70 questions with Dmitry Kudrenko, founder and CEO of Stripo: From email design and marketing to Ukrainian startups and hope for world peace

By Elham P.Mohammadi

Over the years I’ve subscribed to and unsubscribed from a ton of newsletters. Usually, after a month or two, I hit the “unsubscribe” button without hesitation. But there is one newsletter that has convinced me to stay a subscriber for about two years: Sephora’s.

There’s just something about their newsletter that captivates me every time. It not only informs, but inspires. It’s visually appealing and emotionally heartwarming.

I can’t explain exactly what they do right, but I can try: It’s short, fresh, full of color and beautifully crafted imagery, sophisticated yet minimalist and effortless. It feels like I always receive it at the right time and it always leaves me wanting more.

Despite my fascination with this newsletter, it was just a newsletter to me. I never thought of it as anything more than an email until I interviewed Dmitry Kudrenko, the Ukrainian founder and CEO of Stripo, an all-in-one email design platform. 

I learned about Dmitry and Stripo at Web Summit in Lisbon in late 2022, and when he graciously agreed to answer my 70 questions, I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever be able to ask so many questions about an “email template builder”. 

To keep my promise, I started researching and writing down my questions, and the more I read about email design and marketing, the more interesting I found this world that I didn’t know much about.

Dmitry took quite a while to get back to me, and there were moments when I even forgot about the interview. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised––and incredibly grateful and humbled––when I received his answers.

He was actually busy writing what I’d call a short e-book or a mini course on email design and marketing, to say the least, and it was more than worth the wait. 

In almost every sentence, I saw Dmitry as a fount of knowledge in this field and admired his passion for his work. The more I read, the more I realized that email design and marketing isn’t just an art––as I used to think when I thought of Sephora’s newsletter––but a science. 

His answers turned the concept of “email building”, which was completely “abstract” to me, into something very tangible and easy to understand. And I think everyone who reads this interview will no longer look at the emails and newsletters they send or receive in the same way. 

The information, thoughts, insights, and stories Dmitry shared in response to my questions ranged from topics like what Stripo does, how to explain an email template to a child, what email and life have in common, and what makes a good gift for an email marketer to “vyshyvanka”, Ukrainian startups, and his hope for peace in his war-torn country and beyond. 

Let’s dive in and I’m sure you’ll learn things you didn’t think you needed to know. Happy reading!

1- How would you describe yourself in one sentence, Dmitry?

I’m a programmer turned serial IT entrepreneur IT, but people know me as a marketer.

2- What about “Stripo”? How would you describe it in a sentence?

It’s an email design platform that lets you create beautiful email templates quickly and without any technical skills. You create an email template in Stripo and export it with one click to any system you use to send it.

3- What sparked your interest in software development?

I actually started my software development career 25 years ago in high school. I never thought I could do anything else—it’s in my DNA.

4- How did the idea for your business come about?

We (my fellow university students and I) started an outsource software development company a long time ago. We had been developing software as a service (SaaS) products for our customers for over ten years.

Then we realized that we wanted to develop products that would change the world for the better, regardless of the industry. We wanted to learn to build products that would make us proud and be financially successful. 

And more importantly, we wanted to fully control the success of our products and not just leave it to chance.

5- What’s the story behind the name “Stripo”?

So-called stripes make an email. That’s why we decided to name our tool after the email stripe. The stripe, like a ribbon, is bright, flexible enough and yet integral and easy to “play with”. 

So we first gave our project the name “Stripe”. We were well aware of the Stripe payment system. But we thought adding the .email domain would make it easier for people to distinguish us. That was a huge mistake.

When we attended our first conference in the United States, people confused us with “Stripe”. That very day we decided to change our name, but we didn’t want to change the whole concept. So we made a small change and now we’re called “Stripo”.

6- How would you explain an email template to a child?

This is a difficult question. The first thing that comes to mind is that a template is something like Lego for email production. If you have Lego bricks, you can build anything you want. Depending on what brick sets you have, you can build cars, spaceships, a jungle, or palaces.

7- How about an email template builder?

Lego is versatile and offers almost endless possibilities. It’s hard to imagine what a person can create when given a whole bunch of different bricks. Would anyone be able to build an exact copy of the Statue of Liberty or the Lego Star Wars Death Star?

A template builder is like a step-by-step guide, a select kit, and a block separator. In such an environment, you can quickly build exactly what you need without any technical skills. And at the same time, you have the freedom of choice.

