Philippe Lehoux is the CEO of Missive, a shared inbox and team chat app for businesses. He has been bootstrapping internet businesses for the last 24 years.
He has done it all from the free flash game portal, the outside gaming creation jam, his city’s first coworking space, the million dollars badge printing app, and now the best collaborative communication app in the world.
Where did the idea for Missive come from?
While my co-founders and I were working on another project called ConferenceBadge.com, we decided to also experiment with other ideas, as we worked so well together. During a brainstorming session, Etienne, one of my co-founders, came up with the idea of a tool that would let you draft emails collaboratively.
We thought it was brilliant and started working on what would become Missive, a collaborative email tool.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day’s schedule looks like: Family. Work. Train. Work. Family.
I have four kids, ages 2 to 10, so taking care of them takes a significant amount of my time. My wife and I cook most of our meals, and being around the table with the whole family is an important part of our morning and dinner routines.
I train every single day, I alternate between a weight-lifting day and a cardio day (stair climbing, running, paddle boarding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, road biking, swimming, etc.).
For work I show up every single day never really having a plan, I do what seems to be the most important thing at the time. To this day this served me well, allowing me to stay opportunistic on different last-minute opportunities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I never work on many projects at the same time. I’m able to focus and invest a lot of time on one thing before the return on investment seems obvious. Out of all the ideas I can have, I tend to start working on ones where I clearly see a path to success. I would never have started working on Missive, without first having started ConferenceBadge, a project that could pay our bills while we experimented on Missive.
What’s one trend that excites you?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Training every day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take care of yourself. In the early years of my working life, I could work non-stop for hours, days in a row. This eventually took a toll on my body. Would have just been better to have better habits from the start.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
An HTML/JS application can run seamlessly on mobile devices. Missive is just one HTML/JS app. We could never compete in the market with such a small team if we had to maintain 2 or 3 different code bases.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be focused on your product or service and talk to your customers. You need to be obsessed about creating value for your (potential) customers, you are there to delight them.
Plus, being an entrepreneur is not just about what you do but also what you don’t. To illustrate this abstract point, read our blog article about all the things we did not do while reaching our $2M ARR.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Creating long-form content exploring the difference between Missive and competitor products. Google always ranked us well on those pages.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I created a massive game creation festival in my city… to meet potential cofounders and launch a game studio with them. I ended up being so busy running the festival that I met practically 0 game developers. After four years… I realized that even though the festival was really successful, I had to let it go… since my real objectives were never fulfilled.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a community platform that supports single sign-in. A platform that can be used by SaaS like Missive, where their users can easily log in using their existing account and exchange forum-like interface.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Personal trainer every week, I can just go to the gym, no preparation needed, a professional is there to make sure I progress safely.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I eat my own dog food, Missive. If you are curious about how we use it (we have a pretty advanced setup), I wrote a small post explaining our workflows. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/eat-your-own-dog-food-our-insanely-productive-workflow-lehoux/)
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I mostly read history books, there is something humbling in learning about all the different people and civilizations that went on before us.
Recently I read, Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture, a great book about the early years of Haiti.
What is your favorite quote?
I’ve never been a quote person, I can’t remember any.
- Invest your time and energy where you can clearly see you have a unique advantage.
- Invest in your health as much as your passion project (business).
- You can have a family and bootstrap a business.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.