Welcome to the culture book, the book about us at Thatsup!
Together with Fredrik Jungstedt and Richard Stiller, I founded Thatsup in 2008 because we were missing a site where you could read about what was going on in the city. I will tell you more about that later in the book.
We created this culture book to show who we are at Thatsup and how it is to work here. Maybe it’s your first day? In that case; a warm welcome! We’re glad that you’re here and we hope that you’ll like it.
Since day one we’ve gathered the most awesome people in each field at Thatsup. It’s not a coincidence that Fredric Engelbrecht and Johanna Lagerkranser, who were the company’s first employees, have worked here since 2013 or that Sam Brandhildh and Fredrik Jungstedt started working with Thatsup on the side at the start of 2008 (and later joined full time). In the same way it’s not a coincidence that you’re now here.
Your priority these first few days is to take in as much of the information that is thrown at you as possible. It will possibly feel overpowering, but relax! Your first days should be totally free of demands (please tell us if it doesn’t feel that way!), and you’ll make it! 👊🏻
The nice thing about the culture book is that you’re not only going to get to know Thatsup, it’s also going to work as a support in the future. The goal is that you should feel that you could return to it to find relevant information or find energy and simply be proud that you’re a part of Thatsup.
Again, we’re happy you’re here, new and old. Enjoy reading!
CEO & Founder
Leave your shoes at the door
Make yourself at home! Leave your shoes by the door. Slippers you’ll get from us. If you’re an employee you get to choose a pair that we’ll pay for, while if you’re a visitor you’ll get some options. Either you borrow a pair of our guest slippers: a pair of luxurious Uggs, maybe a pair of Birkenstock or why not our cozy unicorns? There are a lot to choose from! 😅 But it’s ok to keep your shoes on, as long as you promise not to make a mess of our lovely carpets. 😉
So, just like home.
Your first day
We’ve all been new at work; it’s okey not to know everything at the beginning. Together we make sure that all new employees at Thatsup get a good start. A good start means gadgets, swag, glitter or whatever you choose to call it. It also means that a package is waiting on your desk for the day* with everything that you could need.
Some things that you’ll definitely get on your first days are some hardware, some merchandise, a todo list, a calendar with a relatively busy first week, some logins and different types of training.
If you haven’t already had your photo taken we’ll probably schedule this. Think about what dish you want for your ”crazy picture” - preferably one that no-one else has. Here you can see what everyone else has.
On your first day we also have a tradition of treating everyone in the team for lunch at some fancy place, like Tranan or Rolfs Kök. 😋
It’s important for us that you quickly understand who you are and how you fit in at the company. We know that you feel the pressure to deliver, but we want you to relax first and let us teach you everything we know, then you get to show off. You’ll sit down with every part of the company on your first week. We don’t demand that you know programming if we hired you for sales, but we want to create an understanding that everyone is equal and that everyone should have some understanding of what colleagues work with. You should have this too after your first week. That’s also the easiest way for you to understand our purpose and our vision. Plus you get to know everyone, which is probably the most important thing.
*We believe in freedom, freedom not to get stuck in old habits or chairs. Rotation is good.
Why do we do what we do? Our purpose is to give our users the best places to go to in the city. Easy to say, but really hard to achieve. That’s why there are so many doing it, but so few doing it well. We’re filling that empty space.
Brasseriet is like gold, literally.
Everything is possible with OKR
At Thatsup we work with OKR, which stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKR is a popular method for measuring and following up goals in an organization. The advantages are an enhanced focus, increased transparency and clear working processes. Well-known companies such as Google, Tesla and Amazon use the method and since we also aim for world dominance so do we. 😁
An OKR normally consists of the following components:
Objectives: Where do we want to go? The goal.
Key Results: How do we know that it’s the right way? Measurements to measure how far we’ve come towards the goal.
Initiatives: What do we have to do to get there? The actual work we do.
It helps to think of an Objective as a destination on a map, Key Results are signposts that show the distance to the destination, and Initiatives are what we have to do to get there (row a boat, rent a car etc).
We set and follow up our OKR:s annually and quarterly. Each team have their own working methods to execute their Initiatives and reach their goals. Some work with scrum, some with waterfall and others with another method. Unsure what the mentioned methods are? Google is your friend dear. 😜 No, but honestly. They’re just different types of working methods, and you’ll learn about them in your onboarding process.
