Annual Report 2019

Seravo in Brief

Seravo was founded in 2011 to serve customers using Linux and other open source software.

In the early years, we focused on maintaining Linux-based information systems for each customer individually. After a while, it was clear that most customers needed help specifically with WordPress, which quickly led to the creation of a centralized hosting and upkeep solution we now know as WP-palvelu.

By doing this we were able to build the best possible environment for WordPress and offer it at a very cost-efficient price because the service was used by not only one, but several, customers. Since then, the value of WP-palvelu has outgrown the Linux support contracts. It has been Seravo’s main product since 2014.

Besides top-notch technology, Seravo’s strong suit is our staff. Our personnel consists of IT professionals with a wide experience of different environments and open source software, in particular Linux. Our employees participate actively in both the development of the WordPress core and the MariaDB database, which makes it fair to say that we are indirectly involved in maintaining all WordPress websites in the world.

By choosing Seravo’s WordPress service, our customers can be sure that they will get the best possible professionals and technologies to support their websites.

In addition to hosting and a domain name, all our plans include regular and tested updates to both WordPress core and plugins, a 24/7 monitoring service to make sure that the websites stay up and running at all times, automated daily backups, an HTTPS certificate and other security measures, a wide selection of development tools, and access to a highly-skilled customer service that knows WordPress in and out.

We take care of speed, security, and updates so that our customers can focus on building their businesses.

Key Figures

Key Financial Figures

In 2019 our turnover grew by 35,6%. The growth is not showing signs of decline in 2020.

Sites in Upkeep

In 2019 we hit the milestone of 3000 websites in our upkeep. Now, how about that retention?

HTTP Requests per Month

In 2019 we broke the barrier of a whopping two billion HTTP requests served per month.

Seravo Headcount

In 2019 our personnel grew again with five new talented individuals joining the staff.

The Year 2019

The strategic shift from generic Linux support and maintenance services to a specialized hosting and upkeep solution for WordPress has been one of Seravo’s greatest success factors. To this day, Seravo is still the only hosting service that does upkeep and monitoring for WordPress sites 24/7. Most of the other hosting providers only monitor the server environment and the functionality of the website itself is the customer’s own concern.

In 2018 we accelerated growth and strengthened our capabilities to build a global brand. We had a solid performance throughout the year and we managed to stay profitable despite heavy investments in internationalization and expanding operations. There is an evident positive trend in our financial measures. It’s a great advantage to be a debt-free company with a healthy operating margin.

In 2019 we continued to deliver considerable progress on our net sales. The magnitude of our historical growth can be seen by comparing that at the end of 2016 we had 660 sites in upkeep which grew to 3550 sites by the end of 2019, a growth rate of 537%.

In 2019 we made a strategic change in the plans that we offer. We dropped WP Mini, our cheapest plan, from general availability and introduced a new package, WP Corporate. The budget option was often used by customers who also needed most support, so removing it helped both increase the average sales price and drive down excess costs. A simple way for our customers to order larger entities was also needed. For instance, before the introduction of WP Corporate, we only offered the multisite option with our Enterprise plan, which is always tailored to fit the exact needs of the case in question and therefore involves a negotiation process. As we expected, the change resulted in a minor drop in the number of orders for new sites while the actual value of new sales continued to grow.

There are many factors behind this growth but the most important one is that there is a great demand for premium WordPress upkeep. Traditional website hosting solutions no longer meet the requirements businesses have, as their online business keeps getting more and more important in a digitalized world.

Our partners have had a significant role in our success. An extensive partnership network is a great advantage for us but also for our partners. Seravo is a trusted partner for digital agencies since they often don’t offer site maintenance themselves.

We have a good reputation in the Finnish market, so partners often approach us themselves thanks to the recommendations from other people in the industry. Seravo is a pioneer in both technology and customer service and we are able to offer great benefits to our partners.

Seravo has gained an advantage in the market since the majority of hosting services are still only focused on plain hosting without any upkeep services. Historically there has not been a lot of noticeable competition from other hosting companies. In 2019 competitors have slowly begun to emerge, which tells a story of other players noticing the need for the kinds of services that we offer.

Our Swedish website launched in late 2018 and we took the first concrete steps towards sales in Sweden. Towards the end of the year, we hired our first Swedish employee to drive expansion even further. The year 2019 was the first full year with a focus on Sweden. The sales have been promising, but to be able to reach our goal of becoming a global brand, additional steps need to be taken on many fronts.

Seravo continues to be involved with different events within the industry and the WordPress community. We have a long history of sponsoring these events and encouraging our employees to attend and to give talks. Participating in WordCamps and meetups is a good way of getting the word out about Seravo’s services, as well as to establish our name as an expert in the field.

Seravo is a regular sponsor at WordCamp Europe, the most important event of the year for any European WordPress enthusiast. The year 2019 also saw the first-ever WordCamp Nordic. The event was held in Helsinki with a number of Seravo staff members involved in its organization. Seravo was naturally also one of the main sponsors of the event.

In addition to WordCamps, members of the Seravo staff attended the largest international open source event, FOSDEM, in February 2019. FOSDEM brings together thousands of open source enthusiasts and offers hundreds of presentations about open source projects and current industry topics. While FOSDEM is a great networking opportunity, the most important reason for Seravo to attend is to educate our personnel about open source.

Seravo continued to work on our company image as an attractive employer throughout the year 2019 which also shows in the results. In total, we received 83 job applications, 60 of them being for the summer trainee program which has proven to be hugely popular.

Despite a large number of applications, it is still hard for us to find individuals with a deep understanding of Linux and WordPress. This affects our recruitment and the new employee onboarding process. We still need to train our experts mostly in-house. As the final result of the summer trainee program, we hired four people, two of whom are still working for Seravo and are now permanent, full-time employees.

All in all, 2019 was a record-breaking year for Seravo and we believe that this success will continue in the future. We will keep working on developing our strategy and honing our expertise to keep growing and to ultimately make Seravo a truly global brand in its field.

