Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius have built billion-dollar fortunes by helping save small businesses the old-fashioned way: email.
The Forbes 400 newcomer has good reason not to rest. Chestnut and his cofounder, Dan Kurzius, have both profited richly from their patience. With $600 million in revenue, Mailchimp is in the black and has more than doubled its estimated valuation to $4.2 billion in the last two years, giving Chestnut, 44, and Kurzius, 46, its sole owners, stakes worth $2.1 billion each.
Mailchimp’s success is built on the backs of America’s small business owners. Its most popular service—email marketing—might seem a low-tech, unsexy medium in 2018. But small business owners usually can’t afford marketing teams or social media pros. To the 20 million people on Mailchimp today, the ability to send a sleek, on brand email with just a few clicks can mean the difference between bankruptcy and success.
Chestnut and Kurzius have worked to keep that lifeline affordable: Mailchimp’s customers pay nothing for the first 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails sent, and then $10 a month after that. The low cost translates potentially into a big upside. At Stringjoy, a Nashville-based maker of custom guitar strings, owner Scott Marquart says every dollar he spends on sending a weekly email through Mailchimp’s software is good for $20 in new sales. “Customers feel like they know me,” he says.
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October 31, 2018