An ultimate OKR is similar to a vision (”I have a dream…” and all that), but we think that word is a bit unclear. Many people have different definitions of what a vision is. Therefore we’ve chosen to work towards an ultimate OKR. So that’s simply the pole star we aim for. ⭐️ It’s similar to a vision, but a little bit more like a goal, a little easier to grasp. Everything Thatsup does, is to be connected to this. Our ultimate OKR is that whoever and wherever you are, it should be easy to find just the experience you’re looking for.
Your attitude will affect your behaviour. Your behaviour will affect your surroundings and everyone in it. How we choose to see things, and how we behave against each other and others, makes a huge difference. You have the power and opportunity to create the Thatsup-world you want, for yourself and your colleagues.
How did we create our values?
Together was the word. We all collected the things that we think are important and then we voted. The things that got the most votes was gathered and compiled. The result is here.
We identify ourselves as a team. We know that we are stronger together and that we develop better when we’re given the space to socialize. It could be a pint at the bar, a lunch or a workshop. The right person is at the right place and we see it as a strength that we complement each other; diversity leads to perfection. We trust each other and know that you do what you should, when you should.
Always speak your mind at Thatsup. We’re known for being accepting, open, patient and respectful. Both for us who work here, but also to our clients and partners. Of course that doesn’t mean that we walk on egg shells afraid of giving feedback. Without feedback we won’t grow.
Innovation & Creativity
We’re on our way up and know what’s coming on the horizon. We are pioneers and leading the way, instead of following the crowd. We work hard to listen to the needs of our users, clients and partners and deliver creative solutions.
Those of us at Thatsup are driven by moving forward and are engaged in everything we do. It’s all about passion for us.
Everything with Thatsup should be simple. The website should be easy to use and the texts easy to read and understand. We are niched experts, but for everyone. Is this your first day? Then it should feel as easy coming into the team as understanding your working tasks. Simplicity permeates throughout Thatsup. From the work culture and the softwares we use, to our clients’ reports and agreements.
In our focus moving forward we understand that we have to work smarter than our competitors. We have fixed routines and tools that help us get things done. Vi work against clear goals and all the time we follow up how we can improve. We often experiment, but never get foolhardy and are careful about what we should proceed with and what should go in the trash.
Aim for the stars ⭐️
Or in other words, strive to be the best. It’s not a coincidence that you’re at Thatsup. You’re here because we believe that you strive to become the best at what you do. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to write an article, take a picture, program a new tool, bring an idea to life or make a cup of coffee - we do everything with quality.
Everyone should trust Thatsup: users, clients, partners and coworkers. Our goal is to always be up to date and to have relevant and honest tips. We cherish integrity and our user content should have higher quality than other sites. It’s this long-term endeavor that makes the users come back to Thatsup. The exact same endeavor we have for our clients. It’s through our honesty and transparency that our clients want to work with us. However, everything starts with us. We can trust each other; we take responsibility and have a faith in what we do. Win-win-win.
Agnes, Ida and Anneli find out what cinnamon bun is the best in town.
Our tonality varies a bit, depending on who it’s for and where it is.
When it comes to our internal communication on, above all Slack (our tool for internal communication), it’s even more laid back. Here you can misspell, say ”omg, that’s so nice!!” and skip capital letters for new sentences. As long as you follow our core values; to be nice, open minded, engaged etc. you can express yourself just as you want to. Always be yourself! ☝️
Our tonality in external communication is normally, as you’ve hopefully noticed, pretty laid back. There should never be sloppy or poor language, but we’re not afraid of using slang or words that a lawyer would avoid. We want to communicate in a pleasant and familiar way and we HAPPILY use emojis! 🥳🤸♀️🌈🍾
On the site our tonality permeates all text. This can be recognized through it being informative, alternatively slightly positive. From the beginning our mantra has also been ”we only recommend great places, we never warn you off bad places”. We’re a positive company, that always try to see the positive things in places, and people for that matter. If a place has poor service, but fantastic burgers, we will focus on the burgers.
If you want to express yourself with big words (like ”really really much”) or tear a place to shreds we suggest that you write a review. You always write reviews yourself so you decide the tone, but we hope you’re influenced a little bit by the Thatsup tonality even there.
If you’re an editor you will of course get specific training in our tonality.
We have to talk
Slack is our main communication tool. If you aren’t familiar with it already, you could compare it to WhatsApp or Messenger, but even better and customized for groups and companies. Here there are channels for everything that could be needed: from the lunch train and editorial tips, to bug reports and idea discussions. Of course you can also send private messages or have group chats.
