Mathilde Collin

Mathilde Collin

CEO, Frontapp

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 26, 2016

Discussion

Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
Hi - I'm Mathilde Collin, CEO & cofounder of Front. I started this company when I was 24, moved our team from Paris to SF, went through the Summer ’14 batch of Y Combinator, and I’m willing to share everything I’ve learned - ask me anything!
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Mathilde! You've been fairly transparent and open in your writing. What's the most difficult challenge as the CEO of Frontapp?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@rrhoover Hi Ryan! I'd say balancing life and work even when work gets more demanding. Startups are a rollercoaster and when things are OK, it’s easy to have a healthy balance between your work and the rest of your life. What I’ve found most difficult is to maintain this balance even when things get more tense at work. I'm not sure I've been the greatest friend, girlfriend and child in the past 2 years.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@collinmathilde I know that feeling. Fortunately, I have very understanding and patient girlfriend, friends, and parents. 🙏
Nicola Palumbo
Nicola Palumbo@palumbonicola · Software Lover
how difficult was to get into Y Combinator?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@palumbonicola The process is neither easy nor hard, it's pretty simple: you submit a short application and show up for a 10 minute interview. During the interview the questions are specific and important, but the jury is always benevolent. What’s hard is to come up with a project that’s promising enough for YC to invest.
David Senra
David Senra@readbydavid
What are some books that have influenced your thinking?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@readbydavid "Doing good better" & "The hard things about hard things" are the 2 most recent ones
Christina Bognet
Christina Bognet@cbognet · Founder, PlateJoy
Hi Mathilde! Why do you think there are so few female founders and what can be done to get more women to start companies?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@cbognet Hey Christina ;-) Great question. I think the reason why there are so few female founders is because they don't have enough models. I wrote this article in the WSJ a year ago http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerator.... To have more women start companies, we need more models of successful CEOs that, yes, also happen to be women ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And you're one of them!
Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee@dleesta · Product Manager
Conversational interfaces, conversational commerce, and bots seems to be the buzz of 2016, how do you see Front playing in these spaces?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@dleesta Front is an inbox, so conversations naturally happen there. In the future we want to make it easier for bots to hold conversations in Front, but conversational bots are ​_not_​ the solution to every problem. We won’t be rolling out our own bot in 2016 :)
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What do you like most about living in the US? What, if anything, do you miss about France?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@tomstocklein Good bread and affordable cheese, then friends & family I guess :) what I like most about the US is the overall optimistic mindset that is so often discarded as “naive” in Europe. I think it makes everyone both happier and more productive.
Sergio Rodriguez
Sergio Rodriguez@lordserch · Sr Global Product Manager, PayPal
What were the main challenges that you faced in Paris? What was your main concern when you moved to SF?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@lordserch thanks for your questions! the main challenges that I faced in Paris: 1. funding (not easy when you're early stage) 2. time difference with the US 3. skepticism. The main concern that I had when I moved to SF is that I literally had no network here. YC helped a lot :-)
The Book Mixologist
The Book Mixologist@bookmixologist · Blogger
Which tools/products did you rely on most when building Front? Thanks for your time! :-)
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@bookmixologist At Front we use, you guessed it… Front for all our external communications. We use Slack for team chat, Skype for video, Geckoboard for dashbaords, Google Drive & Dropbox for storage, Sketch for design, AWS for infrastructure, Algolia for search, and a million other products and services. Happy to provide more info here!
Richardson Dackam
Richardson Dackam@richardsondx · Founder/Partner at Rich DX Studio
Hi Mathilde, how are you handling security at Front? Are you storing the email in one of your servers or databases?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@richardsondx yes, we sync the content of every inbox in our servers. One of the key features of Front is to have a unified data model for all the messages of a company. If the same conversation appears in multiple inboxes (because of Ccs), Front will create a single copy. This makes it a lot easier to build a robust collaboration layer.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had to go into YC again with a different startup, what would you pitch?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@bentossell Excellent question! I’d probably pitch Pair, a dating app I’ve been working on on weekends :D It’s not ready for prime time just yet but there is already a live version on the Android Play Store: http://www.ma26ou.com/pair.html
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@bentossell Apple is still reviewing it... I'll do a PH launch when it's live :)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What have been some life experiences that you think have helped shape the way you approach decision making?
Martaing Trouyeah
Martaing Trouyeah@martaing · PE Analyst at Anaxago
What can urge a startup CEO in the US to hire a foreign citizen even though he knows the pain and cost of visa procedures?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@martaing Hello Martin! If the person is more qualified, then I don't care going through the pain and cost of VISA procedures. That makes sense?
