#Asia 5 things Mailbird learned selling on Alibaba


Indonesia-based startup launches Chinese-language version of app


Mailbird is an email client similar to Outlook. It partners with applications like Asana, Evernote, Facebook and Whatsapp, so Windows users can manage and streamline communication.

Currently, Mailbird is available in 17 different countries and boasts 60,000 monthly active users. It has also been voted the world’s best email client for Windows by IT World two years running. Not bad for a startup that was founded only three years ago.

CEO and Co-Founder of Mailbird Andrea Loubier grew up in Jarkarta and lived in the US for a few years before heading back to Indonesia.

“When I moved to Bali, there wasn’t much of a tech startup ecosystem. In the past three years, development has been crazy fast here, and the community is starting to blossom,” says Loubier.

Mailbird is based out of Liveit Spaces, a co-living and co-working space that also houses startups like Labster and MagLoft.

Also Read: Top 3 co-working spaces for technology entrepreneurs in Bali

Catering to the Chinese market

The Number One market for Mailbird is in the US, followed by English-speaking countries. The Indonesia-based startup sees a huge opportunity however, to shift numbers more favourably to the East.

“China has one of the largest Internet [user bases] in the world, and we want to offer Chinese users a modern alternative to other messaging platforms,” says Loubier.

The team saw opportunity in China’s market and consequently developed its Mandarin-language platform. Mailbird syncs with any email provider, especially helpful in a country where Gmail is blocked.

“Earlier, we had heard about Singles’ Day, on November 11. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go onto Alibaba and promote our Mandarin platform to a new audience,” says Loubier.

The startup is looking to raise US$2 million in its Series A round next year, funneling the funds into development in Asia.

Loubier shared with e27 things they learned marketing and selling on Alibaba.

Also Read: Retail therapy: Cashing in on China’s Singles Day


1. Create a Chinese name for your brand, don’t just translate it directly 

“We never had a specific Chinese name. We just directly translated ‘mail’ and ‘bird.’ Which doesn’t sound poetic. We might create a name in the future that can signify something and is less direct.”

2. Some humor doesn’t apply in China 

“For whatever reason, we used ads in English, graphics depicting what it was like to be single and looking for a date. I don’t think it was very efficient, because some people did not understand the humor or why there’s just this white guy in the ads. Also, literally translating our one line tag from English, ‘The best email client for windows’ came off arrogant in Chinese.”


3. Start prepping at least 2-3 months prior

“We launched very last minute. We thought we could sign up and — bam! — we’d be right up on the site. That’s not the case – you may not get approval initially. We’re still going through some of the process! For a launch, we would suggest two to three months.”

4. But don’t overthink it — it’s better to just do it! 

“We’re a lean startup, so we learn from our mistakes. It’s better to just put yourself out there and make mistakes. You can always do a second launch following the soft launch.

5. Start social media stuff early, and build up contacts in China 

“On our team, we have Chinese translators, which helps with our social media on Weibo and WeChat. Having a network in China helps as well, it’s easier to reach out to people by using your network.”

Image Credit: Mailbird 

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