8- Three things that set “Stripo” apart from similar solutions?

  • A combination of flexibility and simplicity. You’ll hardly find such a good combination that allows beginners without technical skills to use the tool efficiently—i.e. to create emails with custom designs—and professionals to optimize the processes;
  • The modular email design as a basis for creating email templates;
  • Extensive library of pre-built templates and modules.

9- How did you choose your brand’s color palette?

We chose green over the other colors because it symbolizes Mother Earth, radiates tranquility and peace, and evokes trust.

And we chose light gray as the second color because it perfectly matches the green.

10- What should we know about your logo?

A ribbon symbolizes Stripe. It’s bright, flexible, simple, and holistic, just like the product.

Image source: Stripo

11- The key benefits of email templates for businesses?

Consistency, time savings, and scalability:

  • consistency in branding, tone of voice and communication;
  • time savings, as much of the routing work for coding, integration, etc. is eliminated;
  • scalability, since you can delegate some of the work to your team members and they can easily do what you need without breaking anything.

12- “Stripo” wants to become “the standard of email layout coding”. What does it mean?

To answer this question, we need to dive into some details.

Currently, there are no standards for email coding. Each email client has its own rendering rules and extensions that dictate how styles should be used. 

Some even use special markups. For example, Microsoft uses ActionScript, Google uses AMP, Outlook uses VML, and so on. Even for experienced, worldly-wise designers, it’s hard to know all these rules. 

We’re now creating a space where users without technical and marketing skills can create emails that meet all the best standards, including accessibility, quality of code, and compatibility with email clients.

On the other hand, the standard for us is the way people see us. And we want to be associated with email. We want to be the first option that comes to people’s mind when they think of email.

We want to be the first choice when people are looking for professional email production information. Being a standard for us means that we cover all processes around email production:

  • knowing how to support multilingual emails;
  • communicating with stakeholders about email production;
  • offering the right integration with email marketing tools like Figma, Canva, Email on Acid, Litmus, etc;
  • offering the right integration with senders like ESPs, CDPs, MAPs, etc;
  • knowing how to find email inspiration;
  • knowing how to properly manage roles and access levels between stakeholders.

13- The most common misconceptions about email marketing?

The biggest misconception about email marketing is that it’s SPAM. Countless books, articles, publications, etc. explain that this isn’t true. But this misconception is very popular.

There are a few more:

  • Email marketing is about communication. It’s just a channel to communicate. The most popular channel, the most effective channel, but just a channel. And it’s your responsibility how you use it, what you want to communicate to your customers through that channel, and how you make them happy with the messages they receive from you.
  • Sending mass emails is email marketing. The main idea of email marketing is to send the right message to the right person at the right time. You can add many more “rights” to it, like using the right channel in the right context with the right frequency, etc. So it’s almost rocket science to find your “rights”.
  • The email marketer is only responsible for sending emails. That’s not true. An email marketer is actually responsible for the customer journey, influencing the direction in which the business grows. You shouldn’t underestimate the power that an email marketer has.

14- The biggest change you’d like to see in the email marketing industry?

There are four important things I’d like to change for all email marketing stakeholders:

  • Marketers. Their main activities should revolve around the customer and what they want. They shouldn’t be occupied with routine processes, but should take care of the customer’s needs.
  • Email senders. They should be the ones email customers look to for guidance. Also, senders need to take an omnichannel approach, not just sending emails and using customer data.
  • Email clients. They should all be similar, with the same rendering rules and standards.
  • Recipients. They only want to see personalized emails in their inbox, which I understand. But they don’t want to reveal any personal information about themselves. So I’d like to see people more willing to share some personal data. And of course, I hope their inboxes are filled with anticipated emails. Simply put, I hope recipients receive only relevant newsletters.

15- “Not only does he monitor trends, but also sets them.” That’s what it says on your profile page on Stripo. What’s a new trend you’d like to set in this space?

They would be trends related to:

Modular email design, also known as modular email architecture: 

Everyone is talking about it now. But they just understand it as dragging pre-built modules/elements of email. But to me, it’s much more than that. It’s a completely new concept that will fundamentally change email production. And we’ve already done a lot in that direction.

Goal-driven marketing:

Today, most companies stick to a campaign-oriented approach. I’d call it goal-driven when marketers have the goal of the entire email marketing communication with a customer in mind, not just a one-time campaign. 