CEO’s Report

In 2019 Seravo continued its steady growth. The company’s turnover grew by 37% to 1,2 million euros. Financially Seravo is doing well. We are a debt-free company with a healthy operating margin. Despite a multitude of investments in expanding our marketing, staff, and technology to a global scale, Seravo managed to make about 4% of profit, and our cash reserves are ready for making continued investments into our expanding operations in 2020 as well.

The biggest challenges we faced in 2019 were all related to handling the growth. A big thanks go to our excellent staff for coping with it well. The single biggest challenge has been to grow our staff since people with specific WordPress, web server and Linux skills we need are few, and finding them is hard. Our reputation as an employer is good, however. Out of the 83 job applications we got in 2019 we eventually hired eight people.

Our recruitment and new employee onboarding processes have already been fine-tuned in previous years. We have also continued investing in the internal “Grow as an expert” program for our senior staff to support their personal development. Having our staff write blogs, attend and speak at industry events is aligned nicely with helping both staff members and Seravo’s visibility to grow.

Seravo’s competitive advantage has always been in superior technology and in 2019 we continued to roll out many upgrades to our platform. The changes under the hood will make our systems more secure, easier to maintain, and also help increase the general development speed, while other improvements are more visible to customers. Because of the technology-oriented culture of our company we quickly move from rolling out one feature to developing the next one.

Occasionally the releases of new technologies go unnoticed by the majority of our customers. We still need to work on how we advertise our new features to both existing and potential customers. In May 2019 we continued the tradition of inviting our customers and partners to our office for an event we have dubbed “Workshop Wednesday” to spend a day learning about our plans, sharing their experiences, and workshopping new initiatives with us.

We started with market research and other preparations for expanding outside Finland already in 2015. Our international website was published around the same time that the company attended WordCamp Stockholm in 2017. Due to the huge increase of customers in Finland our resources to focus on expanding abroad have however been limited. We have prioritized serving existing customers and handling the influx of new orders over marketing and sales.

In 2018 a major push in marketing was however executed when the visual image of our Finnish website was unified to match the international site. A new site with the same look and feel was launched for the Swedish market in September 2018. At the end of 2018, we hired our first employee in Sweden and in 2019 our focus in marketing and sales has been in Sweden. In parallel, we continue to build a unified brand of premium hosting and upkeep for WordPress on a global scale.

Operating Environment and Strategy

Mission, Vision and Strategy

In the world of today where it is more common to have a mobile phone than access to clean water and sanitation, the Internet has become truly ubiquitous and universal. We live in the information age and many of the major transformations currently going on in the modern society — covering all fields of human activity from culture and commerce to politics and warfare — simply could not have been possible in the pre-networked world.

It is not just the extent of the transformation that is amazing, also the speed of it is unprecedented in human history. The building blocks of the modern Internet, like HTTP and Linux, started out less than 30 years ago and have now spread everywhere as the invisible fabric that the information society is built out of.

The mission of Seravo is to provide enterprise-grade upkeep service for every customer. We enable our customers to operate efficiently and securely in this new landscape that most businesses are still just figuring out. The way we provide our WordPress service and our Linux expertise services takes the burden off our customers so they don’t have to manage everything themselves in an ever-changing networked environment.

The vision of Seravo is to become the leading upkeep service and open source as a service cloud provider in Europe. We want to help build a world where the entire mankind is connected by a neutral and open web, where culture and commerce flourish, and where everybody has access to pursue new endeavors and to improve upon what past generations have built. This vision includes that the Internet needs to be built with open standards and open source software in the future.

The strategy of Seravo is to focus on superior technology and to use our expertise and reputation in the field to attract both customers and new employees, that value the technical expertise we are famous for. Providing efficient and secure IT services at an affordable price is mostly a technical problem that can be solved by systematically developing and applying the best technology.

Our strategy is heavily focused on continuous growth and one of our priorities is to get the trust and reputation we currently have in Finland to spread to other countries as well. The growth will also allow us to reap some benefits that come with a bigger scale. Scaling our operations is naturally also a challenge in itself, something that we need to focus on next.

Operating Principles

Seravo has applied the following principles for its success:

  1. Combining a flat hierarchy with a problem-centric approach. This has led to a culture where all employees are empowered and encouraged to solve problems by themselves, which in turn makes the organization intelligent and adaptive.
  2. Using a lot of technological solutions. We recognize that a big part of modern human productivity stems from the ability to intelligently use as efficient tools as possible for each individual task. We also encourage developing a deeper understanding of these tools so that they can truly be mastered. For software, we have a strategic emphasis on using open source whenever possible and also in participating in their development to make the tools suit our needs as well as possible.

  3. Being lean and responsive. Everything in our company is constantly under improvement and anything is potentially under development at any time. Seravo started working with real customers from day one, which gives us a solid foundation of truly understanding the needs of our customers. We maintain a constant feedback loop between the customers, development, and operations, which ensures that Seravo stays relevant and meets our customers’ needs so fast that they are constantly amazed by the level of service that they get. Seravo adapts to the customers’ needs, not the other way around.

Competitive Advantage

Seravo’s competitive advantage culminates around two aspects: superior technology and a clear focus on what the service is and who it is for.

Superior Technology

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there today. The scale of the market is at the level where everybody wants to be a part of it. This can also be seen in the hosting scene.

Historically, hosting has been just hosting: selling customers a specific amount of server capacity to use for their own purposes, with the service provider only being responsible for keeping the server up and running. The profitability of the business has stemmed from having as few features as possible and being able to sell to big masses with cheap prices and minimal effort. This has unfortunately led to certain negative effects, such as overselling shared hosting capacity to minimize costs and outsourcing support services to call centers with only a vague understanding of the actual product or service.

With the rise in popularity of WordPress, many traditional hosting providers have started to offer WordPress-specific hosting solutions that fit under the category “WordPress optimized hosting”. More often than not these solutions do not have a clear explanation of what is actually the difference between them and the bulk services that were previously on offer. In reality, many times there is none: the actual hosting is exactly the same, except that it now comes with the name “WordPress” attached and the content management system readily installed.

