20 Reasons Not to Start an Email Startup

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Earlier this year month, Facebook acquired certain assets of Zenbe, a mail-related startup. The news came close on the heels of Facebook launching its much-anticipated Social Inbox (which, incidentally, I like a lot), and, once again, puts the focus on startups that are trying to reshape the email landscape. But if you’re looking to start an email company, Bijan Marashi, the former CEO and co-founder of email-indexing service Xoopit (along with Jonathan Katzman), says don’t do it.

20 Reasons Why Not To Do an Email Startuphttp://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=inboxlovebijannov2010b-101119123924-phpapp02&stripped_title=20-reasons-why-not-to-do-an-email-startup&userName=ommalik

In an email to me, Marashi wrote:

The creativity and courage needed to be a successful entrepreneur is special, but also fragile. Of all the creative venture adventures to dive into, challenging the consumer email market straight on (not communications) may be mission impossible.

This coming from a guy who raised $6.5 million in funding and sold his company to Yahoo for $20 million in 2009. Yahoo bought his company because they had pivoted into hosted search service for developers.

Last night, he spoke at the 500 Startups Inbox Love gathering in Mountain View, Calif. and shared some great insights and many reasons entrepreneurs shouldn’t start an email-focused start-up:

Despite our successful exit, we learned a brutally sober lesson — trying to fix consumer email platforms is like trying to fix the phone system — a startup simply can’t afford to do it. This lesson became even more clear to us as I spent the last year on Yahoo’s exec Product Strategy and M&A teams where I saw how the operators work and looked at many of the startup deals amongst the current class of entrepreneurs.

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