Sometimes your personal life inspires a business idea and turns into something bigger than you could have imagined.
Sylvain Bruyère and Charline Sagnard had a tradition of giving gifts to each other every month to commemorate when they met. But finding unique presents became increasingly difficult with each passing month. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a store on the Internet to discover new gifts, Sylvain wondered. And so, the idea for Cadeau Maestro was born. In 2009, the young couple launched their online gift shop.
“We sell items that are fun, innovative, and that will make customers smile,” says Nicolas Graillon, e-business manager. “It’s always a pleasure to work in our business, because we bring joy to people. We also help Santa, which is quite cool.”
The business originally began in Sylvain and Charline’s apartment, where they stored merchandise in the living room and kitchen. Today, 4.5 million people visit Cadeau Maestro a year, the majority of them during the Christmas season. In eight years, the company has grown to include a physical store in Saint-Étienne, France; a warehouse; and a logistics affiliate, Camalo, which helps other e-commerce businesses with storage and fulfillment. Cadeau Maestro accomplishes all this with just 13 employees.
Those 13 employees are spread out among the retail store, warehouse, and office, so communication can be difficult. The store manager, for instance, can be hard to reach over the phone. But everyone needs to stay in sync in order to be ready for the holiday rush. “The biggest challenge is to get all our teams to work together,” Nicolas says.
Often, they need to plan projects nine months in advance. With such a long lead time, great ideas can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. “Having ideas is good, as long as they don’t get lost along the way,” says Nicolas.
For example, while reworking their website, staffers exchanged ideas over email or by writing them down in Word documents, but this wasn’t a sustainable method for a growing company. Employees also found it challenging to keep track of all the pieces of work that needed to be accomplished across their different locations.
One of the company’s high-priority projects is its magazine, which is published four to five times a year and features products and giveaways. The holiday 2017 edition is the biggest one yet and includes a comic and games. Over the course of two months, many people handled different components of its production, from the web editor who writes the product copy, to the graphic designer who creates the cover and layout. “Before Asana, we didn’t know how long it would take to create an entire issue,” Nicolas says. For previous issues, they were often late sending the magazine to press.
What they needed was a better way to track the work they decided on as a team, and an efficient way of assigning tasks to team members. So, Cadeau Maestro’s CEO Sylvain searched for a tool that would help employees discuss ideas easily and develop new projects together without losing any important context.
“We chose Asana because it offered countless functions and possibilities to help us improve the company, the brand, and the service provided,” Nicolas says.
Nicolas works with five team members on Cadeau Maestro’s websites. Two years ago, they launched a B2B platform, Cadeau Maestro Professionnels. They used Asana for the entire website production process. Team members tracked everything—from the ideas themselves, to products, to content—all through Asana.
Today, they’re working on a new version of the B2B platform for early 2018, which they hope will increase sales. They refer to ideas, employee suggestions, and analysis of customer feedback they’ve kept in Asana since their original launch. While these pieces of input are often relevant, they can be difficult to implement right away. “We get new ideas every single day, but it is impossible to move forward on all of them,” Nicolas says. “With the help of Asana, they stay organized and we never lose track of them.” So when the time is right, Nicolas and his team can turn a great idea into an actionable task, all without digging through old documents or emails.
From 2012 to 2015, Cadeau Maestro experienced a remarkable annual growth of 40% a year. Eager to innovate and keep growing, Cadeau Maestro recently launched a new category of products called “Cadeau Personnalisé” or personalized gifts. The company hopes the new category will account for 10% of 2017 holiday sales.
When they kicked off this new initiative, they created a project in Asana called “Customization” that allowed team members to share ideas. All project tasks were also assigned and tracked in Asana, with each team member playing a critical role. The procurement manager chose the products, which the graphic designer would then imagine how to personalize. Web editors wrote product descriptions while the search engine optimization team developed the sitemap for the new category on the website. The customer relations department also vetted each product to ensure there were no potential issues for customers.
Using Asana allowed each person to see what others were working on, where a particular task was in the big picture, and what deadlines were approaching. Assigning different tasks and subtasks made it clear who is responsible for what part of a project.
“As the old saying goes, ‘Divide ut regnes’ (Divide so that you may reign),” says Nicolas. “That was the key word of this complicated project.”
Today, all staff at Cadeau Maestro use Asana, where they track projects, from marketing efforts like their newsletter to their supply chain. For Nicolas, Asana helps Cadeau Maestro’s staff work much more efficiently. “Our main challenge is to provide our team with the best working environment, and Asana enables us to do that. Anyone can easily leave a comment on a task to share suggestions on how to do something better.”
Cadeau Maestro uses Asana to:
Nicolas credits Asana with helping Cadeau Maestro improve the company’s many business processes. “Whatever your company size, Asana is made for you. A single person could use it perfectly to keep track of his or her tasks and work. But of course; the more, the merrier.”
Using Asana wall-to-wall has been crucial in helping Hack Reactor scale. As Hack Reactor CEO Tony Phillips puts it, “We’ve cut our operations costs in half because we’re able to execute more efficiently with the processes we’ve set up in Asana.” And as costs go down, the quality class experience—and the post graduation experience— goes up. Graduates from Hack Reactor are hired at a 98% rate.