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.
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