Email is actually not used a lot in our internal communication. Slack replaced that part.
Monthly letters will come from our CEO, Adam, once a month where he gathers the most important stuff from all teams, how the month went and anything else useful. This is also presented on our monthly meetings (see more below). The purpose is transparency, so everyone can feel up to speed on the company’s development.
Now it sounds like we live in a digital reality. Everything doesn’t have to happen digitally, we can talk to each other IRL as well. After all, we basically sit next to each other every day.
Monthly meetings occur once a month where we will go through what’s happening, ideas we want to achieve and an update on where we are. We also eat a luxurious breakfast together! 😋
Team meetings vary a little depending on team, but once a week is pretty normal.
We also have personal development talks (PD talks) periodically. How often varies a lot individually. We do however have one big evaluation every year, that we call PDP, personal development plan.
Fredric and Sanna like to talk.
While we’re on the subject of meetings. At Thatsup we believe in meetings with a purpose, not meetings for the sake of meetings. Before you send an invitation for a meeting, consider whether it’s possible to get a result without having a meeting. If the answer is ”Yes”, then choose that way, because it’s almost always more efficient. If the answer is ”I don’t know”, ask a colleague what they think. Because many meetings can mean it’s hard to see the wood from the trees.
However, meetings with a clear purpose, a plan and a glittering result are the way to go.
You fit in
Hello rocker, gamer or trekkie. Whatever you like to do or who you are you fit in at Thatsup. We will repeat ourselves: our differences unite us.
Our culture is the result of good people, strong values and those differences.
The intention also is that it should be easy to combine your time at Thatsup with the rest of your life. There is always coffee, at least two sorts of milk, beer (for Friday afternoons 😉), a chance of recovery and a big flexibility for how and when you work. If it’s unclear what that means in practice we are here for examples.
Freedom comes with responsibility
Dolly topped the Billboard list with Working 9 to 5 in 1981. A couple of decades have past and many companies have, thankfully, started to abandon this mantra. Thatsup’s founder was not even around in 1981 and therefore it’s always been obvious that you adapt you work times around what suits you. Then we certainly have to take care of our jobs and work at least the amount of time that we get paid for. That speaks for itself.
At Thatsup we believe that freedom comes with responsibility. For us results are always most important. So if you do your work at 8 o’clock in the morning, 8 o’clock in the evening, in a café or on a tropical island, it doesn’t matter that much. With that said we always prefer rather normal work times from the office, but most important are the results and that you thrive and stay with us for a long time.
Even if you, just like everyone else here, work quite normal office hours, flexible working hours is a huge advantage. Take micro stress for example. If you start at 9 AM sharp every morning and someone tells you off if you arrive at 9:08 AM; what happens then if you miss the bus, oversleep an hour or are just a bit slow to start? You’ll definitely get a terrible start of the day. Stress is the devil’s invention. In addition someone has to tell you off – which is almost as horrible as actually being told off. Lose-lose. Another example could be if you have to do an errand; maybe go to the dentist or just buy a birthday present for someone. Should you then have to be nervous and go to someone and ask for permission, or even worse, not be allowed to do it? There are lots of advantages with flexible working hours. We probably don’t have to list them for you.
However, it’s easy to be comfortable working normal hours, but with exception for errands, lie-ins and similar. Free working hours is about giving and taking, not just taking. And like everything here in life, it’s better to give first and then take.
So that free working hours work, we have introduced a simple rule. Before you work less than eight hours in a day, you have to have worked the extra the day before (or earlier).
It’s also important to be responsible. When we work, we work. Then you can gladly scroll Instagram, write reviews (unfortunately not part of the job, even if we love when you do it!) or browse whenever you want to. However, if you do it for a longer time (read: an hour a day for example) you have to work longer days. At Thatsup we work, that’s prestige.
We have to show personal responsibility as well when it comes to daily work. No-one will hold your hand and tell you what to do all the time. We do that the first weeks, but then you are mainly responsible for how your days look. You always have strong support from your colleagues, and there is always someone to ask if you’re unsure how to proceed, but on the whole we work very independently.
