Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. You know what? Actually, instead of doing the intros, I’ve just got to asked Sergie, Sergie, how many people are using your software?
Sergie: About 2,000–not 2,000, that’s like a small number–275,000.
Andrew: 275,000 people. Are they all paying users or some of them are free?
Sergie: A lot of them are free.
Andrew: How many are actually paying users?
Sergie: I’d say 5%, small number.
Andrew: All right. And revenues annually, where were they 2014, let’s say?
Sergie: The beginning of 2014, we hit a $1 million MRR. Oh, sorry, not MRR, that’s amazing–ARR and we were pretty stoked on that.
Andrew: Wait, what’s ARR? MRR is monthly recurring revenue. ARR is annual recurring revenue.
Sergie: Yes. Correct.
Andrew: So, you recently hit $1 million in annual recurring revenue.
Sergie: In 2014 in the beginning.
Andrew: Pretty good.
Sergie: And then we hit $100,000 MRR later that year. So, in the beginning of this year, we jumped to $2 million ARR and then $200,000 MRR. So, it’s kind of like slowly progressing each year. The team is growing. We’re getting super stoked.
Andrew: It seems like also your confidence is growing as you’re building the business.
Sergie: Yeah, of course. It’s kind of funny. I did a lot of different projects in the past. When you put into a company as the only designer and the dev team is growing like crazy and you’re in charge of not the entire brand vision because there are a lot of different parts of that, but how the tool is used, how people interact with every single part of your product, it really kind of pushes you into the battlefield.
Andrew: You’re a designer?
Andrew: You know what? I noticed something about you. I’m going to introduce you in a moment. I’m trying a different approach to starting the interviews to see if I could shake things up. But one of the things I’ve noticed about you is you’ve got a really good look. This is a part that some people in my audience hate that I get into, like, “Get into how he got his customers.” I will.
Sergie: Is it because I’m bald?
Andrew: It’s what?
Sergie: Is it because I’m bald?
Andrew: I think the bald part is good. I think the glasses look like you’re just kind of casually not sweating your look but they look right on your face. Your beard is shaved to the right level. You’re always wearing something that’s interesting. Do you think to that degree about the way you’re dressed and the way you present yourself or you’re a designer who just worries about online design?
Sergie: Honestly, I kind of wake up in the morning and I look at myself and I think, “Do I look clean? If yes, let’s go to work.”
Andrew: That’s it?
Sergie: Yeah. I don’t focus too much–
Andrew: Do you smell your armpits and say, “Do I at least smell a little clean?” and then go to work?
Sergie: I take a shower and think, “Okay. That’s good enough.”
Andrew: I see. The designer that took me out to get this pink shirt and the jacket and all that, I said to her, “I think I’m dressing a little too conservatively for on camera. The fact that I can’t wear this stuff off camera should tell us that we have something that doesn’t really fit my personality. So, on Saturday or Sunday, I forget when, we went out and she bought me new jackets, new t-shirts that go underneath the jackets, things that look like I don’t really give a damn but they just kind of land nicely. So, very soon I’m going to look a little bit better.
Sergie: That’s good.
Andrew: Anyway. I should introduce you. You are Sergie Magdalin. You are the cofounder of Webflow, which is a website builder for code-free, professional responsive design. I’m Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy. Does the world really need another way to create responsive web design? Don’t we have WordPress? Don’t we have Squarespace? Don’t we have all these other sites?
Sergie: That’s a good question. A lot of people will kind of ask that question. All those solutions have their limitations. You go to WordPress and you need to either hire a developer or you need to learn how to code or you need to juggle PHP, which I don’t know if anybody loves doing that. And then with Squarespace, you’re limited to just the templates they give you. What’s missing is a tool for people that love picking up something–entrepreneurs, designers–that want ultimate creative control. Then they can build whatever they can think of.
Andrew: I hear those Squarespace commercials. They say you have full access to the CSS. You can edit this. You can change that.” Same thing for WordPress–Matt Mullenweg will say it’s all open source. You can go in and dig around and change anything you want.
Sergie: You can. But to learn how do that is a pain in the ass. That’s what I think.
Andrew: Versus with you all I have to do is click like a button on the right side of the screen and something will appear on the left side and it will be WYSIWYG, what the audience will eventually see is what I see in my design view.
Sergie: Yeah. The idea with Webflow is that we extract HTML and CSS into their own separate things so that when you use Webflow, you’re interacting with HTML and CSS but it’s made visual. So, you get the full control of coding but you don’t have to think about brackets, think about how to structure it.
Andrew: Your brother Vlad, this was his idea?
Sergie: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s his entire idea. He had a general idea and then we kind of refined it over time.
Andrew: What was the general idea that he had?
Sergie: It was his college thesis I don’t know how many years ago, probably six or seven years ago. He thought it would be amazing to extract a way a lot of the mundane and overdone things that he did as a web designer. Him and I, we worked in a small agency and we kind of busted out different websites for dental clients and brick and mortar stores, things like that. There are so many repetitive things and he just thought, “How can we create these building blocks for designers?”
Andrew: What’s a repetitive thing that bothered him that he had to do over and over again, or you?
Sergie: For him, it was something like, “I have to setup an SQL database. So, there’s all this content. How do I set that up for the client?” And always, you have to kind of repeat the same thing over and over. For me, because I’m a designer, I have to continually do research and compile a lot of different visual metaphors and things like that and then think about how does this all come together versus thinking about components.
So, what we’re trying to do is componentize everything, every single thing in web design, to componentize it so it’s 100 times faster to do. If you need this, drag it in. If you need that, drag it in.
Andrew: I see. If I need a button, I can just drag that in. If I need text to look a certain way, I can just drag it in. Is this what Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator calls schlep blindness–that we’ve all done this repetitive work that’s really tiring but we’ve been blind to it because we’ve all done it for so long and you’ve discovered that it’s a frustration that somebody needs to make easier. Is that true or am I just seeing his world view on top of your reality?
Sergie: I think everybody in the web space building simple websites and building complex web applications, they have a similar frustration. They kind of know how frustrating it is and they know that technology is moving at 100 miles an hour.
Andrew: Why didn’t anyone build it? If it’s so frustrating to do this over and over and over again, why didn’t anyone else come out and do what you and Vlad did? I should say obviously there are more people at the company than you and Vlad. But why didn’t anyone else do it?
Sergie: I would say two things. It’s very hard. You need a lot of market expertise.
Andrew: I see.
Sergie: Vlad, he’s a brilliant guy. And I would say I’m a pretty good designer. So, I think bringing two people together that can actually build a tool like this, very, very complex front end web application, it’s hard to find. And it has a lot of focus on design quality. There are actually a lot of tools similar to ours that are coming out on the market and have come out, but they’re very hard to use. So, people don’t take them seriously.
Andrew: The design agency that you worked for, was that started by a guy that was sleeping in his car when you were in school?
Andrew: That’s a different job.
Sergie: So, the design agency was just me and my brother, Vlad. When we were in college, it was kind of like a side gig for both of us.
