703 days of Flare9.com

703 is a made up number, but about a 2.5 years ago my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to create a low-cost website solution for small businesses that could not afford the high end services of ObuWeb. Not a new concept.

flare9-logo.jpgAbout a year ago my firm started using wordpress to power the majority of our brochure sites. If you have used wordpress you know how slick it is. A perfect fit for our goal of letting you (the small business client) create your own website.

About 4 months ago we finally started working on it. With the efforts of the super tenth-level ninja programmer Joshua Eichorn, we began building flare9.com

Problem we are attempting to solve: New and Small businesses need a website, yet rarely have the capital to spend on a custom site by a web design agency. We (obuweb) kept turning clients away simply because we could not serve them, and be profitable doing it. flare9-editor.gif

Our Solution: Flare9.com is website builder powered by wordpress2.1. We have attempted to craft a solution that delivers an easy to use DIY website builder, yet limits the amount of control the user has in regards to design. (No blinking text or color/font mis-matches). The client focuses on content and message, not design.
We tapped a few API’s to:

  • Register a domain name
  • Set up the client hosting/email in Plesk
  • Recurring Billing
  • Site creation via wordpress

Therefore the entire signup and site creation process is hands free from our end. Server side scripting takes care of everything. If you have ever used WordPress you know how nice it is, and that they have solved many problems already. By using wordpress as our core, and writing custom plugins to extend app, we managed to create the entire solution and only change about 2 lines of wordpress code: read upgrade proof.

How it works:

Client Side: The client picks a theme from our gallery > creates an account > registers a domain if needed > purchases > logs in and uses wordpress (with our enhancements) to manage thier website.

Server Side: API Call to payment gateway and establishes recurring billing profile > API call to register domain > API creates client/domain profiles in plesk 8 > Site files checkout from subversion to new client account > SQL script populates database

From client registration process start to new site login with domain purchase < 3 minutes.

Go to Market: We are targeting other web design agencies, whom have the same problem we do at obuweb. Lots of leads, yet few people that can afford the services. Our affiliate program pays a handsome referral fee to these agencies that send their prospects over. WIN-WIN-WIN: Affiliate gets paid, we get paid, client gets a great website.

So now it is Late on a Tuesday March 6th. We have finished our private beta testing and are set to launch live tomorrow. Just in time for my trip to sxsw where I will be promoting it to no end.

Learning’s:in 703 days I have learned quite a bit. Here are some highlights:

  • A good idea will always be a good idea
  • Finding the people to help you execute the idea is key
  • Timing has a lot to do with everything
  • It always takes longer than you think
  • Test, Test and Test some more
  • You stop craving sleep after the first few weeks
  • Shear dogged determination will make anything materialize
  • Running/Launching more that one business at a time is tricky
  • Seeing an idea realized is ecstasy
  • WordPress appears 9 times in this post.

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