RS Joomla!

In: Companies / 4 comments

13 Mar 2012

I decided that once in a while I’ll bring to the forefront a Romanian software company about which the Romanian press doesn’t write; company that you probably didn’t even know it exists, and that, nonetheless, is successful on the international IT market. Don’t shoot; I’ll probably become a better journalist in time 🙂 . Today, I randomly chose RS Joomla! And I’ll let Alex Lamba, the company’s CEO, tell you their story.

I encourage all of you to write comments that could help him and us.

Who is RS Joomla?
RSJoomla! is a young team whose goal is to provide a cheap alternative to Joomla! web developers by offering complete solutions for their different projects. As I like to explain to those who ask me (even close relatives who don’t understand what we do)… we develop applications that help those who build websites make them easier and cheaper.

How did you start and who were the members of the team?
RSJoomla! began in 2007. At that time I was working with foreigners and I was building websites non-stop, especially in Mambo and the newly launched Joomla! 1.0. At one point I made an application that helped the client build forms for his website. That’s where it all started. I started by giving the application for free. After the first couple of days, 800 people had already downloaded it, and a small community that supported me and suggested what to add to the new product was born. Things evolved so quickly that after two months I decided to make it commercial. At the beginning RSJoomla! was a one man show. I used to wake up, solve my clients’ problems on the forum; then I set about writing code and optimizations; then I published documentation articles and then I went back to sleep. I think those were the months when I started losing my hair. 🙂

If I were to go further back in time, I would say that I was born in Constanta in 1983. I discovered computers at the age of 14 and I was fascinated by computer programming. As a programmer, I have always been a self-educated man. After I finished high school in Constanta, I went to Italy where I worked for 2 year as a caretaker in a camping facility. Then I followed a one-year computer programming course in Italy that gave me the chance to work as web master for a company in Italy for another two years. That is also where I worked on a management software such as SAP. It was my first “child” and there I defined myself as a programmer. Before RS Joomla! I had an online computer store that I abandoned because I was not satisfied with the profit.

I came back to Romania in 2006 and I started working with clients from abroad. In 2007 the craze began. We started RSJoomla!. At first I took care of everything and then I gradually found very good people to help me continue the project.
Currently I coordinate RSJoomla!’s projects and I take care of marketing.

What business strategy did you have at the beginning? How did you change it in time and why?
It all started from the desire to give something to the community. That is why I started by giving the product for free. At first, I tried to make some money through Adsense (paid ads on my website), but after a month and 30$ collected, I realized that I cannot go on like this. Then, one day, I changed the product’s license. I released a new version and I announced it would be commercial. There were few who complained, claiming they had suggested new features and they were the ones who had told me what bugs the product had. I offered them free license and everyone was happy. Gradually I perfected the license going from 1 domain life time support, adding unlimited domains 6 months and 12 months and in 2011 I gave up life time support, changing it to 1 domain 1 year support.

What kind of software do you sell online and in how many countries?
In these nearly 5 years, we have diversified our products and we have tried to cover with our solutions almost all the categories of websites that can be built. We have clients from all over the world.

Who is your target client?
Our client is usually the website developer… the web master or the web design company that works with Joomla!. Also, a considerable proportion is made up of website owners and communities.

What is the market for your applications?
We are focused mainly on Joomla!. We started with applications in this field, we made a name for ourselves and now people know us. It is very nice for people to come and congratulate you at all sorts of events and tell you that they are very happy with the products you make.

Why this niche?
Like I said, it all started from a game… from the desire to give the audience something I made. Why Joomla!? Because I grew accustomed to the framework easily and, in the beginning, I chose to build websites only on this framework.

What differentiates you from other companies that produce similar software?
I would certainly say the attention we give to our clients. We are very attentive to their needs and we’ve never hesitated in giving them more assistance than we were required to. If they have problems with other applications and they complain to us, for example, we don’t just tell them that the problem is with that particular application. We also indicate exactly where the problem is and clients appreciate that. Another difference would be the usability of our products. We try hard to create applications that are as easy to use as possible, and lately we have really been able to feel the difference.