Andrew: What kind of work were you doing on the side?
Sergie: So, when I went into college, I wanted to become a biologist, actually. I was thinking, “Oh man, I’ve got to have a real career.” Before, I designed tons of websites and worked in the web space a lot. I went into college and I was like, “Oh man, I should do something serious with my life. I should probably get into biology,” because I wanted to be an optometrist. That ended up not panning out because school is very boring.
But at the time, a guy named Scott, who was living out of his car–this is my boss seven years ago–he just wanted to start a surfboard and skateboard shop on the campus. It was the first of its kind on a college campus. He, at the time, didn’t have anybody else. He needed a graphic designer. I submitted my kind of collection of logos because he was doing a logo contest. He called me in one day, probably two weeks after, and he said, “Hey, Sergie, compare what you gave me and this like printed sheet of gloss paper with all these different logo options and compare this to all these other ripped up pieces of paper with sketched logos.”
So, I got the job and ever since, kind of helping him build from a brick and mortar to a full blown ecommerce customized longboard building tool that made the company one of the top online retailers for longboarding.
Andrew: Longboard building tool. So, you created not just the beautiful logo for him on the nice presentation unlike all those other people who just put it on a scrap piece of paper and said, “Here.” Not only did you do a better job there, but you also allowed his customers to design the skateboard they wanted and customize it and then have that shipped out to them. That was you.
Sergie: That was over a long time. That was over six years. I kind of condensed it into one sentence. But yeah, I started out doing graphic design. I started doing a lot of web design for him. And then I partnered up with his developer. So, we worked together to design the whole experience to build kind of the first longboard builder online where you can connect different components of the skateboard and then the rest is history, I guess.
Andrew: Okay. And then something else happened. We’ll talk about YC in a moment. But I’ve got to ask you about your personality. This is another time where I take a little bit of a break from the actual business story and I end up getting a lot of hate in the email. But I’m so curious about this. One of the things I’m noticing about myself is I get very intense in my own interviews. I mean, you’re a guest here on my site. I should be relaxed so that you get relaxed. I should be calm so that the person who’s listening to us will have a fun experience.
But I’m like holding myself back from leaning into the camera and into the screen. Meanwhile, you’re much more relaxed. You’re a very accomplished person, despite not having this, “I’ve got to tear the world’s head off” attitude. Is it just the way you are today on camera or are you just in a general more of a relaxed person than I am?
Sergie: I would say I’m more of a relaxed guy. I feel like most of my pressure is kind of in my head and the pressure I put on myself to make good stuff.
Andrew: What does it look like for you? For me it’s like, “If I don’t make this the best intro, if I don’t make this the best interview, then Sergie’s friends who are going to see this are going to say, ‘What this hell is this? I’ve got to move on.’ Then I lose respect and more than that, I don’t get to build the best interview ever.” And that’s the stuff that goes on in my head. I’ve got to lean forward and if I say the wrong thing, I’ve got to adjust us so we that we get back on track because every second is so important. What’s it like in your head?
Sergie: For me, I guess currently because there are a million things going on at once and I’m managing so many different parts of the company, I would say there are just so many things that run through my head, but the main thing is, “How do I make this the best possible thing? How can it be designed in the best possible way? How can it be used in the most simplest way? How can it have the most power to the user?” And if one of those fails, I feel like the whole thing is broken.
Andrew: So, we both have the same framework in our heads, but a different approach to it. I feel like I have more of a lean forward approach, like, “I’ve got to get this to work right now.” It seems like you have more of a lean back approach, where it’s more contemplative, “How do I solve this riddle and make it all work together?”
Sergie: Well, it depends on what I’m trying to solve and the timeline.
Andrew: Give me an example of something that was really plagued you that would have made me, now that you know me a little bit, made me want to lean forward and say, “I’ve got to solve this and something has got to happen.” Give me an example.
Sergie: One of the things when we first started Webflow, even before we got into YC, Vlad and I were working on our user interface for the tool. It’s one of the most important things, I would say, because how the tool is structured, where things are makes the tool faster to use or it’s not as efficient.
So, we started out by making this really cool kind of interaction. You have to click on an element and once you click and hold it, some cool UI pops up. It’s an experience. It’s kind of like the Apple experience. And then if you use Photoshop, you have your right panel. You have panels all over the place. You kind of structure it in a way that’s efficient to you. It’s way less about the experience. It’s more about efficiency. If you select something, you know exactly where to go. It kind of shows everything at once versus simplifying the user experience.
So, we started out with the simple way. It was just gnawing at me and I was like, “This isn’t going to work. This is too slow. This is not efficient. This is going to make my job as a designer ten times slower.” So, this is like going against our goals as a company, right?
So, at the time, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to go heads down and redesign the whole thing. It has to be re-thought of.” At that time it was like we were working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and I had no choice but to say, “Okay, we’ve got to scratch all this and rethink how this is going to be faster than this beautiful way.”
Andrew: And when you do that, how do you do it? Where do you go? How do you think it through?
Sergie: So, there are a lot of different ways I would think it through. The main way is I’d have to experience it. Sometimes I can keep it in my head. You know when you have an idea and you think, “Okay, it will be good to do it like this?” And then you kind of think through all the different scenarios. But with a tool like Webflow or a process like building a website, there are so many moving parts that it’s hard to hold all of them in your head. So, you have to create a situation where you an play around with it.
Andrew: I see. So, you imagine yourself being a user and saying, “What would the user have to experience? And if he experienced this one thing that we want to create for him, what would that look like for him? How would he react?”
Sergie: And it’s not just imagine. You have to put yourself in the user’s–
Andrew: How do you put yourself in the user’s shoes like that?
Sergie: You have to design every single piece of the interaction that you’re trying to test and you have to make it usable. You have to put in some kind of prototype that you can click through and experience. Once you actually experience it, then you feel the pain, if there is pain. If you don’t experience it, it’s all in your head. It’s all speculative, “Oh, maybe this is good. Yeah, this could be faster. Yeah, that is maybe a better location.” But once you actually play around with it, you realize, “Oh, that’s a pain point right there,” or, “That’s better.”
Andrew: That makes sense. Let me do a quick sponsorship message. In a past interview, I said to one of my guests, “Nobody is inviting me to a Slack channel. Please create a Slack channel and invite me. I’d like to experience it.” And he did. And he invited anyone who happened to listen to that interview to join in. So, we’ve been chatting in there. Two people in there this morning said that they were using one of my sponsors. They said, “Andrew, you’re doing a great job for HostGator. We’re actually using it.”
One person, actually, he showed me a link to a website of one of his clients. The thing hadn’t been updated since 2007, the website. It looked so bad, so static, so nothing going on on there and all this person who was in our chat had to do was modernize the site and do it quickly and cheaply so this person who was afraid of web design and afraid of owning a website in general will actually have a site that works and is a little more modern.
