Growing A Website Builder Tool & Agency Hybrid to $37K Per Month

Founder, Weblium
$37,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
51
Employees
product
Weblium
from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
started August 2016
$37,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
51
Employees
151K
alexa rank
95
followers
productivity
sales
customer service
design
crm

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hi Pat! My name is David Braun and I'm a co-founder and CEO of Weblium.com. I am 39 y.o.

I am very passionate to create the largest in the world web design agency brand producing 1000 websites a day. Everyone calls me crazy now, but every month their voice becomes more and more silent :).

Weblium is a hybrid website builder. Any operation is available in do it yourself or do it for me mode. There are lots of examples when someone wants to work on his side project on a weekenв by himself, but then he prefers to outsource little jobs to someone else. Weblium allows customers to seamlessly switch between these two modes without even noticing this.

We are making 20-30 websites every day now and this is usually a yearly volume for most of the agencies. We are growing 200% month over month now and soon will finally reach a very important milestone - 100 custom websites a day.

growing-a-website-builder-tool-agency-hybrid-to-37k-per-month

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Templatemonster was founded when I was 23 and me and my buddy tired to do a custom web design business. We wanted a model "make once and sell multiple times". This is how we came up with an idea of selling website templates. The idea worked like a charm.

The sooner you will release the earlier you will get first feedback and transform your offering. We spent the first 6 months for nothing, we had to fully rewrite our UX after we've got first customers.

When running Templatemonster.com since 2002 we've created over 2 million websites for our customers.

We used so many different platforms, starting from Flash, Joomla, Magento and ending up with all versions of WordPress websites. Every time we delivered the website to a customer he was super happy, but when you reach him out in two years - he is unhappy for numerous reasons (new version of the platform comes in and he is afraid to update because some of the plugins will not work, new devices become popular and now the website has to be optimized for new iPhone, etc).

We did not like this process and started to think about the platform that will take care of all these issues "under the hood" without even bothering our customers. Since we just did an exit for Templatemonster we had money and wanted to start doing something new but based on our expertise.

My partner and I were always doing websites, so the choice was inevitable. We saw the success of do-it-yourself website builders like Wix and Squarespace but we also saw thousands of people who could not use these tools because they don't know what a great website is.

growing-a-website-builder-tool-agency-hybrid-to-37k-per-month

However, they loved the easy-to-use editing tools - so we decided to create a Do-it-for-me website builder instead and take all the best from each option: get the hardest part done by Weblium team and then provide easy to use tools for self management. All updates and compatibility with future devices are included by default, so they should not reach out the developer and pay another invoice.

We did not raise the money and financed the development at our own costs. Our projection was - to build the product during the first year and reach the break-even point in the second. We hired CTO first who selected the stack of technologies, then we hired three independeте consultants to get second opinion, third opinion and fourth opinion too. The right choice of technology plays vital part in this kind of business success or failure.

Then we hired three front end and two backend programmers, UX guru and UI designer, then added QA engineers, product managers etc, now the development team has 24 people.

Describe the process of building the product.

Everything always starts with prototypes.

When you have an expensive development team - the sooner you test your ideas the cheaper the final result you will get. We use Figma to prototype our interfaces and then we make them interactive and do user tests.

Sometimes we use Usertesting.com for this and sometimes we use our social networks to proceed with FiveSecondTest and it works magically.

growing-a-website-builder-tool-agency-hybrid-to-37k-per-month

The process of software development is a really tricky process. I bought lots of books on how to manage developers and still find it very confusing. We tried Clubhouse.com then moved it to Jira, then we needed to setup so many extensions and plugins. There is a big gap in language of a programmer and a business person. People need translators, that's why having a great product manager makes things waay easier ).

For websites, we use black and white prototyping too. Initially, we used Axure but the process is really time-consuming so we came up with our own solution Draftium.com - it is an essential part of our user onboarding process nowadays. Clients built their website prototypes by themselves or they ask us to build them. This was really innovative and helped us a lot to decrease the number of back and forth revisions.

In general, revisions are the most painful area in any agency business and that is why they raise prices to cover those expenses. We used "productize your service" concept and got the extremely pleasant result.

Describe the process of launching the online store/business.

When we have decided to launch in beta we had a really hard choice - use Wordpress for own website or use Weblium in its MVP state?

Of course, we did not have so many functional parts in the product that we needed ourselves to successfully manage our own website.

Learn sales and marketing if you are a tech guy, remember that you will have to sign up first customers by yourself anyway.

