mailbutler features.

    At that time Fabian was a PhD student, but his hobby of creating Apple Mail plugins and refining his VPN client provided him additional income.

    This prompted him to question whether he should give his hobby a chance and launch his own company, which he would have to work on full-time or follow through with his initial plan to pursue a career in the field of video coding as a regular employee.

    This is when he decided to consult the Entrepreneurship Center of the RWTH Aachen University where he eventually met Tobias in January of 2015, who would become his cofounder.

    The founding of Mailbutler

    Tobias, who used to be the Head of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Aachen, ended up being Fabian’s advisor. Tobias was thrilled to hear about Fabian’s ideas because he immediately recognized the potential of email plugins.

    He also offered to join Fabian on his business journey and work with him in a team. Long story short: Fabian accepted his offer, and it didn’t take long until Feingeist Software GmbH – Mailbutler’s original name – was founded in April 2015.

    The idea was to sell the individual plug-ins as part of a subscription model, which was rather unusual back then. After preparing the release in Aachen, both of them moved to Berlin on May 1, 2015.

    In August of that same year, Fabian and Tobias hired their first employee, a graphic designer who had just completed her apprenticeship.

    During this time they got most of their work done in co-working spaces, before they eventually started renting their own office in October of 2015, which was located in Berlin Schöneberg, close to the district’s city hall. Concurrently, Shimo 4 was released.

    first official Mailbutler release

    The first official Mailbutler release

    The first official version of Mailbutler was launched in March of 2016, and it came with a new feature: Email Tracking – one of Mailbutler’s most popular features to this day.

    They also combined all of the individual plug-ins and renamed the features. In addition to these changes, a subscription model for Mailbutler was established which didn’t offer customers the possibility to purchase the plug-in by making a one-off payment.

    The reaction to the subscription model was rather negative at first because at that time people weren’t as familiar with monthly or yearly subscriptions as they are today. However, Mailbutler's features received a lot of praise.

    An additional developer was hired in August 2016 to work on a VPN app that was launched at the beginning of 2017.

    The app ended up being recalled due to business-related restrictions of the App Store and the company further shifted its focus towards its email product. You win some, you lose some.

    In June 2017, Feingeist Software GmbH was renamed to Mailbutler GmbH to better symbolize the primary focus of the company: email.

    Modern day Mailbutler

    Modern day Mailbutler

    ‘Mailbutler 2.0’ was released in January 2018. The new version of Mailbutler was released for Apple Mail and Gmail. The relaunch also provided refined features and a completely new infrastructure to accommodate different email clients.

    After the successful release of Mailbutler 2.0, the growing team moved into a new office in July of that same year, located on Welserstraße 10-12, 10777 Berlin.

    In 2020, in the wake of the Corona crisis, most Mailbutler employees were working from home. Fabian and Tobias decided that work-from-home had been so successful, that it wasn't necessary to even have a permanent office anymore.

    The large office was given up in August 2020 and Mailbutler moved into a  smaller one in a coworking space, "SpaceShack", at Akazienstr. 3a, 10823 Berlin.

    Currently, the Mailbutler team is as international and diverse as can be. Our employees come from all over the world to share their knowledge and skills with us to help Mailbutler flourish.

    part of Mailbutler team

    And they also never run out of ideas - since the 2018 release, Mailbutler has added a wealth of new features, become available for Outlook, and completely revamped its Dashboard, as well as hiring a few new employees who have helped to push the company even further in the direction it needs to go.

    Mailbutler’s features

    • Smart Assistant: An AI email assistant that writes, summarizes and improves
      messages, finds tasks and contacts, and responds for you.
    • Smart Send Later: Smart scheduling functionality to help you optimize your email
      delivery times.
    • Email Tracking: Find out when, where, and how often your email or link was opened. For
      those using iCloud or IMAP email addresses, see exactly who has opened your email
      when you send a message to multiple recipients.
    • Snooze: Temporarily hide less-important emails and they’ll reappear at a time of your
    • Contacts: Get essential insights into your contacts to maintain peak customer
    • Email Signatures: Beautiful and professional email signatures with extensive creative control.
    • Email Templates: Craft message templates to increase productivity and efficiency.
    • Email Tasks: Always remember to take action. Attach tasks to your contacts and emails and
      keep your to-dos organized.
    • Notes: Never forget anything again. Add notes to your contacts and emails so you never
      forget any important information.
    • Collaborators: Be consistent. Share contacts, notes, tasks, signatures, templates and
      more with your team members.
    • Tags: Add tags to emails, contacts, templates, signatures, notes, and tasks to quickly organize your inbox.

    At Mailbutler, our goal has always been and will always be to provide an all-in-one solution for your email inbox, which helps you boost productivity and stay on top of your messages.

    We work hard every day to reach this goal and improve what we've already achieved. Want to see for yourself how far we've come? Register today and get a 14-day free trial of all of our features.

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