Weglot, a SaaS-based multilingual plugin that entered the WordPress market last year, has passed €44,000 in monthly revenue. The company received €450K in seed funding in May 2017 and has nearly doubled its user base in the past six months. Co-founder Rémy Berda reports that the plugin is approaching 20,000 users and that more than 20,000 websites are connected to the Weglot API, if you include the company’s Shopify product and those using the JS script directly.
WordPress customers currently represent 75% of Weglot’s revenue with Shopify at 25%, but Berda says the two markets are growing at the same rate. In May, the company’s customer distribution was primarily in the US and France, which made sense as the product’s founders are French and Weglot was first marketed to the French WordPress community. Weglot’s customer distribution has become more global over the past six months and the US has now overtaken France as the strongest market for the multilingual plugin. Canada has also passed Germany, and Berda said he thinks the distribution will eventually align progressively with global WordPress usage.
Despite having only recently entered the WordPress community in a niche with well-established competitors, Weglot’s cofounders are confident their SaaS approach is the road to success for becoming the best multilingual solution for WordPress. The team is aiming for its product to become the highest rated multilingual plugin in the WordPress directory within the next six months.
WPML, a purely commercial product and the most widely used, has been in business since 2009 and is active on more than 500K sites. Polylang, a popular free plugin with a commercial option, is installed on more than 300,000 sites and has a 4.7-star rating on WordPress.org. qTranslate X is also a formidable competitor with more than 100,000 active installs and a 4.7-star rating.
“For now the two biggest plugins in terms of active installs are WPML and Polylang,” Berda said. “Both don’t have a SaaS approach. Polylang recently released the PRO version (it was only free previously) but it is still sold as a piece of software, not a SaaS. We are convinced that SaaS is the right approach as it allows us to be in constant relation with users and make the product evolve faster. It’s also healthier in terms of business.”
Although he has no precise statistics on how many, Berda said he sees a lot of former WPML and Polylang users (freelancers and agencies) in their support center who have opted to use Weglot on their new projects. This indicates that Weglot may not so much be whittling away at the existing customer base of other plugins but is finding success at attracting customers who are starting new projects.
In their efforts to stake a claim in the WordPress ecosystem, the Weglot team has found that being active in the community is important to having a successful product.
“WordPress is really huge so there is no magical formula for marketing,” Berda said. “I think what is important is to accept that it takes time. You must keep improving your product forever while being active in the community and do it not only with high intensity but for a long time.”
The €450K in seed funding Weglot received earlier this year has helped the team to expand its support and development team, but it has also made it possible for the company to invest more in the community. They have now sponsored a dozen WordCamps across the world, including WordCamp Europe in Paris.
Berda’s advice to other WordPress entrepreneurs who are looking for funding is to consider the option carefully and understand how it will impact the company’s future and ability to act independently.
“My recommendation would be to think twice about raising money as it takes time,” Berda said. “It changes your governance and it temporarily distracts you from your number one focus – your users. Raise only if you are sure you will have a return with the money invested. Not every business need to raise money.”
Fueled by their success in the WordPress market, Weglot plans to expand into other CMS and e-commerce markets, including BigCommerce and Jimdo, followed by Drupal, Magento, and Joomla. Berda said the company also plans to release an open version of the API for developers to integrate their non-CMS websites built on technologies like Symfony and Laravel.
“In 2018, we will be adding many things: We will start using machine learning to improve the quality of automatic translations,” Berda said. “We will also leverage the fact that we are SaaS to add some insights about language usage for the users so they can see what languages are performing better. Finally, we will add extra features to manage multilingual SEO. In terms of monthly recurring revenue, we aim to reach €70,000 in 6 months.”