It was a tough decision but we've decided to go with Weblium and prioritize the roadmap for the product to suit our own needs. This "eat your own dog food" rule plays an important role in our life, although we are slowing down ourselves a little bit, we always feel ourselves in our customer's shoes and it it is invaluable asset

First customers we've acquired from Facebook, we've spent around $1500 to generate first 100 leads. We also tried Google Adwords but the cost of lead was extremely high (over $100) while our average check size was only $150.

growing-a-website-builder-tool-agency-hybrid-to-37k-per-month

growing-a-website-builder-tool-agency-hybrid-to-37k-per-month

Our first 100 leads came from Facebook Ads. However, we only close 10 customers from those. 30% of customers were rejected due to our inability to provide necessary functionality (e-commerce, auctions, classifieds, etc).

We had to change the strategy and adapt. We developed an affiliate program, used PostAffiliatePro for this. Affiliates generate around 30% of total volume now.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We had to change the messaging strategy, provided examples by niches.

When you "attack" a niche, it becomes easier to find prospects, you can locate relevant groups and communities, identify influencers, etc.

For example, website for lawyers, websites for beauty salons, SPAs, etc. This strategy increased our conversion from leads to sales to 33%. So, basically, every third inquiry results in a sale.

When you "attack" a niche, it becomes easier to find prospects, you can locate relevant groups and communities, identify influencers, etc.

Once the most influential conversion optimization thing was offering the unconditional moneyback guarantee. Once we promised that customer does not lose anything and all risks are on us - the conversion doubled.

Nowadays our flow looks like this:

  1. Customer fills the lead form.
  2. He gets a call with our expert where they identify his needs and goals and timeframe.
  3. He make a pre-payment with money-back guarantee if he doesn't like the result.
  4. They work on an interactive prototype made with www.draftium.com.
  5. Collect all the content.
  6. Send to studio and starts getting designed website and revisions.
  7. The website is live.

The next step for us was to partner up with banks. I personally signed partnership deals with three banks which started to send their clients to us to get exclusive pricing on website creation. Banks had to compete with each other and they cannot compete with rates anymore, so they have to demonstrate they are closer to businesses, understand their needs, etc. Partnering with us gives them an ability to offer really great deals to their customers. Some bank managers told us that they would pay for customers website if he opens an account with them, because it is so cheap :)

Next, we've partnered up with top company registrars in the country and they now offer website creation as part of company registration packages.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are still in the investment stage but have only 50% to reach the break-even. I feel positive about the business model, but I did not expect that developing the platform will take so much money and time. Our roadmap is still super busy until the second half of 2019.

I work in two different directions to become profitable:

1. Brand awareness.

Speaking at conferences, partnering with business associations, incubators, media projects anв governmental initiatives. We sponsor events with our audience by creating free websites for them. We

2. Franchise program.

We already signed up 10 digital agencies to switch to our platform while creating websites for their customers. I love this way of scaling since we help agencies to archive better profitability while we grow together with them automatically. I have a very ambitious goal to have over 1000 studios by the end of the next year.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

OK. I took several lessons I'd like to share.

MVP means FAST not GOOD.

The sooner you will release the earlier you will get first feedback and transform your offering. We spent the first 6 months for nothing, we had to fully rewrite our UX after we've got first customers.

Develop a Customer Journey Map for your business.

You will be surprised how many frictions points your customers have to pass in order to get your product or service. We would never be able to develop and release Draftium if we wouldn't draw customer journey map.

Diversify your sales channels.

Never put all eggs into one basket. Every season your cost per lead increases 25-30% especially through FB ads and Google Ads. Use this time to develop more sustainable (although not that scalable) sales channels.

Get a sales team as soon as possible.

Even before the product is ready it is useful to start selling earlier. Salespeople know how to package your product in the right way. They also prioritize features roadmap much more effective using real-time customers feedback.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use Intercom as a conversational platform. They grow like crazy, new features, we started as live chat, now using them for onboarding, help center, ticket system.

We also use Hubspot as CRM system. I think it is a no-brainer for the current digital marketer.

We use Jira to development it is a standard now, designers use Figma and Sketch. For marketing, we also use Mailshake to outreach potential partners.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I like to listed Marketing School Podcast by Neil Patel and Eric Siu, my favorite book is Hooked by Nir Eyal.

On the personal side, I recently enjoyed the Atomic Habits book.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I think the first thing I would do is to approach 10 potential customers and spend 3-4 hours with them talking about the problem you are going to solve. This will give you thousands of insights.

Learn sales and marketing if you are a tech guy, remember that you will have to sign up first customers by yourself anyway.

Remember that you need some public speaking skills to recruit the team and sign up some partners. Get a course somewhere.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We currently expanding our partnership network, so if you feel you have a good reach to entrepreneurs or small business owners, please get in touch and we will find the way to make money together.

Where can we go to learn more?

Website: weblium.com Facebook: facebook.com/weblium

-  
David Braun,   Founder of Weblium

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