DishyMix: Susan Bratton Podcasts & Blogs Famous Executives 2009-07-20 20:22:12

by on July 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Image representing BaseKit as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

One of the most impressive companies with whom I met earlier this month in England on the Traveling Geeks tour was Basekit. Founded by three Welshman and now being headed by Juan Lobato, Basekit is an evolutionary step in technology for web designers and developers. Basekit is a web site builder and content management system; a better way to create web sites. It is a live online (cloud hosted) browser based application that enables the creation, deployment and management of dynamic CMS web sites for businesses.

Basekit Executives

Basekit Executives

Their are many template-drive and drag and drop form builders as part of the application, but the process that allows a designer to import photoshop (.psd) files directly into Basekit to create a ‘template’ seems to me to be the most valuable and time saving attribute of this very helpful site creation tool. Now a designer doesn’t need to code their designs into html / css templates – Basekit does it all for them. Users can then access the CSS / HTML from within Basekit (if they wish), once Basekit has transformed their design into a flexible web template.

Here’s my Q&A with Richard Best.

Tell me a little about yourself and how you founded Basekit :
Basekit – head office in Chepstow, South Wales.
Simon Best ( CTO & co-founder ) – age 30, Welsh.
Richard Best ( Commercial Director & co-founder ) – age 33, Welsh.
Richard Healy ( Lead Developer & co-founder ) – age 27, English.
Juan Lobato ( CEO ) – age 36, Spanish.
Simon and Richard Best set up their first web tech business in 2002 – with Richard Healy joining in 2003. The 3 of us went into business together in 2005, setting up a web agency which worked both on internal web tech projects and external SME web site projects.
Juan joined the team at the start of April 2009, bringing commercial management experience mixed with an additional injection of entrepreneurial flair.
We started to develop the Basekit concept in 2006. The Basekit concept was founded out of our experiences building web sites for SME businesses. We noticed that many of the small business sites we created for customers had very similar features, and the vision of BaseKit was to make it really simple to build these sites. We initially developed Basekit with a view to using it internally; but quickly realised its potential as a product in its own right.
Having developed a working prototype, we entered Seedcamp 2008 and ended up as one of 7 winners out of some 400 European web tech companies. Since then we have secured investment from 2 top European VC’s, and grown the company from 3, to 8 full time employees.
We are looking forward to launching our public Beta in September 2009.

Note: If you are a US web designer/developer and interested in being involved in the private beta, send an email to me at susan at personallifemedia dot com and I’ll introduce you to Richard.
Where did you get the idea? How has the product evolved today from your original concept?
We created BaseKit out of our belief that typical web 2.0 development should be quick and easy, and should not require complex coding skills. The idea sprung from our desire to complete more web site projects, in less time – without compromising quality. By moving the focus away from coding, Basekit users are able to focus on the visual aesthetic qualities of their web projects – making them look better, and work better.
Traditional web development processes are disjointed and convoluted – and surprisingly ‘offline’. We believe web sites (of all things) should be created ‘in the web’.
The Basekit product has evolved from an early prototype (taken to Seedcamp 2008) – which despite displaying some impressive qualities and results, had a very steep learning curve. We now have a much more rounded product, with a highly intuitive and easy to use interface. We have focused a lot of attention on usability – and consistently score higher in usability tests than our closest competitors.

Describe the Basekit service.

Basekit is a state of the art web site builder and content management system; a better way to create web sites. It is a live online (cloud hosted) browser based application that enables the creation, deployment and management of dynamic CMS web sites for businesses. It has been described as, ‘a web builder with an injection of superjuice’!
Basekit will enable users to go further without code than ever before – without compromising flexibility.

Tell us how it works.

