Long gone are the days of Web 1.0, when Internet content was generated by a relative few and website design was the exclusive domain of professionals. And as more people generate richer content, entrepreneurs are recognizing the need for better systems to manage it. Our latest Deal Radar company is concrete5, an open source content management system.
Founders Franz Maruna and Andrew Embler realized the industry needed a flexible content management system (CMS) after building and continually updating complex websites for their clients. They felt they needed a CMS that allows content owners to easily update their sites themselves. They founded concrete CMS, which later became concrete5, and sought to build a CMS that set out to avoid the pitfalls of other products like Mambo, Teamsite, and StoryServer. They used three rules to use to evaluate every decision about the product: keep it flexible, robust and easy to use.
Maruna started building sites with the CMS, he and Embler had developed, and realized that site owners were thrilled to be able to update their own websites. By 2005, the company had moved into new offices in Old Town Portland, Oregon and developed a lot of community add-ons. Soon, concrete CMS was becoming a player in the Pacific Northwest with several projects including KettleFoods, JTFP and ColorofMySound using it to develop their content.
In late 2007, the two went back to the lab and instead of adding features to the existing CMS, they gutted everything they didn’t like. They revamped their CMS completely; redesigned the interface and re-thought how templating worked. They used their experience, successes and failures alike, to build concrete5. Released in early June 2008 in beta, concrete5 became the project of the month on SourceForge.net by October 2008. By November it was getting well over 1,000 visitors a day.
Concrete5 is an open source CMS that aims to make building and maintaining a website fast, easy and low-cost. It combines the ease-of-use of a blogging platform with the flexibility and power of a web development platform. The company claims that concrete5 is superior to the competition for several reasons: first, it was developed with the relationship between site owners and site developers in mind. Second, it is completely free – one can even rebrand it without licensing. Third, the solution was a commercial solution for five years before going open source. This helped the founders learn from mistakes without having to manage the additional challenge of the politics around a large open source project.
The company follows the classic open source model. Concrete5 is entirely free, with no charges associated with using it to build a website. However, the company does charge for advanced add-ons, such as calendars, forums, and e-commerce features. They also charge for hosting, partner programs (in which users pay a subscription to get faster answers to queries and access to best practices), training & certification, and services & support.
Though concrete5 can be used by anyone who wishes to create a website, the company’s core targets are web developers (in-house or consultants) and web design agencies, which is where a lot of traction is coming from. Since going open source, the project site has received over 300,000 visits. Further, there are around 3,000 active developers and designers in the forums, and approximately 10,000 active sites across the Internet checking for updates on a routine basis.
The company claims that a variety of people and organizations are using concrete5, including corporations, small businesses, colleges and universities, corporations, startups and individuals. Users of concrete5 range from web design agencies like Gere Donovan and Frye Wiles, who are using it to create large numbers of sites for their clients, to site owners like the Extreme Ice Survey, which used concrete5 to create a website showcasing the time-lapse photography of glaciers overlaid with Google Earth mapping to educate the world about the perils of global warming.
Maruna started the company with $1,000. concrete5 has been entirely financed through project work to date, but it is looking at angel funding options and partners with whom to build add-on modules. Though every revenue stream is active and producing, profitability remains neutral as the company continues to put resources back into further development.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009