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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.

It all started in 2013 with a simple PDF compression tool. Find out how Smallpdf became an internet favorite over 10 years and 24,000 cups of coffee.

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 began in August 2013 when we combined our experience in programming, design, business, and marketing 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 full-fledged company with many employees and millions of monthly users. The last 10 years have been full of new experiences, tools, users, and fun!

Blog: Growth april 2016

From zero to 8.5 million users per month in three years

It didn’t take long after our initial launch to realize just how many of you needed a simple and good solution for your PDF problems. The demand was massive, and while there was established software available, 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 20 tools.

Blog: Features history

Our first three years, we already developed 14 tools for you to use

In 2016, we first launched our premium plans with Smallpdf Pro.

We built it for our most active and frequent users. While our key functionalities of all tools remained available to anyone, we saw the need for more advanced features as well as comprehensive solutions for businesses and teams. We also realized that you’d benefit from the option to process many files at once, which is how our very popular “batch processing” functionality came to life.

2023-11-06 - How We Built a Company With 24,000 Cups of Coffee

Processing multiple files at once can save so much time

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 in the right position, a necessary evil of advertising we stepped away from with the help of Smallpdf Pro.

We decided to charge frequent users of Smallpdf a reasonable fee to use our services in exchange for providing you the best possible version of our software ad free. It was very important to us, and still is, that for most users, Smallpdf stays free. And even if your demand exceeds the daily usage limit, we believe in fairness, which is why we keep our Pro prices around the price of a good cup of coffee a 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.

After 7 years of running Smallpdf Pro, we know that many people appreciate the amazing value of our Smallpdf Pro features. For our company, it was a huge milestone and we are very grateful to each and every user, team, and business who loyally supports us.

Looking back, it is important for us to say thank you to all of our users who supported us so much over the past 10 years. There are thousands of tweets about us and thousands of 5 star reviews on the Chrome Store.

2023-11-06 - How We Built a Company With 24,000 Cups of Coffee - 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 respond to every single one of them. The best ones were shared among the whole company and really boosted morale during difficult times. We even printed them out and hung them on our wall of fame to remind us of the incredible 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. To circle back to this article’s title: we always asked donors for a simple coffee donation instead of asking for $3. We never would have imagined that you’d get us more coffee anyone could ever drink in a lifetime, though! All of that “coffee” helped us pay for our server hosting bills and office rent..

Blog: Coffee

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

Really, we can’t thank you enough, dear, generous donors. But also every single user on our site: Thank you. Thank you for using our services, thank you for trusting us. We love what we do and we do it with love. Thank you 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