Perks we like
To us perks are a given but maybe it’s good to remind ourselves. Especially when you need a barrel of coffee to wake up in the morning - go for it! Of course there is tea and fruit if you’d rather skip the caffeine. Sometimes there’s a spontaneous break for cookies or whatever, and the beer fridge is always full. If you want to wear the Thatsup logo with pride, we have really nice hoodies and wooly hats that are perfect when it gets colder outside.
Six weeks holiday is a perk that many of us appreciate, even if it means that we must be a little bit more available on Slack outside of work than we normally would be. Do you want even more holiday? We often have the opportunity to take an extra week of unpaid leave.
We are free on bridge days, but in return we don’t quit early the day before a public holiday.
Very few that start working at Thatsup have demands or thoughts about pension. Everyone should! Your occupational pension is for most people the difference between having a poor or a rich life when you get old, if you’re not really good at saving yourself. The average public pension (that everyone gets that works and pays tax) was SEK 11 791 before(!) tax in 2016. So that’s what you’re supposed to survive on if you don’t have any private savings or occupational pension.
An occupational pension of SEK 1500/month from an age of 28 to 70 (most of us will probably work this long) with an average return of 7%/year results in approx. SEK 5 million.
So an occupational pension from relatively young age normally means that you could take out a few millions when you retire. In other words a lot better than if we would have gotten a little bit higher salary today, which would have cost the company about as much. The occupational pension at Thatsup is 4,5% based on our basic salary and applies for everyone that’s 28 or above and works full time. If we want to we also have the possibility to swap salary for pension. Our pension is managed by SPP, who have the lowest fees and are Sweden’s best pension company.
Flexible working hours is a huge advantage and for certain roles there are even the possibility to work from another part of the world.
Then we’re also a restaurant and city guide, so of course there will be a lot of fun side activities. More about that later.
Welcome home to Thatsup
We’ve worked in a number of offices over the years, but it wasn’t until March 2019 that we moved into the amazing space we now inhabit. We really love our office. Not just because it’s a stone’s throw from Lilla Ego, a short walk from Flippin’ Burgers and a short crawl from Grus Grus wine bar. But because it’s exactly the kind of office we’ve always dreamed of working in. Soft, stylish carpets in the conference and chill rooms, adjustable desks and chairs that can be adapted to the way you want to sit on any given day.
If it’s cold, we turn on the heating, if we’re sweating we put the AC on, and everyone can control both the music and lighting with mobile apps. The large screen in the conference room can be connected for remote meetings when, for example, half the tech team are in Bali escaping the winter or Carro in Gothenburg rings in for a sales meeting. All wireless, of course.
Maybe you’re an espresso addict, love fizzy water or perhaps you prefer tea. Fear not, we have a Moccamaster, espresso machine, posh tea from NK and a sparkling water machine. If you prefer your hot drinks pimped, we have both lactose-free and oat milk. Come three o’clock, it’s fika (coffee break) time and if you’re lucky someone will have brought in a homemade chocolate cake, buns or perhaps a juicy orange. Apparently, people who fikar (take a coffee break) together stay together, so we make sure we fikar.
We have fun!
Since our job is to guide people to find things to do, then it’s natural that we do a lot of it ourselves as well. We often do things together, from activities to dinners.
Everyday is a party at Thatsup, we could say a little cocky, but sometimes there’s a little more party than an everyday party. We usually have at least two big parties a year that easily become legendary and popping out for a drink after work can become an all night affair.
If we reach our goals we usually go on an epic conference trip!
We spoke about this being your first day, right? Take a few deep breaths and look around. Try to take in as much as possible of your surroundings. Do you like the welcome, the people and the feeling? Great, then you’ll like Thatsup too. If you like us and stick around there’ll always be a place for you if you do your job. We’ve been around for more than ten years and have no plans to slow down and stop striving forward. There is rarely an obvious career ladder, and we dislike hierarchy, but the role you have today doesn’t have to be the one you have in thee years. We’re growing fast and hopefully you’ll grow with us. Focus on what you can do now, tomorrow and in ten years at same time as you develop the culture with us.
Change, refine and develop. We all need development, even if it can differ from person to person. All full time employees have the possibility to come with suggestions of conferences, courses and classes that they would like to go on. Obviously we have a process for doing this:
1. Tell us about it in good time so both job and training can be planned.
2. Send a link about the training to your closest boss.
3. Say why this is relevant for you.
4. Attach a suggested schedule to make job and training balance.
5. What the cost is and what do you need from Thatsup?
6. When you’re back from the training we want you to share your knowledge; both in writing and in a presentation.
If you find a training that doesn’t seem to be relevant, but that you want to go on anyway, just do it and catch up on the lost time.
