Earlier this month, I had the entire Ratehub.ca team over for dinner at my house. Somehow, all 15 of us managed to squeeze around two tables, where we shared food, stories, memories and so many laughs. Nights like this make it easy to see how monumental this past year was for us. From our growing team, the relationships we’ve built, the new site and projects, and our amazing new office space, there’s so much to celebrate. Before everyone goes their separate ways for the holidays, I’d like to reflect on everything we’ve accomplished in 2014, and share some of the highlights with you.
Last year, the biggest changes we made to the site itself were around the navigation on the homepage. We had launched the refinance centre and refinance calculator, a condo guide and an education centre on alternative mortgages (investment properties, second mortgages, private mortgages, etc.) – and then we needed to make room for them all in our top navigation bar. And then we launched our two newsletters, which have continued to grow every month since. We put a lot of great new content on the site in 2013, and by the end of the year we were seeing an average of 250,000 visits per month.
This year, we focused on changing the entire look and feel of Ratehub.ca. Redesigns are a massive undertaking for any company, but our site literally had hundreds of pages that needed to be re-skinned. As you can imagine, all hands were on deck! While one goal was obviously to give the site a fresh new look, the point of our redesign was really to create a set of reusable styles, before we entered other financial verticals, such as credit cards. We’ve been working on credit cards for months, and are proud to offer Canada’s best credit card comparison tool and credit card rewards calculator. And none of this could’ve been possible without two new(ish) members of the team, who we will tell you about below.
To go along with the launch of the redesign, we fully fleshed out our mortgage education centre, to make sure it was a one-stop, all-inclusive resource for Canadian homebuyers and homeowners. We also wrote a credit card education centre, which we hope will help you make informed decisions about what type of credit card might be best for you and why. All in all, I’m blown away by how different Ratehub.ca looks today compared to this time last year. In 2014, we saw an average of 310,000 visits per month, with some months reaching highs of over 400,000 visits, and we can only expect it to go up from here.
In 2013, we were often called upon by Canada’s top media outlets, to discuss trends we were seeing on the site as well as the ever-changing mortgage market, and that didn’t change this year. We continued to share our thoughts on CTV News and Global News, were often quoted in The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, and became regular contributors to both Wall2Wall Media publications (the New Home Guide magazines) and Golden Girl Finance. Rob Carrick of The Globe and Mail also picked up a handful of our blog posts, and included them in his weekly ‘Carrick on Money’ recaps, including our depiction of how bidding wars operate in Toronto.
On an industry level, we were also featured in Canadian Mortgage Professonals’ Magazine Hot List of today’s leaders shaping tomorrow’s industry. And finally, more personal finance bloggers featured our calculators and tools than ever before; this is the most meaningful type of feedback to us, as it shows which of our resources you find useful. So, as always, thank you for sharing and for helping us decide what to work on next!
I don’t even know where to begin with this. Let’s start with the team members who were with us last year. On the content side of things, Cait and our dedicated team of freelancers updated the mortgage education centre and then wrote three brand new education centres. We’re launching credit cards first, but this is another indication of what you can expect to see from us in 2015. Kerri-Lynn (KL) took on more advertising responsibilities (as many of our partners and brokers know!) and expanded the marketing team. And Kurtis learned how to code in Rails, and he and Chris managed all the product development work we’ve done this year – which leads nicely into the new members of the team who have joined us.
Perhaps our biggest update is that we, as a company, acquired the credit card comparison website CanIPayLess.com. As part of the acquisition, the site’s founder (Benson) and front-end developer (Dave) joined our team – and they have played instrumental roles in getting our credit card tools ready to launch. Our product development team grew further when Christina joined us this fall. KL hired our two digital marketing coordinators, Kayla and Grainne. Idriss hired Elisa in Montreal, who manages French content and Quebec broker account management. Tasso stayed with us until we launched the redesign then moved to Los Angeles – but in his place, we hired our new designer, Chrissy, who is crazy talented. And with the help of our office coordinator, Alex, our new office manager, Brynn, has seriously whipped us into shape.
The last milestone I have to mention is that we finally moved out of the townhouse we’d been working in (and I’d been living in) for all these years. In September, the office moved to a commercial space downtown, so we’re now located on King Street East, just around the corner from St. Lawrence Market. Even though the move took us south, we sang “moving on up!” for months leading up to the big day. (Heck, we still sing it today.)
As Ratehub.ca gets ready to celebrate its 5th birthday in January, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. Our site was started at a kitchen table, and now we’re a team of 15+ (in downtown office space!) that is continually working towards taking Ratehub.ca to the next level. I can’t thank the team enough for all the hard work they’ve put in this year, and for being motivated to make 2015 even better. And I have to thank you – our brokers, users, readers, family and friends – for helping us make 2014 our most successful year to date. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!