In addition to the traditional hosting providers, there is another segment of service providers that call themselves “Managed WordPress Hosting”. They tend to be slightly more directed towards WordPress with some specific features, such as automatic updates or some more advanced optimizations. These providers are mostly international operators and in a few markets, they have gained fame and status.

However, none of them is quite like Seravo and for that reason, Seravo has a real chance of challenging them. We don’t identify as just another managed WordPress host, or a managed WordPress hosting provider at all. What we do is a premium hosting and upkeep service for WordPress.

Compared to all other types of hosting, one of the biggest differences in Seravo’s way of doing things is that it’s generally really easy for customers. When they make an order, they will be given credentials directly to a fresh WordPress installation with a valid SSL certificate. The site will be located in a container of its own with its own files and resources, and on servers that are specially optimized for WordPress speed, scalability and security. No more “one-click WordPress or SSL certificate installations”. With Seravo you will need no clicks at all.

And that’s not all that we do:

No Resource Limits, Temporary Suspensions or Overage Charges

Some companies, especially in the shared hosting business, temporarily suspend their customers’ sites or limit access to them if they should reach their plan limits. Seravo never does that as long as the invoices are paid in time. We won’t shut anybody’s site down in case of a traffic spike, instead, we put on an extra effort to make sure that everything works and applaud the customer for a job well done. If the plan limits are exceeded regularly, we’ll reach out to the customer to explore different options to guarantee them the best possible service for their growing needs.

WordPress Updates

Seravo makes sure that our customers’ websites are always secure to use: all of our hosting and upkeep plans include regular updates for WordPress, including plugins and themes. It’s not uncommon that site owners avoid updating their site because they are afraid that an update might break something on it. Even minor updates, such as updating a plugin, might cause some functionalities to stop working. Seravo’s customers don’t have to worry about these side-effects as our updates include comprehensive testing. There is no bulletproof system to eliminate all possible issues, but our solution will considerably reduce the number of them.

24/7 Monitoring and Upkeep

Thanks to around the clock monitoring, Seravo is able to respond to issues fast and restore websites quickly. If any problems should occur, Seravo will know about them immediately. Our on-call system operators will check the situation and most of the time, also fix the problem. If any action is required from the customer, they will be notified.

Security Experts

Our platform comes with built-in technology for security, which means that our customers do not need to install any additional plugins to secure their sites. In addition to regular updates, 24/7 monitoring, security scanning, and DDOS and brute force protection, we also have a security guarantee: if our client’s site gets hacked despite our efforts, we promise to clean and restore it without any extra cost.

WordPress Professionals

We’re not web hosting technicians. We don’t do level 1-3 support agents. And we definitely don’t outsource our support. Our Customer Success team consists of experienced WordPress professionals that work closely with our clients every day to ensure they are getting the most out of their WordPress sites. Another proof of Seravo’s expertise is that we do not only maintain systems for our customers. We also participate in developing the actual building blocks of the Internet and indirectly maintain systems for the entire world. We don’t just follow best practices, we are among those who define what the best practices actually are.


Speed is a known issue that many try to tackle on their WordPress sites. According to an analysis done in June 2019 by Chrome developers working for Google, sites managed by Seravo outperformed the traditional industry leaders in speed. The analysis was based on time to first byte (TTFB) results, where the percentage of sites with TTFB under 200 ms was much higher at Seravo than at the competing services. This is due to Seravo’s commitment to the performance by having built our own server infrastructure from the ground up.

A Clear Focus on Customers

Seravo has different types of customers who benefit from Seravo’s solutions differently. It has been clear for us from the start what kind of problems our customers need to solve and our service has been built around those.

The reason why small businesses and entrepreneurs turn to Seravo’s services is mostly that they have neither the time nor the knowledge to take care of the upkeep of their website themselves. This is why they are happy to use a ready-made solution, which gives them the possibility to fully focus on creating content to their website and building their business.

More technical customers, like advertising and web development agencies, profit from our latest technology and advanced tools that make their development process smooth and easy. While these organizations focus on designing and building websites they may not care to invest their resources into the upkeep as well. For example, updating the websites and organizing a 24/7 monitoring service requires a lot of resources and knowledge that these customers feel can be better used elsewhere. For them, Seravo is the one taking care of this part of the business, acting as their strategic partner.

Naturally, Seravo can also offer major benefits to large businesses and international online stores which otherwise would need their own IT department to do the upkeep. Seravo offers a comprehensive solution where everything is taken care of, making the solution an easy choice for these customers. Seravo has a long history of operating with these kinds of customers. All of our processes are aligned with the important security needs that these kinds of actors might have. Functionality is especially important for e-commerce site owners since any downtime in the service costs them money in a very concrete way.

Seravo’s 24/7 service is a good guarantee that everything will work as it should and that every issue is dealt with right away.

Seravo maintains a tight feedback loop between customers, operations, and development. Seravo’s business focus has been specifically chosen to keep in mind our customers and their needs.

Organizational Structure

As the company’s headcount grows, we have recognized the need to establish more internal structures and processes. The first organizational unit, the Customer Success team, started operating officially in January 2019. In fall 2019 we rolled out two additional teams: Growth and Systems.

The Customer Success team focuses on providing excellent support service to our customers, as well as providing customers with information and documentation to make the most of their WordPress sites. The Growth team focuses on marketing and sales, and the Systems team is responsible for running our infrastructure. All teams include developers; there is no separate development team. All teams are delivery teams, meaning that they both develop and run their processes and tools to ensure everything the teams deliver is constantly improving.

Seravo maintains an internal handbook, a 70+ pages long document that defines all core company processes, along with a lot of auxiliary documentation such as employee handbooks, security manuals, and communication guidelines. These are an important part of growing and developing a company that is able to consistently improve in everything it does.

