Sramana Mitra: You were still in Ukraine? This is happening while you were still in Ukraine?
David Braun: Yes, I was in Ukraine. I had shares in that, so I was a co-founder. He was finding the prospects while my job was to organise the production. During this seven months of completing the project, we recruited around 10 more clients. We were starting to make quite a lot of money. It was a quite complex system where we had to integrate the warehouse management systems to the front store. I started to gain some expertise in web development and business communication with customers directly.
I learned one lesson. I don’t want to do the custom programming and design. Even with the understanding that it brings you money, you always have to restart from scratch. Every time, you need to go and meet your customer, validate his needs, and initiate the communication process through the technical specifications. It could never be a million dollar monthly revenue business.
Then I started to think about creating a mass product—something that people will buy and play with it at home. We had one designer who was very productive. He was able to make a full website within one day. I was observing how he was working, and I found that he was using lots of pre-designed elements. It was his own library that he was rotating and generating. I started asking how he came up with this idea. He said, “This is my own library of things that helps me speed up my production.” I asked him, “Do you think other designers would buy this?” He said, “I’m not sure if designers are the people who would buy something like this because they can create this by themselves, but if you offer this to people as templates, there is a chance that people will buy.” We didn’t even know that the word template existed. We had to Yahoo! it.
There was this one site that offered web templates but the templates was of very poor quality. This was how TemplateMonster was born. We decided that our mission will be to sell and provide our customers a design. The quality level of this design should such that it would cost thousands of dollars if you go and buy from the agency, but you could buy the templates for $50, for example. We quickly made a lot of templates and separated them into different categories, and launched the website.
Sramana Mitra: I have one question before you go on. Was there any particular development tool or software behind the templates?
David Braun: Before that, it was Photoshop only because in 2002, most of the websites were done in proprietary systems.
Sramana Mitra: They were just Photoshop templates essentially.
David Braun: Yes, it’s a PSD feel that people were buying and then made their own code. I started to post it in different design communities. It started to bring in the first traffic. In the first week, we got $70,000 in sales.