You may not learn that much lying on our airbeds, but it sure feels nice.
Never be afraid of making mistakes. No one will tell you off. Making mistakes is much better than not daring to take your own initiatives or be creative. Nothing teaches you more effectively than mistakes. However, avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
Also never be afraid of asking! A question is never stupid, and we promise that you’ll get a friendly answer from whoever you ask among your colleagues.
Albert fucking Einstein, did you hear that?!
Usually everything is great, but sometimes we have crises. These could be someone close passing away, a bad relationship or we just need some time to heal ourselves. That’s going to affect work and then it’s good to know: Thatsup have your back. How we support you depends on what’s happened and how you want it to be handled including possible doctor contact. Speak to your closest manager if this happens.
Code of conduct
We could write reams and reams of rules, regulations and good advice here but at Thatsup our behaviour really comes down to three words: use common sense.
We are all adults*, and our behaviour reflects this. Here are a few points we are committed to following:
If I’m a salesperson I don’t write reviews but am free to post pictures and create lists.
We never take advantage of our position at Thatsup to get free meals, trips or anything else that could be regarded as breaking the law. That said, working at Thatsup does mean you’ll be offered the odd free meal, particularly if you’re a salesperson. Again: use your judgement.
If we suspect that one of our colleagues has a problem with drugs or alcohol we raise our concerns with our line manager.
Conflicts of interest. We take care to avoid taking decisions which create conflicts of interest or could be seen as basing our decisions on our own individual interests rather than what’s best for Thatsup. We are transparent about the decisions we take.
We never read, write or talk about confidential matters in public places such as cafés, airports or elevators. We know where our sensitive information is and we use secure routines to manage it. This is still the case even if you’re no longer employed by Thatsup. If you’re unsure about whether something is confidential or not, ask someone in management.
We don’t represent Thatsup on social media or in a PR capacity unless we have direct responsibility for this. That means, for example, that we don’t respond to conflicts that may arise in which our first instinct is to “protect our workplace”.
We commit to following all our set policies.
* Well, most of the time anyway.
We want all our colleagues to know how Thatsup was founded and the huge amounts of hard work that have gone into its creation. It’s a unique, interesting and in many ways humorous story. Our founder Adam Linders tells the long version here (tl;dr? Read the short version):
The foundations of Thatsup were laid as early as 2007, about a half year after I graduated, when Richard Stillar and I were discussing if we could come up with something to do on the side of our retail jobs at NK. We came up with the idea of producing a site where you could read about events and entertainment in Stockholm. We reached out to Fredrik Jungstedt, a friend from school, who had just started working as a developer. Together we started ”WhatsupSthlm”, which consisted of four event and entertainment blogs: Nightlife, Music, Fashion and Culture. The first site design was created for free by one of Richard’s best friends, Sam Brandhildh.
Richard and Jungstedt, 10 years later.
The process of coming up with the name WhatsupSthlm consisted of a dialogue that looked something like this: ”We’re going to have a site of what’s happening”…”Helrör.se” (which could be translated to something like ”Booze.com”)…”Haha, maybe a bit unprofessional. How about Whatsup?”…”That’ll be perfect”…”Hmm, whatsup.se is already taken by someone”…”Let’s go with WhatsupStockholm then?”…”That’s good, but quite long, we go with WhatsupSthlm”. Do you realize Whatsup is Thatsup with a T? 🧐 I’ll get back to that.
The plan was that Jungstedt was going to get 10 000 kr to build WhatsupSthlm. The job however was much bigger than expected. The site took more than double the time to build as planned. At the beginning we managed to keep a float by letting Jungstedt come home to Richard and just take home almost anything he fancied. 😬 I think what he most appreciated was an old Playstation Portable, and Richard was most put out by losing his slippers without warning. 🤣
When we were finally finished we wanted to add a big function (an early version of our present search tool, you could describe it) that was going to double the working time again. In addition we realized that we were going to want ongoing development of the site, so it became very clear to us that Jungstedt was going to be needed permanently. Therefore we let him in as a shareholder and co-founder instead of consultant. A decision I can confirm now, 10 years later, as being the right one.