Imagine if you set a goal and the system does whatever it takes to achieve it. It seems impossible. But a while ago, no one believed in Tesla’s full self-driving car. And now you can simply enter a starting point and destination on Google Maps, lightly hold the steering wheel, and let the car do the rest itself. 

You can do the same with marketing. All we need is a “map” and roads. And move slowly toward the destination. I think the necessary map is in the customer journey. There are many aspects that the system can improve, such as choosing the best time to send, the communication channel, the number and frequency of messages, and optimizing the quality of the data collected. 

There are many challenges, but they can move us from campaign-driven to goal-driven marketing. This means that machines do all the mechanical/repetitive tasks and marketers do their work and set the goals.

16- A tip to improve interpersonal communication?

When it comes to communication of any kind—personal or professional—it’s critical to listen. For email only, listening means gathering customer data to use properly.

17- “Shape emails your way”. That’s what it says on the “Stripo” website. How does Dmitry design an email his own way?

All companies want their emails to always be “on-brand”. Not just visually, but voice-wise as well. They want to stick to brand colors, fonts, and everything else. They want their emails to visually reflect their website.

However, it’s often difficult to create brand-consistent emails because of custom fonts and design styles. In such cases, marketers have to ask developers or coders for help. 

With our tool, marketers can create custom brand-consistent emails without any coding skills at all. Even if you use our templates, you can effortlessly create 100% on-brand emails. And that’s no empty boast. It’s what we really do.

18- The golden rule of email marketing?

Focus on your customers, not the emails.

19- I’ve seen photos of you wearing “vyshyvanka”. What do you like most about it?

Vyshyvanka is our national dress.

As for me wearing it… Well, it all started about ten years ago. I’m, as I said, a programmer. So I don’t really wear suits very often. Some time ago, I was a speaker at a marketing event. That was supposed to be my first public speech. Honestly, I didn’t have a suit at the time, so I didn’t know what to wear for that event. However, I had my vyshyvanka with me. So I decided to wear it. And I liked it.

There was a time when I wanted to stop wearing it and switch to something else, but I found out that a lot of people referred to me as “The guy in the vyshyvanka”, and so a lot of people sought me out and found me at events. This is the story of how I started wearing it.

And today the vyshyvanka is a kind of self-identification for all Ukrainians. We like to tell the world that we’re from Ukraine.

Image source: Stripo

20- Email marketing before the pandemic vs. email marketing after the pandemic?

We’re more active online today, we travel much less than we used to, people live far apart, shop online, etc. And email connects people. Email helps bring information from companies to people.

Email marketing itself hasn’t changed at all. But the processes within it have changed, which is crucial in times of crisis and war. So to keep up with the times and the current situation in the world today, you need to:

  • revise all automated communication (triggers);
  • decide whether or not to give discounts to your customers;
  • remember that lively, funny subject lines are inappropriate in times of war and crisis.

21- “Stripo” before the pandemic vs. “Stripo” after the pandemic?

We’ve all learned to work online. I mean, we have learned to manage all processes remotely. Today, our employees work from different cities and some even from different countries. We were afraid that Covid would have a negative impact on our business, but in fact it taught us to work online and actually prepared us for stable performance during the war. 

22- Email marketing was alive and well in 2022 because…?

Because communication is essential for marketing, and email is the best communication channel yet. New channels are popping up, but email remains the most convenient. Because it’s accessible to everyone, subscribers can open emails whenever they have time, and emails allow detailed analysis of campaign performance, which is very important.

I believe that email can change into something else in the future, but will never be replaced.

23- Three characteristics of an engaging newsletter?

  • clarity in everything—design, copy, etc;
  • short, concise copy;
  • relevant content at the right time.

24- What do you think are the main reasons for unsubscribes and opt-outs?

There are three very popular reasons:

  • Too many emails from the company/organization;
  • The content is no longer relevant;
  • The content wasn’t what was expected.

But these reasons can be different for each company. So brands need to track this metric for themselves.

25- You’re a keynote speaker. What’s the speech you’re most proud of? Why is it so special to you?

