Tell us about yourself and your background:
I am the founder and CEO of Strikingly, a website builder that helps anyone set up a business website in minutes.
In 2012, I dropped out from the University of Chicago to start Strikingly along with my two co-founders, Teng Bao and Dafeng Guo. We moved to Silicon Valley with $100 in our pocket and were accepted into Y Combinator after eating ramen noodle in our one-bedroom apartment for five months.
Before Strikingly, I co-founded Moneythink, a non-profit financial literacy education organization. Moneythink was the winner of the 2013 MassChallenge 100K award, and is now funded by Blackstone and the Davis Project for Peace, recognized by the White House, and featured on Forbes, MTV, the Chicago Tribune, and U.S. News.
What does your company do and what problem does it solve for businesses?
We aim to help small businesses save thousands of dollars and weeks of waiting time for setting up a simple homepage. We also make sure that these websites look great on your phone, tablet, and computer.
With Strikingly, a small business owner can edit the site themselves without needing to hire a dedicated webmaster. Strikingly is so simple that even the most inexperienced user can create his or her personal website on Strikingly by themselves.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
We started Strikingly because we needed the service ourselves. When I was in college, I needed websites for almost anything I was working on: student groups, non-profit organizations, campaigns, student governments, etc. Every time I needed to set up a simple web presence, I’d go to Teng, my co-founder now, for help.
It was a frustrating experience for both of us, since it took up a lot of his time and I needed to wait for his availability. I was always wondering if there was a tool that I could just use myself that didn’t cost much and could get the job done in minutes.
This wasn’t just my personal problem. I was the Student Government VP of the University of Chicago and I was responsible for the funding committee. Beside foods for different events, website building was the second most-requested item for funding. Since I didn’t have solutions for the organization leaders who applied for funding, I usually had to give them thousands of dollars each to build their site.
Seeing that this is a huge problem, we started working on a solution that we can use ourselves. Indeed, how to build a website is one of the most fundamental problems on the internet. Even with the internet being available for over 20 years now, the average internet users still can’t create their own web identities easily. That’s why we started Strikingly.
Strikingly different from all the other website builders in two ways:
1. We’re simpler than any of them.
2. We have a unique mobile-first, web-second way of designing websites.
Even the simplest website building services will take users hours to build a website, but we’ve already pushed this process into the minutes level. The average build time we have heard from our users is 10 minutes. Now with the new One Click Website, they can set up a site in seconds. In fact, we even had a blind user created a website on Strikingly all by himself. That’s how simple we are.
Strikingly is the first and only website building service that focuses on mobile design first. This means all of our websites are designed with mobile in mind and we translate that same minimal design to the broader web. The traditional way of trying to fit a complicated desktop-optimized website to mobile doesn’t work because these builds are generally too complicated and heavy for a small mobile screen. However, the other way around works, and mobile-optimized design actually simplifies the whole web experience across all devices. That’s why mobile first design is also cross-platform optimized design, and we’re the first and only website builder doing it this way.
What are the most important considerations businesses should have when choosing technology to help them run and grow their business?
What other companies or entrepreneurs within the technology space do you admire and think businesses should know about?
Anything else Firmology readers and business owners should know? News? Upcoming features? Special deals?
Firmology Readers: Let’s hear your thoughts!
1) Have a question or comment about Strikingly? Drop David a note in the comments below.
2) Who would you like to see on Firmology’s Meet & Greet series? Are there other questions we should be asking? Are any of the questions above unclear or could be asked in a better way? Let us know in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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