You deserve the best. Mail Pilot exists because, as two college students, we decided that email could be better. We set out on an experiment to see if we could imagine a better email experience. Believe it or not, our initial motivation was not to start a business, but after the success of our idea on Kickstarter, Mindsense was born to bring Mail Pilot to life.
Along the way, we’ve faltered in bringing you the best email experience, and we’re here to tell you how we’re fixing it. This letter is as long as it is honest, but we look forward to starting this conversation with you, and we hope you’ll share your thoughts with us.
Shortfall 1: The challenges of remaining an independent boutique company
In an effort to bring you the best experience and answer solely to you, our customers, we’ve made the decision to be an independent boutique company with no traditional investment. This means that we have grown slowly and very intentionally, but at times, not quickly enough to meet your expectations. We are a very small team—currently four people, only one of which is a full-time developer. Developing a suite of fully native email applications is an incredibly daunting task to tackle with one developer.
Solution: We’re hiring
For the last two months, we’ve been actively recruiting a full-time developer. We haven’t found the right person yet, but we’re not going to stop until we do. If you know anyone who would be a great fit for our team, here’s the full info. This additional development power will allow us to be more responsive to your needs, including expansion to additional platforms. At the same time, we’ve also hired for and rearranged our Customer Support team to be more responsive to you. We’ll share more on this below.
Shortfall 2: A rushed, buggy 1.0
Our first version of Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad, while working ok for many, has endured quite a few issues. The entire application was built from scratch in less than four months. We rushed this release because we were fearful of competition, and that was a bad decision. While we’ve made several incremental updates, it’s completely fair to describe the current application as buggy, slow, unstable, and unimpressive to this day. We are incredibly sorry for all the issues with this application.
Solution: Rebuilt application, free upgradeWe took the time to re-write our iOS app from the ground up (read the announcement here). Normally, we would charge for a major version upgrade of a one-time paid application, but since the first version was not up to the standard we set for ourselves, we’re going to give this one to current customers for free. We’d love to launch with iOS 8, but we don’t know when that will be yet, and we prefer to ship a higher quality app a week or two after iOS 8 launches if necessary. So, to be safe, we’re slating the release of Mail Pilot 2 for iPhone and iPad for October.
Shortfall 3: Inconsistent product updates
We’ve been inconsistent with updates to our products. This directly relates to the challenges we’ve faced in remaining independent and working with a small team. After Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad was initially released, we were excited to see all the requests for a desktop counterpart. So, shortly after the release, we set our sights on developing Mail Pilot for Mac. Because of our limited development resources, when we decided to switch gears, we put Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad on the back burner. It stayed there for way too long. Similarly, in our efforts to bring Mail Pilot 2 for iPhone and iPad to you, Mail Pilot for Mac hasn’t seen an update in a few months.
Solutions: Regularly scheduled updates
Updates every other week for Mail Pilot 2 for iPhone and iPad — After launch, we’re going to spend two months in an intensive feedback/development loop to bring improvements (feature requests, interface enhancements, bug fixes, etc.) to the application in updates released every other week. During the public preview and beta of Mail Pilot for Mac, we had incredibly close interactions with many of you and released updates based on your feedback and reports weekly (sometimes more frequently). We want to mirror this experience. Our goal is for Mail Pilot to be the best email client out there, so instead of jumping back to another development project after we launch, we’ll be listening intently to your bug reports and feature requests, and shipping updates regularly.
Incremental updates for Mail Pilot for Mac —We will be shipping some updates to Mail Pilot for Mac over the coming months with some general improvements and to bring it up to speed with Yosemite. Since our focus will be on our iOS app during its launch this does mean we won’t get to bring our Mac app to a version 2 as soon as we want to, but we think it’s for the best. We want to knock it out of the park with our iOS app, then we’ll do the same with our Mac app.
Shortfall 4: Poor Communication
The launch of Mail Pilot for Mac was one of the most exciting times for our company. During our 3 month public preview and beta period, we were in close communication with you and got some amazing feedback that made Mail Pilot for Mac infinitely better. We really had our finger on the pulse of the application and how our users were interacting with it. This changed when it came the public launch on the Mac App Store. Within hours of its launch, Mail Pilot for Mac became the #1 paid application in the entire Mac App Store in over 50 countries. We were taking on customers at a rate we had never seen before. Our small team was all hands on deck responding to customers via support email and twitter; we even had to bring on temporary relief staff to help get quicker responses. During this period and for a long time thereafter, we lost the pulse. And we never really got it back. Until now.
Solutions: User conferences and transparency
User conference — Our team is planning our first ever user conference. Everyone who uses Mail Pilot will be invited to register for our free online user conference which will take place after Mail Pilot 2 for iPhone and iPad ships. The Mail Pilot User Conference will be a 1-day event consisting of multiple webinars where we’ll share tips and tricks to get the most out of Mail Pilot, show you our roadmap for the future, and hold Q&A’s to get your questions answered by our core team members. We’re excited to spend some time with you during these webinars, and we’ll post more information about them as we get closer.
Weekly status updates — Every Friday, we will post a status update from our support and development teams on our Status Board. You will get a glimpse into where we are in our development process, what issues came up most in support, and what we’re doing about them. We’re going to make a more thorough status board page where our current one exists. We’ll also post a link to each update on our Twitter account.
Customer support — We are rethinking our approach to customer support. To start, we have dedicated two of our team members to keep track of and improve your customer experience. Their core responsibility is to represent your voice to our full team as we work to improve the way you use and experience our products. Furthermore, we want to improve the experiences you have in interacting with our company. If you contact us through our support system, email, or social media, one of our two reps, Nathan or Mike, will be assisting you. These guys are top notch – I’ve never met anyone else more dedicated to solving people’s problems and making sure people’s voices are heard than these two guys. While I hope you never have to chat with them because of a problem with Mail Pilot, if you do, I know they’ll do everything they can to assist you. They’ll also be at the center of our 2 month intensive improvement period – taking everything you tell them to the team as we figure out what should be developed on next.
We’re here because of you. Let’s craft some great software experiences together.