2014 - A Bold Year in Review
2014 was a big year for Bold. Many people look at our social media feeds and usually say two things. ‘Can I work there?’ and ‘Do you guys ever do any work?’Both are great questions and here are the answers: 1. Yes, you can work here, but you have to be pretty awesome. We’ve scaled up our team this year with no signs of slowing down, so if you think you can help us out, send in your resume and your foosball skills demo video and we’ll see what happens.
The answer to number 2 is also ‘Yes.’ We actually do work very hard. It’s what allows us to play hard too. Here’s a rundown of what we accomplished this year including all the new products we pushed out and a bunch of the fun stuff we did too.
It’s the Bold 2014 Year in Review.
Expanded from 12 to 41 Employees
This year we really scaled up production, both out of necessity to meet the demands of the growing eCommerce market, and out of our own desire to push the limits of what we were capable of. In order to do that, it meant we had to scale up in size and hire as many of the best designers, developers, marketers and tech supporters that we could find. We’re very fortunate to find such amazing undiscovered talent coming in to the tech world in Winnipeg.
Expanded into a New Head Office
With all the new faces in the office we needed more space for all the desks and chairs. We leased some more space and custom designed it the way only a Bold office could be, complete with a full kitchen, lounge, "On Air" lights for the rooms where we do our Skype meetings and Podcast recordings, and of course, a beer Keg.
Crazy enough, two weeks after moving into the new office we realized we would quickly outgrow it again and leased back our old building across the street. So we are now Bold East and Bold West, and unlike rap gangs, we're both pretty cool and love each other.
Released a whole Bunch of Shopify Apps
In no particular order:
- Buy the Measurement - Sell products by area, volume, you name it!
- Product Options Premium - Conditional Logic, Edit in cart, Edit prices.
- Returns Manager - The ultimate way to offer and manage your return policy.
- Social Autopilot - Never forget to Tweet or Facebook a new product or blog again.
- Recurring Donations - Let your customers make one-time or recurring donations.
- Order Manager - Custom statuses, custom orders, add to existing orders and more.
- Sales Motivator Premium - Motivat your customers to spend more by country.
- Customer Specific Pricing Premium - Offer special pricing to different types of customers.
Commenced the Bold Initiative for Philanthropy: 1+1+1= Change
We adopted the Salesforce Foundation model of committing to give 1% of our time, 1% of our resources and 1% of our services to various local charities.
We volunteered at Siloam Mission and Winnipeg Harvest, provided discounted web services to many local non-profits, and spread the cash around with many of the Bold employees donating directly off their own paychecks every week.
Mapply is Bold’s first website application made available for any website on any platform. It’s an iteration of the Bold Shopify App ‘Store Locator’ and can be used on website platforms such as Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Weebly, and any others.
Bold Apps API Release
As a leader in App development for the Shopify eCommerce platform, we took it upon ourselves to develop an API so that other Apps and App developers can work seamlessly with the entire suite of Bold Apps. Now store owners no longer have to choose between different apps that don’t play nicely together. Shop Pad was our first partner in this.
The Bold Commerce Department was Born
The Bold Commerce division was born purely out of necessity. With the popularity of our apps, we began getting lots of requests for customizations and mods. We then also started taking on work for complete website builds. We saw this as a great opportunity to expand our services and market our company to a broader group within the Shopify ecosystem. And it paid off. We now have a team of 15 developers, designers, and project managers just working on custom website designs and tools.
The Bold Labs Department was Born
Bold Labs is one of our ways of ensuring that we stay innovative. We take 20% of all of our resources and devote them to new, unproven projects. We look at our list of great ideas, decide which is the best, and go to work turning it into a reality. This is how Picticipate was created.
Two Apps for Zendesk
Bold Friends and Family Open House
We got together one Sunday in July for a little fun at the office. More than 100 friends, parents, cousins, and kids showed up to see a magic show, balloon animals, games, and some great catering in the Bold Office. It was a day of pure, innocent fun, and one of the best days of the summer.
Bold #InnovateOrDie Days
August 28 and 29, Bold shut down for an internal creative development challenge. Employees teamed up to complete the best projects they could imagine in 48 hours. Some projects included a 3D hologram, a web version of the video game MarioKart, and a continuous integration server run on a Banana Pi with a 3D printed case.
A Few Notable Projects for the Commerce Department
- Tee Turtle - Very advanced filtering system
- Good Vibe Cases - Custom phone case designer
- Gitman Bros - Build your own suit
- Time Life - Custom cart allowing 5 easy payments
- Lilitab - Custom tablet kiostk builder
- Pomegranate - Monogram your products
- RPM Graphx - Just a cool site all around!
- ... and about 357 more projects like the one below to be exact!
Hit Major Milestones for App Installs
In the history of Bold, there has only been one day where we had more app uninstalls than installs. This year the growth and install rate accelerated and we hit some major milestones. So we popped a few bottles of Champagne.
Picticipate Gets Released
After more than a year of development, Picticipate gets released to the world. Even though it was a beta release to test the waters with an MVP for the project, it was an exciting day with a live demo and plenty of press coverage. We’ve been gathering feedback and making tweaks and upgrades. Picticipate is scheduled for its next major release in the new year with a big marketing push.
The eCommerce Podcast
As just another service to provide to our thousands of app users and website clients, we started up The eCommerce Podcast which was featured in the New and Noteworthy section on iTunes for its first 6 weeks. The podcast provides great advice and tools for running an ecommerce store, features guest interviews with real store owners and industry experts like Amber Mac. It’s been on hiatus during our busy season, but should be making a comeback very soon.
Because it’s a great cause, and we had already committed to donating 1% of our profits to charity, and because it was just so darn fun, we took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and ended up donating $1 for every like and share of our #IceBucketChallenge video. Which ended up being a lot!
