SendGrid recently closed a $33 million Series D funding round and now boasts more than 350 employees and a brand new, state-of-the-art office in downtown Denver. However, SendGrid’s humble origins stem from three passionate founders, Isaac Saldana, Tim Jenkins, and Jose Lopez, who set out to solve the problem of email deliverability in 2009.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Isaac Saldana, one of SendGrid’s three co-founders, and the first CEO of the company, to discuss how the business was started. During our in-depth conversation, we discussed Isaac’s past as an entrepreneur, his motivations for starting SendGrid, finding initial product-market fit and the keys to SendGrid’s ultimate success. The story and glimpse into Saldana’s mindset that follows are sure to be invaluable for aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike.
Before There Was SendGrid…
For such a successful founder, Saldana is extraordinarily humble and attributes much of his success to luck.
“This thing is hard and it’s not going to be given, but consider that a lot of it is luck and just part of the process. So, if you never create a successful startup, it doesn’t mean anything. It just means you didn’t get as lucky as the other person.”
While luck was certainly part of the equation, Saldana’s goal was to objectively identify why SendGrid’s founders were able to succeed in spite of the unfavorable odds facing startups. For Saldana, curiosity and persistence were instrumental in identifying a challenging, widespread problem and forming the right team to build a solution.
Consider that SendGrid was Saldana’s fourth startup. To put that into perspective, Saldana had worked on “failed” startups for six years before even beginning on SendGrid, which doesn’t sound lucky in hindsight. While all of those businesses failed from a financial standpoint, they provided invaluable experience that would lead to SendGrid’s success for a number of reasons.
Saldana developed meaningful working relationships in running startups with SendGrid co-founder Jose Lopez and SendGrid’s 5th employee, Elmer Thomas.
Saldana, Lopez, and Thomas learned from mistakes they had made in previous businesses.
Saldana encountered a recurring pain point of email deliverability in all of his previous startups, which would eventually drive him to found SendGrid. from www.sendgrid.com
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