So, he went to HostGator.com/Mixergy. He got a really cheap hosting package. With one click he installed WordPress and is now able to create a brand new site for his client, hand the site over to his client and know that this guy who’s been stuck in 2007 will actually have something he can manage.
The other person in our Slack community said that he has trouble with hosting community because it’s so freaking slow. And we were talking about why it’s slow and how it’s notoriously slow and he said, “I’m switching for HostGator because I can see that they are fast, that they will not slow my site down.” We also said that if anything happens, there are actual tech support people that he can talk to.
So, two people heard me talk about HostGator just like I did right now. They both signed up. If you’re looking for a good hosting package that’s inexpensive, that makes things easy, that you can use for yourself or your client or a girlfriend or a boyfriend or whoever that you need to just get something up and running fast, go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. You’ll get 30% off and you’ll get all the features that these two guys are now so happy with. HostGator.com/Mixergy.
Sergie, you and I were talking before we started about how it is possible–it’s not necessarily advisable–but it is possible for someone to design a site in Webflow and then move it to a hosting company like HostGator, right?
Sergie: Yeah. You can. It’s more of a hassle to have to deal with the code, but yeah. Some people do that.
Andrew: You had this idea. It made so much sense. And then you and Vlad, your brother, and Bryant–how do you know Bryant? Bryant Chou–am I pronouncing his name right?
Sergie: Bryant Chou. Yeah. Vlad worked with Bryant at Intuit.
Andrew: Okay. So, the three of you guys go to Y Combinator, the top accelerator here in Silicon Valley. What did you have to show them at the time?
Sergie: Was this the first time?
Sergie: Okay. So, the first time it was just Vlad and I. We just had a lot of screenshots. We had a lot of user interface. We had a general idea. But we had nothing that was working, nothing that you could play around with, nothing that would get people excited.
Andrew: What did Y Combinator say to you when they heard that, when they saw your designs, when they heard what you had?
Sergie: So, there are two stages of acceptances or rejections. If you just get an email, if you don’t even get an interview, actually, they just say you’re rejected. They don’t give you a reason. If you get an interview and then you’re rejected, then they give you a reason.
Andrew: And in the meeting, do you remember the questions that they asked you?
Sergie: So, the first time we were there, we just got rejected. That was September–not September–around November of 2012.
Andrew: You didn’t even get into the meeting?
Sergie: We didn’t get into the meeting.
Andrew: I see. You just sent in an application and you didn’t get a response.
Andrew: All right. Fair now in retrospect, that makes sense?
Sergie: Yeah. It was good.
Andrew: And then what you did was you created a playground. What’s the playground you created?
Sergie: Yeah. So, after we got rejected, we were thinking, “What do we need to get accepted?” And then we had to rethink our whole–not our whole idea, but our whole offering and even think, “How are we going to get traction? How are we going to get a lot of people excited about this?” so, what we did is pretty much what I told you before. We wanted to created something that people can experience and can use.
So, what we did was created this–we called it the CSS Playground. We created all these different buttons and forms and different things. It was on a visual interface. The idea was that you can select something and edit the CSS in a visual way and it spits out the CSS in a clean format, which what we were trying do was to blow people’s minds and show them a website builder can do this. Everyone is skeptical. They’re thinking Dreamweaver. They’re thinking, “There’s no way something can create beautiful CSS out of a visual interface.”
Andrew: Is that what I can play with right now, Playground.Webflow.com?
Sergie: You can try. We might have shut it down because it was so old.
Andrew: Let me see. It seems like it still works from what I can tell. If nothing else, it gives me a sense of what you’re giving people. You were giving them a desktop view of a pre-created website complete with buttons and video, I think, and typography. I could click on any element and on the right side I have a collection of tools, of things I can do to it.
For example, I’m clicking now on this picture of a cat that you have on and I can change the opacity of it. I can–let me see what else–I can put a borer around it. I can move it, etc. I think I can even delete it easily. I can see what this whole page looks like on a tablet. I can see what it looks like on a phone. I can edit it in all these views.
Sergie: That’s correct.
Andrew: But I feel like just looking at your face as I describe this, I’m not fully getting it. Is this what it was back then or was it different?
Sergie: Yeah. This was it. I didn’t even know we still had it.
Sergie: That’s awesome.
Andrew: I like to do deep research. In fact, I see the page here. I see the comments on Hacker News. You did something that I wish more people would do. You didn’t just fling it into the Hacker News community. You went in there and said, “I’m the cofounder. My brother and I quit our jobs seven months ago. We’ve been working on this day and night off our savings since then.” You’re really engaging people in it. Look at this response, “First impression,” this is one person who came in, “My first impression–Adobe wants to buy this so bad. I worked with the brackets team,” that’s part of the Adobe team?
Andrew: “I know which direction they’re going and this is so in line with that. Good luck.” “I’ve been dragging for the past couple of months, but seeing this beautiful product has just pumped me up–freaking gorgeous.” Here’s another person, “Amazing stuff. You guys are some talented MOFOs. Can’t wait to kick the wheels on this.” I see. The comments are really positive here. You’re in there. Is that you who’s chatting or your brother?
Sergie: That’s Vlad.
Andrew: That’s Vlad who’s chatting. Okay. There’s some person who’s trying to get a debate going, but it wasn’t working, saying, “Divshot versus Easel versus Webflow, go people,” And nobody really was engaging and trying to shoot it down. But the feedback was very positive. At that point, is that what you had when you went back to Y Combinator?
Sergie: Yes. So, Y Combinator has their Hacker News blog submissions. We figured if we get a lot of traction there, we might get their attention. We got 500 points, which is pretty crazy. 500 points–usually you get for a good article maybe 100 points, maybe 150. Sometimes it could go up to 200. But 500 points, that means people are excited about what we’re doing. They were thinking, “Wow, it’s going to be possible to build websites without having to code.”
That idea of not putting developers out of business but taking all the things that developers can do and putting it into the designers hands was just blowing a lot of people’s minds.
Andrew: I could see that, but is that really considered traction if people are giving you points and going and checking out the site?
Sergie: Well, it’s not real traction. It’s not like revenue. But the fact that we got a lot of inbound interest–I think at that time we got 30,000 signups on our waiting list.
Andrew: That’s the other thing that you had. If I went to your homepage back then, there was a logo that says, “Webflow–powerful web development tools for creatives. We’re creating a platform that gives you the ability to create complex websites without a single line of code. Sign up to be one of the first to experience a simple way to build for the web.” And then there’s a place for people to put their email address and then to get notified. That’s where you got how many subscribers on?
Sergie: So, around 30,000, but it was all based on the playground. People were just excited about the prospect of what this could be.
Andrew: I see. So, what you were able to do is validate that people cared about this and not just people, but the right kind of people and they were able to play with it and get a sense of what you were going to develop and a very skeptical audience gave you their email addresses.
Sergie: Well, not skeptical, very hopeful.
Andrew: Well, ordinarily, I think that they’re very similar there, but you got them to be hopeful when they saw this. So, that’s what you took to Y Combinator in around 2011, I think.