Just in time for the launch in May 2008, about a half year after we started the company, I quit my job at NK to fully focus on WhatsupSthlm. Because I still had a roof over my head and food on the table at home at my parents I thought that I would be fine with my savings of about SEK 30 000 until I was getting a salary from WhatsupSthlm, which I estimated was going to take about a half year (🤣).
Early version of WhatsupSthlm
By then I was about 20 years old, and as you can imagine, most things were at a low level. You could say we had to invent the wheel again, because we didn’t have any experience at all. We didn’t have a single penny and raising capital was not an option; actually I didn’t even know about that. And even if I learnt about it on the way, it still wouldn’t have been an option, since the company wasn’t worth anything at all. We had to invest with our own time, and the editors who wrote the posts on the blogs worked for free.
We launched the site for the public 18 May 2008 and the response was actually better than expected. That month we had 7 000 unique visitors and the rest of the year we averaged around 10 000. That’s a lot less than nowadays, but it felt a lot then.
That summer I met Fredrik Fernström by coincidence at an event at restaurant Bryggan in Gåshaga on Lidingö. I was there with a friend who introduced us and after I told him about WhatsupSthlm he asked if we could have a meeting. I liked Fernström from the start (he’s a salesman 😉) and in the end he became a partner in the company to help us get started with sales. Again, there was no money involved, we had to bargain with shares and Fernström had to invest his time. Which should not be underestimated! ☝️
Fernström, 10 years later.
I remember that after the first meeting with Fernström I was a bit blown away about how sales worked. For me a salesman had always been this annoying git who tries to force you into buying something from him over the phone. All other sales I thought that the customers bought what they wanted, and the companies sold what the customers wanted. I actually thought that the customers would come to us to buy banner advertisement. Banners! 🤣 In addition I thought that customers paid the prices that were offered on the websites advertisement pages. Luckily I learnt things quite fast at least.
Terrified of selling, I let Fernström and Richard head out to town and try it out. After about 10 hours of canvas selling we understood that this was going to be quite difficult.
2008 we had revenues of about SEK 15 000, tops. As you probably understand the salary I was hoping for this autumn was a long way of becoming a reality. All editors and other people working for free were also going to be paid before me of course. I remember that the first editor that got paid anything at all got about SEK 20 per post. 😳 Of course the posts were really short, but it was still hard to reach any kind of sensible compensation at all.
But we kept on working with the site and besides publishing a lot of blog posts about what was going on in the city we also started to fill up our search with profiles about local businesses, including restaurants. About this time we actually didn’t even write about restaurants at all besides this.
Then I came up with an idea to start selling premium profiles, where clients get pictures and an enhanced presentation. Before sales start this was packaged as an ”Advanced profile” for SEK 199/month with a 12 month fixed contract. Included was photo shoot, text presentations and in addition we would publish information about events that they were having. Half of the income would go to the sales person. Do I have to tell you that this was hard to juggle economically. I don’t know how I was thinking then, but I remember that I was so excited thinking ”1 000 clients should be easy to get in Stockholm. SEK 199/month. That’s about… 2.4 MILLION!! Oh my god, this is brilliant”. 🤦♂️
Towards Christmas we started looking for sales people. I remember at least three old friends who tried out. Only commission, of course. We managed to get a client or two. Diplomat, Soap Bar, Fem Små Hus and Pet Sounds Bar are some of the first I remember. Many of these I photographed myself - Fredrik Rollman didn’t join until about a year later. Not strange that the clients were not always happy with the pictures… 😬
However, it was not until Fernström got Camilla Agardh to try out selling at the beginning of 2009 that it really took off. Our turnover reached SEK 600 000 that year which enabled us to start paying the editors, which simplified things a lot. One year later than expected I could get about a subsistence wage, which isn’t much, but it was actually fantastic considering how I had lived the last 18 months. It took another year before I got a ”real” salary, and by then, you could say that we had managed to built a company that was standing on it’s own feet. That year, 2010, our turnover was about SEK 1,5 million.
Camilla Agardh, 10 years later.
The following two years, everything moved on very slowly, but steadily. 2011 we reached a turnover of around SEK 2 million, but 2012 we lost clients at about the same rate as we got new ones. At the same time, the company, besides sales, was developing slowly. But for many reasons, not only economic, we couldn’t move faster.
A late version of WhatsupSthlm
The summer of 2012 I specified what was going to be our new site. Everything would be new: functionality, design and even the name!