Future Investments

In the past Seravo’s main focus has been in developing a stellar product and service. The success in recent years has proved that our product is very good. While we continue to develop it constantly, the focus of investments is shifting more towards marketing and sales in order to expand our reach.

Seravo’s first Swedish employee had been with us in all of 2019. Based in Stockholm, he represents Seravo in Sweden, driving marketing and sales while also gathering information about the local needs for adaptation that the service might have — information that is passed on to our development.

During this time we’ve got 53 new orders, moved our Swedish cluster to a faster and more environmentally friendly data center outside of Stockholm, and the average amount of visitors on has almost doubled from on average 150 sessions a month in 2018 to 293 sessions/month on average in 2019. In terms of marketing activities, we have participated, hosted, and hosted seven WordPress meetups in Stockholm and Gothenburg and for example, sponsored the Swedish WordPress community as well as the WPSE newsletter.

Growing our sales on the Swedish market has been a bit slower than expected and it is clear that continuous improvements to our marketing in general and specific sales activities will be needed to succeed in our growth. The Swedish market will require increasing investments in the future allowing us to establish our position there and increase our Swedish sales.

In parallel to expanding to Sweden, there are also other ongoing efforts for internationalization. Seravo’s target is to grow our visibility and our customer base in other Northern and Central European countries, such as Estonia and Germany. That will also require smaller investments in the upcoming years.

Market Outlook and Operating Environment

WordPress, Linux, and other open source software that we have expertise in continues to grow in popularity. The demand for services built around these systems is clearly exceeding the supply.

According to recent statistics by Automattic, over 33% of all websites run on WordPress. The web industry customers range from individuals looking for cheap and simple solutions to global companies with enterprise-level needs. In the low-end segment, there is increasing competition with services such as Wix and Squarespace. The introduction of the Gutenberg editor however significantly enhances the ability of WordPress to compete in this segment with the promise of ease of use. On the e-commerce side, WooCommerce is gaining popularity. Recent studies in Finland show that WooCommerce – and open source solutions in general – are appealing to big e-commerce site owners thanks to the features and flexibility.

With the increasing popularity of WordPress, many traditional hosting companies have started to launch their own services for managed WordPress hosting. The WordPress business of these large players looks very much like their traditional hosting services as they mostly compete on low prices. There are also smaller players in the market such as Kinsta and Pagely, that have taken another angle on how they produce and market their services. Like Seravo, they have a higher price point combined with a more extensive service and guarantees to the customer.

Seravo has long been the market leader in WordPress upkeep in Finland. During 2018 increased activity could also be seen in this market. A small player previously known as Vanhatapio got acquired by a larger traditional hosting provider, Zoner. The resulting service was named WP-Cloud and given a marketing budget with the apparent intention of getting a piece of the market. An interesting detail is that their marketing message and value proposition is almost word for word similar to the one of Seravo. It’s a good indicator that we know the market and have a good service in our hands when others want to copy it.

Recent performance benchmarks have shown that the websites run by Seravo are on average faster than those of competitors, even though a big part of our competitors’ promises revolve specifically around speed. Seravo also differs from others by providing a 24/7 site monitoring service for all websites in our upkeep, as well as a security guarantee, which further strengthens our position in the market.

Seravo’s main challenge lies in advocating professionals in the field to demand more from their service providers, which in turn would lead to them choosing a provider like us. Instead of using providers that only sell server space and resources, they should go with a provider like us that is able to promise that their website will actually work at all times and with any amount of traffic it has.

Risks and Uncertainties

There are no significant risks on the horizon, nor any major uncertainties in the market or in Seravo’s situation. Seravo has no loans nor any risk capital. Our cash reserves are fairly strong and efforts in growth and expansion have been balanced and constantly profitable.

Risk Severity Likelihood Evaluation and Mitigation
Major security breach 5 1 Seravo’s stack consists of either open source software or in-house software. The likelihood for backdoors is low and a culture concentrated on security ensures that possible vulnerabilities are patched quickly and operational procedures are well designed.
Major SLA breach and extended downtime 5 2 The current sites are spread across seven independent data centers and there is redundancy inside each cluster. There are offsite backups available as a last resort.
Lack of staff, overload 3 3 Because Seravo is growing quickly, the amount of work is increasing. However, so far there has been a steady influx of new employees and the retention rate of current employees is good. Seravo’s reputation as an employer is also good.
Stress, loss of productivity 3 2 Our company level requirements for quality are high and many employees add to that by keeping high standards personally as well. This can cause stress in a constantly developing and changing landscape. Handbooks and documentation is maintained to give structure to work. The degree of automation is also constantly increasing, which reduces the amount of repetitive work and increases motivation.
Sudden loss of customers 4 1 The current customer retention rate is high and customers are in general very happy with the service. There is little pressure to change pricing or do anything else that could push customers away.
Sudden change in the business environment 2 1 Finland is a stable society and the industry Seravo is in is not sensitive to macroeconomic changes as an online presence for companies is mostly driven by necessity.
New competition 1 2 Seravo contributes actively to open source projects’ upstream and thus has very good insight into how the technology evolves. Completely novel solutions to how to provide the service are highly unlikely and if they happen to emerge, Seravo has the capacity to adapt to them quickly.

Possibilities for the Future

Even though there are some big players in the managed WordPress hosting scene internationally, there is no other company offering exactly the same level of service that Seravo does. This gives Seravo a good chance to expand into the international markets.

There is also a clearly visible trend that companies are increasing their investments to their online presence. This means that the demand for more extensive services such as the one that Seravo provides is growing and that the higher price point is not a problem but a well-thought strategy to succeed in this segment.

We have the level of automation in our service to be able to make it available to an ever-growing customer base without difficulties. With targeted and well-executed expansion efforts Seravo has a very good chance of growing into a major European service provider in its field.

Revenue Forecast

In 2020, Seravo’s growth in Finland has continued much like it did in 2019. The growth in turnover for this year is estimated to be 25%. Our investments in new markets, mainly in Sweden in the form of a Swedish workforce, can potentially increase revenue growth even more. It is possible, however, that the constant investments for growth may decrease the operating margin to some extent.

