Create a new product on your break. We did!
One night, in the coffee break room, Alexander Bazhanov* was having – what he didn’t realize at the time – a career-changing conversation. On his cellphone, speaking with Andrii Martynyuk, a fellow Senior Linux Administrator and work friend, they observed together how unhappy some customers were with the current arrangements for anti-spam.
The outsourced anti-spam product in use seemed to let quite a bit slip through the net. One idea led to another, and soon Alex and Andrii were considering Namecheap’s options for building a new insider spam management product.
Feeling that something is not working well for customers inside a top technology company, but not being one of the big decision-makers, meant some courage was needed to pitch for a change.
What follows is the story of the creation of Jellyfish. It’s special because it’s one of those lightning moments where our developers thought up an idea for a better anti-spam tool than currently exists for our customers.
Maybe you are thinking of inventing a technology tool? Or perhaps you want to pitch an idea within your company? If you have an invention mindset, read on — and look out for the important ‘takeaways’ you can use for your next idea.
Trusting your people
So how did these two inspire a whole team of warriors prepared to fight spam a whole lot harder on behalf of our customers?
To gain traction for their idea, the duo approached Hosting Product Manager, Victoria Savina to get her thoughts. The idea was a good one, so it gained momentum. Quicker than expected, Alex and Andrii found themselves in front of the CEO. They succeeded in acquiring funding for their new invention. And that’s why we built Jellyfish — a product 100% backed up by in-house email technology teams within Namecheap.
And now that Jellyfish is out of the bag and free with our products (with features that usually cost domain email owners a lot of money), we thought we’d ask questions about how being trusted to lead a project can result in something extraordinary.
- Key takeaway: Think about asking a more experienced business mentor, colleague, or friend if they think your idea is a good one. Explore their views and what they think you’d need to do to bring your idea to life.
Why call it Jellyfish?
The project was initially called ASP – for the anti-spam project. “Until,” Alex says, “during one of our early pitch sessions with our CEO, Rick Kirkendall, he said to us; ‘As a jellyfish uses its tentacles to hunt their prey and for protection, in the same way, our product will both capture malicious emails and protect our clients from email threats.’ ” We agreed and the name was decided. Jellyfish.
Alex adds, “We liked the comparison that Jellyfish live by filtering with their tentacles, and for every email that enters your accounts with us, our Jellyfish anti-spam tool deploys 400 filters that check for spam signals — a bit like hunting for prey.”
Spine-tinglingly accurate, Jellyfish anti-spam tool uses machine-learning to intelligently discover the latest threats and block them while allowing in your legitimate messages. “Just like a Jellyfish protects itself,” says Alex, “ and now we had our project inspiration and vision, thanks to our CEO.”
- Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to seek input or advice from people you trust and respect. Do extra research and evaluate any pros and cons — be honest with yourself and your idea too.
Pitching to the CEO
For Andrii, pitching to the CEO felt like a “lucky strike,” and with Alex in control of the documentation, “we were sure he would love the idea.” Approaching the pitch felt like “a “start-up” process,” says Andrii, and “making the technology part as straightforward as possible, with realistic dates, calculations about plans, and the main ideas we wanted to include in our product was important. But the most important thing was good visualization.” He adds, “it was tough to hide the excitement under all our calm and confidence.”
For anyone who finds they are in this position one day, Andrii says, “just be yourself, confident, and patient. No one expects you to know all the answers immediately.” After all, the worst that can happen is the CEO rejects your idea, “but this doesn’t mean you stop proposing new ones,” he adds.
- Key takeaway: In pitches, plan as best as you can for questions, and go with the momentum. No one expects perfect explanations, but be ready to speak about your plans, financials, and next steps.
Lead from the front
Alex continues: “Right from the start, I took on the organization and management, and Andrii (Martynyuk) and his team of engineers were free to go ahead” and “build without interference.”
Andrii is a self-confessed ideas generator and likes to develop concepts that can prove his creative direction. When it comes to engineering technology, he admits the origins of Jellyfish were ‘half-baked.’ Still, he could see that the company would eventually find third-party spam solutions more challenging to customize. “If I see an opportunity, I try to use it,” he says, and time and time again, “this approach has shown its value, saving our company reputation and delighting customers.”
There was “considerable enthusiasm” within the “TechOps family,” Andrii recalls, for creating such a vast project. The project initially took a lot of personal time out for the whole team, who worked on it during the evenings and weekends. “It’s incredible what you can do when you believe it will all work out. You just carry on,” says Alex.
It’s part of everyone’s job at Namecheap to “always put yourself in the place of the customer,” says Alex, and “imagine what that’s like for them.” It’s also a core value; he adds “to ‘lead from the front’ by standing up for our customers’ rights and values, even if that means you go to the top decision-makers.”
- Key takeaway: To lead your idea, make sure you organize and plan. Break tasks into steps and stages, and get grainy about what you need to do and if you need to hire other specialist help.
Getting others involved
The time came eventually for more resourcing, funding, and workload management. Alex says, quite humbly, he was “at a loss how to do this or where to go,” being only a middle Linux System Administrator in a large techops team. The Hosting Product Manager, who had supported the initiative from the start, the CTO, and our Head of TechOps all saw the potential in the project,” Alex remembers, “and not only guided us but gave us the freedom to choose our own technical solutions and innovate.”