What are the main 3 advantages of a Romanian entrepreneur in the tech field?
First of all, the manpower. Programmers in Romania have a good price/quality ratio. Office costs are low. You can start in a two-room apartment with good internet connection. I still have to find the third advantage 🙂

What are the obstacles?
I honestly believe there are few obstacles. My opinion is that the state could help entrepreneurs more; it should realize that nothing can actually stop a developer like me from opening an account in Belize, for example, and decide what taxes to pay.

Would you start everything all over again? Would you change anything?
Yes. I would start everything from the beginning anytime. I would certainly not make the same mistakes; I would probably reach our current state faster.

Where do you see your company 5 years from now?
I am convinced RSJoomla! will grow more and more. Since we started the company we have had a steady growth. We always come with improvements and new ideas and I am certain that in 5 years we’ll be among the best 🙂

Have you been approached by investors? Do you want to sell? How would the ideal buyer be?
I haven’t been approached by investors. If I want to sell? Hmm… 3 years ago I would have said a definite NO. Now I’m beginning to discover other passions and I would say a more moderate no… as for the ideal buyer: he should be very much involved in the field; he should have what I call “the common sense” of using applications. He should know how to improve applications and make them increasingly easier to use.

What would you do if the company were bought tomorrow?
I would buy a B & B in Italy with a few acres of ground and I would start to produce wine, olive oil and prosciutto 🙂

A few “technical” questions:

What is the shareholding structure?
I am the only shareholder.

Is there a Board of Directors?

How many people are there in the Company? Is there such a thing as ESOP (Employee Share Option Plan)?
Currently we are 8 people in the company. There are bonuses according to results.

Is the company profitable? If so, what happens to the profit? If not, what is your financing source?
The company was profitable from the very beginning. So far, I have not reinvested the profit.

What is the next step?
Diversifying the range of our services and improving current ones.

What is your personal goal? What is the company’s goal and that of the employees? And how do these goals come together?
The goal is to provide the best possible services.

(English version by Teodora Popescu)

Original Romanian versionRS Joomla!Mi-am propus ca odata la ceva timp sa aduc in scena cate o companie romaneasca de software despre care nu cititi in presa din Romania, despre care cel mai probabil nu stiati ca exista si care, totusi, are succes pe piata IT internationala. Nu trageti, in timp o sa devin probabil un jurnalist mai bun :-). Astazi, absolut la intamplare am ales RS Joomla! Si il voi lasa pe Alex Lamba, CEOul companiei, sa va spuna povestea lor

Va incurajez pe toti la comentarii care sa il ajute si sa ne ajute pe toti.

Cine este RS Joomla?
RSJoomla! este o echipa tanara al carei scop este acela de a da o alternativa ieftina dezvoltatorilor de site-uri Joomla! Prin solutii complete pentru diferitele proiecte pe care acestia le dezvolta. Cum imi place mie sa explic celor care ma intreaba(chiar si rude apropiate care nu inteleg cu ce ne ocupam) … Dezvoltam aplicatii care ii ajuta pe cei care fac site-uri sa le faca mai usor si mult mai ieftin.

Cum ati inceput si in ce echipa?
RSJoomla! a inceput in 2007. Pe vremea aia lucram cu strainii, faceam site-uri pe banda rulanta, in special in Mambo si noul aparut Joomla! 1.0. La un moment dat am facut o aplicatie care il ajuta pe client sa construiasca formulare pentru site-urile lui. De acolo a pornit totul. Am inceput prin a da aplicatia gratuit. Dupa primele zile, deja 800 de oameni o descarcasera, si se formase o mica comunitate care ma sustinea si imi sugera ce sa mai adaug la noul produs. Lucrurile au evoluat atat de rapid incat dupa 2 luni de zile am decis sa o fac comerciala. La inceput RSJoomla! era one man show. Ma trezeam, rezolvam problemele clientilor de pe forum, ma puneam pe scris cod si optimizari, publicam articole de documentatie si ma culcam. Cred ca au fost lunile in care am inceput sa pierd parul de pe cap 🙂

