RefinedWiki is a Malmö-based company that offers a plug-in Original Theme to improve user experience of Confluence, team collaboration software from Atlassian. RefinedWiki was started in 2009 and has managed to attract big brand costumers such as Apple, NASA, GE and Red Cross.
What is so special about RefinedWiki is that it is very simple and designed for non-technical users. It makes Confluence easy to navigate and browse and you can turn it into an Intranet. RefinedWiki also offers Mobile Interface for mobile devices, Blog plug-in and Ul Toolkit that makes Confluence more beautiful. Being around for a few years now, RefinedWiki makes an interesting case. It’s a small company but definitely a leader in its field that has managed to get noticed by giant corporations. To find out how this all happened to be we had a talk with Jimmy Lundström, company’s CEO and Co-founder.
Jimmy, tell us about yourself and how you arrive to the point you are at now?
When I was younger I played elite soccer and that’s where I first learned to set up goals and work hard to achieve them. In the university I started seeing my friends becoming student leaders and realized I can be one as well. I started working towards that and soon became a leader of Hallands Nation and at Lundakarnevalen. I knew that in the future I would like to start my own companies and that I like working with people. So I got two degrees that helped me to fulfill my goals – one in human resources and one in economics.
After the University I had established a few companies which were a great learning experience. The idea of RefinedWiki appeared four years ago when Emil Sjödin, company’s co-founder, was consulting a company in Malmö. They were using Confluence which was very useful but too complex. Emil made it more user-friendly and we saw a business opportunity there. That’s how it started. Of course, it also was about timing and having a good product.
Can you tell more about RefinedWiki and its model?
Right now we are four people. Operations started in November 2009 and now we have about 2000 clients in over 80 countries. Among our customers are Apple, NASA, Blizzard and Intel to name a few. We also work with universities as we want to reach out to the future leaders and not-for-profit organizations like Red Cross and UN. Such organizations get our product for free or pay half price since they don’t have large budgets.
We are a growing company and looking for the best people who want to work with cool companies. Number-wise we made a 40% profit of about 3.7 million sek in 2012. And there is much more to look forward to.
At the moment we are working to improve our products since there is a potential to increase our market share based on that. We are a big player in the eco system of Atlassian and know the community quite well so in the future we will make more cool things based on our products or produce other plug-ins.
How do you sell your product and get customers?
Often companies are buying expensive programs and do top down approach when introducing team collaboration software. Yet, we focus on bottom-up approach. Since our product has a low price it is appealing to smaller teams in the companies that have limited budgets. Once they try and find it very useful, they approach top management and urge to get it for the whole company. It is possible to download a trial version as well to see how everything works. This is a great advantage for us as well since then our clients learn about the product by using it and we in return receive feedback from them on what we can improve.
When we started RefinedWiki we sold our product through the website and through Atlassian. We also decided to build a reseller community. Since we are a small company resellers validate our product to big clients. We do not contact customers directly to generate sales but we do market to them mainly via Internet or during different events.
What are you working on apart from RefinedWiki?
I am also involved in some other projects, like Qnekt and Tasspass, and have ownership in them. I’ve done a journey now and had both cool things and mistakes happening on the way. So I try to share my experience with those who are just starting.
Currently I am starting a company called Revolt Invest with a friend of mine, Jacob Lönroth, who made the same journey as I. Many companies don’t survive because they focus on wrong things and don’t make money. So using our expertise and network we want to help them to get from point A to point B faster and add value for better VC cases. I would have wanted to have someone like us when I first started working because it could have helped us to save some time.
What are the lessons you have learned so far?
Taking in the right VC is essential. It should be people with competence who know your business otherwise it is ineffective. I used to focus on getting money from places that were not good for me. Instead it would have been better to focus on growing.
Another thing is the lack of constructive criticism from competent people understanding your business. I wish I had that when I first started. I like the Öresund region. I’ve got to know a lot of people here. But it is often difficult to hear what people really think about your project and if there is something you could make better. On the other hand you might not get the energy to be an entrepreneur if you feel discouraged.
It is important not to overthink and to always try new things. Make a mistake, learn from it and do the next thing better.
RefinedWiki is a good example of how effective leadership and the right strategy for building client base can turn something small into something big and meaningful. Thank you, Jimmy, for sharing your story!