For my dad’s birthday, my brothers and decided to buy him a domain name and create a website to help him build his brand. We wanted to do it simply and in a way that he could manage it on the go.
Anything that involved code was not an option.
I thought about hiring a website developer or just using templates from GoDaddy.com. But then I met the CEO of Weebly, which allows users to create free websites, and he told me about something new they’re launching today. It’s an app that allows users to build simple sites and manage them from their smartphones. I was sold.
Launching a site using the app takes literally a few clicks. The UI is so easy to use, you can take a picture using the app and instantly upload it to the site and then drag and drop it wherever you want on the page. You can also write blog posts, manage comments and view site analytics. It’s perfect for my dad. Like a lot of people outside the tech bubble — he just wants things to work, and Weebly does.
Weebly’s in a competitive space. The one thing all the competition has in common is allowing non-techies the ability to build their own sites with text and pictures. But each has its own ideas as to what sets each apart.
Iconosite considers itself the luxury brand. “It’s like comparing a Rolls Royce with a Toyota,” says Bob Charles from Iconosite’s Customer Success Team.
Webstart touts it has the best search optimization, because its servers are strategically located one network hop away from Google’s primary data center. That means its clients’ websites get priority when it comes to search engine ranking.
But Weebly is the first of these to offer an app. Mobile is critical. The next billion people coming into the Internet are coming in with a smartphone.
But to Bullpen Capital’s Duncan Davidson, free website creation companies have to do more than just offer the tools to build mobile sites. He believes these tools are merely a commodity. What would truly set a company aside would be creating a community of mobile sites, which makes it easier for users to find them.
“If I post a website or if I’m putting up commerce sites, what is the scale mechanism to find me?” asks Davidson.
“We have nothing to announce on that front,” says 27 year-old Weebly CEO David Rusenko. Sounds like it could be a possibility for the future.
The company has big plans ahead. Weebly took funding from Sequoia in 2011 in hopes to build a big company. (That is unless a company like GoDaddy tries to snatch it up…)
Rusenko believes it has a strong value proposition for investors. It’s #48 in terms of network sites such as Google and Yahoo, according to Quantcast, a Web analytics firm. Sites created by its users account for two percent of all websites on the Internet with more than 75 million monthly visitors globally, 40 percent of which are in the US.
Plus, it’s profitable and has been since 2009, two years and one $650,000 injection after launch. It uses a freemium model to make money, and although it’s tough to drive conversations, Weebly has pulled it off so far.