Sergie: Around 2013 and it began 2013.
Andrew: Okay. This landing page that I just described was up in 2011 though, right?
Sergie: So, I think that was the very first landing page and we reworked it. When we had this playground we rebuilt the whole landing page and actually broke out the different value propositions we had.
Andrew: I see. So, if I look at August 2013, it says, “Design responsive websites visually, the full power of code in a smart UI, publish or export production-ready HTML and CSS.” People could play with the demo, which took them to the playground that I just described or they could click, “Get started for free,” which would allow them to enter their email address and I see you were showing examples of what could be built. None of it was actually working. It was all an idea of what’s to come. You know what’s interesting? If I’m reading this right, you’re not even saying it’s to come. You’re acting like it’s already there.
Sergie: So, we have a simple landing page where we just try to collect emails. Then when we launched this right here, this playground, we needed a landing page that kind of sold everything, just images and text, and then had a signup form. And then afterwards in the summer of 2013 when we actually launched the product and made it possible to sign up and everything, that’s when you were able to create an account.
Andrew: I see. So, I’m missing a step.
Andrew: There was one where you just said–I think I see it now. This is from March, 2013. You broke down each of the steps of what was to come. You said responsive design that’s faster and easier, “Powerful design tools with a sleek, intuitive UI,” you show how people can tweak their design for all screen sizes, etc. “Want to learn more? Sign up for updates.” I see. So, you’re not acting like it exists at that point. You’re just saying, “Sign up for updates if you’re interested.”
Sergie: That’s right. Yeah.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. So, that’s the part that I was missing and now I see it. You took that to Y Combinator. Who was in your interview?
Sergie: So, we had Kevin Hale, cofounder of–
Sergie: Wufoo. Correct.
Andrew: Kevin Hale is getting more and more–more and more I’m hearing him as the representative of Y Combinator.
Sergie: He’s a represented of design at Y Combinator.
Andrew: But he was also on the startup podcast where he talked about how he didn’t want that company Dating Ring to even go on a podcast because he said they should focus on product market fit and until they get product market fit, they should have their heads down and stop trying to promote. So, he’s now the face in many ways. All right. So, he was in the meeting. Who else was there?
Sergie: There was Paul Buchheit, the inventor of Gmail.
Sergie: And there were a few other people.
Andrew: Who asked the toughest questions?
Sergie: I would say Kevin did.
Sergie: Because he knew the space.
Andrew: Do you remember one of the questions that he asked you?
Sergie: Man, the actual interview, it’s all a blur because it’s so stressful. You literally have ten minutes.
Andrew: You hired a speech coach to help you with it.
Sergie: Yeah. We knew how tough it was going to be. One of the recommendations is you’ve got to prepare yourself as much as possible and put all your chips in one bag for this because if you get in, you’ll be good. If you won’t get in, then it’s going to be a struggle.
Andrew: So, what did the speech coach teach you that you can pass on to us?
Sergie: So, it was myself, Vlad and Bryant. Bryant joined at that time. We were trying to figure out–there are so many things that we could communicate about the product, about the market, about what we know about the market. There were just so many things. He was just trying to help us be on the same point with every single question and have the same answer. And even if someone, let’s say Paul, asks, “How big is your market?” We’d have a smart answer and maybe Bryant would be the one that would answer.
Andrew: Got it.
Sergie: And I wouldn’t have to talk over him. One of the things that they see in these interviews is a lot of disconnect between founders and some founders talking over other founders.
Andrew: How did you know that they saw that, that that was an issue?
Sergie: Reading tons and tons of papers and blog posts about people doing interviews and them talking about it in their own blogs.
Andrew: All right. So, you get two phone calls from Y Combinator afterwards. You guys go to the movies to relax. What’s the first all and what’s the second call?
Sergie: So, we were just kind of waiting to get the results from the interview because they get them that day. If they email you, that means you’re rejected and they give you a reason for the rejection. If they call you, that means you’re in and then they talk about terms and all that.
So, we were relaxing at the movies watching “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise. Vlad is looking at his phone. We’re right next to him in in the movie theater. It’s the call. He runs out. We run out after him and we’re thinking, “Who is it? Is this Paul Graham?” So, Paul Graham is like, “Hey, you guys are totally in. We loved what you’re working on.” We’re all excited. We’re calling our wives and girlfriends, just very stoked on the possibilities because you’re like, “This is the hardest thing to do.”
And then we go back and we’re relieved watching the movie and then Vlad looks down and he’s looking at an email and it says, “You’ve been rejected.” And we’re like, “What?” He’s showing it to us and we’re like, “This makes no sense.” We walk outside and then we’re thinking, “This couldn’t be.” We’re like, ‘We’re going to go to YC right now and break down the door and figure out what’s going on,” because they might have accidentally called us. We were kind of thinking the worst, “Oh, maybe that’s what happened.”
So, we drive to YC with our bats and our chainsaws and eventually Raj, who is one of the guys that interviewed us, he called us and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” And we’re thinking, “What are you sorry for? Are you sorry that you called us to begin with?” And he’s like, “Sorry, we accidentally sent you an email.”
But the scary thing was the email, what they described in the email, the reason for the rejection is very pertinent to–I think they might write a rejection for every single company that interviews because it’s like one of those things that you know that’s the worst thing about your company that it may be a reason for its failure and that’s why they wouldn’t accept you. So, we were thinking, “This is real.”
Andrew: That’s interesting, actually, that they write a rejection letter that’s personalized to each person so if they have to reject them, they don’t have to scramble for an email. They just have to hit send.
Sergie: Maybe they just write it right there and they just thought hey had our name in the wrong bucket. I don’t know. We were scared though, very nerve-wracking.
Andrew: And in the end, you actually did get in.
Andrew: What did you learn? Forget about the money they give you. Forget about the opportunities to get investment. You got phenomenal investors. But what did you learn that helped shape the product, that helped make it better?
Sergie: It’s tough because one of the things they teach you in the boot camp or the whole YC three months that you’re there is you have to ship something. You have to show something to the customers and show something to the investors and you have to have a real product. And it’s a very tough thing if you’re building something that’s never been done before and it requires a lot of research and development.
So, we were kind of stuck in the middle between a rock and a hard place thinking, “Should we push really hard and launch something or should we wait and perfect it?” There are so many companies that just sit there and try to perfect their product and get more investment, perfect it, get more.
We just decided–we got a lot of advice from Kevin and all those. They just said, “It’s better to launch something that’s dirty and doesn’t work great and get a lot of feedback versus trying to be stuck in your own bubble trying to perfect it.” So, we kind of worked tirelessly and launched something that we thought was a piece of crap, honestly, but it ended up being not that bad and we quickly made it better and better and better and it was good that we launched it.
Andrew: You know what? I hear that from Y Combinator companies all the time, that one of the biggest lessons they got was, “Hey, ship this thing out, even if you think it’s crap. Just get it out there and get some feedback and improve it.” But I thought you told our producer that you guys over-engineered the first version, that you had too many features, that it was too complicated.