It works via an intuitive point and click, drag n drop interface making the creation and management of functional and dynamic business web sites quicker and easier. The ‘coding’ elements are taken care of by Basekit, and become trivial – therefore the user is able to focus on the design / layout of the web site resulting in a better looking, more effective end result.
We believe that ‘web sites’ should be created on ‘the web’. With Basekit, what you see really is what you get – you edit web sites live online in true context.
What features are most used and least used of the feature set now?
This is a difficult question to answer, as we are currently in a private Beta testing stage, running set on site weekly user testing sessions with a range of delegates.
We have some really neat and unique features such as :

i)    A process whereby a user can import photoshop (.psd) files directly into Basekit to create a ‘template’. This means that users do not need to code their designs into html / css templates – Basekit does it all for you! Users can then access the CSS / HTML from within Basekit (if they wish), once Basekit has transformed their design into a flexible web template.
ii)    Custom web forms can be created in a fraction of the time, simply by dropping the individual form fields into the page. Basekit automatically sets up a back end (MySQL) database – so that all form submissions are stored in the ‘back end’ of your site. This data can then, of course, be used dynamically.
iii)    Instant database creation. Create databases in Basekit simply by copying and pasting data from an excel spreadsheet. It really is that easy! Again, this data can then be used / displayed dynamically.

Who are your target customers? Be as specific as possible.
Our primary market research has shown that most small businesses currently source the creation of their web site through ‘web designers’ (74%).
Basekit was initially conceptualised and created out of our own needs (as a small web agency) to create, deploy and manage small business web sites in a quicker, easier and more effective way.
Therefore, our go to market strategy will initially be focussed around the ‘web designer’ channel. For them, Basekit is a faster and better way to create, deploy and manage small business web sites. The Basekit platform is flexible enough to accommodate existing web design workflows and can enable web professionals to do more with the capabilities they have.
Basekit delivers particular benefits to the ‘designer’ end of web designers – with Basekit helping them to focus on the visual aesthetic qualities of the web sites they create, with all dynamic coding elements taken care of for them.
In addition to the web designer channel, we can also target small business segments directly either with a Do It Yourself web builder offering for the 26% of ‘tech savvy’ small businesses that favour this method, or as an assisted set up service where we act as web designer rapidly deploying small business web sites at an increased monthly fee.
What’s the #1 reason your customers will use your service?
There are many reasons why people will use Basekit, but the number one reason is that it is an ‘enabling’ technology. It ‘enables’ users to create dynamic, functional web sites quicker and easier than ever before – without having to write a line of code (although for the coders out there, access to code is ‘optional’ !).
What are the first features you hope to launch? What’s the feature roadmap?
We have a very defined set of features that we are in the process of implementing for our public Beta launch in September 2009. We have deliberately held back on locking our feature roadmap beyond that point, as the important thing for us will be listening to our users and developing the features that matter to them.
Who are your competitors?
We truly believe that there is no direct comparative to Basekit. But, we have identified our 3 closest competitors as Square Space, Light CMS and Goodbarry.
What do you need from the market to be successful?
Lots of delighted users, who LOVE Basekit so much they tell all their friends!
On a serious note, we feel strongly that the market is ready for Basekit; in fact it is well over due! We built Basekit out of a genuine need – a need which others can relate to. Web development should not be so hard, and Basekit is here to make it much easier and much quicker.
We hope that in the future people will look back and wonder what life was like before Basekit.
How are you doing on funding?
We have secured funding from 2 top European VC’s – who have not only helped to finance the company, but also provide invaluable support to the business on an operational and strategic level.
We are looking to bring in a further funding partner by November 2009.
What is your business model? How will you monetize?
Basekit is free to try and free to use to develop a prototype web site. Once a user deploys a web site, a monthly subscription fee (per site) is charged. This fee is similar to existing hosting fees, therefore we are not creating a new market but rather being a disruptive substitution for traditional hosting models.
The monthly fee paid per web site deployed in Basekit increases as new features are added to their basic package (e.g. capability to update content, email marketing, promotion, eAccounting etc.). Once web sites are deployed in Basekit the switching costs are always above the price sensitivity of substitutive offers making the lifetime value of each web site high. In fact, we estimate that the net present value of each web site deployed could be more than £1,000.
What kind of US partners would help grow your business faster?
The ideal US partners for us would be people / companies that have either :
a)    Cracked the US SME market.
and / or
b)    Cracked the US web designer market / channel.
and / or
c)    Has a major sphere of influence over either of the above.

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