David Rusenko – Weebly 2 of 2

“The best UX decisions are the ones you don’t even notice.” Weebly’s free drag and drop website creator enables anyone to easily build a website.

Matthew: Since you’ve been in operation, what have you learned about your business and the users that you didn’t realize before you launched?

David: I think the biggest skill we developed as founders and as a company has been just an eye for UI., and there’s a lot of things that we do that you never notice. A lot of times the best UI decisions are the ones that you don’t even notice. The best example I have of this is on the iPhone mail application. This is a perfect example. If you are at the top of your email inbox and a new email comes in, it will scroll it down and show you that new email. If you are scrolled up two or three emails toward the top, you still know where you are. If a new email comes in, it scrolls you down. It shows you that new email. If you’re further past, if you’re way down in your inbox and a new email comes in, it leaves you where you are. You can imagine how frustrating that would be. You never notice this is happening, but if you were digging through your inbox and you’re 100 messages deep, and you were jumped to the top, that would really piss you off. So, that’s an example of a really great UI decision that no one ever really notices. 

Matthew: Lot’s of people admire entrepreneurs because they appear to make starting companies look easy. We know it to be really challenging, so we want to dispel some myths here. My question to you is, what is it that you make look easy? What talent or skills do you have that come intuitively, and what has been difficult, and how do you manage that?

David: Again, we’ve been really lucky in this regard. I think blind enthusiasm is very hard to have. You need to have that. Without an unwavering enthusiasm for your company, you see a ton of people who work on their product for six months, launch it, and then kill it two months later. Those ratios are totally out of whack. If you work on something for six months, you should at least try to make it work for the next year and a half. What a lot of people don’t realize is there are just so few instant, viral, hockey stick stories. The majority of stories are people who have been working. Even the stories that seem like they’re hockey stick stories really are people who have been working, working, working for years and years and years before it finally seems like an instant overnight hit and just takes off.

Matthew: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since launching Weebly?

David: Probably the single most important lesson I’ve learned, I started the company in high school and did a lot of things wrong. I never really came up with much. The single most important lesson, I think, is just that at any given time, you have to be working on the most important thing for the company, which is building the product. You can’t be talking about building your product. You can’t be incorporating or filing patents or running a business plan. The single most important thing you can do is get to the next level. Build the product. Launch it. Get it out there as quickly as possible, then iterate. 

Everything you do before that, what it looks like a company does to outsiders, it looks like a company has an office, hires employees, files patents, hires lawyers, and these are thing that it looks like to outsiders of what that company is doing. What that company is really doing is providing value to people through the product that they create. All those things are just documenting the business. Everything else is documenting the business. What the business at its core is doing is helping people. Until you actually do what’s at the core of your business, everything else, your documenting nothing. 

Matthew: That’s great advice. What bit of advice do you wish you would have know before starting Weebly?

David: I think it’s that too often, and I did the same thing, I got an incorporation kit off the internet and tried to incorporate the business, and tried to figure out about a business plan or hiring lawyers. We did all these things. We even went so far as getting the company seal, because it made me feel like a real company. It makes you feel like you’re legitimate when you have these things, but the truth of the matter is that all these things are, I won’t call them useless, but they’re literally just documentation on what the true value you’re providing is. What you need to do is wake up the next day and just start working on what the business actually does. Build out that value. Start providing that value to customers, and everything else is insanely easy in comparison. 

Matthew: What mentor has played an impact in your professional development?

David: So far probably the biggest mentor for me personally has been Steve Anderson, one of our angel investors and Paul Graham from Wycombe. The two of them have really helped shape our vision. Paul Graham really helped kick start our UI education, design education, and start to really understand how users work and interact with your site. Steve Anderson has really helped me develop on a more professional level.

Matthew: What advice would you like to share with the audience about launching a startup? If you have to distill it, what are the key elements?

David: Just do it. Just start working on it. Don’t get distracted. Launch it as quickly as you can. It’s literally that easy. If you wake up tomorrow and say, “What’s the product I’m going to build and what do I need to do to do that?” Everything else you do in the meantime, reading Hacker News, reading blog posts about starting a company, doing this research about raising money, going and trying to raise money, all these things are essentially useless. What you need to do is wake up the next day and start working on the startup. Start building the product. Finish it two months later and get something launched. After you get something launched, then you can start looking for investment. Then you can start reading the articles, and you can start doing all that. But, the single most important thing you can do is to start working on the product.

Matthew: Before we close, I would like you to give our audience your vision of Weebly and how you hope it will change the world. 

David: Sure. Going back to what I said earlier, such a small percentage of people have actually been able to make a website. We all take it for granted. Because we know how to do that, we all take it for granted. There’s so many people in the world who have not been able to get their voice out there. It’s not just voice in terms of blogging or tweeting or posting on Facebook, but the true legitimacy that comes from having a professional website, being able to start a business. Being able to have that web presence is insanely impactful. 

We think that with all the websites out there, with tools like ours, we should be able to 10X or 100X the number of websites out there and the number of people who are able to create those websites. With that, what you’re going to see, is that it’s going to be that much easier to start a small business, that much easier to start a restaurant, that much easier to start an organization or group around some kind of social cause. All these things are really going to help everyone get on the web and really change the world in that there’s going to be all these additional businesses and groups that are going to be out there and operating.

Matthew: Excellent. David, it’s been a pleasure having you as a guest on FounderLY. We’re rooting for your success at Weebly. For those in our audience who would like to register for a free account on Weebly, you can visit their website at www.weebly.com. This is Matthew Wise at FounderLY. Thanks so much, David. 

David: Thanks. My pleasure.

 
 

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