Sergie: That was the very, very first time when we got rejected.
Andrew: So, when you first got rejected, you did have a product, it just wasn’t being used by anybody. It was not just an idea. It was software that was bloated.
Sergie: No, no, no. It was still an idea. But it was probably like five years ahead of its time. So, we were trying to like, for example, if I were going to come to you as an investor and say, “Hey, this is a cruise ship. Look at these 100 different rooms and these 50 different escape pods and it floats and nothing can sink it.”
The investor is like, “Okay, it’s going to take you how long to build that? How much money do you need? How soon are people going to be able to use it?” Versus coming in and being like, “Hey, we have this speedboat and we’re just building this super-fast engine and that’s the most integral part.”
Andrew: And then we’ll add more and more and become a bigger company.
Andrew: I see. So, it wasn’t even that you had the product built and it was bloated. Your idea was bloated.
Andrew: I see. So now Kevin encourages you to put it out. What was the thing that you hated the most about the site that you put out?
Sergie: I think it’s my personality, similar to yours where you release something that’s not perfect and you know there are limitations and it’s just irking.
Andrew: Was there one thing that irked you tremendously, that made you feel, “This is a mistake,” or, “It hurts me to have people see this in the real world?”
Sergie: I think one of the things was some sites would just disappear. People would create websites and they would disappear.
Andrew: That is painful.
Sergie: They’d complain and we’d be like, “Holy crap. If this keeps happening, we’re totally going to lose the company.” It has to save your work.
Andrew: Yeah. A basic part of a website is it should at least save what you’ve done.
Andrew: So, how would Kevin Hale respond to that. The guy who pushed you, if you were to go to him and say, “Hey, you pushed me to do this. I launched something. It’s losing people’s websites. You could be killing our credibility.”
Sergie: At the time, I think that was past Kevin Hale. We were kind of on our own in the wild. We could have kind of looked at the guts and redone the whole tool to figure out where the missing pieces are, try to plug up the holes. We figured we don’t have time for that. “Let’s just create a backup system, just a quick and dirty back up system where it just keeps saving things.” So, if you lose it, okay, here’s the day where you have most of your work so you can at least revert back.
Andrew: I see.
Sergie: So, it was one of those quick and dirty kind of things.
Andrew: So, if you were to put yourself in Kevin Hale’s body or put his mind into yours now, what he would say is, “If you screw up, you’re going to find a solution. That’s why we brought you in here. You’re going to find solutions quickly. It’s much better to know that they’re problems in the real world so you can create real solutions for them.” Do you think that?
Sergie: Partly. I think Kevin Hale’s most–his criticisms were more around the design interface, I would say, and less around things like that or business decisions or anything like that. He’s very much into usability and affordance and how do you put yourself in the user’s shoes and does it fit what users you’re trying to attract and things like that. Is it useful for those users? A lot of the feedback he gave us was, “Your tool is too complex.”
Andrew: It’s what?
Sergie: “Your tool is too complex. It has too much power. People don’t know how to use it.” As you first use it, you’re very confused. How do you understand this? How do you understand that? We had the same exact kind of feelings. But we couldn’t do anything about that at the time because we had to focus on more important things. We had to build it and make sure it worked before trying to figure out if it was the perfect way that it would be used.
Andrew: I see. Let’s talk about your investors. You got some fantastic ones. I actually did a search for Webflow in my inbox. The first time that I heard about it was from Eric Bahn, a friend of mine and past interviewee. He sent out this update for 2013. He said, “Look at what I’ve done. I got my hair longer.” And this was when his hair was down his face and down his back a little bit. He said, “I went on a road trip and I invested in Webflow and BetterWorks.” How did he end up investing in your company? He’s not a big investor.
Sergie: So, Eric Bahn is an awesome guy, love the guy. Really, he’s been helping out the company a lot. He just kind of learned about Webflow, I think, from Hacker News. He’s an entrepreneur, kind of a hacker. He doesn’t code. I would say he’s a great use case for Webflow. But he just started to use Webflow and he needed to build his new company HustleCon, which now he kind of built it out and they have all these conferences all around–
Andrew: He launched HustleCon and I guess this was the same year he founded HustleCon and then he eventually–I don’t know if he sold it or just transferred ownership and still has a share in the business and now he is on to working at Facebook and I think he still runs a blog called Life After Liquidity, liquidity meaning he sold his company, the one that he talked about on Mixergy. So, you’re saying he probably discovered it because he needed a website for HustleCon and saw how you guys have a tool for designing these sites.
Sergie: Yeah. So, he was thinking, “How can I build something that’s unique for HustleCon? How can I build it fast?” So, he found WebFlow and he’s thinking, “I’m going to pick this thing up.” He picked it up right away, built it and the cool thing about Webflow–for example, if he has a lot of leads coming in, he can capture the leads and then reach out to them, whatever, especially for an events-based type of thing. So, you just draw up a bunch of forms, design them any way he wanted and then he published the site and he was able to get his conference business started, which is awesome.
Andrew: That’s great. Before we started, I was asking you for use cases. That’s a perfect use case. At that early stage, it makes a lot of sense. All right. So, I can see why he became an investor. But look at this–Tim Draper, is he an investor?
Andrew: Or is it his VC firm, not him specifically?
Sergie: He was the one we talked to, but it was the VC firm.
Andrew: What’s it like to get to talk to Tim Draper? He agreed to do an interview on Mixergy and then backed away. Maybe it was because I leaned forward too much.
Sergie: Yeah. He was intimated.
Andrew: He’s fantastic. Oh, I’m intimidating. But he’s like 100 times more intimidating than me. Yeah. Is he intimidating? Did he intimidate you?
Sergie: I don’t know. He asked really good questions. He seemed like a very down to earth guy, which is awesome. Very easy to talk to. He tries to understand what you’re trying to do and in a sense he gives you the benefit of the doubt if you come across as confident and if you come across as knowing your stuff. But he also loves to see and experience what exactly you’re building. But he’s also a really good negotiator.
Andrew: What did he negotiate that really impresses you?
Sergie: It was just kind of he was one of our first investors and it was a big deal if we got investment from him. So, he knew that we needed him, but we also knew we needed him. So, we wanted to get great terms and he knew that he didn’t have to great terms. So, we kind of had a back and forth. We kind of settled in the middle where we were both happy. But he got a pretty nice return on that.
Andrew: He’s like a third-generation venture capitalist and his son is now fourth-generation venture capitalist, right? He’s been doing this for years and it’s in his blood. I’m looking at his website. He invested in Skype, Baidu, Tesla, Hotmail, Twitch.tv.
Sergie: What is he doing now, trying to split California up? Is that what he’s doing?
Andrew: Oh, into two different states? Yeah. Now he’s working on bigger issues like that. I’m surprised that he even had time to look at Webflow. He launched Draper University of Heroes. I know because a few Mixergy fans are part of that program. That’s how I got to connect with him. Khosla Ventures invested in you. All right. I got a sense of it. How much money total did you take in?
