Published in SitePoint:
This article is a part of a new series called Startup Spotlight, where we focus on successful entrepreneurs and emerging startups that are taking the web industry by storm.
Despite the vast developments we’ve witnessed in technology over the years, it’s somewhat surprising (but nonetheless disheartening) that the web design industry has been left behind.
From marketing and search engine optimization to mobile usability, clients are increasingly demanding more from web designers in a push for better return on investments (ROI) from customers. Yet, web designers simply cannot accommodate these requests because they often lack the fundamental training in these areas.
The result of this is not only a soured relationship between client and designer, but the creation of a product that fails to generate any justifiable ROI.
In other words, a whole lot of wasted time.
Noticing these ongoing struggles between both parties, serial entrepreneur Bianca Board created Foxley – a unique design platform that combines marketing and SEO smarts with an intuitive website building platform that guarantees results.
Board says the current state of the industry is “sad”, especially as web designers are only making on average 5.5% profit from the work they create.
“You have designers out there, who even in Australia, end up working for $5 an hour because of the amount of hours that have to go into making a website work properly.”
“When you think about it, for all the work that goes into creating a website, that’s not a lot of money. You have designers out there, who even in Australia, end up working for $5 an hour because of the amount of hours that have to go into making a website work properly. I think technology has evolved tremendously but web design hasn’t,” she said.
After having successfully launched Web123, a business which has generated a whopping $9 million in revenue since its humble beginnings, Foxley further disrupted the industry for all the right reasons. It’s a platform that empowers designers through incredibly fast build times, built-in marketing strategy, technical support, sales guidance and much more.
“You can get all of these SEO and marketing services manually, but businesses don’t know how to do that and designers don’t know how to pull that all together. So my team and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a platform that pulled all those pieces together, bypassed all of that learning and just skipped straight to the results?” she said.
The Foxley model is split into two main categories: Foxley Business and Foxley Site Builder, the latter due to be launched around June 2017. Foxley Business emphasizes a fast track to web design success through plug-and-play systems that are delivered via a platform and app that designers can work through in 30 or 60 second sprints.
Whereas Foxley Site Builder is the “hammer in the toolbox” – a website builder that enables designers to build effective websites that drive traffic through a drag-and-drop interface without the hassles of code. Its greatest asset, however, is its marketing SEO scorecard system: each page gets a score and it’s up to the designer and their client to increase that score to improve the effectiveness of that site. It’s fun, interactive and builds rapport in the design/client relationships – all of which have been lacking in the web design industry as it transitions more into the corporate sphere.
Board and her team spent three months working on Foxley’s five-year model. After partnering with Tauro Capital Partners to raise capital and appoint a leadership team, she was advised to take a step back to evaluate the project’s progress thus far. Though initially hesitant, in hindsight Board believes that period of reflection benefited the company overall.
“We were so hungry to get stuck into the ‘doing’ stages, but it was the best thing ever to stop and take stock of where we were.”
“It was like having a big retro on the whole entire business, and I think we made all the right decisions especially considering the roadblocks that were thrown in our way at different times.”
One of the roadblocks was pitching and constantly clarifying to investors that Foxley wasn’t another website platform attempting to take on the WordPress and Squarespace mammoths. Rather, when they did manage to get into the meetings, investors could see their passion for shaking up the design industry.
“[The pitching] never really happened like it does in American films. And it was just really explaining what we’re all about. We just had to keep doing that – you have to available at the drop of a hat. If someone wanted to meet with you, you have to move mountains to make it happen.”
It seems Board is on the right track with Foxley, with the business already having secured more than $700,000 in seed funding pre-launch and an $8 million valuation pre-revenue despite still being a relatively new venture.
A big factor to that success has been Board’s idea of building a loyal community before launching a product. Called “Foxley Rockstars”, their online community is a diverse range of designers and business owners wanting to learn more about the industry in order to feel empowered by their career. By developing this loyal following beforehand, audiences were ready to embrace Foxley the second it officially launched.
“Although we didn’t have anything ready, we were involving them in building the product all the way along so they feel like they have ownership. We’re creating something for them, and they have input into what we are creating so they feel a part of it,” she said.
Indeed, throughout these experiences of becoming a successful entrepreneur, Bianca’s biggest advice to entrepreneurs is to trust your intuition, listen to your gut and “learn by doing”.
“Confidence is key. Be confident in your products, be confident in your users, and be confident that your product will attract the right kind of users.”
Bianca’s Top Tip for Emerging Entrepreneurs
“Confidence with investors goes a long way. Be confident when you’re pitching, when you’re working as a team, when you hit roadblocks and when you’re stuck and can’t figure things out. You just have to keep moving through and be confident for everyone around you.”
Learn more about Foxley here.