Interview with Armand Thiberge, co-founder of SendinBlue

TechRound was delighted to get the chance to chat with Armand Thiberge, the co-founder of Sendinblue. The digital marketing company provides an innovative SaaS all-in-one solution that adapts with businesses as they grow. We spoke with Armand about running a company, his background before starting SendinBlue, and the advice he would give others interested in dipping their toes into the SaaS industry.

What was the main inspiration behind Sendinblue?


Having graduated from the top French engineering school, I wanted to discover the world and I began my career in web project management in India. I soon realized that the way that SMEs work is unfortunately no longer suited to our time. After a few months, in January 2007, with the last €1500 remaining from my military pay, in an office without air conditioning on the outskirts of New Delhi, I founded what would become Sendinblue. I found my partner on the equivalent of Craigslist in India, I focused on developing web applications. Our clients were SMEs, so we and we developed websites and marketing tools for them. SendinBlue was officially launched in 2012. As a champion of entrepreneurs, Sendinblue provides them with effective marketing tools at a low cost.


Before Sendinblue was officially launched in 2012 and became a huge success, you spent five years developing web applications beforehand. What was this experience like? Did you learn any skills that you use now running Sendinblue?


I particularly enjoyed working with entrepreneurs. This experience allowed me to understand the specific needs of their businesses and to learn their stories. Each entrepreneur had his own fascinating story to share! What they all had in common were the financial constraints. I also realized that many of their difficulties came from a lack of experience and knowledge in digital marketing where they needed help. One day a client asked me to write a newsletter for him. This is when the idea was born!

The skills that I learned developing web applications beforehand? Doing project management for my clients, web design, backend development, all the basics you need to build your online product. From then on, I’ve also learned to run a company with many offices worldwide, learning to work internationally with the tech team in remote…


What do you think are the main challenges for the Saas industry?


The industry is booming, “Saas is eating the world”, this is true because all industries, all companies need smart software to be more productive to run their businesses. The main challenge is that, now, the Saas industry is super crowded. So you need to find your market fit and really match the needs of customers. For us, the secret sauce was to provide a tool easy to use with good for value for money (cost-effective).


What is the achievement Sendinblue is most proud of so far?


For sure the achievement that we are most proud of is this: as a small company that grew and allowing today other SMEs to develop, just as we did! Today, we work with more than 90,000 companies and we help them to boost their businesses and compete with major digital players.

Then, of course, we are also proud of having started in 2012 as a small company, with a first fund-raising of €30 million in 2017, 70% annual growth and the acquisition of its German competitor, we became the European leader in just a few years.


What makes Sendinblue different from its competitors?


At Sendinblue, we address a target that is neglected: SMEs. The software is tailored for unique business needs of any size. We offer a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution. Today, 85% of web-users buy online, but only 10% of SMEs have a digital strategy. Yet SMEs have a superpower – the authenticity of their brand and their proximity to their customers. In this age of mistrust of data protection, consumers are increasingly turning to companies they can trust.

That is why Sendinblue is enabling these SMEs to unleash their marketing potential by providing them with accessible tools as powerful as those of the digital giants. By using our automated platform, they are able to send emails, text messages (SMS), generate automatic responses, clean their subscriber database, design landing pages, review statistics, manage the customer relationships (CRM),  Facebook ads, retargeting, live chat and much more. In short, its main function is to build stronger and safer relationships between SMEs and customers through its various tools, across every digital channel.

Today, our turnover of over €30 million in 2019 confirms the relevance of its new all-in-one positioning for SMEs.


Is there anything you wish you knew before starting Sendinblue?


On the contrary! I am quite happy of not having known before all the difficulties and challenges you face when you build a company.


What does the future look like for Sendinblue, do you have plans for expansion?


Yes, we do! Sendinblue was founded in New Delhi as a web agency and became a software publisher (SaaS) in 2017. Since then, we opened offices in Paris (head office), Berlin, Seattle. Last year, we acquired our German competitor Newsletter2Go and became the European leader in digital marketing. It was our first objective!  An exclusive partnership signed last July with Vonage, the world leader in B2B cloud communications, reinforces our position in the United States. We are currently employing 20 people in Seattle and we are opening a new office in Canada. Our mission? Help more and more SMEs…


What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in the SaaS industry?


Listen to your client, listen to your client, listen to your client and my biggest advice, don’t listen to anybody else!