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How we built a company with 24,000 cups of coffee

by Mathis Buechi

You can also read this article in German, French, Indonesian and Italian.

Smallpdf started in August 2013 as a simple compression tool for PDF. Read more about our history and how Smallpdf turned into a real company.

Dear beloved users,

We want to address all of you and take a minute to say THANK YOU to all of you who helped us get to this point.

Smallpdf started in August 2013 when we put our collective experience in programming, design, business and marketing together to develop a project that would allow us to create a simple compression tool for PDF. What started out as a small side project has today turned into a real company of 7 people working full time and over 8 million users every month.

Blog: Growth april 2016

From zero to 8.5 million users per month in three years.

It didn’t take long after our launch 3 years ago to realise just how many of you needed a simple and good solution for your PDF problems. The demand was massive and whilst there was established software out there, it seemed that none of these solutions really tried to solve the average-user problems in a simple and effective way. Despite this demand, we could never have dreamed back then that we would grow into a complete online PDF software with more than 14 features running over 60 servers in the cloud.

Blog: Features history

History of features

Today we have an exciting announcement to make: we are launching Smallpdf Pro.

We built it for our most active and frequent users. Smallpdf Pro includes the two most requested features from our user base. Connected Functions, such as converting from word to PDF and then compressing in one easy flow is now possible (see below).

Blog: Connected functions

Smallpdf Pro feature #1: Connected Functions

We also know so many of you repeat the same functions on multiple documents, so with that in mind we’ve introduced Multiple File Processing, making it fast and easy for you to process a lot of documents at once. Just upload your documents and get on with what you’re doing elsewhere.

Blog: Multiple file processing

Smallpdf Pro Feature #2: Multiple File Processing

Besides your kind donations and small sales from Solid Converters, Smallpdf was only financed by advertising revenue from banners on our website. While advertising paid the bills, it always required us to make compromises on the user experience to incorporate the banners at the right position a necessary evil of advertising we’re hoping to step away from with Pro.

We decided to charge frequent users of Smallpdf a reasonable fee to use our services and in return we’re giving you the best possible version of our software ad free. For most users Smallpdf as you know it will stay free. However, those of you that want to use Smallpdf more than twice per hour will either need to wait one hour or sign up for the Smallpdf Pro membership for $4 (annual basis) or $6 (month-to-month).

Today we are a real company with full time employees and we want to grow further so we can provide better services for all our users, whether free or Pro, in the future. Introducing Pro will help us take a big step in that direction.

We are convinced that many people will see the amazing value of our Smallpdf Pro features and sign up and become long-term customers. It’s a huge milestone for a small company like ours and we are excited to hear your feedback.

Looking back, it is important for us to say thank you to all of our users who supported us so much over the past 3 years. The thousands of tweets about us and thousands of 5 star reviews on Chrome Store.

Blog: Chrome extension

Smallpdf 5 star reviews on Chrome Store

We know how many of you told your friends about us and how many of you shared our tool with your social media followers. We received thousands of thank you emails and we continue to answer every single one of them. The best ones were shared among the whole company and really boosted morale during tough times. We even printed them out and hung them on our wall of fame to remind us of the awesome supporters we have.

Blog: Katerina Parsons tweet
Blog: Luis Morales tweet

None of it would have been possible however, without the support that came from our donors. We are still amazed and overwhelmed that so many of you would support us with real money contributions. We always asked for a coffee donation (instead of just $3) and we received more than we could ever drink in a lifetime. We used your generous donations to pay server hosting bills and office rent.

Blog: Coffee

Thanks for the 24,000 cups of coffee you’ve donated.

So we can’t thank you enough, dear donors. You have helped us a lot. Now in return we give every single one of you a free user account for Pro. Depending on the size of your donation several free months and for the most generous of donors we give you a free lifetime Pro account.

Check your Paypal email address for information on how to get your free subscription to Smallpdf Pro and enjoy the new features. We’re excited to see your reaction!

Thanks again for being with us on our journey so far and we look forward to the next chapter with you all.

If you have any feedback for us or want to let us know about something, please send us an email or tweet @smallpdf.

Person: Mathis picture
Mathis Buechi