Any company - new or old - which does not see the new web technology in its business life - literally - like breathing, can quickly suffocate - Jack Welch, a longtime CEO of General Electric, author of several business books.
IAI S.A. is a public corporation which has won multiple prizes and hires several dozen workers. We have not been created as a whim of giant corporation. We have arisen from real business needs, dynamically improving every element of our activity over the years. Since the very beginning, our strategy has been a long-term one, as it has been planned for 30 years. We assumed a constant development of our enterprise. In the period of 2000-2030, a revolution in sales will occur. We expect great changes to come, as our history is still in the making. Over 15 years have passed and now we are in the middle of the road - between its start and its finish.
The beginnings of IAI S.A. are connected with Hip-Hop.pl social network. In 2000, Paweł Fornalski and Sebastian Muliński, the two founders, who still run the IAI S.A. today, have created the first music portal in which users - not journalists - were to create the content. At the time Paweł was studying and Sebastian was preparing to write his final exams in high school. Concepts of Web 2.0 and Wikipedia and other milestones of the Internet did not even exist. Creators of IAI S.A were again ahead of their time - Hip-Hop.pl was a giant success, still attracting thousands of users.
During the search for advertisers, we met an owner of a shop with clothing and footwear for young people. Owner of this company agreed to buy advertisement under one condition - we were to launch and handle his on-line store, as well as write a dedicated software solution. When we tried to find a script to install in the shop and simply focus on sales, we could not find anything suitable. The main disadvantage was lack of stocks control with division to sizes and colors, which is the basis of every clothes shop. Not knowing that he was again ahead of his times, Paweł Fornalski - IAI S.A CEO and main system architect - started to write the first lines of the code. Its first version was created in 2 weeks. From now on, we have been improving the very same version of the system, which has been developed by Paweł Fornalski alone in the few first years.
After launching the on-line store, Paweł Fornalski and Sebastian Muliński got involved in the Skateshop.pl. They were - due to shop owner's wish - paid a commission fee, so they put a lot of effort into it and made Skateshop.pl one of the most important shops on Polish e-commerce market. The owner of the shop became a very wealthy man. This attracted other companies that wanted to achieve the same scope of success. From the very beginning we have noticed that a great asset was to keep the stores on our own servers, so the sellers didn't have to worry about the technical aspects.
The success of Skateshop.pl and the satisfaction from using our system caused that - despite the lack of name or website - every week we received a lot of questions about the possible cooperation. Even nowadays, companies recommending our solutions to one another are one of our main sources of new customers. The commission model made us reject many of these offers, as we could not involve in something that would not bring profit big enough to be a worthwhile investment. Commission means that large companies pay too much and smaller ones - to little. We sent these companies to our competitors, because we could not afford to handle them. It was a key moment of our business development, as we realized that the commission model is wrong, because it stops us from developing. We knew what we wanted to do - to start our own company.
In years 2000-2004 our enterprise was conducted under the name of Regulus, which was a company of Paweł Fornalski's father - today a member of IAI S.A. Advisory Board.
After sending several dozens of companies to competition, we have created the IdoSell Shop brand, which was designed as an exclusive service to provide the highest quality of system, graphics and technical support, along with the uniformed system of subscription plans - both small and large companies pay the same flat rates. At this time, SaaS (Software as a Service) term did not even exist. IT books used only ASP (Application Service Provider) term.
So we have forseen the future again, because in 2015 everyone knows what SaaS is and what benefits it brings. In 2005, we were the pioneers. Change of business model was risky, because the first customers of IdoSell Shop were companies which were accustomed to commission fee system. Our profits suddenly decreased, but the greatest prize was still ahead of us.
We run many social networks, but all of them were closed (except for the Hip-Hop.pl), because of the growing popularity of our main source of income - the IdoSell Shop. All hands were moved to its development, because the number of customers was growing extremely fast.
Due to the dynamic growth and ambitious plans for further international expansion, we decided to attract investors and enter the NewConnect (WSE - Warsaw Stock Exchange). On April 2, 2009, IAI S.A. changed its form to a joint-stock company - IAI S.A. On June 3, 2009, during the Shareholders Meeting, a number of resolutions related to the debut on New Connect were passed including the ones on issuing new shares and raising additional capital. In mid-June of 2009, we began the process of attracting investors. Our debut on New Connect took place on December 16, 2009 and proved to be a great success.
We invest funds gained from share emission only in further development of e-commerce products and expansion on foreign markets. Long-term operations on the Polish market made us the leader of e-commerce. We efficiently combine the best of the two worlds - the "old" and the "new" economy. We draw knowledge and economic experience from the first one - the second one allows us to grow rapidly along with the developing global Internet market.