At the time of writing, we are also amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It may result in an increase in online business, but it is also a major risk to the macroeconomic situation and is prone to hurt businesses that have the digital part of their operations in a minor role.


Customer Base and Customer Satisfaction

Seravo’s customers are mainly divided into four segments:

  1. Partners and agencies
  2. Larger companies with existing IT-departments, partners or support services
  3. Mid-size companies
  4. Small businesses and entrepreneurs

The customer base itself is highly varied, from non-profits and city councils to major corporations and highly advanced WordPress developers and agencies. The total number of WordPress sites we host was over 3500 at the end of 2019.

Due to this diverse group of customers, also the level of technical knowledge our customers possess vary from very inexperienced to highly experienced. This sets us a challenge on how to market and support customers with different levels of expertise in a way that all of them understand the difference between Seravo and other providers, and have the ability to use our service in an optimal way.

The same challenge applies to our product development as well. We need to keep our service simple for those customers that have straight-forward needs, and at the same time offer more advanced development features and more autonomy to those that want to be able to do more.

The daily customer interactions we have typically consist of answering highly technical questions and troubleshooting websites with issues. There are also very basic questions that we routinely handle for the customers that are not that familiar with WordPress.

In comparison to some providers, we still offer free phone support in addition to email support. We also maintain extensive documentation covering both the basics of our service and more advanced development workflows. The feedback we get is nearly always positive as we reply promptly and solve the problems thoroughly. Seravo’s customer service is highly professional with a deep knowledge of WordPress, which allows us to assist the customers in a way that most so-called generic hosts cannot.

Any negative feedback is typically related to the limitations in our infrastructure compared to other providers, usually the slower and less secure generic hosting providers. This kind of feedback is a sign of us that we still have work to do with educating our customers on why certain limitations exist, and that they are actually designed for their own protection. In practice, these limitations are far outweighed by the benefits of our scalable infrastructure. In the end, only a few customers end up moving their sites elsewhere due to them.

Another challenge for us is the limited availability of customer success representatives with deep enough knowledge of WordPress. This is highlighted especially during evenings and weekends making it difficult to always provide the fastest possible response and resolution times. Our customer service is still operating mostly with a “nine to five” schedule and inside the Finnish time zone instead of global 24/7 support, which many of our international competitors already have.

Our recruitment, however, is currently going well and the automation of our processes is advancing constantly, so we are well able to keep our response times good despite the growing number of customers and support tickets.

Overall we provide a substantially better level of service and support than most web hosting companies. Combined with the possibility to order additional support and help with development for an hourly rate, our support is a one-stop-shop type of solution for our customers.

We have defined a clear path for the support requests: if our customer service is unable to help for free, the customer is offered help with an additional cost and a schedule estimate. If the problem is out of our scope — if the customer needs an extensive development project, for instance — we will recommend some of our highly-skilled partners to them. This way we can always be of assistance to our customers.

Customer-Oriented Approach

Seravo’s historical shift from Linux system support towards WordPress services already tells a story of how our customers and their needs have always been our biggest motivator. We listen to any weak signals of customer preferences in-flux and are able to adapt our service accordingly.

Besides listening to our customers, we are constantly giving them the opportunity to get involved in our product development. One example of this is that many of our repositories in GitHub are open for anybody to see and follow. In addition to us being able to push customer requests forward in development, we also encourage our customers to send us issues, or even pull requests, themselves concerning the improvements that they would like to see. This way the customers have the opportunity to directly affect our priorities and the direction where our solution is headed in the future.

To develop this system to the next level and to get even deeper insight from our customers, we launched an annual event to all our partners and customers in 2017. The event is called Workshop Wednesday (Kehityskeskiviikko in Finnish). The tradition was successfully continued in 2018 and 2019. In this event we invite customers and partners to visit our office for a one-day event to share their thoughts and ideas, which will then guide our development for the next year.

We use half a day working together with our customers in workshops with themes around different parts of Seravo’s business. The themes that are included vary a bit from year to year but technology, development, customer support, and other general service processes are there every year in one form or another.

There has been a consistent attendance of 35-40 people at each Workshop Wednesday, and a lot of the same people coming back year after year, which is a strong indication of our customers recognizing the event’s value as well.

Workshop Wednesday has proven its ability to produce genuine and open conversation, and not just about the good things we have to offer but also about the things that we need to improve in. It has given us a clearer picture of the features that our customers find the most relevant and crucial for them to continue to use and recommend our service.

It has also been a way for us to let our customers know the latest progress in our service and also to engage with them in a very personal way, which in our experience has solidified our relationship and mutual trust.

Stories from our customers

To give out a clear idea of how our customers feel about our service, we have included here a couple of stories from them.

CASE: Fressi

The fitness and welfare center Fressi is one of our enterprise-scale customers. The company offers fitness and gym services to a broad range of customers all over Finland. The website serves as the center for current information and health-related blog articles, as well as an online reservation system for training sessions.

Fressi has a huge amount of customers that use the service on a daily basis. This has made the infrastructure of the site problematic. Before moving to our service they had problems especially with capacity levels, which were often exceeded during traffic peaks. Also, the reliability of the site was an issue. For a service that is hugely based on online functionality, it is key that there are no unwanted timeouts or other breaks in the service. That is why Fressi sought help from Seravo.

Previously Fressi relied on a global CDN solution to balance the load, to improve availability, and to make the site faster. All this was replaced with the Seravo service and the site is faster than before. The Fressi website is now also physically closer to the clients, as the site is based on a Finnish server. A local server is an important factor for many of our clients, and we are prepared to please our international customers in that area too.

The ICT Manager for Fressi, Erkki Kalli, has been very pleased with Seravo and the new hosting solution:

“We had our doubts about the automatic updates, fearing that they would cause issues in our plugins and break something on the site. Seravo was able to provide us with a solution and we defined together with a set of automatic tests that the updates have to pass before being visible on the live site. Besides this, the automatic backups have once saved the functionality of our site.”