Daca este sa ma intorc si mai mult in timp pot spune ca m-am nascut in Constanta in 1983. De pe la 14 ani am descoperit calculatoarele, si am fost fascinat de programare. Ca programator am fost intotdeauna auto-didact.
Dupa ce am terminat liceul in Constanta, am plecat in Italia unde am lucrat 2 ani intr-un camping ca ingrijitor. Am urmat apoi un curs de un an de programator in Italia care mi-a dat sansa de a lucra ca web master pentru o companie in Italia timp de alti 2 ani.
Tot acolo am lucrat la un software de gestiune gen SAP. A fost primul meu “copil” si acolo m-am definit ca programator. Inainte de RSJoomla! am mai avut un magazin online de calculatoare pe care l-am abandonat din cauza ca nu eram multumit de profit.
M-am intors in 2006 in tara si am inceput sa lucrez cu clienti din afara. In 2007 a inceput nebunia. Am pornit RSJoomla!. In prima faza m-am ocupat de tot ce insemna, iar incet-incet am gasit oameni foarte buni care sa ma ajute sa ducem totul mai departe.
In momentul de fata coordonez proiectele RSJoomla! si ma ocup de partea de marketing.

Ce strategie de business ati avut la inceput? Cum ati modificat-o in timp? De ce?
Totul a inceput din dorinta de a da ceva comunitatii. De aceea am inceput prin a da produsul gratuit. Am incercat mai intai sa castig din Adsense(reclame platite pe site-ul meu) dar dupa o luna si 30$ adunati, mi-am dat seama ca nu voi putea continua asa. Pe urma, intr-o buna zi, am schimbat licenta produsului. Am scos o noua versiune si am anuntat ca va fi comerciala. Au fost putini cei care s-au plans, argumentandu-mi ca ei mi-au sugerat feature-uri noi si ca mi-au spus ce bug-uri are produsul. Le-am oferit o licenta gratuita celor care s-au plans si toata lumea a fost multumita. Incet incet am perfectionat licenta trecand de la 1 domeniu life time support, adaugand unlimited domains 6 months si 12 months iar in 2011 am renuntat la life time support, schimband-o in 1 domeniu 1 year support.

Ce tip de software vindeti online si in cate tari aproximativ?
In acesti aproape 5 ani ne-am diversificat produsele, si am incercat sa acoperim cu solutiile noastre aproape toate categoriile de site-uri care se pot face. Avem clienti din toate colturile lumii.

Cine e clientul?
Clientul nostru este de obicei dezvoltatorul de site-uri … web-masterul sau firma de web design care lucreaza cu Joomla!. De asemenea, o proportie considerabila sunt si proprietarii de site-uri si de comunitati.

Care este piata pentru aplicatiile voastre?
Noi suntem axati doar pe Joomla!. Am pornit cu aplicatiile in acest domeniu, ne-am facut un nume si acum lumea ne cunoaste. Este foarte placut sa vina lumea sa te felicite la evenimente si sa-ti spuna ca este foarte multumit de produsele pe care le faci.

De ce aceasta nisa?
Cum spuneam, totul a pornit dintr-o joaca… din dorinta de a da publicului ceva facut de mine. De ce Joomla!? Pentru ca m-am acomodat usor cu framework-ul si la inceput am ales sa fac site-uri numai pe acest framework.
Ce va diferentiaza fata de companiile ce produc softuri similare?
Cu siguranta atentia fata de clienti. Suntem foarte atenti la nevoile lor si intotdeauna nu am ezitat sa le oferim putin mai multa asistenta decat eram obligati sa acordam. Daca au probleme cu alte aplicatii si se plang la noi, de exemplu, nu ne rezumam la a le spune ca problema este in aplicatia respectiva. Le si indicam unde anume iar clientii apreciaza asta. O alta diferenta ar fi uzabilitatea produselor. Incercam din rasputeri sa facem aplicatii cat mai usor de folosit si in ultima vreme chiar s-a simtit diferenta.

