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My technology failed because I didn’t think big enough

Technology failing
For Lorraine Dallmeier, the challenge was thinking bigger.

The problem

Online skincare school Formula Botanica realised early on that its technology wasn’t keeping pace with growth. When the company first started out as a maternity side project in 2012, the website only attracted around a hundred visitors. Less than two years later and thousands of visitors were using the site. Despite an effort to scale up systems every couple of months, its website and CMS kept crashing.

The solution

The first step for founder Lorraine Dallmeier was to force herself to think bigger. Rather than assuming Formula Botanica would grow modestly, she set herself the task of finding systems that could support millions of visitors.

The company sought out “fantastic quality” technology, having a smooth user experience is crucial to its global audience.

Dallmeier’s next step was to move Formula Botanica’s e-learning onto Moodle, a free learning management system which is popular with universities. For Formula Botanica, Moodle’s main draw was that it was capable of handling larger audiences.

To escape the restrictions of working with third-party technology, the company invested in its own Moodle platform. This meant it could improve the interface, tweak as the company grew and build additional improvements in line with changing business requirements.

The results

Three years after making the move to more robust technology, Formula Botanica’s platform comfortably hosts 6,000 students around the world. Dallmeier is confident that if the business continues to grow, it could handle a million visitors. Turnover has grown from £20,000 to £2m in less than seven years, and 25 people are now employed.

“My biggest mistake was underestimating our potential for scale,” Dallmeier admitted. “Start out with a vision of how big your business might get. And don’t limit yourself to systems that won’t be able to grow with you – try and own your systems.”

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