I don’t really have a favorite speech. But every 8-10 months a new idea is born, which I call a “Big Idea.” Eventually, it becomes the “favorite idea” that I can be most proud of”

I want to give you examples of these ideas:

  • I borrowed the Shuhari model from aikido martial arts and applied it to email marketing. I had dreamed of creating a kind of map where I can mark the point where the company is right now and where exactly it should go. This simple thing makes it possible to pave the way to the goal, set checkpoints and decide what to measure at each stage. And the Shuhari concept gives us answers to these questions. I’d really like to share more details about it here, but it would take too long;
  • Qualities of a good email marketer and a career path for an email marketer;
  • Goal-driven email marketing and modular email design.

I’ve been fortunate enough to give speeches that have changed some people’s minds about their job and the role of direct marketing; we’re now close friends with some of them. It all inspires me and makes me proud to give such speeches.

26- How did you know entrepreneurship was for you?

I always wanted to think outside the box when doing a task, like writing software code. Solving a problem has always motivated me much more than the outcome and what I get in return. Sometime later, when I started challenging myself (together with my partners), it became an unforgettable adventure that never ended. 

27- Your definition of success when it comes to entrepreneurship?

Every entrepreneur has their own definition of success because we set different goals for ourselves. Personally, I consider myself successful when I achieve my goals and am satisfied with what I’ve done.

The problem with that is that the goal always changes. That’s why success on the inside isn’t what it looks like on the outside.

28- The most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship?

Freedom of choice because it allows you to do what you like every day. Your job becomes your hobby, a part of you, and you like it. You realize that what you do is meaningful and adds value to the world. 

29- Is there anything you wish you had known before you started your own business?

Years ago, my first employer said, “If I had known then that I’d have so many challenges along the way, I probably never would have started my own business. But step by step, we managed to do things that seemed impossible.”

I honestly don’t know what exactly I wish I had known back then when my friends and I started our own company. 

30- The best book you’ve read about email marketing?

Can I name four? It’s hard to name just one book:

The best book to start with is “Email Marketing Rules” by Chad S. White.

Then you should read “Holistic Email Marketing” by Kath Pay.

The next two books are pretty old, but the information they provide is still relevant:

  • “Strategic Database Marketing” by Arthur M. Hughes
  • “Email Marketing By the Numbers: How to Use the World’s Greatest Marketing Tool to Take Any Organization to the Next Level” by Chris Baggott
Image source: Amazon

31- Five email marketing terms every marketer should know?

Domain reputation, return on investment (ROI),  lifetime value (LTV), churn, and customer journey.

32- The best strategy for deciding what content to include in your email marketing?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and ask yourself what exactly you want to hear from the company and when.

33- A good question you should ask an entrepreneur?

What motivates you to keep going, and what will you do when you reach your goals?

34- If “Stripo” wasn’t an email template builder, it would be…?

It would have been something similar to an older project of ours. About 10 years ago, my friends and I started a company called eSputnik, a customer data platform (CDP) for sending and analyzing email performance. It’s like a monster product with many features, each of which can be a small standalone product. We can also call them pocket products.

Here are the main characteristics of a pocket product:

  • It should be a product that targets the global market and is localized in the most spoken languages of your niche;
  • The primary traffic source should be organic so you get customers without having an office in every country;
  • It should be easy to launch to a wide audience so you can benefit from the product from day one without spending time and budget on setup;
  • The minimum viable product (MVP) should be developed within three months;
  • The product must be for an industry in which you already have extensive experience;
  • The freemium model;
  • A clear exit strategy.

35- The most important design principles for email marketing?

Easy-to-read, clear call to action, responsive and mobile-friendly.

36- The best way to measure the success of an email marketing campaign?

I think return on marketing investment (ROMI) is the best metric we can track if we look at the email campaign in isolation from the overall communications strategy. But that would be a mistake. 

Email marketing isn’t about sending emails. It’s about the customer, optimizing the customer journey, relationships, loyalty, and an increase in lifetime value (LTV). Even if you have a good ROMI, you can lose active users who will probably never come back to you.

So there are:

  • tactical metrics that help you measure campaign performance, such as open rate (OR), click-through rate (CTR), campaign revenue, ROMI, etc;
  • strategic metrics that help you measure your “relationships” with customers, such as LTV, churn rate, average revenue per user (ARPU), etc.

Sometimes a campaign is about something other than money, such as measuring net promoter Score (NPS), gathering feedback and customer data, etc. 

37- What should you look for in an investor?

As a fast-growing company (we’re working hard to maintain our 10% monthly growth), we consider an investor to be someone who understands the market, has ambitious plans, and has proven they know how to execute.

38- The most common mistakes people make with email marketing?