We made it through the application and vetting process and we were given the opportunity to Pitch Picticipate in a Shark Tank style event in Winnipeg called Pitch’Day. Ultimately we didn’t win, but it was a lot of fun (and a little stress), and helped us really evaluate our software in a way we don’t normally look at it.
The Winnipeg Tech Community
This was the year we would get our name known. And it didn’t just happen by accident. We went out into the community and actively promoted our company moreso than our products. The end goal was to become closer with the Winnipeg tech community and find some amazing talent to fill all the positions we were hiring for throughout the year. We made some great business connections including the fine folks at Innovate Manitoba, New Media Manitoba, Red River College, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and all the companies along Innovation Alley. (Notable mentions to Scott MacAuley, Kevin Hnatiuk, Alistair Croll, Dave Angus, and Louie Ghiz).
Bold Open House and Media Coverage
Along with making new friends, we were also in the spotlight from time to time. On September 18, to coincide with the launch of Picticipate, we hosted an Open House and Media event which led to television, radio, and print interviews for CBC, Shaw TV, a full page feature in The Winnipeg Free Press, a story by CTV comparing our office philosophy Richard Branson’s and a variety of other print and radio spots.
A Couple Business Awards. NBD.
We hauled in a couple young entrepreneur business awards - one local from the St. Boniface Chamber of Commerce, and one national award that Eric and Stef went all the way to Moncton to accept.
A Pretty Cool Little Hiring Video
Hosted Global CodeRetreat 2014 - Winnipeg
About 20 developers came out to our main office in Ile des Chenes and spent the day honing their coding skills. Along with Maven Thought, we co-sponsored the event, catered lunch for the participants and even provided free Wifi ;-)
New Media Manitoba Video Showcase
Every year, New Media Manitoba choses a handful of companies doing creative and innovative things in the tech and media industry to showcase. Bold was lucky enough to be one of those companies. Handcraft Creative came out to our offices for a couple days of interviews and B-roll and premiered it at the New Media Manitoba Christmas party held at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre. A fun night to dress up. Bold was well represented and took home a good chunk of the door prizes.
Started the Winnipeg eCommerce Meetups
Kind of like the podcast, this was another way for us to spread our expertise in eCommerce and get more in touch with the Winnipeg eCommerce community. Events like this happen in cities all around the world, so it was a no-brainer that we should get one started up in Winnipeg. We weren’t sure how it would go, so we organized a short presentation from ourselves and our local SEO partner Fresh Traffic to give some tips and advice for the store owners that came out. It was definitely a success, and we’ll continue on with the meetups in the new year.
Bold Webmaster Plans
Over the years we’ve developed quite a few loyal customers who keep coming back for small design tweaks and customizations, or are looking for more expansive help with running their store. So we created Webmaster Plans which are based on a monthly subscription and ensure that we get to their projects first. We filled up all of our spaces in the first couple weeks and quickly expanded operations to take on more Webmaster clients.
Black Friday / Cyber Monday Preparation
We became the poster company for ‘how to prepare for Black Friday.’ We wrote guest blogs for Shopify and Rackspace, were interviewed for several others and and appeared on a RackSpace Webinar to talk about how we were ramping up our servers, the different monitoring tools, and the round-the-clock attention we were paying to our hardware, our software, and our customers during the the Black Friday / Cyber monday weekend. And, with a peak of 10X our regular server hits, the weekend was uneventful, and none of our apps or customers experienced any hiccup in their service.
Another Monster Christmas Party
Once again the founders and managing partners of Bold showed why this is the greatest company to work for. They hosted a party for all of the staff and guests with luxury catering, open bar, and gift exchange that was more like a shopping spree at Best Buy. Kudos to those four fine gentlemen.
So that was this year. How do we top it?
We like to keep our new projects hush hush until they’re ready to roll, but here’s what we can say for sure.
- Picticipate is getting some new features.
- We plan to release 15 new apps next year and already have 4 ready to drop early January.
- We want to do more work with more Shopify experts, developers and designers. We’ve built something pretty cool that will help with this. That’s all we can say ;-)
- We plan to keep growing. Looking for more office space isn’t exactly fun, but we’ll do whatever’s necessary to accommodate our growth.
- Opening up #InnovateOrDie days to the developer community. We’d love to see what you all can do in 48 hours in our office. It might just be a good way to get a foot in the door here. ;-)
- A whole bunch more fun and games like poker nights, afternoon ice hockey, weekend golf, foosball tournaments, Golden Tee, Mario Kart, Dylan’s Lunch creations and much much more.
- We are making life simple, and will be known simply as Bold. No more Bold Apps, Bold Commerce, Bold Labs. While these terms may still be echoed internally from time to time, we want to avoid any confusion, and have everyone know that we are Bold.
As for media, here area few more links you might enjoy:
RackSpace Google Hangout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gnHL6xiNb4
SaaS in the Enterprise: http://www.saasintheenterprise.com/author.asp?section_id=1936&doc_id=275990&
Free Press Print/Web: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/thinking-big-274994331.html
Radio Canada (St-Boniface): http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/manitoba/2014/11/19/009-prix-entrepreneur-chambrecommerce.shtml
Radio Canada (Canada Wide):
Red River College "Going Places" - http://blogs.rrc.ca/goingplaces/2014/12/innovation-motivation-app-building-brothers-find-startup-success-as-code-pirates/
New Media Manitoba Video Showcase - http://vimeo.com/113865598 and https://newmediamanitoba.com/tv/showcase-2014/bold?autoplay=1
Bold ‘Now Hiring’ Trailer: /www.youtube.com/embed/ECzYcz1ArUA
#InnovateorDie Days - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWz9x7wHhXg
See you in 2015!