It's amazing how much can change in a year. Here at Bold, it seems like every year we raise the bar on big changes. With a company as young and quickly growing as ours, 12 months is a very long stretch with a ton of opportunity. And even as we sit down to put together this post, it's mind blowing to look back at where we were just 52 weeks ago. It's almost hard to believe we're the same company! Buckle up as we take you back through the intense ride that was 2016!
NEW OFFICE AND NEW HIRES
It's almost impossible to rank the changes we've seen this past year, but if we had to pick the top two most impactful changes, it would probably be our new office and our staggering number of new hires. Let's start with the new office.
50 Fultz Boulevard
Way back in February, we packed up our old digs in rural Manitoba and moved into the city. Although we were very happy doing business in Île-des-Chênes, we had simply run out of room, and the only options for the significant upgrade we needed existed in Winnipeg. Of course, we couldn't move into any old office building. Bold is a special kind of company and we needed a special kind of space.
Well, we hit the jackpot when we arrived at 50 Fultz. The building itself was only three years old, located in a unique semi-industrial park area in southwest Winnipeg. An architectural company called Stuart Olson originally designed the building for themselves, so the space is a really beautiful, sprawling, 26,000 square foot single-storey layout with floor-to-ceiling windows on all four sides. There's so much natural light inside, particularly in our atrium. It's truly a comfortable and inspiring place to work. And, with extra perks like an outdoor patio, a gym, and ample space to set up things like an arcade room, it really was a perfect fit.
Initially, we shared the space with Stuart Olson. We each occupied half of the building, with doorways and walls separating our sides. (Though we shared the atrium and gym.) It was a great, respectful relationship, though certainly an interesting mix: traditional architects and engineers on one side of the building, young techies on the other. (You could always tell who was who by the difference in attire... suits and ties vs. hoodies and jeans!)
Then, midway through the year, Stuart Olson announced they'd be moving out, leaving us with the entire building. This was something we had in our long-term plans, and the timing turned out to be perfect. Our steady growth continued from the minute we moved in and we were already starting to get a little cramped. So, in mid-October, we were finally able to take down those dividing walls and doors, and take possession of every inch of the space.
It's been wonderful with our new big kitchen, three boardrooms to use, tons of new breakout rooms, and all of the extra space to spread out. We couldn't be happier!
Oh, and before winter rolled in, we managed to get our logo up on the building. It was a very proud day (particularly for our four founders) as we watched those big red signs go up on the front and back of our space. It's all ours... and we're home.
100 Employees and Growing
Only four months after moving into the Bold building on Fultz, we hit the 100 employee mark. Considering we moved into our new space with just over 60 employees, that's a staggering rate of growth! That's more than 40 employees hired in less than six months.
(We started the year with 59 employees and will close out the year with 112! That's 53 Builders hired in 2016.)
But actually, the company's overall growth since its inception is probably more impressive. Our founders, Stef, Yvan, Eric and Jay, started Bold in Stef's basement in 2013. That means in only three and a half years, they went from four guys in a basement to 100+ people in their own spectacular building. It's amazing by anyone's standards!
And the hiring hasn't stopped since we hit the 100th employee in June. We've hired several more through the summer and fall, and we're now nearing the 120 mark. We had seven new people start on one Monday in December alone!
Who did we hire?
With all of those new folks under our roof, we expanded some existing departments, and even created some new ones. We hired Client Success Specialists (formerly known as Support Wizards, more on this shortly), Developers, Designers, Account Managers, and also formed a brand new Marketing department. We added a videographer to the Marketing team this fall and we've been cranking out some really cool videos ever since.
NEW MANAGEMENT ROLES
Because of all this growth, it became clear the management structure of the company needed some tweaking so every department would get the proper care and attention it deserved. A whole new org chart was drawn up, with co-founder Yvan Boisjoli taking the reigns as Bold's CEO.
The three other founders were given new C-Level titles as well; Jason Myers is now the Chief Marketing Officer while Eric Boisjoli is the company's Chief Technical Officer. And as for Stefan Maynard, he's now CEO of Bold Labs, which is the umbrella for our two auxiliary companies, Koble and Kickbooster. With this new corporate structure, the executive team has been able to better serve the departments under their care and keep moving the company in the right direction.