To think that email marketing is a short-term game and that the winning strategy in this case is “more emails, more money”.

However, a customer relationship is a long-term thing. To build lasting relationships and keep customers loyal to your brand, you need to keep your audience engaged and consider whether and how recipients can benefit from your communications.

39- A no-no in email marketing?

Never buy a customer database.

40- An email campaign you’ve seen in the past that you still remember today?

Wow, it’s hard to pick just one. But the first thing that came to mind was a story about two similar campaigns with opposite results. It’s about onboarding emails I received.

Case 1:

When we were working on our email service provider (ESP), we used a third-party tool to send newsletters. When the number of emails reached 200,000+, we realized that we needed our own servers. Our admin selected a few tools we were considering, including PowerMTA by Port25. The latter offered a 1-month trial period. We took it seriously because the check had a 6 digit number in USD. There were other emails as well. When we received a notification email a month later telling us that our trial period was ending and asking if we were ready to make a decision, we knew we were ready to make the purchase. Imagine if they just sent us the “Your trial period is ending, and you’re ready to make a purchase” email without all the previous emails? Of course, we wouldn’t do that.

Case 2: 

Around the same time as the previous case, I signed up with a hosting company to host our website. The moment I signed up, something distracted me, and I later decided to go with another provider. And I never signed up with the first website. However, I received a welcome email, an email with login details, and a week later an email saying that my trial period would end soon and that they’d delete all my data if I didn’t pay. They should have informed me about this and offered their help in the following email after sending the access data instead of scaring me with deleting my data.

Both companies emailed me that my trial period would expire and that it was time to make a decision. However, the first company gained a new client, the second didn’t. The main reason for this is the right message and the right timing.

And it didn’t matter that the first company sent simple emails with minimal design. What mattered was that they had relevant content.

A quick conclusion: email content is much more important than design. But a cool design makes your email brand consistent and makes it easier for users to understand your email content and know that it’s you reaching out to them.

41- Creativity?

Important, BUT secondary. Value and relevance of content come first. If creativity is part of the brand voice, only then is it required.

42- Customization?

If “customization” means personalization—which everyone understands differently—that’s great. Give it a try. But customization doesn’t come without “automation,” because it requires a lot of settings, a lot of time to maintain those settings, and a lot of mistakes.

If “customization” means implementing an idea that is difficult and complicated to implement and requires many specific settings, then that isn’t OK. My advice isn’t to be a perfectionist. Start with a simple version and make it more complex only when necessary.

I’ll give you an example: one of our clients, an online bookstore, wanted a very specific sequence of emails for abandoned cart emails. The emails were dependent on:

  • whether the book was currently in stock;
  • whether other publishers had the book;
  • whether it was available in different languages, etc.

There were about ten different conditions. It took us a year to implement all of these triggers. Still, the customer never activated the sequence (flow). So sometimes it’s better to start with something simple and then improve it over time.

43- Automation?

Automation is critical. It allows us to eliminate routine tasks and focus on the things that really matter.

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, you should follow the rules and best practices to be successful. And when you do that and learn which ones work best for you, automate some of the processes so you have the time to try something new to find your way.

But many people think that if they automate some triggers, their job is done. But the opposite is true – this is just the beginning. It’s always the marketer’s responsibility to experiment, improve, extend, or remove what has already been automated.

So automation makes it possible to take email marketing to the next level, where process is less important than quality.

44- Data?

Data is important.

Customer data allows you to properly segment contacts, prepare only relevant content, and find the best time to send for each contact. That’s why collecting data is the most important task for all marketers.

But collecting data is never enough. To make the most of the data you collect, you need to work on “unifying customer data” This means combining all data into a single 360-degree view of the customer.

The most common mistake is collecting data but never using it. Many companies regularly put it off until next year. Never be like these companies!

45- AI and email marketing?

I don’t recommend fully relying on it for writing copy because no one can write an email copy better than a human marketer. Copywriting requires a creative approach. I know about Persado and Phrasee, and I’m keeping an eye on ChatGPT from OpenAI. Maybe we’ll see a revolution here in the near future, but not now.

Use AI for the things you can’t do manually, such as when you need to analyze a large amount of data, which requires a complex approach.

46- Your favorite quote about email marketing?

Chad S. White, an email marketing expert, shared several rules in “120 Email Marketing Rules to Live By.” One of the rules says, “Focus on maximizing the value of a subscriber, not on maximizing the results of a campaign.”  

