Oct 23, 2023
A Coffee Chat Around Product #2 - Cassie Leroux, CPO at MailInBlack
Cofounder @ Jimo
Hey Cassie, can you introduce yourself? What’s your professional journey and what drove you to become CPO at MailInBlack?
Currently, I’m the CPO of MailInBlack. After business school, I started my career as a digital and IT strategy consultant at Wavestone. I've always been passionate about tech, design, and especially about the UX of emerging technologies. A few years back, while consulting, I sought to join a dynamic, ambitious tech startup and that’s when I met MailInBlack. Six months in, I transitioned from a Product Marketing Manager role to leading the product team and joined the executive committee as CPO. Today, I primarily drive the company’s five-year vision and MailInBlack's product diversification strategy. My main goal is ensuring that product innovations and roadmaps are aligned with the interests of our customers, prospects, and stakeholders. At present, our product team consists of 11 individuals spread across three divisions: Product Management, Product Marketing, and Product Design. Together, they manage market analysis, customer feedback, user experience, and the marketing positioning of our solutions.
Now, can you delve into the product DNA of MailInBlack?
MailInBlack has a 20-year history. For over 17 years, we were primarily a single-product company, honing the simplest and most efficient email protection solution in the market. This period can be broken down into two years of off-market development, five years of post-market-fit adjustments, and a decade of continuous enhancements and innovation. For ten years, we’ve maintained close ties with our customers, consistently consulting and co-creating the product’s future with them. From the start, MailInBlack's product DNA has been user-centric. We currently have over 18,000 clients for our flagship product. However, in the last three years, our product DNA evolved by introducing two complementary products. I believe our continued improvements on the product part are due to the close relationship we nurture with our customers.
I guess you have already seen that! ;)
Since entering your scaling phase, did you face challenges or necessary adjustments?
Absolutely. Growing a product team from 2 to 11 members in two years presents challenges. The first was organizational; we had to structure new divisions and, in tandem, expand our development, DevOps, data, and AI teams. The second was an adaptation of our framework, moving from a traditional Scrum model to the Shape Up methodology. This shift aimed at fostering greater tech team collaboration on pivotal roadmap topics. Lastly, as we diversified our product range, ensuring multi-product user experience coherence became paramount. On paper, it sounds simple. But coordinating three products today, potentially five in the future, while guaranteeing optimal user experience is a genuine challenge.
Given these changes, some of which I assume led to major updates or platform disruptions, how did you communicate with users to keep them engaged and informed?
With 18,000 clients and 800 resellers, communication is crucial. We implemented four channels. First, a status page to notify users about any platform instability. Second, bi-monthly targeted newsletters updating clients on recent features. Third, Intercom, managed by our customer service team, to share real-time product updates. Our customer success managers also maintain close ties with clients, keeping them informed. Lastly, our key differentiator is a public roadmap. All our clients access and navigate this roadmap, preview upcoming features, vote on anticipated functionalities, and even pitch their ideas. This interactive tool has been a game changer for us, becoming an integral feedback mechanism.
To wrap up, any advice for someone looking to join your product team?
Joining MailInBlack’s product team isn’t about product development expertise. I’ve hired a UX designer from our customer service team and a marketer from sales. It's more about a fervor for users, continual improvement, and innovation. We’re constantly challenging ourselves, failing, testing, and restarting. My advice is to deeply immerse oneself in the product world and learn to collaborate across company departments. A top-tier product professional can seamlessly discuss business with a salesperson, code with a developer, or deployment with DevOps. That's the kind of profile I seek when building an excellent team.
Thank you Cassie!