When we changed our business model, which was a really major shift towards a new adventure, I didn’t know of any other company in Quebec City that had adopted this SaaS model. There were so few players we could consult to find out how best to go about it, that we decided to design and test a prototype ourselves.
– Johanne Devin, CEO and Co-founder of WebSelf

WebSelf provides website creation tools that are simple, powerful and affordable, or free, to more than 3 million users in over 165 countries. Offering maximum functionality to people who want to develop their own website without having strong technological skills, the platform makes it easy for them, whether setting up a showcase site or an online store. “Even though it’s a standardized environment, we offer great flexibility and many features that can satisfy at least 99% of our customers’ needs,” indicates Johanne.

The CEO of WebSelf and NovAxis Solutions (the company that gives life to this application, as well as to Momenteo, Free Logo Design and Citation) believes that the judicious cost establishment of their product, with a significant amount allocated to marketing, was decisive in their growth. “That’s what I often tell young companies… we always tend to sell at the lowest possible price, but it’s essential to provide a good advertising margin and to invest as such, while obviously remaining competitive.” emphasizes Johanne. That’s exactly what this web solutions developer did, thus increasing their product’s notoriety and acquiring small market shares of self-employed workers and small businesses, which ended up being a good choice of target market because it responded quickly and in large numbers.

When it clicks…

The WebSelf project began in 2005, while NovAxis Solutions transformed its mission from advisory services to web products. “After numerous discussions over coffee, while looking at what was on the market at the time, we felt that the web was becoming increasingly democratized and that more and more people needed a site, but didn’t necessarily have the means to afford a custom build,” recounts Johanne. “At the time, there were only a few options available, and we thought we could create a better product than the existing offers. So we embarked on the adventure.”

In 2007, the testing of an initial prototype made it possible to evaluate various elements, such as the market, production chain, potential customers and registration process. At the end of those six months of evaluation, the company already had a few hundred customers and so began the development of WebSelf’s first version, which was launched in 2009. Things evolved extremely quickly after that and NovAxis Solutions had to immediately adapt to ensure the optimal operation of their activities.

Competitive advantages

By investing as much of their revenue as possible in AdWords, WebSelf accelerated their search engine recognition and customer growth. The platform was also advertised on various portals with around twenty banners. “We ended up appearing in seven of the top ten search engine results,” enthuses WebSelf’s co-founder.

The company also paid attention to the evolution of search engines, while offering their solutions in three languages and with superior customer service, even to users of free solutions.

Whether it’s code, design or marketing, the NovAxis team that manages the platform is always improving the site to keep it as current as possible.

In a market shaped by major competitors like Wix – a publicly traded company with 2,000 employees – WebSelf stood out in their early days by focusing on the French language. “We were quite the pioneers, both here and in Europe,” relays Johanne. “Large companies in the US or elsewhere were not necessarily offering services in French when we started.”

Now, in the digital age, people who are less comfortable with technology are benefiting from more and more products that are both affordable and very easy to use, making WebSelf a valuable ally. “Our focus is always to enable our customers to develop a fully professional online presence, which can make such a difference in management.” asserts the CEO of WebSelf.

Source: Mélanie Pilon, writer for the Star Tech Showcase


Partners:

23May 2018

When we changed our business model, which was a really major shift towards a new adventure, I didn’t know of any other company in Quebec City that had adopted this SaaS model. There were so few players we could consult to find out how best to go about it, that we decided to design and test a prototype ourselves.
– Johanne Devin, CEO and Co-founder of WebSelf

WebSelf provides website creation tools that are simple, powerful and affordable, or free, to more than 3 million users in over 165 countries. Offering maximum functionality to people who want to develop their own website without having strong technological skills, the platform makes it easy for them, whether setting up a showcase site or an online store. “Even though it’s a standardized environment, we offer great flexibility and many features that can satisfy at least 99% of our customers’ needs,” indicates Johanne.

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09May 2018

Our clients, such as festivals like Francofolies de Montréal or Igloo Fest, appreciate not only that our solution saves them time and money, but also that they know exactly where their festivalgoers come from. Are they only in town for the two days of the event or are they extending their stay to discover the city? How many nights? Alone or accompanied, and by whom? In short, it’s all this data that represents a compelling advantage for our partners.
– Andrew Lockhead, CEO and Co-founder of Stay22

Stay22, an aggregator that lists nearly 6.5 million properties in 200 countries, helps travellers find the best accommodation options near the upcoming events they plan to attend. “We’ve targeted the niche of event management platforms, business conferences, festivals and more, which sets us apart in the huge online travel solutions market,” says Andrew.

Through agreements with partners such as Airbnb, but also with systems like Travelport and HotelsCombined, Stay22 offers visitors a hub that bringsall search resources together in one place, greatly simplifying the planning experience. Everything is adjusted on an interactive map that integrates directly with the event organizer’s website, ticket office or other online destination where users find themselves.

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02May 2018

Up until 2010, we often wondered if we wanted to invest in product development. Like many companies at the time, we were focussing on services in order to finance potential products. In the end, we decided to let go of the idea of designing products, because our service offering was really solid. After that, our growth curve was impressive, turning our 23-person team into the 150-person organization we are today.
– Stéphane Rouleau, President and Co-founder of Spiria

When I ask Stéphane to describe Spiria and their value proposition, he explains that the management team is actually trying to update their definition: “After 15 years of existence, it’s important to revisit it… simply said, we’re a digital solutions firm. Our clients call upon us to solve the digital components of their problems, due to lack of knowledge, resources or time on their part. In co-creation with them, we develop the best technology to optimize their activities.”

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