Care sunt principalele 3 avantaje ale unui antreprenor roman in domeniul tehnologiei?
In primul rand manpower-ul. Programatorii in Romania au un raport pret/calitate bun. Costurile cu sediul sunt mici. Se poate porni intr-un apartament cu doua camere si cu o conexiune buna la internet. Al treilea avantaj trebuie inca sa-l gasesc 🙂

Care sunt piedicile?
Sincer piedici consider ca sunt putine. Parerea mea e ca statul ar putea sa ajute mult mai mult antreprenorii, constientizand ca nimic nu poate opri un dezvoltator ca mine sa-si deschida un cont in Belize spre exemplu si sa decida singur ce taxe si impozite sa plateasca.

Ati mai lua-o de la capat? Ati schimba ceva?
Da. As lua-o de la capat oricand. Cu siguranta nu as mai face greselile pe care le-am facut, as ajunge probabil la stadiul actual mai rapid.

Unde va vedeti cu firma peste 5 ani?
Sunt convins ca RSJoomla! va fi din ce in ce mai sus. De cand am inceput firma a avut o crestere constanta. Venim tot timpul cu imbunatatiri si idei noi si sunt convins ca peste 5 ani vom fi tot printre cei mai buni 🙂

Ati fost abordati de investitori? Doriti sa vindeti? Care ar fi cumparatorul ideal?
Nu am fost abordat de investitori. Daca doresc sa vand? Hmm, acum 3 ani as fi spus un NU convingator. Acum incep sa-mi descopar si alte pasiuni si spun un nu mai cumpatat… Cat despre cumparatorul ideal. Ar trebui sa fie implicat in domeniu foarte mult. Ar trebui sa aiba ceea ce eu numesc “bunul simt” al folosirii aplicatiilor. Sa stie sa imbunatateasca aplicatiile, sa le faca din ce in ce mai simple de folosit.

Ce ati face daca maine compania ar fi cumparata?
As cumpara un B & B in Italia cu cateva hectare de pamant si as incepe sa produc vin, ulei de masline si prosciutto 🙂


Cateva intrebari “tehnice”:

Care este actionariatul?
Sunt unic actionar.

Exista notiunea de Board of Directors?

Cati oameni sunt in Firma? Exista notiunea de ESOP (Employee Share Option Plan)?
Suntem 8 in momentul de fata. Exista bonusari in functie de rezultate.

Este firma profitabila? Daca da, ce se intampla cu profitul? Daca nu, de unde finantezi firma?
Firma este pe profit de la inceput. Deocamdata nu am reinvestit profitul.

Care este pasul urmator?
Diversificarea paletei de servicii si imbunatatirea celor actuale.

Care este obiectivul tau personal, al firmei, al angajatilor? Si cum se aliniaza ele intre ele?
Obiectivul este acela de a furniza servicii cat mai bune.



Adriana Ceausescu

March 13th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Cunosc de atat de mult timp aplicatiile lor 🙂 ……. insa habar nu aveam ca sunt romani. Super, super info, mersi mult. As avea nevoie de datelor de contact.

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Andrei Potorac

March 15th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

O initiativa buna, sper sa fim luati in colimator si noi, Vuzum – mai ales pentru faptul ca suntem cei care ne ocupam de campaniile H&M si Oriflame pentru Facebook si nu numai. 🙂

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Alex Pop

March 16th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Chiar ma bucur sa aud ca romanii se prezinta cu servicii foarte bune pe piata IT. E incurajator pentru fiecare antreprenor care e la inceput! Foarte, foarte frumos!

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Adrian Rosian

September 15th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Baietii sunt buni, am vazut ca vand pe Avantgate. Am folosit produse de-ale lor. Ar putea fi grozavi daca s-ar orienta si mai mult catre dezvoltatori. Eu personal ii ador pe nemtii de la Yootheme care fac extensii de o calitate aproape ireprosabila cu un cod excelent, extensibil, care foloseste cele mai bune practici.

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