MONTERAL – It’s a company logo you just want to eat.
The colourful brown and yellow cartoon cake with a red cherry on top is eye-catching, if not mouth-watering.
It’s just too bad hardly anyone ever sees it.
“Yeah, that really is a shame,” said FranÃ§ois Lane, founder and chief executive officer of CakeMail, a company that produces white-label software to create email newsletters.
Since it is a rebranded product, the company’s logo appears nowhere on its software. But its founders still felt it was important to spend time and energy to find the right image because it deals mostly with marketing companies that respect wellthought-out brands.
They settled on a cake because more than just a delicious dessert it also relates to the company’s makeup – layered. The company’s software and servers are the bottom layer, it’s API or customizable software code is the middle layer, the customizable user interface is the icing, and the customer or the end user of the software is the cherry on top.
CakeMail started in 2007 when Lane was looking to revamp the French-language email program he created called courrieler.
“I had gotten a few requests for a white-label solution, and I noticed there wasn’t anything out there,” Lane said. “So we started doing a new version of courrieler, which became CakeMail.”
At the same time, Steve Smith, CakeMail’s co-founder, was working at an email marketing company and he knew the challenge of creating a multilingual marketing platform.
The two met through a mutual friend, and Smith immediately realized the importance of Lane’s idea, especially the fact that it would be available in English and French from the start.
“We had a lot of issues with multilingual interfaces, so when I started chatting with FranÃ§ois, I realized this was a golden opportunity with a lot of market pull,” said Smith, now the company’s vice-president of sales and a minority partner.
With a slim marketing budget, the company grew thanks mostly to search engine optimization techniques and word of mouth. It took 18 months for the company to become profitable. The company’s revenue has grown 40 per cent in the last year.
The software is now available in 12 languages. There are 400 marketing companies that customize the product for 20,000 end users, in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil and elsewhere. In all, there are about 100 million emails sent out every month using the software. Among users here are the Montreal Canadiens and the RÃ©seau des Sports French sports channel, which send out email newsletters to subscribers.
All those emails mean big bucks for the company, because resellers pay based on how large the subscriber lists are.
The software is sold to marketing agencies that customize it with their logos and send it to their customers who can then add video, text and images. It’s either the end users or the marketing agencies that optimize the design of the newsletter and send it out.
The software also allows users to send automated emails, like those sent to new subscribers to confirm a subscription.
CakeMail is currently in expansion mode. There are now 18 employees, and the company expects to hire six more engineers within a year.
The next step for CakeMail is to simplify the user interface and to market it to a much wider market.
The company wants to shift its focus to Web hosting companies to allow them to offer email marketing to the website customers that they host.
Smith says hosting companies have access to tens of thousands of potential customers, compared with marketing companies, which usually have about 20 potential end users.
But as the company grows, one thing remains constant. There is cake every week.
The founders say that’s just one of the ways the company keeps its dynamic work environment.
Lane’s wife, Isabel Lapointe, who also works at the company, brings in a different batch of cupcakes every week for employees. Lapointe, who appointed herself the title cherry-in-chief, also posts recipes on the company’s blog.
To offset all those cake calories, Smith’s girlfriend, Sherry Thacker, a personal trainer, comes into the office once a week to lead optional workouts.
Other perks for CakeMail employees are free monthly bus passes, paid cellphones (iPhones) and free home Internet access. The latter perk allows employees to work from home, but it also means employees must respond when there is a technical emergency in the middle of the night.
“We expect people to work at home, because normally, when there’s an emergency, it’s at 2 in the morning,” Smith said with a laugh.