Sergie: So, we took in $1.5 million in our first round and then we took in another $1.5 million from a private round, not a friends and family, but another investor.
Andrew: Who’s the investor?
Sergie: It was called Vaizra Ventures.
Andrew: Visor Ventures?
Andrew: Oh, Vaizra. Okay. I see.
Sergie: So, they’ve been really supportive. I’d say one of the best investors we could have. It’s one of those things. You always look for investors that don’t just give you money but give you a lot of resources. So, Khosla has been really helpful and Vaizra has been awesome.
Andrew: What’s a resource that they gave you?
Sergie: Just tons of connections. For example, if we were doing a launch and we need a great PR firm, they talk to the right guys and they connect you. I’d say that’s more valuable than the money. But you don’t get those connections without them investing.
Andrew: Makes sense. I feel like it’s the same way with Y Combinator.
Sergie: Yeah, for sure.
Andrew: What was I going to ask you? Oh, right. We were talking about Tim Draper’s background, but you kind of have a background in what you’re doing too. I heard through Jeremy our producer that you had 50 websites going on Geocities. Geocities, I should probably say at this point, is the old product that was bought by Yahoo that allowed anyone to create a website back in the days when creating websites was just murder. So, why did you have 50 different websites on Geocities?
Sergie: It was experimentation. I think the awesome thing about Geocities–and I think anybody can attest to this–it was a playground for creatives and people that just want to build sites.
Andrew: Both creatives and thoroughly uncreatives also.
Sergie: Yes. I would say I wasn’t very creative back then. But the fact that I had the power to create as many sites as I wanted to and do different twists. I had different framesets and tables and designing different tables to look different ways and just the creative freedom–it’s kind of like you. I don’t know how to explain it.
But it’s what we want to do with Webflow. We don’t want to limit you to think, “If you want to setup a new website, you have to get a server first. Oh, that server only has this much space. You might have to get another one.” We say, “Hey, here’s your playground. Do what you want. You have flexibility.” So, that was the same thing back then when I started designing in high school or something.
Andrew: How old a guy are you?
Sergie: How old am I now?
Andrew: Oh, you’re 27 and you were still around in the age of Geocities? Geocities was still around when you were in high school?
Sergie: Yes. That was early high school.
Sergie: Good times.
Andrew: I wish I could see your site on ReoCities. Do you know ReoCities?
Andrew: This was someone who I think was really active in the Hacker News community who heard that Geocities was shutting down and said, “Screw that. I’m going to go and scrape the whole thing as much as I could and I’ll put it on my own network, Reocities.com,” and he did. I forget the name of the guy who did it.
Sergie: That’s awesome. You’d probably find mine. A lot of my sites were called Sergie’s Hood. I was just being silly.
Andrew: Sergie’s Hood.
Sergie: Sergie’s Hood. Let’s see if you can find it.
Andrew: Oh, I know what I need to do. No, that’s one Lookbook. Site:ReoCities.com. No. What if I just do a search for your name, Sergie?
Sergie: Yeah. I don’t think it exists anymore.
Andrew: No. It might be taken down. That’s so sad. Frankly, I see some dead links now on ReoCities. I’m going to have to create TrioCities to copy ReoCities before it shuts down.
Sergie: Man… Good luck.
Andrew: We’ve got to talk about how you got users. So, I understand that these people are joining your mailing list. Some number of them are going to become real users of the site. Is that where you got the first group?
Sergie: The first time was just a basic landing page. You know when any startup or business wants to get some kind of leads, they just have a logo and their form. We had that. Then we got the playground. We got tons more inbound. So, if you actually give your customers or users something to do and for them to imagine how life may be different, they’ll put in their email so much faster, especially if you give them incentives.
And then, after that, we actually had a signup form and we started collecting actual users. At that time, I think we had like 70,000 when we first launched in our list. Of those 70,000, I think 40,000 signed up or 50,000.
Andrew: Did they all come in from Hacker News? That’s a whole lot. 70,000?
Sergie: Yeah. It was kind of like a trickle because it started on Hacker News and then it spread everywhere. Hacker News was like the spark. And then there are all these–a lot of these microbloggers and small little design news sites and inspiration sites, they just started talking about Webflow like, “Oh, this could be the next thing.” And it just spread like fire.
Andrew: And did you do anything to help spread it?
Sergie: Some of it. Building the playground and trying to submit this site to a lot of aggregate sites, but a lot of it just people played around with it and wanted to talk about it, a lot of organic interest.
Andrew: Smashing Magazine, that was you?
Sergie: So, Smashing Mag was later. That was 2014 when more and more people started using it professionally to use sites. Then they’re like, “Oh, we can bake this into our company’s design team and everything.” So, that’s when it started getting more use from big companies.
Andrew: What’s the deal with Webflow.info? It’s a Russian website that basically copied your whole site. Is that you?
Andrew: Checkout Webflow.info. It’s created by a guy named Maksim Sokolov.
Andrew: It says on the bottom, “Created in Webflow.”
Sergie: Yeah. That’s right.
Andrew: But you could buy a course for 3,500 rubles.
Sergie: Oh… So, this guy, he’s kind of an evangelist for Webflow in Russia. I think this is the same guy. But I think they try to teach Webflow in Russia. I don’t know if we should let them use that URL though.
Andrew: Yeah. I see what he’s doing. He’s saying, “I love Webflow so much. I will teach you how to do it. Pay 3,560 rubles and you’ll get it.”
Sergie: It’s like $2. I’m just kidding. I don’t know what it is.
Andrew: It can’t be that much. I see. He might want to change the name to something else, especially if he’s got an affiliate program. You know how affiliates could be. Those guys can just start slamming traffic to this thing.
Andrew: That tells me a little bit about what’s going on here. What else do I need to know? You know what I want to know next? I see how you built your mailing list. I can see how some of them end up being users. I can see how some of those users end up being customers. What about the next level, guys like Groupon. Groupon is an intense business, multi-billion dollars. How did they discover you?
Sergie: A lot of it’s from organic use of Webflow. There may be one designer that learned about us during the CSS Playground days when we launched that and they kind of heard about that and were like, “We’ll kind of keep that in our back pocket.” Then we launched and then they kind of play around with it and they’re like, “Okay. Cool.”
A month later they may have a project. So, they start using it. And then they think, “This is actually pretty powerful.” And then the team at Groupon hires him or they need a project and they’re like, “Oh, why don’t we use Webflow? I just started using it. It’s pretty cool.”
Andrew: So, how does Webflow then fit in to their design process? You guys don’t host a Groupon website, right?
Sergie: It depends. So, there are businesses that run their entire marketing sites on Webflow because it’s so easy to build, to design and to edit. So, some of them do that. With something like Groupon, I think what they do is they build a site and then they export it and then they tweak it and work with their developers. So, it’s kind of like a step in the process, just depending on how big the business is, what their workflow is. They use Webflow differently.
Andrew: Let me see, a designer from Brazil named Jiao, who’s he?
