Yola: Managing Multiple Challenges
Helena Barnard, Bryan Muir
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South Africa;United States, Small
Location Strategy; Competition; Startups; Organizational Structure, General Management/Strategy, Organizational Behaviour/Leadership, International
The South-African founder of Yola, a San Francisco-based company that provides simple website creation software, has developed a vibrant business that went from eight to more than 40 employees in only a year. He has secured two rounds of funding from a South African venture capitalist, and the growth in the Yola user base has been exceeding that predicted in the business plan. Yet the business faces multiple challenges. There are offices in both Cape Town (because of both personal ties and a substantial cost advantage) and San Francisco (because of the need to be connected to the heart of the industry), but managing across a 10-hour time difference is challenging. The rapid growth in employees is also placing demands on the company in terms of integrating people into the culture, and in finding an appropriate organization structure. The business model for online offerings is also not yet established, and Yola has to deal with substantial complexity in terms of its revenue models. In addition, the market place is heating up, and Yola may be losing its relative position in the market place.The case maps the challenges of managing a successful company in an emerging and fast-growing industry, and specifically focuses on the integrated decisions that an entrepreneur has to take.