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your essential apps?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Do you think it's possible to be successful as a founder outside of SF?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@ems_hodge yes, for sure. The reason why me moved to SF is because we thought it was the best possible place to start Front (the Bay Area is the most condensed ecosystem for what we do.). But I'm sure it's not the case for every company + I'm sure we could have been successful somewhere else :-)
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What is one of your biggest failures?
Mitali Pattnaik
Mitali Pattnaik@mitali · Co-founder @IntroHQ. pm @ TWTR, GOOG
As a female founder, we are constantly being faced with unfair assumptions, and being told how its harder to fundraise, harder to manage family and startup etc. Do you think there are actually *advantages* to being a female founder?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@mitali Hi Mitali! It's a great question. One thing I can think of is that it's far easier to get press coverage, to be invited to conferences, etc. Just because there are still so few female founders...
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Why should customers choose Front over ZenDesk and Intercom?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
The 2 main reasons why people choose Front are: 1. it's seamless for your customers (not ticket number, no "reply above this line" etc.) 2. the app is extremely fast. Happy to elaborate here!
Blake Kraft
Blake Kraft@blake_kraft · Sr. Account Executive @Frontapp
https://frontapp.com/get/front-v... This is a helpful landing page for comparison :D
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What are your most valuable takeaways/lessons/experiences from the YC S14 batch? What skills did you and your team pick up during that time that are helping you build up and grow Front today?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@tomstocklein I wrote about the topic here: http://thenextweb.com/entreprene.... Something that helped us a lot at YC was to discover from the founders of Stripe, Facebook, Airbnb & co that it was hard for everyone. We learnt to 1. talk to users all the time 2. ship quickly, that's what we've mostly done in the past year and a half :)
Nick Kwan
Nick Kwan@nwkwan · Head of Growth, Pakible (YC W15)
You've built a hell of a team. What are a few main things that separates you in particular, as well as Front, from other companies? Do you believe in headhunting and choosing the best when you need the role, or will you make a role for somebody when they show a ton of enthusiasm?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@nwkwan Thanks Nick :-) A few things that made us different from other companies: 1. we're extremely transparent 2. we use the product that we're making all day long 3. we build legos very often 4. we're half french half american 5. we do a 1 week offsite every quarter :)
Jonathan Alpay
Jonathan Alpay@suriteka · Developer Student
What is your educational background, and what are your tips for the students ?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
Hi Jonathan! I graduated from a French business school. Tips for students is a hard question. If you're a student that's interested in building start ups I would recommend listening to this talk http://startupclass.samaltman.co...!
Jonathan Alpay
Jonathan Alpay@suriteka · Developer Student
@collinmathilde Thanks a lot. That's helpful :)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Mathilde thanks for joining us today! What one thing would tell a new founder that you wish someone had told you about starting a company when you first set out?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@ems_hodge hey Emily (and thanks for organizing this AMA!) I would recommend any founder to read "the hard things about hard things" before starting a company. That way they won't be surprised :)
David Bellaiche
David Bellaiche@david770 · Co-founder of Tack App
Hi Mathilde, really appreciate your company! I would love to know for you which are the best book you ever read regarding business or others useful subject? Thank you!!
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What were the hardest and easiest times in YC and how did you get through them?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@bentossell Hi Ben! Hardest: living and working together 24/7 with your team (with a lot of pressure) is not always easy, but the good thing is that if you survive that, you can probably survive any future crisis! Easiest: demo day. it looks like it's a big deal but it's not, you've been prepared during 3 months :-)
Mohamed Abbassi
Mohamed Abbassi@pixmonkey · Founder @Peps / Peps.io
Hi Mathilde, how was the move from Paris to SF, did you have any financial backing before YC ?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@pixmonkey Hi Mohamed! We raised 300k before YC. Thanks to YC, the move from Paris to SF was easy :-)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@jakecrump in San Francisco, still running Front :)
Biniam Gebrehiwot
Biniam Gebrehiwot@binionaire · Founder
Hi Mathilde, My first Q on PH. Obviously, it takes brain to be creative, there is a saying, do as many ideas as possible, the right idea will pick you, did you pick Front app or Frontapp pick you?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@binionaire A bit of both I guess?
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What advice would you tell your 20 year old self?
Andrew Hsu
Andrew Hsu@andrewomatic
Hi Mathilde! What's the most recent thing you've done for the very first time?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@andrewomatic Andrew, you're hilarious.
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@andrewomatic answer is: Product Hunt AMA :D
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
Hi Mathilde! :). So far in your career, what's the one thing you've done that scared you the most?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@mscccc moving the whole French team (with families) to San Francisco. It's a big responsibility.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What can we expect to see next from Front?
Mathilde Collin
Mathilde Collin@collinmathilde · CEO, Frontapp
@ems_hodge you'll see tomorrow on Product Hunt :D