Sergie: So, he has worked with some of the biggest digital agencies, like huge, Razorfish, a lot of those that build really interesting experiences online. If you go to those Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, they give you very basic templates. A lot of these agencies, they don’t go for that. They want something really flashy and really exciting to show off to their clients. So, Jiao, he’s kind of in that world and he used Webflow to build several really insane prototypes, like IMDB prototype that reimagines the whole database and makes it way more interactive.
Andrew: I see.
Sergie: So, he’s been building tons of really cool stuff. Blows us away thinking, “Whoa, you can do that in Webflow?” He just shows off the power.
Andrew: Still you told our producer that one of the hardest times was getting growth, getting more people in the door. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Sergie: Yeah. It’s one of those things. It was one of the fears we had when we first launched, thinking it doesn’t have enough. It’s not perfect enough. For example, when we launched, you can’t create more than one page. We’re thinking, “Most websites have multiple pages. How are people going to use this?” It took us two months to launch multiple pages or three months even. We were also trying to find investment at the time so that even slowed down product growth.
So, I feel like it’s kind of like you always see this in product launches. There’s this massive spike when we launch and then there’s just long tail. At a certain point, it starts to increase increment, like increase slowly over time. Hopefully the trajectory is, I don’t know, higher.
Andrew: So, what did you do to get that growth back?
Sergie: We really thought about, “Okay, the people that are using it–the value that our product provides now, how can we supercharge that?” So, a lot of the things like sliders, like forms, different widgets that designers use, different interactions. For example, jQuery, it’s used by a lot of developers to create different animations on the site.
So, when you click on this, something appears. A lot of that, we try to figure out, “How do we bake this into Webflow?” And once we started doing that and thinking what do designers need, what components do designers need and start adding those, that’s when a lot of people started getting excited and really seeing it as a viable alternative to coding.
Andrew: And does that give you another opportunity to promote yourself, every time you add one of these tools?
Sergie: Oh yeah, definitely.
Andrew: How do you promote yourself? So, you add a new tool. How do you use that as a way of letting the world know that you exist and bringing in people who would have dismissed you before the tool existed?
Sergie: We’re still learning on how to do that in the best way. But we have to take the opportunity of those moments where we launch something new and make it as big as we can make it. So, for example, interactions. It’s never been done before. Something like that has never been made visual?
Andrew: What’s an interaction?
Sergie: You know when you scroll into a site and something appears that kind of fades in or when you hover over something, something else kind of appears over it?
Andrew: Yeah. I’ve seen that.
Sergie: So, it’s that kind of experiencing different parts of the site. So, we added that feature. We thought, “We need to make a big splash with this. It’s a big deal.” It’s never been done before. We had to make a big landing page. We had to blast out our 150k users at the time, a lot of them just kind of dabbling around. And then we have to reach out to a lot of different PR and different bloggers to get as much traction as possible. So, we have to take those moments and make sure we milk them as much as we can.
Andrew: I see it here. You created Interactions.Webflow.com to show how it works because this is full of interactions and create tutorials for how people could use it. I see. By the way, this is what I do during interviews. I see other interviewers who like to get drunk in the interview. I just want to knock the drink out of their hands. I’m not your buddy. You are not here to entertain me with your drunk stories. Get on the ball and make sure that this interview is useful for me. If you have a spare hand, get a freaking keyboard in your hand.
That and then the other kind of interviewer that frustrates me is someone who has a list of set questions. I don’t see how you can have a list of set questions. If somebody says something, you have to have a follow up. You’re not just there to be a parrot or else replace yourself with–I was going to say a Gravity form, but I’ll say a Wufoo form.
Andrew: I’m constantly doing this. And it’s not just fact checking you and checking to see what you’re talking about, but fact checking myself. Earlier I said Groupon was a multi-billion dollar company. Well, I just threw that out there. Is it really a multi-billion dollar company?
Sergie: Based on stock prices, it’s maybe at $5 billion now?
Andrew: $3.7 as of earlier today. And today we’re recording on June 16th.
Sergie: Yesterday it was probably $5 billion, a couple years ago it was like $20 billion.
Andrew: I get how a stock price would go up and down. I think the odd part is how the tech community is now done with Groupon. They went from admiring Groupon to death. “This was the company,” fastest rising, etc. “We’re going to study every part of it,” to suddenly, “Eh…”
Sergie: Now it’s Slack. Now Slack is the big one.
Andrew: Andrew Mason is an idiot, but Stewart Butterfield is brilliant with Slack. Right. Exactly. It’s exactly what it is. We play the heroes and goats thing just like they do on ESPN. I read once that ESPN makes their shows interesting–I think it was ESPN–some football program decided that what they did was they were going to make football more interesting by taking the heroes and goats approach.
Every play has to have a hero and goat. That’s how you make things interesting. The tech community does that too. Today, Andrew Mason apparently is a goat. Stewart Butterfield is a hero. If Stewart Butterfield doesn’t do something, he will be a goat. Someone else might be a hero. Maybe you’re going to be a hero and then the goat.
Sergie: It’s so funny but it’s how different–you can only say so much about–if you’re Andrew Mason–you can only say so much about your situation about what happened. You can’t spill all the beans on exactly how you had to deal with the board and what the board’s decision was and why the board ousted you and what you were trying to do and what went wrong. A lot of times that stuff doesn’t make it to the news statins.
Sergie: It’s usually, “Oh, that guy made a mistake and that’s why their stocks are plummeting.” They don’t go into the details. But it’s funny when you hear because Andrew Mason one time came to YC and he pretty much explained the situation and you see it from a different perspective. You see, “Oh, I see what you were trying to do. And the board actually sidestepped you and that was the reason why everything fell apart. But the board kicked you out, so it made you seem like the bad guy. That’s why everybody thinks you were the one at fault for everything that happened, even though you we retrying to do all the right things but the board was trying to push you to increase sales or something.”
Andrew: And he talked about this in a Y Combinator dinner?
Andrew: What was he trying to do?
Sergie: He was just saying that what he was trying to do was he was realizing that they were pushing a lot of these–they were doing like three emails a day for their Groupon notifications. The users were getting pissed and they were getting burnt out. There’s a certain level where you send like one email a day and they’re kind of happy. Maybe two emails a day they’re like, “Okay, maybe a little too much.” Three or four, they’re getting burned out and they’re going to eventually drop off your platform. So, he started realizing that and started to bring it up to the board and they’re like, “Is it bringing in more sales? Yes. It’s bringing in short term revenue.”
But that’s a problem for the long-term growth. So, eventually, it crashed down because they were doing that in a lot of their markets in Europe and it just fell apart. So, it’s kind of the long-term versus short-term play. The board was going for sales and he was trying to think through a lot of that, how is it going to affect the long-term adoption.
Andrew: It was also in a publicly traded company that–I don’t exactly… He was named the Worst CEO of the Year by Herb Greenberg of CNBC. There’s another channel that needs to constantly come up with a hero or a goat. But I forget when he left. The company’s stock price went down like 90% from its high to its low.
