Mailchimp’s Origin Story

I always like to support hometown Atlanta founders. I recently listened to an interview of Ben Chestnut, founder of Mailchimp. In 2021, Mailchimp was acquired for $12 billion. I was curious to hear what Ben had to say post acquisition.

Ben shared lots of great information about his childhood and various other topics. He explained what made him go from “we’re never selling” to being acquired. He also said something about the origin of Mailchimp that caught my attention.

Ben was running a web design agency that was struggling to grow. One day, his wife was watching the Opera Winfrey Show; Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki was the guest. Kiyosaki talked about passive income and recurring revenue. Ben heard some of this and was inspired. He began searching for a recurring-revenue business, only to realize that he already had one—Mailchimp. Keep in mind that this was three or four years after the Mailchimp product had launched, but it was more of a side project that had received little attention from Ben or his cofounder, Dan.

They looked deep into the revenue of the Mailchimp product versus the revenue of the web design agency and realized that Mailchimp was growing despite being ignored. They decided to focus on Mailchimp. The rest is history.