47- Email marketing in 2023?

More dynamic, personalized, and automated than in 2022, I believe the world will also take a few steps this year toward goal-driven marketing in 2023. Marketers should be more concerned with what to do for their customers and less concerned with how to do it. Good software should cover the “how to” part.

I hope our inboxes are less spammy and a place where you can always find helpful information from brands.

48- How do you see the future of email?

Email can never be replaced. It can be modified or even transformed into something new.

Any new channel that could ever replace email must:

  • be accessible to everyone;
  • offer solid analytics capabilities.

But I think it’ll still be “email”. It’ll be more dynamic and much more structured, but it’ll still be “email”. 

Recent statistics from Litmus show that half a billion more emails will be opened each month in 2022 than in 2021, so there’s still no reason to worry about the “death of email.”

49- What did you take away from Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon?

Inspiration and a great list of new contacts and ideas. I didn’t attend a single presentation there and still didn’t have time for tea because for me Web Summit is first and foremost a great networking event. 

50- Your feedback for Web Summit organizers?

We have been participating in the Web Summit since it moved to Lisbon. It has become a company tradition for us, and in 2023 we plan to attend the inaugural event in Rio. I can only say “thank you” and “keep up the good work” to the organizers.

51- What do email and life have in common?

Relationships, communication and care. I think the relationship between brand and customer is similar to a romantic relationship. 

You can hardly expect to hear “I do” and build a strong relationship with a woman when you go to a bar, for example, and propose to the first girl you like at the counter, even if you have done thorough research beforehand and know that this bar has the most relevant audience of those you like. 

Such a proposal should be preceded by getting to know them, having conversations, dating for a while, finding common interests and values, getting to know their parents, and building trust and mutual understanding, and only then do long-term relationships develop. Only then do people start a family, have children, and overcome all kinds of challenges. Now these people are a family to each other.

The same thing happens in email marketing. Buying a contact list and sending mass emails to those contacts is like going to a bar and proposing to every girl you see. Yes, the audience is huge, but the results are usually small. 

Your best bet is to get a person’s consent to talk, listen carefully to their needs, and find out if and how you can help that person. Then you work on building trust and respect and step by step develop your relationship from a mere encounter to love.

52- How would you define emotional intelligence (EQ)?

EQ is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions and those of others.

53- EQ in marketing?

EQ allows you to understand what your customers need and why, and then deliver the right message to provide value. Email marketing is one of the channels that allow you to talk to your customers one-on-one, as in a face-to-face interaction, listen to their reactions, and further improve your  marketing and business. 

54- Three traditional Ukrainian dishes we must try?

Borscht, Syrniki for breakfast, and draniki with meat.

55- You’ve written and talked a lot about email gamification in e-commerce. What’s “email gamification?”

Gamification is a process of applying typical game-like components to non-game activities to motivate and engage people in the task.

Email is just one channel to deliver a marketing message to customers, while gamification improves the effectiveness of that message/communication.

56- How can it help businesses?

Gamification improves customer engagement by improving communication efficiency and simplifying the path from lead to loyal customer. Can there be anything more important than that?

57- What’s a good gift for an email marketer?

Definitely an annual subscription to Stripo, and if they already have it, any of the above books will do.

58- Social media?

Social media rocks, but I like the quote from Erik Harbison that shows the difference between social media and email: “If social media is the cocktail party, then email marketing is the ‘meet up for coffee’. The original 1 to 1 channel.” 

Social media don’t compete with emails, they complement each other.

59- The team at “Stripo”?

The team is the most valuable asset we have. We’re now in different countries, and we have difficult conditions that we are learning to deal with at work. 

Nevertheless, unity and motivation ensure that we don’t feel the difference between our work when we were only 5 and now that we’re over 70, because we all have the same goal and love what we do. 

Image source: Stripo

60- If you were writing a New Year’s message to your team, how would you start it?

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last year. Anyone who creates emails with our tool or receives an email created with our tool can see these results. I’m glad to know that we’re full of ideas to make the world a better place.”

I’m sure I’d like to end my message with best wishes for “victory” and a “thank you” to our armed forces and everyone who helps them. 

61- Lisbon?

I love the city. I’ve been visiting it for six years in a row now. I love it because of its unique atmosphere. To be honest, I love the outskirts—Sintra, Nazare, Obidos, Cascais, etc.—even better. Everything is special and has its own atmosphere, flavor, nature, architecture, music, food, and rhythm. And of course the people are incredible. 

