After 18 months of solid growth and several sizeable start-up hurdles, the team at Tweaky, now Elto, have moved to the United States, changed their offering, and closed an investment deal with Blackbird Ventures.
Tweaky launched in July 2012 as a marketplace of developers providing a quick way for small business to make small changes to their websites for a set fee.
Co-founder and chief executive Ned Dwyer told StartupSmart they’d always knew their offering was unscalable, but chose to pursue the idea to get insight into the challenges facing their target clients.
“Tens of thousands of customers later, we realised small tweaks to websites wasn’t the way we could add the most value to small businesses, who really want help to grow. Part of that will always be adding functionality, but we’re now also focusing on connecting them to marketers and growth strategists,” Dwyer says.
It was Tweaky’s own growth challenge that informed their decision to pivot to a broader offering.
After every two or three months of rapid growth, they’d experience a flat period as they struggled to bring their internal systems up to speed, manage a supply issue or an acquisition.
“The biggest reason we’re pivoting is all the options to grow the volume we’re doing in a three-sided marketplace just didn’t make sense,” Dwyer says.
The decision to focus on growth by adding new services to their existing marketplace led the 16-person team to face a difficult decision about their brand.
They changed the brand to Elto, which stands for ‘every little thing online’, a move Dwyer describes as tough-going.
“It’s definitely been challenging and will be for a little while,” Dwyer says. “Tweaky was very relevant to exactly what we were doing when we started, but this time we’ve gone quite broad. We know this is where we want to go, or we wouldn’t have gone through the pain of this change.”
Elto’s plans for overcoming their scalability issues were of particular interest to the team at Blackbird Ventures, who made an investment into the company late last year.
Dwyer declined to detail the amount contributed but said the investment negotiations encouraged their pivot and rebrand.
“They didn’t raise any major issues with what we were doing during discussions but they could see we’d have some issues with scaling the marketplace, so we made sure we were really clear on how we were going overcome them,” Dwyer says.
In order to grow their business as efficiently as possible, Dwyer and co-founder PJ Murray recently relocated to San Francisco.
Over 60% of Elto’s customers are based in the United States, as are all of their major partners such as blogging platform WordPress.
“As the business grows, there is more potential for strategic partnerships here and if we want to raise more capital, Silicon Valley has the smartest money we can find,” he says.
Most of their team works remotely, with a marketplace manager in the Dominican Republic, a team of project managers in Portugal and hundreds of developers scattered around the world.