Tech Pitch: Smart Little Web

A new 'next generation' web building platform, Smart Little Web promises to give business owners "online super powers". Startups meets the founders

Company name: Smart Little Web
Founders: Chris John (41) and Joel Calliste (37)
Background: Founders John and Calliste previously ran a software consultancy called Jelerang, launched in 2004, which built big complex web applications for tech start-ups and large corporates like O2 and Virgin.
Based in: Hursley, Hampshire

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

Smart Little Web is a cloud-based website builder and marketing coach rolled into one. It takes a start-up from no technical, design or marketing knowledge to a professional website to launch their business, all under one roof and for an affordable price. It goes beyond Software as a Service (SaaS) and introduces a completely new concept of Software as Learning (SaL).

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

We know that there are the big things putting people off building their own website:

  • They don’t feel technical enough
  • They worry it will look shoddy
  • They don’t know what to put on it

A lot of CMS systems and website builders claim to help with the first two, but nobody has managed to tackle the question of WHAT. That’s because it’s kind of complicated, it’s why agencies have experts in each of the fields and it’s why they cost so much. Not much help to start-ups on a tight budget!

To deliver an affordable solution that covered all three issues meant building a next-generation platform from the ground up. The ability to guide people has been at the centre of our thinking from day one because we know building a website is a process, there are steps to follow. It’s not so much about “pages”, it’s about effective messaging, creating trust and growing your business. Sure, the technology and design need to be there and be awesome, but they are just there to support the star of the show – your business.

Smart little Web is like having a marketing expert, web developer, web designer and SEO consultant sitting right next to you, guiding you through each step as you create your very own website.

Are you funded?

We’re  100% bootstrapped using downtime between consultancy projects to create our own product. We’ve been running a closed beta for the past 18 months and will be opening out into a full beta launch in January.

What were you doing before starting?

We (John and Calliste) met while working at Richard Branson’s fledgling ISP Virgin.net in 2000. From that point, we were working together in one way or another, but founded a software consultancy – Jelerang – in 2004.

We’ve been building amazing solutions for other folks for over 10 years, from a website commenting system used by over six million users a month, to a marketing preference data service with 22 million users, to a system that calculates the carbon footprint of anything. We’ve been having a blast doing it, but we started to feel it would be nice to build something amazing for ourselves.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

Hursley is a great place to be based as we get the best of both worlds. Our company is in old converted stables surrounded by fields yet we’re a short drive from the centre of Winchester which has so many amazing small businesses, a university and great business networks. We also have IBM HQ as our neighbours, so we’re in good company.

Being rural means we can apply to certain schemes for funding and help, we’re currently looking into the LEADER funding being released later this year. It also means the two office dogs get a lunchtime walk in the woods and fields, something they both appreciate very much.

 

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