When you start a company, you have to do many things that don’t scale. You don’t start a company by hiring 10 developers to work on a top-notch product, instead, you build yourself a small piece of code that is suboptimal but does the job. Later, when it starts being used, you improve your product progressively.
What I realized this semester is that this doesn’t apply just on your product but on the whole company itself. We piled up many manual processes and much knowledge was still oral and not written. It was perfectly normal and actually very sane. But this last 6 months, we had our biggest growth as we passed a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) of 240,000€.
It felt like the right time to start scaling and organizing everything we could.
Scaling the culture
One of the problems that arise when growing is to keep the same great culture you had when you were only 4 people. Weglot is now 17 people and it’s super important for us to share the same values and the same goal.
When you are 4, it’s really simple, everybody works on the same desk, goes to lunch together and everyone talks to everyone. It’s kind of magical because you don’t have to set up any meeting and at the same time information doesn’t get lost!
As we grew, we realized it’s not the same to make 4 people collaborate on a project than 17 and we decided to formalize and organize information better.
An internal platform
This semester, we launched our internal platform using a cool tool named Notion. Every piece of information that was previously only orally shared is now written and everyone can access it. From the building’s entry code, the working remotely policy to the onboarding process – we’ve started to organize the common knowledge that we have accumulated since the beginning.
Evolving and adapting
Back in the beginning, we used to have a team lunch near the office at a restaurant. Once every two months, we would make a reservation and have lunch with the whole team. Lately, we started to get turned down by restaurants because we were too many. Booking a table for 8 is fine but booking for 17 has become an impossible mission. We had to adapt and we are now making the team lunch in the office, reorganizing the office configuration and ordering nice food on delivery!
We also decided to organize our first seminar. Indeed, with a growing team, it’s harder to spend time with everyone and we wanted to have fun out of Weglot’s office. We made a two day trip near Bordeaux, France in September. This was an awesome experience to get to know each other better in a more casual environment (and enjoy good food and wine!)
A more professional product
Delivering the best product has always been at the center of Weglot and in four years we never stopped working on it. It can be a bit counterintuitive, after all, when you have built something and you are selling it, why do you keep building it?
That’s the beauty of the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry and why SaaS products are doing so well in general. Because we have customers that can leave whenever they want and the fact we’re in a rapidly evolving market means we must adapt and always try to make the best possible product. Even when we finish a new version, we are thinking of the next one and how it could be better.
That’s why in the last 6 months, we worked with Emmanuel, a french designer, to rebuild our front website weglot.com so we could have a more professional site. Emmanuel also worked on our product and we will be releasing a brand new version of Weglot in a few weeks! This will greatly improve the user experience and make the whole process of collaborating and editing your translations easier. Here’s a sneak peek 🙂
We also scaled our architecture for our universal version to allow us to welcome more and more users, while improving performance.
Lately, we have drastically improved our translation API response time by doing optimization work on our code and infrastructure.
Finally, with Julien our new WordPress developer, we’ve improved the plugin’s capabilities in terms of flexibility. With a fully redesigned developer documentation, it’s now easy to translate everything on your website, even when text is coming from any third party plugin.
A real marketing strategy
Six months ago, only Eugène and Thomas were working full-time on marketing and acquisition. We had no content strategy and the Weglot blog was kind of empty.
With Elizabeth, Weglot’s new content manager and Madeleine, our new content intern, we were able to start a real content strategy that’s starting to pay off. The traffic from the blog has multiplied by 5 and visitors are spending more time on articles as they find interesting resources on multi-language and translation.
This semester, we hired Thibaud, leading our relationship with agencies and testing growth actions. We prepared a Product Hunt campaign that was released this week, on Tuesday 29 October. With amazing work from the whole team, we were able to make it to the first position and became “Product of the day”!
We also expanded our sponsoring strategy and we are now helping dozens of WordPress meetups around the world.
We have also become more professional in the way we participate at big events. In the past, there were just two of us with a small booth and almost no goodies to give. We weren’t well prepared. I particularly remember WordCamp Europe in 2017 – we just had a small booth and after one morning we had no more Weglot branded pencils to distribute. Our booth wasn’t branded and overall looked a bit amateurish.
But this year in Berlin I had a good feeling when I arrived at Weglot’s booth…It was a lot bigger, branded with graphics, table covers, and Weglot banners. We had branded t-shirts, pencils and other goodies to give away. Our office manager, Meryl, along with Thomas did an impressive job at making such a professional booth! This year we will also participate for the first time at WordCamp US in St Louis, Missouri.
Finally, our affiliate program, led by Logan, has started to kick off and with more and more affiliates, we started using FirstPromoter software to run the affiliate platform more smoothly. It’s now super easy to become an affiliate, generate revenue by recommending Weglot and to track your earnings daily.
Few things I learned this semester
1/ It’s fine to have an oral culture in the beginning but at some point, you will need to formalize things.
2/ Hire people that you have a good fit with. It’s a bit obvious but I can’t stress enough how important this is in order to maintain the company values. We have turned away candidates that were qualified but didn’t fit with us in terms of values.
Next semester will be very challenging. With many product releases, a fully redesigned version and a growing number of customers to serve, we will need to pull off our “A” game to keep growing at a steady pace. The goal will be to reach €300,000 in the next six months.