(The Hosting News) – Webs, the popular, do-it-yourself solution for website creation, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, having grown from 34 daily sign-ups to more than 40 million businesses, that have launched their own websites with Webs.
Started in 2001 by three brothers–Zeki, Haroon and Idris Mokhtarzada–Webs was founded on the principle that the average, nontechnical person should be able to make a great website.
Zeki and Haroon Mokhtarzada, while students at the University of Maryland, College Park, created Webs (then known as Freewebs) after realizing that a website-creation tool would be more efficient than creating websites for others by hand. They each invested $1,000, bought a few servers, put the servers in a closet in Zeki’s apartment, and Freewebs was born.
“We wanted to make it easier for people to get nice looking, organized websites,” according to Haroon Mokhtarzada, Co-Founder and CEO of Webs. The brothers chose their mother as the ideal Webs user: “My mother is a professional and a very intelligent person, but she doesn’t have any technical skills. If she could use our Site Builder, most people could,” explained Haroon.
In a recent interview, the founders of Webs shared the Webs philosophy and their mother’s role in the company:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VbwI6LQP30
In 2001, two or three new users signed up with Freewebs each day. Then something strange happened: a lot more people started signing up. The mystery was solved when Haroon and Zeki found out that their younger brother, Idris—who was then only 14—had added Freewebs to dmoz.org, a popular website directory. “We weren’t even ready to launch,” noted Haroon.
But the business was put on the back burner in 2002 when Zeki began working for the National Institutes of Health and Haroon began studying law at Harvard University. They kept Freewebs going by working on it part-time. After Haroon graduated from law school he considered his options: “Freewebs was making enough money to pay our salaries, so we said, let’s give it some love.” In 2005 the brothers gave Freewebs their full attention and set out to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.
Their hard work paid off: in August 2006 they received $11 million in Series A funding from Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Columbia Capital.
Between 2003 and 2007 the company grew 1704%. In 2008, Webs placed fifth in Deloitte’s prestigious Technology Fast 50 Program for the Greater Washington region. By this point, Webs was getting 20,000 new user signups every day and each month 30 million unique people visited sites created with Webs’ Site Builder tool.
2008 was also the year the company rebranded itself by changing its name from “Freewebs” to, simply, “Webs.” This 2.0 iteration of the Webs platform let site owners create community-driven sites that visitors could join as members. By giving site members the ability to comment on photos, post to a blog, add to a site calendar, and more, a site becomes “more of a living, breathing entity,” notes Haroon.
In November 2009, Webs launched an App Store to make helpful third-party applications available to all Webs users. Some of the most popular apps in the App Store include the e-commerce Web Store, Cafe Press, DudaMobile, Meebo, and Etsy.
The Webs family of products
2010 was the year Webs developed a family of products to give Webs customers – primarily small business owners — easy and cost-effective ways to develop an online presence across web, mobile, and social platforms. In addition to the Webs DIY site-creation tool, the Webs family of products grew to include:
- ContactMe, the first online, lightweight customer relationship management (CRM) tool created exclusively for microbusinesses.
- Pagemodo, a do-it-yourself Facebook page builder that enables small businesses to design and customize their Facebook fan pages for free. With Pagemodo’s Pagebuilder, entrepreneurs don’t need to have any technical or design skills to create fresh, stylish Facebook pages for their business that attracts visitors and promotes their services.
But growing its family of products didn’t stop Webs from innovating within the Webs platform as well, particularly to give small businesses an edge in the mobile arena:
- Mobile Websites are available to every Webs user. The mobile version is optimized for today’s mobile devices, like the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, and automatically stays in sync with the original site.
- A Webs Redesign in 2010 presented a stylish and more functional version of Webs to the world. The Webs.com website and the Webs Site Builder were overhauled to make their site-building tools and processes even easier for people to use.
All of this innovation was recognized in July 2010 when Webs was named one of the “Hottest DC Area Companies” by Lead411. The award’s review noted that “Webs is among the top 100 most trafficked websites in the world. The company has tripled its revenues in the past 3 years.”
The Webs family
Webs now has 50 employees and offices in both Silver Spring, Maryland, and Silicon Valley. The Silver Spring office has an open floor plan that facilitates brainstorming and collaboration. Zeki, Haroon, and Idris sit with their teams but often move around the office to answer questions, solve problems, fix bugs, and discuss plans for helping Webs users achieve their own entrepreneurial dreams.
About Webs, Inc.
Webs (http://webs.com) is the world’s largest do-it-yourself solution to create a free website, serving over 40 million users. Webs enables small businesses and entrepreneurs to easily make a great-looking website and project a professional image. The Webs family of products—including Webs, ContactMe, and Pagemodo—provide small businesses with simple and cost-effective ways to launch and grow their companies across web, social, and mobile platforms. Founded in 2001 by the Mokhtarzada brothers, Webs is funded by Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Columbia Capital. For more information, contact Chuck Hester at hester(at)webs(dot)com or visit http://www.Webs.com, http://www.ContactMe.com and http://www.Pagemodo.com to sign up for free today.