It's been a hectic year for us in the realm of app development. For the first time in the history of our company, we didn't release any new apps, but instead spent our time making some huge improvements to our existing ones.
Product Options 2.0: A newer, better version of Options! We've worked hard to get this app to a point where it's "liquidless", meaning stores don't need to add the code to their site themselves to get it working. We also added new input types with better formatting to make it even more customizable and easier to use on mobile. Load time to appear on the website after creation is now faster, too.
Recurring Orders: We've made tons of enhancements to one of our most popular apps, including more payment gateways, an integration with Referral Candy, and we added cancellation management and new reporting/analytics features.
(As a really cool side-note, Recurring Orders processed more than 927,000 orders in 2016!)
Coming Up in 2017
Product Upsell 2.0: It's in the very early stages, and we haven't launched this one yet, but we're working on it for early 2017. Upsell is among our top apps installed on Shopify stores and we have some great enhancements in the works. Stay tuned!
This fall, we officially launched a new technology that we have coined as "video commerce". The technology is called Inviid, it's an eCommerce application that allows online shoppers to buy products they see in videos, right on the screen, without ever leaving the viewing experience. It's a groundbreaking technology and one we are very proud to have developed right here at Bold.
Inviid was Beta launched in June and released to the Shopify app store in early fall. We currently have 183 stores in the Inviid Marketplace, 270 videos posted and 682 tagged points. We see gigantic potential for this platform and look forward to steady growth in the new year, especially as we launch an affiliate program to help drive traffic and sales!
BOLD EXPERTS IS NOW BOLD PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
It was an unbelievable year for our Experts division. First off, midway through the year, we decided a re-branding was in order to better reflect the services we provide. Not only are we a top Shopify app developer, Bold is also a full-service agency for web development and design as well as managed services such as social media and email marketing. And so, Experts was re-born as Professional Services!
Above and beyond the name change, Professional Services has been busier than anyone could have imagined over the past 12 months. We've had the great fortune to work with some really wonderful clients on some huge projects.
Bold's Managed Services also added a new service late this year. Partnering with Rare.io, we now offer an Email Marketing service. We knew the service would work well for our clients, but the results we got from our Beta test with one store blew our expectations out of the water. This graphic tells the story:
We're very excited to work with some amazing new clients, even using our Email Marketing service to increase their revenue too!
SUPPORT IS NOW CLIENT SUCCESS
Professional Services isn't the only department with a new name! Our incredible Support department is now our Client Success department. Although Support is an easily understood term, we felt that what our team does goes well beyond technical problem solving. In other words, we don't just want to support the store owners who use our apps, we want to assist them in having tremendous eCommerce success (in other words, make tons of profit!) So, the Client Success Team name was born.
We also extended the hours that our Client Success team members are working every day. Although we're in the Central Time Zone here in Winnipeg, we know we have customers around the world. When we're in the middle of our workday, some of our customers are fast asleep, in the middle of the night where they live. We created new shift times to make sure that customers in any time zone around the world can access a live person for at least a small portion of their workday. Our Client Success staff have really stepped up to the plate with this initiative and we're grateful to them for their continued dedication to what we're doing!
And speaking of this particular team, they've had a really crazy year! The Client Success Team started with 20 people at the beginning of 2016 and has grown to 36. These guys and gals are truly the backbone of our company. We pride ourselves on the support we provide, always striving to answer tickets as soon as they come in so customers aren't left waiting, unable to get back to business. And, we don't close a ticket until we know the customer is totally satisfied. We take going above and beyond very seriously -- for us, it's not above and beyond, though. It's just what we do.
Consider these numbers. In 2016, we saw:
- 54,410 tickets created
- 196,050 touches/replies (average 3.6 replies per email)
- 3,740 phone calls
- 10,656 live chats
- 1,937 app reviews
That is a LOT of interaction with our app users, and we're so pleased we're able to provide quick and efficient support when people need it.
As anyone in the world of eCommerce knows, the words "Black Friday weekend" can strike fear into the heart of even the bravest of us. Every single year, new statistics are released showing an increase in the volume of online shopping for the holidays, particularly on the Black Friday weekend. It really is the busiest shopping weekend of the entire year, where retailers do a huge percentage of their annual sales.
