Featured Startup - Webzai
Today we talk with Webzai co-founder Amir Gabay about their website building template service, which they have hosted on Azure. "Webzai provides both PC & MOBILE professional templates as well as a simple editor with advanced features for creative users who want to start from blank or just customize the template."
The company is based in Israel, and, according to Gabay, the decision to host their solution on Azure seemed like a natural one, and the fit was easy. The workload was painless, because working with Microsoft was simple. "We checked the option of using Microsoft as a basis for our hosting and have since used a wide variety of Microsoft’s products such as Azure, Office and Outlook. Due to this we have had a very close relationship with Microsoft and their representatives throughout our development and they have only been helpful and friendly," he said.
Entrepreneurs should consider working with Microsoft BizSpark and and Azure because, even if you have very specific technical requirements, all of Microsoft's solutions can actually work with them, and the staff that helps you get that rolling is very easy to work with and they are always available, he said.
We spent some time with Gabay to talk to him about his decision to work with Microsoft BizSpark and Windows Azure to ramp up his business. We asked him about his business decisions, his development process and what it was like to work with Microsoft. Here are some of his answers:
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
Our business model is based on creating small scale tests and comparing them to the industry benchmarks which are set by aggregated statistics. If the results are satisfying and predict positive revenue, we continue with large scale initiatives.
What questions do you and your technical co-founder / engineering team feel are the most important to solve about the business aspects of your company?
Webzai is an online “Do It Yourself” website builder. Our goal when developing is that the end result for our users will always be the site they set out to build. Thus, there is a dilemma that keeps the tension high between the business side and the technical side of Webzai. Whether to give the user more options that will give him extra abilities but may confuse him, as opposed to giving him less options but maybe making it easier for him to get to a satisfying end result.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
We set out to create an intuitive website builder that gives users a simple interface with full artistic freedom. Webzai was developed mainly with web designers in mind, we wanted to give them the tools to create any kind of website without the need for a web developer. Our goal is to make the Webzai editor a household name in the website designers’ community. In other words, you might say we are in it for life.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
When webzai started about two years ago, it was an idea that came up while talking about sharing information online. A month later we decided to take the direction of an online website builder. After laboring for another few months, we had the basic product with new and unique abilities. This was the moment I realized that we had a good team that was willing to work hard and compete in a very competitive market. Almost two years later, we launched one of the best website builders in the world.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
Our goal is to make Webzai a synonym for website building, especially in the website designers’ community.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
Working at a startup definitely puts a lot of pressure on social and family life. Working unusually long hours leaves little time to see family or friends. It’s very hard to maintain many social connections, this means you have to spend your time wisely.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Microsoft offers a wide range of solutions with capabilities which are, in our experience, second to none. Our company has some very specific requirements and Microsoft’s products have solutions to address each and every one of them.
Tell us about your Azure based solution.
We store our database and client websites on the azure cloud. Webzai websites are created on the client’s computer based on compressed instructions stored on our server. We store all of our data assembling websites on the CDN, ensuring quick loading for client websites throughout the world.
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
- One web role for our main site
- One web role for the websites built by our users
- One Worker Role for some general tasks relevant to our platform, e.g. Website Thumbnails Generation
- SQL Azure database that stores users’ sites’ metadata
- Storage and CDN that are used to store all users' sites static content
How did you get excited about Azure?
Azure is an excellent robust platform that provides our very specific needs for the hosting and storage of websites with the perfect architectural solution.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
The main feature which initially attracted our attention were Azure storage with CDN support, which as we mentioned above provides a very comprehensive solution for our particular needs. That in addition to the ease of use and astounding stability convinced us that Azure was the ideal platform.
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
I would tell them to just go for it. Building in the cloud can prevent a lot of trouble later on when their sites begin to receive large amounts of traffic. It also encourages writing architecture that is more correct and ordered for use on their network.
Here are some videos about Webzai. You can also find more information on their Crunchbase profile.
Video: Webzai in action (2 min)
Video: How to add a video from a URL