“The understanding of the WordPress environment that Seravo has, has been really beneficial for us as a customer. We can truly rely on the consistency of the service and the availability of our site.”

CASE: Contrast

“We have chosen WordPress as our platform from the very beginning. WordPress can be easily tailored for different needs and it is easy to use for our customers.”

Contrast produces new websites and online stores on a constant basis. In the majority of the cases, they choose Seravo as the provider for hosting and upkeep.

Contrast has utilized Seravo’s services depending on the project and the customer. Our test environment can be used from day one, which means that there is no need for developing the site in a local environment and the work-in-progress can be shared with the customer. Developers seem to be pretty excited about our set-up: tools like Git, Composer, and Vagrant, and the polished workflow makes the site-building process as smooth as possible.

We have a clear and easy partnership model for digital and advertising agencies: we take care of the technical functionality and performance, the agency is responsible for design and web development. Our mission is to make all of our clients as pleased as Contrast is:

“Seravo has fulfilled and exceeded our expectations completely. We appreciate the first-class customer service and the fact that you can reach the personnel easily. The communication has been great even when some problems have occurred.”

CASE: FitWood

FitWood is a Finnish start-up selling fitness equipment inspired by Scandinavian design and natural materials. The company chose to do something else than its competitors, who ship their products from the Far East and resell them over here. FitWood turned this upside down: its products are produced either in Finland or Europe and the company is heading to the international market from the start. This could not have been done without a functional online store.

WooCommerce is a WordPress extension that has become the most popular e-commerce platform in the world, powering as many as 39% of all online stores. WooCommerce was an easy choice to make for the founders of FitWood.

“We wanted a platform that is easily modified for different market areas. Content is a big part of our business, so we wished for a system that would support different types of editable content. We also wanted to use an open source platform in our online store, so that it can be freely developed in the future as well,” says the FitWood CEO Matias Kukkonen.

One of the reasons for the success of WooCommerce is indeed its deep integration into WordPress. By using WooCommerce both the company site, blog, and the online store are tied together and are visible to the user as a cohesive and polished whole.

We at Seravo have made it easy for our customers to set up an online store that has three key qualities in order right from the start: reliability, security, and speed.

As well as a regular shop, an online store requires active maintenance and upkeep in order to be up and running. Whereas a store owner can close a physical door and set up a “Closed” sign to the window at the end of the day, an online store has to be functioning all day and all night. To be able to focus on the business itself, the upkeep process, including constant updates should be left to a reliable service provider.

Security is a major issue for online stores. The store handles product catalogs and personal customer information so online security must be a top priority. Security leaks can be fatal for the whole business. Such things as HTTPS connection, strong passwords, and regular security updates are a must.

Besides providing high-class technical features, our hosting and upkeep service can make the life of an online store owner easier by offering personal help and customer care whenever that is needed. Matias from FitWood gives credit to the personal service they have received from Seravo.

“It has been easy to get things done with our contact person. There has also been enough flexibility in the service, which is pretty much mandatory when you are starting a new business.”

CASE: Nordic Business Forum

Nordic Business Forum’s primary mission and goal are to gather together business leaders, renowned experts, and preeminent thinkers to share ideas and build connections. In just 10 years they have grown from a small event in central Finland to one of the most significant business seminars in the world. In 2019 the seminar had nearly 8 000 guests and over 20 000 live stream viewers. Some of the best-known speakers at the event have been Sir Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama, Randi Zuckerberg, Steve Wozniak, and George Clooney.

When the event held in 2018 experienced sluggishness in streaming due to tens of thousands of interested followers, Tommi Contursi, the head of digital development and IT in Nordic Business Forum decided it was time for a service provider that would have the resources and knowledge to handle high traffic spikes. Fortunately for us, one of NBF’s long-time partners recommended Seravo’s services.

“Most importantly we wanted a partner who would make sure that our websites stay available even during high traffic spikes and whose support we could trust in case of a problem. Also, the Seravo developer tools don’t differ that much from what we have used previously and they are also constantly developed, which made it an easy decision to move our sites there.”

The site migration was performed by the recommending partner who knew both, the NBF’s site and Seravo’s environment. In the end, everything went well due to experienced professionals and Seravo’s excellent developer documentation, and the most prominent change after the migration was a clear improvement in the site speed.

“We were extremely happy with the service. The communication flowed seamlessly via WhatsApp and we got regular reports on the traffic and the load. From our point of view, the service just nailed it. The sites worked without any issues and the response times stayed low even during the highest traffic spikes.”


Board of Directors

The board of directors consisted of Otto Kekäläinen (chairman of the board), Tero Auvinen, and Ilkka Lehtinen in 2019. The board of directors assembled six times in 2019.

Otto Kekäläinen and Tero Auvinen are also Seravo staff members. Otto is the CEO of Seravo and Tero works as a systems specialist. The external board member is Ilkka Lehtinen, who currently works as the Chief Development Officer at Autoliitto. He has previously been the chairman of the board at Checkout Finland and as the executive director of COSS, the Finnish Centre for Open Systems and Solutions.

Personnel and Offices

In the year 2019 Seravo grew its personnel significantly with a total of five new members of the staff. The purpose of the recruitments was to strengthen Seravo’s ability to serve its ever-increasing customer base in Finland and also to support our expansion abroad, especially in Sweden. The new employees came to fill in positions mostly in marketing and sales, customer support, and product development. The same growth trend is likely to continue in the upcoming years. Seravo is growing as a company and in its operations and we need capable professionals to carry out the increasing workload.

We silently searched employees throughout 2019 for various tasks. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a challenge to find the expertise required, since there is no particular training program for the WordPress, web server, and Linux skills we need. Many of the field’s experts are self-taught and very much in demand in the job market, so they are not easy to find.

Thankfully Seravo has a great employer image in the industry. A special advantage is our expertise in Linux and open source. We receive open applications regularly.