Sergie: That’s crazy.
Andrew: And the stock market also likes to find heroes and goats.
Andrew: Anyway, we as entrepreneurs can’t see the world that way. Oh, there it is. He was dismissed 2013. We have to look much more analytically because our lives depend on this, on understanding what’s going on. Actually, it wasn’t under his tenure that it–was it? Let me see. It was under his tenure, I think, it dropped by 90%. I’m doing this fast, so I wouldn’t bank on it. So, the stock market had to let it go.
The guy is brilliant. He still created a multi-billion dollar company incredibly fast. If you see his analysis of why created it in his Mixergy interview, you’ll see it. There’s a reason why Paul Graham said that he was one of the smartest entrepreneurs. Paul Graham invited him to be a Y Combinator part-time partner, right?
Sergie: I think so. Yeah.
Andrew: All right. We’re spending way too much time on Andrew Mason. Let me say one more thing about him. The funny thing about Andrew Mason is if you type him into a search on Google, it shows his photo, says his name Andrew Mason and underneath it says “businessman.” That’s a weird description for him.
Sergie: So general.
Andrew: Right. Does it say for Sergie?
Sergie: I don’t have a profile yet.
Andrew: Somebody’s got to take a Mixergy interview like this and turn it into a Wikipedia profile. Please. Sergie needs a Wikipedia profile and please list him as businessman.
Andrew: Business, man. All right. Sergie, thank you so much for doing this. Did I pronounce your name wrong at any point in this interview?
Andrew: No. I stuck with Sergie. Thank you for pronouncing Mixergy right the whole time and Andrew right the whole time too.
Sergie: Well, my name is in Mixergy.
Andrew: Right. You can’t spell Mixergy without Sergie. No. that’s not true. All right. No more of this goofiness. If people want to check out your site, they should go to Webflow.com. One last thing–give me one thing that you guys are working on next because you’re in a highly competitive field and people I’m sure are not going to sit still for a Webflow that doesn’t grow.
Sergie: So, Webflow right now, you can only do so much. You can design websites, but you can’t build fully dynamic, data-driven websites. So, what we’re building next and it’s coming very soon is we’re going to be on par with the functionality of WordPress. You can do what you can do with WordPress, but not have to code at all. So, really giving designers and entrepreneurs out there complete power to do it 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper.
Andrew: What’s the point? If I can create a blog post in WordPress, why would I want to create–look at me, I’m always a jerk. “Why would you want to create one in Webflow?” Why would you want to create one in Webflow if you could in WordPress?
Sergie: If you want something unique.
Andrew: Because I could get a more unique design.
Sergie: Not just a unique design. If you want a data structure that’s more unique. How would you build it in WordPress? You’d have to either find a template and work off the template. A template already has a specific data scheme, like they have comments, image, blog post. With Webflow, you’d be able to go like, “I actually want a tag or I want an icon for each one of my blog posts or I want a…”
Andrew: The company name or the guest as a different field. The guest’s name is a different field. Then store them differently and maybe have a logo for each guest. So, if I want to create a list of all the logos of all the companies that I’ve interviewed, I could create that easily, whereas with WordPress, it’s not really made for that, so, you’d have to hack something together.
Sergie: It’s not made for that. Yeah. Webflow you could do it from the ground up, like, “Okay, do I want to add something new? Let’s create this new field. Boom.” And design it.
Andrew: If I want to say how much your revenues were at the time of the interview, that becomes its own field and that becomes its own search criteria and its own piece of data.
Sergie: Exactly. So, it’s really flexible.
Andrew: All right. Will you help me promote this interview when it’s up or are you going to just disappear on me? Will you help me get more people to watch this interview?
Sergie: I’ll try. I’ll try my best, Andrew.
Andrew: All right. That’s all I need.
Sergie: Only if it has a screenshot where it has your face as the main thumbnail. I think it would get a lot of clicks.
Andrew: Like me just like this? What if it’s me with my new outfit? How about that?
Sergie: Yeah, with a big grin. Yeah.
Andrew: No. I think a web shot of you. I bet you you’ve got photos online that we can use. Look at what my team gave me. This is not a good photo. We’ve got to ask for a better shot. Look at this. I’m going to put it in Skype chat, which means Skype is probably going to force you to click on it and go over to a different page. Lately they’ve been doing that. They don’t’ want to just send you the file. They want you to go over to your website. Where would we even have gotten that? It’s not a bad look. It’s just zoomed in very close.
Andrew: Where is that?
Sergie: That is a crop of my face.
Andrew: Totally cropped. The top of your head is off. Your chin is off.
Sergie: I’m disappointed in your team.
Andrew: Do you have a better shot?
Sergie: I do.
Andrew: You want to send that over?
Sergie: I could.
Andrew: Thank you.
Sergie: But come on, I expect more from your team.
Andrew: I do too. I wonder where they got that. It feels to me almost like someone is cyberstalking you on Facebook and you were in a group shot and they had to crop out your brother and crop out your wife and somehow just get just that.
Sergie: Your team is getting sloppy. Let me look at your website. It’s like a stock WordPress template, man.
Andrew: It is not stock. We designed it ourselves. We’re going to redesign it. I wouldn’t say it’s sloppy. I do believe the search stinks on the site and one of the things we’re working on is making it easier for you to find what you need, complete with tags, collections and other stuff that people have asked for. I do believe you’ll still be disappointed with it because you know what your software could do. I’m not going to deny that.
Sergie: One day.
Andrew: One day. What is that WordPress keeps saying, something like, “We have 10% of the internet?”
Sergie: They have like 24 or 40 now or something. I don’t know.
Andrew: Let me see. Do they say it there? That’s their ad always. There it is. Their ad on Techmeme is, “23% down, 77 to go–WordPress,” meaning 23% of the internet is using WordPress. Do you look at that every day and long for the day when the number goes down because you’re going to take it down?
Sergie: Well, our goal is to power 50% of the web. That’s actually more possible because our technology is going to be easier and it’s going to be more empowering.
Andrew: Do you believe there will be a day when you have a higher market share than Automatic and WordPress?
Andrew: Boom. I got my headline. I don’t need you to promote it. “Webflow founder: ‘We’re Going to Take on WordPress and Get Bigger Market Share Than Them.'” That’s not the way I would write it. I would come up with something better.
Sergie: More zingy, right?
Andrew: A little more zingy. More like Michael Arrington, less Alexia Tsotsis. More like punch on the nose and less subtle.
Sergie: Just make it hurt.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to go here. Final thought for anyone who’s out there, listen, if you like this interview and you want more, go to Mixergy.com/Podcast where you and get Mixergy delivered directly to your phone, to your Google Glass, to your Apple Fingernail, whatever comes out in the future, it will come directly to it. If it’s technology, it probably will have a podcast app and we will come to you there if you go to Mixergy.com/Podcast.
Sergie thanks for doing this interview.
Sergie: Yeah. Sure thing.
Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.