Rewind 10 years, and of course, the situation was barely recognizable: scale-up woes, failures, and our fair share of mistakes. But from these mistakes, opportunities arose, and these opportunities gave rise to the company culture that we now know.
It’s with my CEO cap on that I would like to take you on a trip on what we call a bit of history. I’m not talking about the media headlines, the public financial statements, nor how our marketing strategies have changed over time. No, I would like to share with you what really goes on in the wings of a startup, how resilience is rooted in our values, and what compels us to write the next 10 years of our adventure.
Everything starts with MailInBlack. Our anti-spam software solution for securing professional emails and prevent cyber attacks. At the time, we were laying the groundwork which would give us the necessary credentials in Saas, B2B, and email in general.
The idea of completing the MailInBlack offer came next. We were working on a solution to simplify creating and managing employee email signatures. However, the value proposition and markets differ. Soon, from a simple product diversity, an independent entity came about: and that’s the beginnings of Letsignit.
To adapt, we had to face challenges. And these same challenges allowed us to grow.
Literally grow: first of all, with regard to the size of the company, to recruit and renew our teams massively. To give ourselves the resources needed for a change like this, the solution was to be found in the top levels of talent (we brought in a new VP of Sales EMEA and a new CTO, both with experience in larger companies). However, the growing team also needed new investments in customer care to resolve new international client challenges. With bigger teams and an ever-growing user base, the issue of scalability arose. We found the answer to this in standardized processes and certifications (we’re currently in the final phase of our ISO 27001 norm certification on data security management).
I could cite many other examples of our transformations, challenges, and mistakes, but I’m worried about spreading myself thin. And that’s precisely what I’m going to talk about next..
Just last year, in 2021, Letsignit stopped trying to be everything to everyone. To successfully scale up, it was essential that we realized what we could offer most effectively. So, the decision was taken to focus entirely on market segments with high added value: companies with over 100 employees, using Microsoft Office 365.
This revolution in our vision of the company was vital. It allows us to see the market changes coming and anticipate them in order to position ourselves correctly, and above all, very quickly.
Realizing that you need to fix things is one thing. Putting in place corrective actions is another thing altogether. That’s often the main point of friction. At Letsignit, our priority remains our ability to remain faithful to our key principle. And that key principle has to be foremost in each of our team member’s minds, every time they make a decision, every time they do something.
When your joint ambition is to become the world leader in email signatures, that creates a lot of changes. And transformation is stressful. 50% growth per year is frightening. Moving from being a start-up to scaling up was not an easy thing to do.
It was impossible to control everything all the time. Except perhaps for one thing: our guiding principle. And Letsignit’s guiding principle is rooted in the founding values and culture of our organization. Without that foundation, we would waver. How could we keep our balance? In our case, we had to rest on four fundamentals:
Let’s be honest, these four commands weren’t set in stone from the very start of Letsignit. They emerge from our shared experiences and values. The purpose of this article is not to give you an itemized list of our successes, failures and values. No, my message is something else. You need to know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Enjoy the journey that leads you to your destination, because that’s exactly where your best lessons are to be found.
In the beginning, Letsignit was a startup searching for its market. It was by challenging itself that it found itself. So, naturally that’s true of our values too. As we grew, we were able to put those values into words, and now, they reflect what is most valuable in our company culture.
In early 2022, we made some changes to our HR policy. In particular, we decided to give our employees 12 extra days off a year because well-being at work is also about well-being away from the office. Where possible, some employees can even work remotely 100% of the time. That means it’s possible to free up time for some charity work our employees head up and that we still finance—sometimes in full.
To be honest, company culture goes beyond a beer pump, a ping-pong table, or other pleasant office perks. As CEO, my main job is to spread the four pillars of our philosophy as much as I can throughout the company. I really make an effort at that, because in the business world, expressions like “the customer is king” are still heard. Personally, I don’t think that’s true. “Care” is one of our core values. We always give our time and our energy to our clients. But “care” is just as true for our employees as it is for our clients. That’s why serenity will always reign—unashamedly—even if that means passing on a proposal.
I know that with these few words, I run the risk of tipping over into the clichés of the many inspirational speeches which have sprouted up. But the meaning of my message is sincere. The highs and lows we’ve gone through—and are still living with—have provided us with unique experiences. Letsignit is above all a human adventure. The ups and downs we have navigated and will continue to navigate bring us unique experiences. Letsignit is ultimately just a means of having an experience which is rich when it comes to professional encounters, different personalities, and new skills.
Behind the scenes, my biggest source of satisfaction is still enabling everyone to grow— personally as well as professionally. My most important mission is to find the balance between a little discomfort and serenity. That’s when challenges are no longer a source of stress, but rather a source of excitement. That constant changes are no longer tough times to get through, but rather they become an opportunity to reach new heights.
So, turnover and growth are clearly evidence of commercial success, which I’m sure is going to last. However, behind the scenes is where success really happens.