62- Ukraine?

It’s a beautiful, rich, and very original country that embraces freedom. 

Ukraine has everything. Seas, mountains, forests, fertile land, ancient culture, and history as well as talented, honest, and courageous people. And also great opportunities for development.

I travel the world a lot. I’ve seen amazing people, nature, architecture, and cultures. I can live anywhere in the world with comfort. But even in these times of war, I’d say, my family and I prefer to stay in Ukraine. So do the vast majority of my team. 

Many of us defend our country along with the armed forces. At the same time, others support them every day and do all they can to ensure that peace prevails and our future is secure.

63- Ukrainian startups?

Ukraine has a rapidly developing startup industry with more than 1,500 active startups. A few years ago, there were no unicorns in Ukraine, but today I know at least eight.

The war had a significant impact on startups. I’ve seen statistics that show that 12% have ceased to exist. However, most of them have changed and adapted to the new challenges. 

During the war, some startups that were only meant for the local market quickly adapted to the global market. Many startups “pivoted” to support military technologies, the volunteer movement, and cybersecurity.

And startups that haven’t lost their funding streams are supporting our armed forces with money and materials as best they can.

64- How has the situation in Ukraine affected your approach to life and work?

If we talk about work processes, nothing has changed because Covid taught us to work remotely. Nevertheless, much has changed in our lives. For example, we have learned to work without electricity and to hold meetings during air raid alarms while hiding in basements, bathrooms, subways, or bomb shelters.

It even scares me to think that we have become accustomed to explosions, to horrible news we hear every day. But this won’t knock us down. We’ll go through everything for our victory. It’ll be just, and humanity deserves to live and work peacefully, without shameful actions like what the Russian Federation is carrying out now.

65- What are you doing to inspire or motivate your team members during this challenging time for your country?

My team inspires me more than I inspire the team. Thanks to the clear goals that unite us, we all support each other. It’s a kind of magic. Thanks to this magic, unity, courage and purposefulness, we’ll win this war, we’ll defend our families and our future.

66- What are you most looking forward to personally and professionally in 2023?

There is only one great wish: peace for Ukraine and peace for the world.

67- Dmitry in 2023?

A happy person who helps his country develop by working on various projects in a peaceful, independent Ukraine.

68- Peace?

This is the most important word for every Ukrainian, the meaning of which we fully understood in February 2022 with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

I’d like to thank people all over the world for supporting Ukraine, for joining us in the fight against evil, and for providing military and humanitarian assistance—this is extremely important for building peace.

Also, I want to say, “Please, don’t stop. We need your help to defeat evil.”

69- Is there a question you’d like to be asked but wasn’t asked in this interview? And your answer?

I have many questions for myself, the email community, and the world. I can’t answer them all. It’s not easy to find the most important one. But here’s my answer: 

If you read books and some blogs about email marketing, you may think that the email industry hasn’t evolved in about a decade. Why does it feel like it’s changing just a little bit while the world around us is evolving at the speed of light?

I think legacy issues and a poor competitive environment are the main reasons. 

Just look at how many scandals there are right now around sharing personal email data. On the one hand, data security and restrictions don’t allow us to quickly implement new ideas like dynamic AMP-driven emails or ActionScript. 

On the other hand, the main players like Apple, Google, and Microsoft can never agree to set new standards. Everyone is just improving their sandboxes. It’s difficult to overcome the first reason, because data security doesn’t like fast changes, but I’m sure that it’s quite easy to find a solution for the second reason.

70- Any parting thoughts, Dmitry?

Thanks for your attention to our work and your questions. It was interesting to answer them. Some made me think and others made me realize some things. 

The most difficult question was how I’d explain to a child what an email template is. I have three kids, so I assumed this would be the easiest question. But it wasn’t. I tried different explanations and ideas with children, but each idea had its weaknesses. 

They say that a true professional always explains simple things very simply. And here, even simple things like an email template became a challenge.

The other thing I want to mention is that sometimes it seems like everything has been done before us. But if you love what you do and go deep, there are horizons where you can make significant steps in the evolution of everything.

Understanding that inspires me as an entrepreneur, as a marketer, as a mathematician, and as a human being. I believe you can feel some of that inspiration in the answers to these 70 questions.

Author bio: Elham P.Mohammadi is a journalist and the founder of ElhamX Media.

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