Websites are 10 a penny but good ones are gold dust. So we asked Juan Lobato, whose company sells web software to hosting providers, for advice about creating a site people actually want to visit.
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Juan Lobato, CEO of BaseKit sells software to hosting companies so they can offer web-build solutions to customers. In this interview he charts the growth of the business and explains the essential ingredients of a strong website.
Explain your business so anyone can understand it
BaseKit is quite simply a website building platform. We sell our technology to hosting providers such as 123.Reg or Acens Technologies so they can offer their customers the opportunity to build their own website when they buy a domain name.
Web platforms are a crowded market, what’s your USP?
BaseKit evolved through an amalgamation of tech and business minds, meaning the result was not only a piece of cutting edge technology, but one that appealed to a mass market.
Our method of selling direct to hosting providers (123.Reg), telecommunications providers (Telefónica) and developers, as well as the usability and design of our templates, have enabled us to carve out a large piece of the market in a short space of time.
How was the business established and how has it grown?
BaseKit has grown exponentially since its establishment in 2008, founded by two brothers Richard and Simon Best and their friend Richard Healy. Having worked together as web developers for a number of years they decided to create their own platform.
"In 10 years we can imagine every item in your home being connected to the internet"
First round funding was secured by winning the prestigious Seedcamp – a pan-European London based accelerator competition – I then came on board to bring the BaseKit platform to a global market.
We have now secured over $25 million investment, have over 40,000 new customers a month and have expanded into Asia, South America and Europe. It’s safe to say we are growing quickly and I am very proud of our achievements.
What are the essential ingredients of a good website?
a) corporate website
Too many websites give away interesting information and content for free, without even so much as asking for an email from a user. Corporate sites need to do all they can to generate leads and initiate a response from their audience.
Using short forms (or one-question polls) to gather data from a user before giving them content is a great technique which allows businesses to build up a user (and potential customer) profile from the website.
Corporate websites need dynamic, interesting content too
b) ecommerce store
Businesses offering the ability to purchase goods online need to ensure payment tools are operational, efficient, but most of all secure. If your website takes credit card details, processes payments, or even holds onto customer data – security needs to be your best friend.
PCI DSS compliance is just one of the compulsory regulations eCommerce businesses need to be able to prove adherence too, unless they fancy crippling fines. More importantly, security bolsters trust with customers, and the customer is what it’s all about.
Why did you go for investment?
BaseKit, like every other tech startup had an idea, but no way of funding it. The company needed to raise capital in order to take BaseKit to the market and entering a competition like Seedcamp was an obvious choice.
How was the process and what did you learn about dealing with investors?
One of the most important aspects that business owners need to consider is the relationship-building part of raising first round funding. Whilst many would feel that there is a formal process in raising capital – pitching, waiting for a decision, submitting due diligence – it is rare, almost unheard of, for investors to make a decision based on one meeting.
Most will want to build a relationship over a period of time, see how the company operates, and understand the founders to an extent before signing on the dotted line. We found this is a critical part of securing investment, and it is important to allow investors the time they need to make a decision.
Seasoned venture capitalists might also ask for an experienced CEO to lead the company as part of the deal, especially if the founders have little experience in running a large company.
If you were a start-up how would you approach creating a website that people want to read?
Content, content, content - As much as content marketers have repeated this phrase over the years, it really is critical that the content you are presenting is relevant, engaging, and shareable. Content helps you in a multitude of ways – driving traffic to the site, improving search ranking, improving PR – yet many often neglect the creation and maintenance of quality content for their site.
What web-based developments most excite you right now?
Our product team are hard at work creating a responsive editor, so customers will be able to edit their websites on their mobiles and tablets as well as PCs. We’re excited to see the use of responsive design best practices on a wide scale.
What will we be able to do online in 10 years that we can’t do today?
We’re moving towards an interconnected world with the Internet of Things, being able to control your heating at home from your smartphone at the office, we can only see this growing as technology makes peoples lives easier and integrates with everyday objects.
In 10 years we can imagine every item in your home being connected to the internet, from your umbrella telling you when it’s about to rain, to your fridge automatically ordering more milk when you’re running low.
What is your best advice for people moving online?
Make sure your website is responsive and works on all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop). Update your website frequently, don’t just set it up and leave it to become out-dated.
And of course, make it easy for people to find, using relevant keywords in your website copy to improve your search engine ranking.