While Agile methodologies are a rule of thumb here at Namecheap, Alex says to anyone who wants to try and invent a tech product within their organization; “the one thing that got this idea through was persistence. It’s not really a story about how easy something is to do once you get momentum,” he says, “it’s about how to do more than you think you can.”
- Key takeaway: Enjoy the journey. If the difference between having great ideas and making them a reality is persistence, staying in control of innovating will motivate you. Achieving your goals is a great feeling.
Bumps in the road
To get things going, the team needed to contact Human Resources to help with their ‘extended hunting plan,’ which is tech jargon for implementing a vision. Covid-19 caused some refactoring, and the scope grew. “That was tough,” says Andrii, “but we got through.” He describes the Jellyfish team as a “dream team” comprised of “warriors against spam” who he is “100% confident with the quality of any task they undertake.” Alex agrees. The success of the Jellyfish anti-spam management tool and filtration system is “100% down to the team.”
- Key takeaway: It’s wise to have a contingency plan when you need to slow production or deal with something unexpected.
Does Jellyfish stand up to your original vision?
Alex says yes. “If you open any other anti-spam system, you will see hundreds of confusing settings that you need to be a professional to understand. We set out to create a smart machine learning-based spam filter and management tool that anyone could use.”
When Jellyfish is enabled for a domain by a simple toggle switch, all incoming emails travel through its filtering system before reaching your email account. If an email is likely to be spam, it is contained within a spam folder, or instantly discarded. If the email is valid and safe, Jellyfish will deliver it right into your inbox.
Andrii says, “I’d say we work with customers at the front of our minds. We’ve already seen customer service inquiries about problem spam reduced by 20% since Jellyfish went into beta and took over from an external provider. Our latest report shows this figure is 64%. It’s clear less is slipping through the net and we can see that now. Going forwards, we have over one million users continuing to enjoy our in-house anti-spam protection and we’ll continue to improve it.”
His goal is to make Jellyfish the number one anti-spam filtration system in the world, and it’s hard to see why this wouldn’t happen around a team with this kind of infectious energy and drive.
- Key takeaway: Measure your success. Are you getting more sales, likes, views, new customers? Hopefully, after all your planning and efforts, your concept has landed, and you can see the results.
With the involvement of Email’s Product Manager, Christina Panina, the vision of how Jellyfish could grow beyond just a technical solution began to emerge. She says, “Jellyfish is not just inwardly protective; it allows Private Email and Shared Hosting customers to use its spam management tool to set custom permissions.” This could be blocking or accepting emails by subject or by domain or a set of conditions.
Your trust score is another great reason to use Jellyfish. According to Campaign Monitor, emailing from a trusted email address, not regarded as ‘spammy’ increases revenue by up to 760%. Jellyfish is valuable to anyone who sends messages to their clients. “And the management tools are free for the life of your email or hosting product,” Andrii adds proudly.
“The future of Jellyfish is exciting,” Alex agrees. “The product is for everyone who uses custom domain email, from solo entrepreneurs to companies.” The team is busy designing new features as Jellyfish develops.
- Key takeaway: Launch your idea and create some content to excite your customers. You could send tailored emails, write a blog, or make an advert pop! It’s time to send your idea out there.
All you get with Jellyfish anti-spam and antivirus
Right now, Jellyfish as a spam filter protects Shared Hosting, Private Email, emails sent to forwarding addresses used by BasicDNS, PremiumDNS, or FreeDNS Namecheap users, and all emails sent to domain owners with Domain Privacy Protection.
- By performing checks on incoming emails, attachments, images, and files, Jellyfish scans the lot and blocks anything harmful.
- Jellyfish runs 400+ filter modules to detect email threats and uses machine-learning technology to block spam.
- Jellyfish is continually using machine learning to identify known and new threats.
Existing hosting customers
In addition to Jellyfish filtering, if you’re lucky enough to be one of our Private Email Hosting, or Shared Hosting customers you can personalize your mailboxes against specific spam threats (blocklist), whitelist addresses you always wish to hear from, or set custom conditions for inboxes.
Why improve email?
We think there’s plenty of reasons to invest in the world’s 400 billion email users. Email is the #1 direct marketing tool for business, and 307 billion messages go out daily (2021). This is expected to grow to 376 billion by 2025.
You should feel 100% protected from email threats. There should be no undesired issues or expensive clean-ups that usually follow from hacker intrusions.
People deserve more than average protection from their anti-spam products. At Namecheap, you can trust us to protect your email accounts.
Why custom email is right for you
Discover more about our industry-leading email product and more about the PE team below.
- The Professional Business Email page.
- Find out about Jellyfish.
- Team Email, a decade of entrepreneurial spirit – what it’s like to work in our team; how to send us a CV.
Like what you’ve heard today? Let Alex and Andrii know by giving this article a thumbs up!
* At the time of writing, Alex Bazhanov is now Deputy Head of TechOps at Namecheap, and Andrii Martynyuk is our Technical Operations Services Manager.