As you may remember, we choose the name WhatsupSthlm quite fast. There were so many problems with the name, I don’t even have enough space to write about it here, but you can imagine to try growing with a name where all the domains and trademarks in the whole world are already taken. Since a change of name is really hard, I didn’t want to realize the magnitude of the problem, so we went on trying to build a brand as good as we could. One day we got an email with a threat of legal action because we were infringing on a trademark. I became upset and redirected the threat to Camilla, along with a picture of our logotype where I had changed the W to a T, and joked about that we were going to have to change our name to ”Thatsup”.
We managed to stay away from the legal actions, even sidestepping WhatsApp’s American lawyers, who contacted us at a later stage because they didn’t like our iPhone app. They emailed us one day, saying that we had to remove everything that could be associated with WhatsApp in our app. At first, I tried to ignore it completely, which worked in the previous case. The email from WhatsApp, was however followed up with an email from an Apple lawyer saying something like ”Do as WhatsApp is telling you, or we will remove your app”. I replied ”Give us a week and we’ll fix it”. A week later I emailed saying ”Now it’s fixed”, without having changed anything. I never heard from them again. 😅
But even if the name worked, we had higher ambitions for our new site. We wanted to build a strong brand. I trawled for new names for a long time and held a couple of brainstorming workshops with everyone involved. But as soon as we found anything decent, domains and trademarks had already been taken - most often internationally, but even sometimes in Sweden. But ”Thatsup” then? It started out as a joke, and therefore we saw it as a joke for a long time. But one day it all became clear to me: ”Thatsup” is perfect. It describes what we do, but at the same time it’s not a word/expression; it will be our own. It was almost too good that most of the domains and all trademarks were available. Nobody but us uses Thatsup, in the whole world. ✌️
Early draft of Thatsup
Enough about the name. Progress was slow but I kept on fighting and at the end of autumn 2013, we reached a level when we were ready for the next step:
The traffic had grown to more than 100 000 unique visitors/month. In addition it was the right type of traffic, that we could make money off.
Our advanced profiles were sold more rationally with focus on what actually gave a return for our clients, rather than ”this seems nice and is cheap, but we have no idea what we actually get”, which made the clients stick with us longer and at the same time we could charge more.
We had built up a buffer of about SEK 300 000 that we could use to hire a sales person and an editor on full time.
We had a clear plan for how WhatsupSthlm would become Thatsup.
Said and done. We hired Johanna Lagerkranser and Fredric Engelbrecht. On that day we entered the second phase of the company’s history. We became a real company. With a real office where people sat every day. If you can call it a real office when it lacks light, oxygen and is an old apartment that hasn't been renovated in at least 40 years.
Something that still progressed slowly was the development of our new site, or of Thatsup as we had started calling it then. From the day I started to specify the site summer 2012 it took 3 years(!) before we actually could launch it 2 June 2015.
The year after we could hire Jungstedt full time and since then the development has progressed fast. In the same year, we were named Sweden’s best lifestyle site on IDG/InternetWorld’s Top100 list which they’ve compiled each year since the late Nineties. This was a long-held dream which came true when we made it onto their list and we’ve remained on that list every year since then.
Thatsup by launch in June 2015.
With the launch of Thatsup our very unpolished user content and community was also launched. At the same time it was hard to develop it faster, because we didn’t have either a designer or a community manager in house.
In 2018 we entered the third phase of the company development, which we also find ourselves in now. We hired Sam Brandhildh as the company’s first designer, the same person that designed our first version for free, so it felt good to pay him back with a job ten years later. At the same time we hired Ida Berzén, who became our first Community Manager (and even Marketing Director). It felt like the last two pieces of the puzzle were laid with these two roles. Now we only had to grow puzzle. The same year we increased the editorial and tech teams. In addition we added a new role when we hired Agnes Lindberg as COO, with the purpose of developing the company towards international expansion. In that year we hired the same number of people as we had done in total up until then.
I have done this for more than 10 years and I have never had more fun than now. We are in an extremely exciting phase where ideas are born and realized constantly. Succeeding with this kind of business idea is extremely difficult. There are numerous websites trying to do what we do, both in Sweden and abroad, but only very few survive, and even fewer have growth. It’s amazing that we have created something that so many people use and appreciate. But of all the fantastic things we have created, I’m most proud of the team. It is tight, incredibly skillful and we have fun both in the office and when we do things together.
Adam Linders, oktober 2018
Adam, 10 years later.