Ai Ching


CEO | Piktochart

Another year has come and gone, it’s amazing how time flies at Piktochart! It’s been 365 days of trying experiments on for size, reaching exciting new milestones, and fine tuning our product to serve you better.

This year, we celebrated our 6th birthday, welcomed 3.5 million new users to the Piktochart family, became GDPR compliant, and also launched Pro Teams and onboarding for new users.

To do a deeper dive into our learnings and accomplishments for the year, we’re once again (like last year’s post) using our PIKTOCHART acronym to spin the tale. Let’s dive in!

This year, we’ve expanded our HR horizons and invited 14 new talented folks to come on board, including a new Head of Customer Delight and Customer Support.

Although we do operate mainly out of our HQ in sunny Penang, our semi-distributed team of 58 is actually made up of 29% remote workers, and we’re working to expand our remote workforce as we grow as a company.

At last count, our Pikto-peeps hail from 17 different countries, from Argentina, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, to Vietnam and we’re so proud of our international team that grants us many opportunities to learn about different cultures.

As we’re a very family-oriented company, we’re also helping grow the next generation of Pikto-peeps as we welcomed a new bundle of joy to our group of 14 Pikto-babies!

We’re also fans of giving back, which is why we regularly donate to charities through our employee recognition platform. Called Kudos, the platform is a way to give praise to our teammates, and we are able to dole out points and compliments (related to our company values) in a public forum for the entire company to see.

It works well because it offers a concrete way for our Pikto-peeps to give praise where it’s due, and the opportunity to actively reward others as well.

After receiving points, our people have the choice to either exchange them for a reward (ranging from acrylic paints to dance lessons), or donate to their favorite charity. This year, the top three organizations we’ve contributed to are Give.Asia, Hope For Paws, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Our Pikto-peeps have collectively donated over US$14,500 this year to these charities.

One of them was a GoFundMe cause where we helped a Venezuelan mom pay for her cancer treatments. We’ve recently received the wonderful news she’s now cancer free! Our contributions are still helping her undergo preventive chemotherapy.

This was a big year for us when it came to our increased customer service focus, especially when we brought on board a new Head of Customer Support and Customer Success, Sareena.

Under Sareena’s stewardship, we’ve been able to substantially grow the support and success teams, continue making sure that our users are diligently supported around the clock.

Compared with 2017, where we resolved 7,319 support tickets – we were able to wrap up over 11,300 tickets in 2018. We’ve also had 2,100 chat interactions with our users over the course of the year.

This year, our product manager Deepan also teamed up with our UX designer Maxine to do in-depth interviews with some of our users to learn more about their experiences with Piktochart. Through these interviews, we’ve received invaluable insights which we’ve promptly applied to the product – and we really appreciate those who have shared with us!

User research, for us, is an ongoing journey and we’re working to become more and more focused on user happiness, engagement, adoption, and retention here at Piktochart.

In 2018 alone, 7 million visuals have been created by our users – including one about going on the Keto diet for just $5 a day – which has amassed over 135,000 views. If you add up all the hours that our users spent in Piktochart creating visual stories, it would reach 300 years!

On the template front, our design assets team has been busy producing a variety of new templates across different formats. In the past, we’ve been mostly focused on producing infographic templates, but in 2018, we’ve also extended our reach into more reports and presentations.

Our talented asset designers have been busily plugging away at the drawing board, creating on average two templates per week. Their creations include progress reports, marketing reports, sales presentations, business proposals, and ebook templates – all hot off the design press.

If you’re trying to make your reports and pitches more engaging, you’ll find a myriad of new templates in Piktochart to support you!

In September, the entire company got together (and brought their families too!) and we all flew out to Chiang Mai, Thailand for our annual trip. It was a whirlwind five days of gourmet meals, walks in the jungles, and relaxing moments by the pool. We also spent this precious time discussing our new direction for 2019, attending workshops, and putting our heads together to figure out ways to work better together.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve observed over the past year, is that there was an emerging gap between our teams in terms of communication and collaboration. The problem was that teams would grow frustrated when they felt another group was not offering their full support to them. After debunking, we discovered that this had a lot to do with a lack of understanding of the other team’s role, deliverables, and deadlines.

So we facilitated in-depth workshops at the retreat and launched Piktochart’s first ever company-wide empathy sessions. The lessons that we learned from the sessions? People were making assumptions without clarifying, teams had expectations that were not expressed upfront, and there was also a limit when it came to technical understanding or resources. After all, our teammates all hail from a variety of backgrounds, so there’s bound to be a disconnect at some stage.

