Too often the measure of the success of a start-up is big financing rounds and a quick exit.
My goal as CEO and founder of The White Label Agency has been instead to build a company that is scalable and self-financing with the goal of long-term sustainable growth. I founded TWLA in 2013 to provide outsourcing of front-end WordPress development.
I designed TWLA’s business model by identifying the substantial demand in the WordPress market for front-end web site developers. WordPress commands over half of the CMS market and a quarter of all new websites are built on it, but few developers in the US specialize in WordPress. Many web marketing agencies try as a result to outsource development, but problems with communicating properly about all the many details of website design usually makes outsourcing more trouble than it is worth. The key to attracting and keeping such customers would be to build a process of clear communication and consistent, efficient production that makes it easy for customers to return. These factors are at the core of TWLA’s competitive advantage.
I chose Ukraine as the location for TWLA’s development offices. The IT sector there was strong and growing with many computer science and programming students graduating from the countries’ universities, including many front-end developers. My initial plan for the TWLA was to grow the company to 25 developers within two years, and these young graduates provided the skilled and flexible labor market the company would need. Business connections based in Ukraine helped me to establish our office and hire TWLA’s first employees in the city of Odessa.
As the number of developers grew, we needed to standardize and streamline our processes to allow TWLA to scale rapidly while maintaining high quality for our clients. In 2014, Bobby King joined TWLA to fill this role as Chief Operating Officer and co-owner with a background as an operations engineer in a large corporation.
In 2014 war broke out in eastern Ukraine. Though it has been a blow to the Ukrainian economy and the communities involved, the conflict does not inhibit TWLA’s operations in Ukraine. It is nevertheless a reminder of the value of focusing on sustainability and long-term growth, for the sake of TWLA’s employees as much as for its customers.
Throughout 2014, TWLA continued to rapidly expand. Our experience in the US market showed that the business model worked, so during this period we entered the European market, establishing a sales office in the Netherlands. By the end of the year, TWLA prepared to open its second office in Ukraine, in the city of Poltava. Over the course of 2015, Poltava quickly grew to match the size of the Odessa office.
Sticking to our mission of sustainable, long-term growth, TWLA hit its two-year target on the nose. By the spring of 2015, we employed 24 developers as well as four account managers. Having doubled in size each of the past three years, as of the summer of 2016 TWLA proudly employs nearly 50+ people (and counting) in Ukraine.
By Einar Emilsson