We want to change the way of conducting on-line stores worldwide. That is why, years 2009-2011 were the time of laborious technical and organizational efforts to handle foreign customers with the greatest care.
IAI S.A. provides comprehensive solution for companies selling on-line (almost 1700 shops in Poland). In 2011 we have implemented external services announced in the Information document. We have also developed services in which IAI S.A. is the intermediary between the partner and the customer. We have also created first delivery and payment services.
In this period we have predominantly focused on improving the quality of the system, as well as of the customer service. We are aware of the fact that to keep up with the great success, the system has be transformed into the one of the highest quality, made for professionals only. We introduced many changes concerning helpdesk services, as well as the process of project implementation. We moved all online stores to our own server infrastructure which is based on the most modern “enterprise” solutions present on the market. At the end of 2014, IdoSell Shop handled over 2500 shops in Poland which sale for over 2,5mld zł yearly (which constitutes about 10% of Polish e-commerce). We took up many innovative projects due to which we became one of the most important players on the market of delivering online payments and courier consignments.
In September 2013 we moved to the top-class office block. Rented 680 square meters space guarantees the highest standards of safety and comfortable work for us and our clients who visit us due to, for example, trainings.
When we moved, our team consisted of 60 people. At the end of 2014 IAI hired over 80 people and rented another office space enabling further development.
On November 7, 2013 we release another IAI project: ((services/booking|IdoSell Booking|corp). It came into being as a result of our experience and e-commerce partnership. IdoSell Booking is used for booking accommodations in lodgings, apartments and hotels. Once again we follow our rule of direct customer service, providing the customer with the solution for conducting the website and taking the payments. It expresses in what aspects we would like to specialize in the near future. We have secretly worked over IdoSell Booking since the beginning of 2012. Since the date of its premiere, we are constantly working on the improvement and popularization of the service.
The period of the last 3 years was also important for the shareholders – for the first time we pay them dividends. What is more, IAI shares systematically gain in value, reaching price over the value from the day of our debut, as well as the private offer. It is the source of our pride. The fast pace of our growth can be demonstrated by Deloitte Technology Fast50 CE prize with which we were awarded in four consecutive years. What is more, in 2012 and 2014 we also appeared in Deloitte Fast500 EMEA rankings and we won several other prizes and honorable mentions. Since 2013, IAI has started creating a group of partnerships. In September 2013, we acquired 49% of Traffic Trends shares – due to this move, it is now the leader on the market of websites positioning. In September 2014, we obtained 35% of CupSell shares – a partnership which specializes in producing personalized items and creating online shops in which products (for example T-shirts) are produced on the spot.
For 3 years we have been constantly working on going international with our system. Over the period of 3 years, IAI-Shop.com becomes the Polish leader in providing online selling solutions for shops selling products internationally. In the same period of time, we launched our new product, IdoSell Shop, for international market. IdoSell Shop (IAI-Shop.com for the foreign market) starts gaining popularity on the biggest European e-commerce market – the UK. At the end of 2014, we opened our first office in London.
We would like to handle 50% of Polish market and we have just begun our foreign market expansion. We would also like to provide a full set of additional services necessary to conduct on-line sales.
The key to the company's financial success is the strategy of service distribution based on SaaS model, not on a one-time service purchase. It requires a modern and effective approach to the management of company, projects, as well as the clients, generating a steady and growing flow of cash which ensures financial safety. It also demands the highest quality of services, because only a satisfied customer provides funds due to subscription plans and commissioned works. Functioning in a SaaS model requires constant care of the quality – the client is profitable as long as he uses our services. That is why, we pay so much attention to the highest quality of our system – we want it to be the best on the market. Subscription fees and additional services commissioned by our customers are a steadily growing source of income. Innovative methods of project management allow us to precisely determine the costs of every performed operation and thus, to realize profits from every operation. In SaaS model, one employee can handle even a few hundred customers, so in this case the income is growing much faster than the expenses, which of course means a real profit.
Funds gained thanks to NewConnect are invested in foreign expansion, at first on British, Irish and German markets. The development of the Internet infrastructure with the higher price level of IT services, allows us to expect an enormous growth of income after making our name on the beforementioned markets. The second goal is to steadily strengthen our position on the Polish market and to handle at least 50% of it in the next 5 years, which means around 4000-6000 shops.
More information can be obtained in the Why to invest in IAI S.A. section. Our business model has been also widely covered there.