We have adopted a strategy of hiring students through our summer trainee program and then training them in-house to become future experts committed to our company’s success. This tactic has proven to work well and many of Seravo’s employees at the moment are students working alongside their studies part-time.

Seravo’s headquarters is located in the city center of Tampere, right next to the railway station. Our office is part of the Crazy Town coworking community which consists mainly of startups, freelancers, and sole practitioners. There is a thriving internal market at Crazy Town where more than 85% of the companies do business together. The community consists of experts from different fields willing to share their expertise with one another. In addition, there are more than 50 events a year, which makes the atmosphere very inspirational.

Seravo as an Employer

Seravo is a responsible employer. Staff is given great autonomy but also a lot of responsibility. Support is always available for those who need it from colleagues or superiors, all the way to the CEO. Seravo has a flat hierarchy and everyone has an equal opportunity to influence common decisions.

Nuutti Toivola, our Customer Success team lead, describes Seravo as an employer:

“Seravo offers many opportunities. You can easily utilize your different skill set in Seravo since you are viewed as a unique individual and you get to have an influence on your own job description. We have an easy-going and open working culture, where employees are trusted and given responsibility. As an employer Seravo is flexible and you get to design your own working hours, also agreeing for holidays is easy.”

All employees of Seravo appreciate the flexibility and thus the possibility to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. As we employ a lot of students, allowing flexibility in work hours we also make sure that they can graduate on time and still keep working. Remote working is also one form of flexibility and it is regularly utilized among our employees due to good practices in executing it. This makes our working culture modern, versatile, and people-friendly.

Nuutti continues to describe Seravo’s working culture:

“The atmosphere is occasionally hectic since we are constantly growing. However, ultimately the rush partly stems from the fact that we all care about Seravo and for the growth. We are passionate about our company and try to ensure its success. I never seem to feel like “I am just working here”, there is something more personal. I enjoy my work. One of the coolest things is that I get to utilize Linux and open source in my everyday work. The involvement in the open source community is a great thing and for me, it gives perspective for everything. Our work is just a small bit of a far bigger entity.”

At Seravo, we do a lot of things together both in and outside of work. We have the habit of enjoying a company lunch together once a week, where we can get everyone up to date on the latest work-related news, but also chat about other things and relax together. We also try to use one hour of work time every week to do some kind of sport together, such as going for a walk, jog or swim, playing football, etc. These activities have proved valuable in improving team spirit and motivation.

Besides having fun, Seravo also invests in individual learning and development by participating in industrial events. In addition to the marketing angle, these events offer opportunities for professional development and networking to our employees. We also have an internal program for supporting our employees’ professional development that is available for everyone.

Here is Nuutti’s take on what kind of an employee could be a fit for Seravo.

“Person who could fit in Seravo appreciates autonomy and carries the responsibility of their own work. This person wants to grow their expertise on a personal level and benefit from all that they could learn here. Seravo offers room to grow, so ambition is not considered strange. We are a set of different people who form a great team, while all of us are great in their own way. Technical expertise is not all you need since you don’t only work with machines. You need social skills, warmth, and empathy to fit in and to serve the customers in the best way.”

Corporate Responsibility

By using Seravo’s services, our customers support Finnish expertise. Seravo’s employees are Finnish WordPress experts and enthusiasts with a strong background in open source development. Our WordPress hosting and upkeep service is a Key Flag service which demonstrates that it’s fully produced in Finland and thus supporting Finnish work. Seravo’s complete ownership is in Finland and our headquarters is located in Tampere, Finland. Moreover, we comply with the Finnish law and the code of good business practices defined by the Finnish authorities and pay all our taxes to Finland.

Most of Seravo’s servers are located in Finland but we also offer our customers the possibility to choose servers from a different geographical area. This way our clients can serve their international customers effectively with minimum latency. Most Finnish customers wish to have their website hosted on a Finnish server, or at least inside the European Union, for example for GDPR reasons. Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, FICORA, has certain standards that the data centers need to meet to ensure secure communication services: all Finnish data centers Seravo uses to comply with FICORA’s requirements.

Corporate responsibility includes caring for our staff. Seravo is a safe and healthy working environment and we carry out our responsibilities as an employer. We put a lot of effort in engaging and motivating our staff as well as in investing in their professional growth and learning.

Taxes and the Impact on Surrounding Society

One part of the responsibility is also taking care of financial obligations such as taxes and other public fees. Naturally, the amount of taxes and pensions to be paid by Seravo will further increase in the future due to our remarkable growth, which in turn increases our direct financial contributions to the states we operate in. In 2019 these payments already formed a respectful sum to be used on maintaining the Finnish and Swedish welfare state.

In 2019 Seravo paid:

  • Value-added taxes (VAT): 228 021,55 €
  • Corporate income taxes: 12 643,66 €
  • Employee income taxes: 159 730,73 € (includes payments to Skatteverket)
  • Other employer fees (Työllisyysrahasto): 11 135,81 €
  • Pensions: 90 785,27 €

In total Seravo directly contributed to public finances with

  • 373 196,40 € in Finland
  • 27 199,54 € in Sweden

In addition to direct payments such as taxes and pensions, Seravo has also other implications in society at large. As a company operating in Finland, we offer employment to a growing number of Finnish professionals. In addition to full-time employment Seravo hires students in increasing numbers for summer trainee positions and after that as part-time workers on the side of their studies. Seravo also has a history of supporting future professionals at the start of their careers by giving out other trainee positions to help students finish their studies by completing their obligatory trainee among our employees.

Perhaps the most important implication of our services can’t be geographically restricted due to it being related to the internet as a whole. With our open source contributions, we are helping the IT ecosystem develop and improve different software and tools that are used in all parts of the world. Our services are also there in a way to make the internet a more secure place to operate for companies. By having an SSL certificate as an integral part of all our plans and offering only secure connections we refuse to support existing systems and processes that are inherently insecure. And by updating all of our customers’ websites regularly and safely we also remove attack space and easy targets from hackers. All of these things together form a solid foundation for us to say that our services really have a deeper meaning and the purpose of securing the internet.

