Content - Swiss web service rises into web’s Top 1,000

  • November 07, 2017

Swiss web service rises into web’s Top 1,000

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The Zurich based and Swiss created web service smallpdf has become one of the 1,000 most popular websites in the world according to Amazon's analytics service Alexa. The startup company was founded by three Swiss friends in 2013 without any external investors. Today, smallpdf has ten employees and receives more than 10 million visitors monthly. The web service offers a simple and frustration-free way to convert documents into PDFs and vice versa. The service is free to a certain extent and full privacy is guaranteed. The service is also available in Japanese under

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Reliability, security, simplicity

Smallpdf is available as a desktop application or can be used via smartphones applications. “Crafted in Switzerland, the land of watches, banks and clean design, we focus on our three main motivations: reliability, security and simplicity”, the three founders Mathis Buchi, Lino Teuterberg and Manuel Stofer say on their website about their way of thinking.  

“And since we have translated our apps into 20 languages, we have users from every country on the planet,” the Swiss entrepreneurs proudly add. With more than 10 million unique visits per month, this most popular Swiss web service has just risen into the 1,000 most visited websites worldwide (Source:  

Compressing PDF files and more

The three young Swiss men came up with the idea of a PDF compression tool when they had trouble receiving files from home while traveling. They decided to join their collective skills of coding, design and marketing and released the first basic tool for PDF compression in October 2013. Consequently, the service was named smallpdf. Since then, 15 more tools to deal with PDFs have been added. The Swiss touch of this web service is the reduction of all functionalities to a minimum.  

The secret of their success may be that everybody opens, reads and creates PDF files. But to work with PDFs is not so easy, such as splitting a PDF or to convert a PDF into a Word document. The most recently added feature is the integration of an electronic signature (eSign) to a PDF. Smallpdf also guarantees full privacy due to their file encryption. The company promises to delete all files from their servers within one hour.  

Small limit of usage introduced

In the beginning, the service was completely free. The founder team invested its own money and survived on advertising income and small donations. Recently, free usage has been limited to two times per hour and up to 5 GB in file size. If users need more for free, they have to wait until the hour is up.  

The Pro service removes this limit and includes connected functions and multiple file processing. It is offered for $6 a month or $48 a year. (In Japan, you are charged the equivalent amount in Japanese yen.) These fees now provide the main income of the company which confirms the status of smallpdf as a “bootstrap company” – a startup independent of external investors.  

“For startups it is important to evaluate for themselves whether or not they need external funds”, smallpdf co-founder Manuel Stofer told the Swiss daily 20 Minuten. Not every startup company would require financing rounds. "It all depends on what you want to do,” emphasized Stofer. In contrast, the other popular Swiss web service Doodle, the successful meeting organizing tool developed in Zurich, relied on outside capital and belongs today to the publishing house Tamedia.    


Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ, Photo: smallpdf

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