For us, Black Friday weekend is really the pinnacle of our year. For each individual merchant, it's a huge event... for us, we have tens of thousands of merchants who use our apps, all needing to make sure their stores are running flawlessly. To some, that might seem like a lot of pressure. But for us, we thrive on that kind of challenge.
And boy, did our entire team thrive on the 2016 Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend! We're pretty proud to say that not only was it our busiest BFCM weekend ever (by a landslide), we also killed it!
We had staff working around the clock from the Thursday before Black Friday, right through until Tuesday morning after Cyber Monday. Our Client Success Team was on fire, and many of our developers pitched in to answer tickets and help with installs during our peak times. It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of effort and we came away with a ton of happy Bold app users.
Black Friday By The Numbers
From Thursday the 24th through Monday the 28th, we had 1,297 tickets received and 4,523 touches. We had 78 positive app reviews in November, with 37 (50%) posted just that weekend alone!
Congratulations to everyone who had a hand in making it our best BFCM weekend in our history!
It was a tremendous surprise and great honour to find out we had been named to Startup 50's ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies by Canadian Business and PROFIT for 2016. Bold placed sixth and is the only Manitoba company on the list. It's just further confirmation that we're doing the right things when we're recognized among some major Canadian companies like Shoeme.ca and Victoriaemerson.ca.
NEW PARTNER PROGRAM RANKING SYSTEM
We launched our Partner Program in 2015 with great results, so when we went over 750 partners, we decided it was time to expand the program. In 2016, we introduced the Partner Program Ranking System, designed to allow our partners to strive for new perks by moving up through the ranks based on how many Bold apps they've installed on their clients' stores.
Our Partner Program has since grown to more than 900 partners, and the ranking system has been a great success. We got our first Gold Partner after just a couple of months; thanks to Pointer Creative for their support, and congrats on being the first to reach gold status! We look forward to adding new perks in 2017.
INNOVATE OR DIE
Once again, our Innovate or Die days were a fantastic success. This year they were held in January and July; they're an opportunity for our Bold Builders to come up with projects they'd like to work on that they might not have time to do otherwise, teaming up with their fellow co-workers to bring together different skill sets. Once again, we had tremendous project ideas; our staff keep outdoing themselves! Our next IOD days are scheduled for early January 2017 and we can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!
Bold is very proud to have taken the 1+1+1 pledge, meaning we pledge to give back 1% of our time, 1% of our product, and 1% of our equity directly to our community. It turns out, giving back to the community doesn't just feel good, it's a ton of fun! Every two weeks, members of our staff leave the building and go help out with various charities in Winnipeg. We've helped at the MS Society of Manitoba, Siloam Mission, Youth Agencies Alliance, Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg Harvest, Koats for Kids, Art City, and Fort Whyte Alive, just to name a few, for a total of more than 2000 volunteer hours this year. We look forward to getting back out there in 2017.
Although our informal company motto is "Get Shit Done", the reality is that we have a lot of fun here at Bold too. It's actually a deliberate part of the company culture. Our giant team of people works together for the common goal of helping entrepreneurs make their eCommerce dreams come true. And when you work so closely with co-workers like we do, it's easy to create bonds that go beyond shared projects. We want our staff to love coming to work, so it has to be fulfilling AND fun to be here.
That's why we do fun and creative things throughout the year, both at the office and off-site. We hold special events at the office and we also take our staff out throughout the year, all in the effort of creating team bonds and promoting a healthy work/life balance.
When we took over the building from Stuart Olson, one of the first things we were able to do was move a ping pong table and our foosball table into the atrium! Believe it or not, that ping pong table has been a huge hit, it's constantly in use.
BIGGEST CHRISTMAS PARTY EVER
We talked about our rapid growth this year near the start of this blog post, and it seems appropriate to close it out with a photo from our biggest Christmas party EVER! We had 200+ people attend, and had yet another awesome time sharing the joy of the season.
TO 2017 AND BEYOND
2016 has been a wonderful whirlwind. Something new is happening every day as the company continues to grow. We have big plans for 2017, plans that will make life better and easier for clients using our apps, and for our employees too. Thanks for coming along for this ride with us. The reality is that we couldn't do what we do without our customers and clients, the great store owners who use the Shopify platform, so we want to sincerely thank YOU for being part of what we do. See you next year!