There isn’t an overnight fix to create empathy, so we are still running ongoing alignment meetings between teams after our time in Thailand. But it’s about progress and not perfection, and we’re already finding that teams are happily working on their commitments to each other to improve communication today.

To reiterate, we really are dedicated to becoming more remote friendly as our team grows and we bring on more teammates based across the globe. In the past, only our marketing and customer support teams had remote team members, but in 2018, we’ve now extended the opportunity to some of our developers to work remotely as well.

This year, we hired five remote developers, two in Malaysia based in KL, two in Vietnam, and even one in Italy. Since we brought on board these new remote Pikto-peeps, we also took strides in making changes to our onboarding process. It’s no secret that remote collaboration without trust leads to lack of transparency and siloed work environments, so we wanted to proactively work against that.

Below is Wojciech, our QA test developer, and the first developer to be working remotely with Piktochart.

What we did was make it mandatory for new remote people to spend 1-2 months in HQ when they are first hired to ensure that they are in tune with our company’s mission, vision, values, and also fully understand the team dynamic, systems, and processes.

We’ve learned so much this year with our new remote teammates, and are constantly trying to find ways to improve communication between our in-house and remote teams as well.

Our company values are exceedingly important to us, as they shape and drive everything that we do – including our hiring decisions. So naturally, our Pikto-peeps are very aligned with our HOPEFUL values (not familiar? Read about them here!) and we like to continuously acknowledge and reward them for going above and beyond.

This year, we organized a rewards session at our company retreat to recognize our teammates who live up to our values and virtues that we work at constantly to cultivate. These values play a key role in shaping our company’s culture and making sure that everyone stays happy and engaged.

In 2018, here is just a handful of feedback that these “value ambassadors” received:

Love – “For organizing the “Pikto Art Jam” night – had so much fun.”
Hopeful – “For the warm welcome into the Piktochart family.”
Leadership – “For organizing insightful workshops for everyone to come together, and thinking about how to take action on the insights that were given.”

In 2018, we’ve also shifted our focus on the marketing front to launching content that is more aligned to our identity as a visual brand. We want our users to be able to tell impactful visual stories, and so we realized our content should be doing the exact same thing.

And with this, came a flurry of inspirational galleries (event flyers, resume ideas, data visualization examples) where users could stir their imaginations and apply their ideas to some of our related templates. And we even launched our very first interactive 10x content experience on marketing reports, which featured Kevan Lee of Buffer, which was a beautiful and actionable walkthrough on how to make data reporting a more enjoyable process.

Beyond our aspirational new content, we also contributed to this book by Mark Evans on visual storytelling, and ramped up our partnership game by teaming up with with Hubspot, Hello Bar and Bonusly to create some truly engaging ebooks.

To top it all off, we also teamed up with Unsplash to bring their expansive photography gallery into Piktochart. Having access to beautiful and relevant imagery is key to helping our users tell impactful stories, and we’re aiming to bring more integrations into the platform in the future.

The start of 2018 also heralded in a new beginning for us in terms of branding. For the first five years of Piktochart’s life, we had been running the company under the tagline “Make Information Beautiful,” where our users could plug in their content and data, and present it all in a beautiful way.

We realized that in 2018 that it was time to take our aspirations into to the next level, which was carefully crafted and then encapsulated in our new tagline “Picture the Difference.” Helping our users “Picture the Difference” celebrates the extraordinary degree of human imagination and ability that we see on display every single day in our platform. The new tagline is a reflection of the creativity of our users, and also the possibilities that our tool could create.

In fact, our rebranding has also influenced an office makeover!

The visuals our users create, the stories they tell, the connections they build, it all stands to make a big impact – a big difference.

And we really believe so strongly that great tools can really inspire great ideas. Our new tagline seeks to capture our aspiration to create a tool that helps our users tell stories with visual impact.

2018 has been a year of many challenges and milestones for us, but it’s also been a year that we’re very fond of on a personal level – because it has brought us closer together as a team.

To commemorate this, we also created a brand new video to reflect our tight knit team culture at Piktochart. From spending quality time together at HQ, on trips, and even bonding over video calls,

we’re also increasing our dedication to creating a work environment that is conducive to trust, empathy, transparency, and remote collaboration.

A big thank you to all our users for yet another wonderful year of creating visual stories together. Without you, it wouldn’t be possible.


Have a restful holiday and great new year ahead – happy Piktochart-ing!

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