Carbon Neutral in 2019

Nowadays environmental implications are, as they should be, in practically every company’s agenda. The resources are limited, which is why we should make an effort to use those that we need as efficiently as possible all the while trying to find more environmentally friendly alternatives and finally, to give back by participating in other possible ways to save our planet.

At Seravo, we are not just tech professionals taking care of website hosting and upkeep. We are all inhabitants of the planet and we feel the obligation in the name of our loved ones to run our business responsibly. We have taken steps to make sure that we are carbon-neutral, and we are aspiring to move even further, to one day become carbon negative.

We carefully choose our energy providers, making sure that most, if not all, of our energy comes from renewable sources. We combine different generations of hardware to make sure we maximize the lifecycle of each individual element. We use speed optimization technologies that reduce unnecessary resource consumption. It does not only reflect in faster page loads, but also in remarkably lower power consumption.

At the end of 2019, we were serving 79% of the websites in our upkeep with environmentally friendly energy. To offset the carbon emissions for the websites that remain in data centers powered with fossil energy, we have invested in the restoration of swampland. In 2019 our operations were made carbon neutral thanks to a donation to The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation to restore five hectares of land.

For 2020 and onwards, we plan to take our aims of doing our part for the planet even further. We will keep on investing in the swamps, supporting nature conservation, and also do our part as individuals.

On the resource-using side, everything Seravo does is intended to be as efficient as possible. Instead of having our office premises of our own, the company headquarters is located in a coworking community, where a lot of resources like printers and conference rooms are shared between a larger group of peoples.

Memberships and Sponsorships

Seravo is actively supporting social initiatives that we find beneficial to society as a whole and that is related to our industry. Here are some examples of Seravo’s participation:

  1. Seravo is a member of COSS ry, the Finnish Center for Open Systems and Solutions, which is a non-profit association promoting open source, open data, open standard, and open APIs.
  2. Seravo is a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Finland through the Chamber of Commerce in Tampere. The purpose of the Chambers of Commerce is to improve the possibilities of doing business in the area, to promote entrepreneurship and healthy competition, as well as help the businesses and local authorities to work better together.
  3. Seravo is a member of the Association for Finnish Work, which focuses on increasing the appreciation for Finnish work. Seravo’s WordPress service is a product that has been given the Key Flag recognition.
  4. Seravo sponsors the national initiative in Finland called Koodikerho. Koodikerho aims to arrange weekly afternoon clubs for kids all over Finland so that they would be able to learn the basics of coding. Koodikerho gives kids the opportunity to learn new skills that will be useful in the future and acquire the tools to better understand the surrounding digital world.
  5. Seravo sponsors the SuperAda event which is meant for girls only and which aims to encourage girls and young women to study technology by representing the IT industry now and in the future.
  6. Seravo worked as an active partner of WordCamp Nordic, the first-ever regional WordCamp for the Nordic countries. WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. In addition to sponsoring and speaking, Seravo also had a strong presence in the organizing team with two people (Johan and Anni).
  7. Seravo participates in the WordPress community as sponsors, speakers, organizers, and participants. In addition to WordCamp Nordic, we sponsored and attended WordCamp Europe in Berlin in 2019. We are active participants and sponsors in meetups in Finland and Sweden, and we occasionally also sponsor and participate in similar events abroad.

Open Source

Seravo has a strong background in Linux and other open source systems. We are an active member of the open source community both in Finland and abroad and have participated in developing various open source projects. We have been involved in for example providing support to Linux users, contributing to and translating WordPress core, publishing WordPress plugins, participating in the WordPress community as sponsors, speakers, organizers, and participants and contributing to the MariaDB development.

By choosing Seravo, our customers will also support the development and success of open source software.

Legal Proceedings and Disputes

Seravo had no legal proceedings or major disputes during the reporting period.

Shares and Shareholders

At the end of 2019, Seravo had 13 900 shares, which are owned by the board members and staff of Seravo. The shares are currently not available for trading anywhere.

Financial Statement

Seravo’s financial growth has been significant in recent years. We have been growing in two-digit numbers since 2014 when was first created. In 2015 the service really started to hit it off and between 2016 and 2017 we invested actively in growing our customer base in Finland which led to extensive growth in our partner network.

In 2019 our turnover was 1 208 514,04 €, which was 36% higher than in 2018. This kind of growth is expected to continue in 2020: we are confident that the value of new sales will at least stay at the same level as in 2019 or even exceed that if our sales in Sweden develop the way we are expecting after our recent investments in that market.

Here is the growth of our turnover between 2015–2019 presented in a table for a clearer picture.

Turnover (€) Growth (%)
2015 302 075,81 95,8
2016 382 205,52 26,5
2017 605 493,00 58,4
2018 891 176,45 47,1
2019 1 208 514,04 35,6

Seravo’s services are highly scalable from the business perspective, which we can see when we look into our material expenses. From 2014 to 2019 they have only grown from 61 515,45 € to 182 296,85 € which means an increase of about 296 %, whereas our sales have grown a remarkable 783 % at the same time frame. This is good news from the point of view of our further expansion: an increase in the number of customers we serve does not increase our fixed costs to the same extent.

From the point of view of flexible costs such as personnel costs, we can see that Seravo’s situation is similar to that of many other companies in the IT sector. Our personnel costs in 2018 were 754 547,17 €, which is roughly 65% of our turnover for that year. The reason for a number this high is that so far we’ve had to grow the number of our staff regularly to respond to the increasing number of new customers and also to speed up our expansion abroad. Seravo’s goal is to further increase the level of automation used in producing our services, which will eventually push these numbers down significantly. Seravo is currently living a transition period, where we need some extra staff to handle the daily operations and the influx of new customers, as well as the execution of the aforementioned automation.

Seravo has been able to achieve all this growth with internal financing only and at the same time by maintaining a good financial standing throughout this process. This is a good sign of Seravo’s ability to keep growing and make a healthy profit, which in turn makes Seravo an appealing investment for outside investors as well.