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InboxLab Takes On the Content Revolution Starting at the Inbox

Tech Startup: InboxLab is rapidly growing its Denver-based team


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From left: Victoria Hurd (Chief of Staff), Nicholas Pardon (CEO), Sean Devlin (VP, Operations), Kerry Houghton (President), Michael Hasenfratz (CTO). 

Tech Startup: InboxLab

WHERE: Denver

FOUNDED: 2017

Initial Lightbulb

Founder and CEO Nicholas Pardon launched his first email-centric startup in Southern California when he was 14 in the 1990s.

Now 36, Pardon moved to Denver about 90 days after starting Inboxlab in early 2017. “I liked what was happening in Denver,” he says. “The vibe was great. This feels like a place I could have an impact.”

The common thread throughout his career is the email inbox. “I’ve been centered around community creation and email for the majority of my career,” he says.

While plenty has changed in Pardon’s 22-year entrepreneurial career, the inbox has been one of the few constants of the information revolution. “It’s not not new,” he says. “It’s as old as the worldwide web. It’s always been hot. Marketers just don’t understand it. There’s a missing link in the market about how powerful the inbox is.”

Inboxlab has about 50 employees, about three-quarters of whom are based in Denver. “We’ve added 25 to 30 people this year alone,” Pardon says.

In a Nutshell

Inboxlab has about 10 email-based brands, “some of which are confidential,” Pardon says. Each brand delivers weekly newsletters to subscribers, with the content largely being contained in the email itself.

The flagship is The Discoverer, launched in June 2017 to bring “education and inspiration,” not news, to the inbox, Pardon says. Each “consumable” weekly edition, designed to be read in about five minutes, covers a different city or destination, and there’s now an archive of more than 100.

Other public projects include two trivia brands (Travel Trivia and Trivia Genius), cruise-focused Cruise On, and Seeqr, featuring travel deals. “That’s more about traveling more effectively and more efficiently,” Pardon says.

Pardon says he sees the inbox as the first and last frontier of online media. “For most, it’s the front page of the Internet. It’s where most people start in the morning,” he says. “It’s where most web-based sessions begin.

“The email address remains an incredible tool to connect with people,” says Pardon, noting that he sees a slew of upcoming innovations making inboxes more portable, powerful and interactive. “There are all sorts of enhancements coming to the inbox.”

The Inboxlab business model is based on “monetization of content through traditional digital advertising,” Pardon says. Inboxlab is currently building out an executive team to explore more business opportunities.

Richard Dusseau, a Denver-area consultant, serves as an adviser to Inboxlab and sees Pardon’s intuition about niche marketing one of his strongest suits.

“He’s certainly cracked the code on how to leverage the inbox,” Dusseau says. “He’s able to acquire and access people through the inbox and emails faster than anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Pardon says he wants to build a network of brands under the Inboxlab umbrella driven by audience demand. Upcoming newsletters will focus on family travel and domestic travel as well as “infotainment.”

“We are sitting in the middle of this content revolution,” he says. “Everything is content now.”

The Market

“Our clients are our subscribers,” Pardon says. “We really focus on serving them.”

The company’s newsletters have a combined 10 million subscribers as of mid-2019,  and Inboxlab’s audience spends about 150 million minutes a month engaging with the company’s content.

“The Discoverer started with a very, very millennial focus,” Pardon says, noting that it evolved and the brand now has “a wise audience.” About 4 million of 5 million subscribers are 45 or older.

Financing

Pardon self-financed the company’s launch, and it’s been profitable since inception. He says he has no plans to raise outside capital. “Inboxlab is truly a digital content organization that’s being built from the ground up,” Pardon says. “We’ve been scaling up revenues 100 percent, quarter over quarter.”

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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