Featured Startup Pitch: Cloudware Hosting—a new platform for content subscription management and app monetization
Founder: Keith Hall
Headquarters: Warrington, UK
Year Founded: 2010
Brief Company Description: “Cloudware Hosting Ltd. provides an easy way to offer paid subscriptions to web apps, service and content websites, via Cloudware City”
By Keith Hall, founder and CEO
Cloudware City is designed to provide a pain-free way for website owners to include subscriptions and recurring billing to their sites, and can plug into popular web content management systems like Joomla and WordPress. The service utilizes a combination of the latest technologies to offer a one-stop platform from marketing and selling subscriptions in its web app store through to cloud-based end user subscription authentication, and can be up and running within three minutes.
The service works as a way to outsource sales, subscriptions billing, authentication and user management in order to build those features into almost any website with the minimum of fuss. Simply put, a vendor registers with Cloudware City, and creates a listing from which users can purchase and subscribe (in the web App Store). On the vendor’s website, there is a hook into the Cloudware City API (Application Programming Interface) either via existing plug-ins or with one of the integration kits. Users enter the credentials used when purchasing the subscription and this is securely passed to Cloudware City in the cloud, for authentication. If valid, the user is granted access! Various other fields are returned in the API call such as time to expiry, other vendor products that the user may have subscribed to (in cases where a vendor may have different levels of access, etc.). Nothing is set in stone at this stage and the service is very much open to improvement and development via client feedback.
I’m the founder and CEO of Cloudware Hosting Ltd. With a background in IT and data communications since a very early age and an entrepreneurial spirit always looking for opportunities to generate money when a good idea comes about, it’s usually worth pursuing (if you don’t, someone else will, or you’ll forever be wondering ‘what if’)!
So, whilst I was previously holding the role of VP/Director of IT & Infrastructure for a UK-headquartered global Plc, experiencing and pushing the evolution of the Internet in terms of Software as a Service and Cloud technologies, I was having a discussion with a friend over how the recently formed Apple App Store was working nicely to bring in fresh new ideas for the iPhone (and bringing developers relatively risk free revenue). Web technologies had evolved to making web apps a reality, but there was no parallel, easy way to monetize developers’ wares like the App Store (especially if you just had an idea to throw out there without risking many up-front costs). Just about anything can be a web app these days, therefore the idea to create an easy way to enable monetization of web apps was born.
It also quickly became apparent that web content is just as important, hence the decision to develop plugins for popular Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress and Joomla. If there’s interesting, desirable unique content available, then it’s worth charging for!
The name came about when thinking about what general term could be applied to software like web apps, or content consumed through the Internet, and Cloudware was coined. The ‘store’ and community aspect was then developed in to Cloudware City, with the company named Cloudware Hosting (leaving the name open to other possibilities involving web hosting offerings to complement the Cloudware City service).
I have other potentially profitable ideas that would fit well within the Cloudware Hosting brand but Cloudware City is the main focus at present, consuming the most energy and attention—that is not to say that it would receive any less in the future!
What’s so special about Cloudware City?
Whilst there are plenty of individual solutions (for payment, subscriptions billing, account management and more) to piece and integrate together to form a subscriptions based website, Cloudware City is the only place to find all under one easy to use system with a simple API. One of the key differentiators and most powerful aspects is the Web App Store, which not only provides a simple straightforward shopping experience for the user, but also significantly promotes vendors’ offerings through recommendation algorithms and offers sales, SEO and marketing angles to help a new idea come alive.
Marketing and Promotion Strategy
There really isn’t any one strategy in mind and is continuously evolving, through direct marketing, PR, social media (although we probably ought to be a little stronger in this area!). One of the main aspects is the Cloudware City Web App Store itself; by which its very design that helps vendors to market and sell, also helps market and sell the Cloudware City concept, and the more various and interesting vendors that sign up, the diversity of marketing reach increases accordingly. There are plans in the pipeline for referral and affiliate marketing, and various other fun things like Cloud Credits which may be earned and spent within the platform.
Our Joomla and WordPress plugins have also generated a lot of interest, as potential customers creating membership based sites have never had it so easy to begin offering subscriptions.
Vendors save significant time and effort (and henceforth cost) in outsourcing their subscriptions strategy to Cloudware Hosting. In return for this, the business operates on a revenue share model—vendors are paid 70 percent of net sales revenue on fulfillment of a subscription subject to a threshold due to money transfer costs (as the business scales, these costs should fall and therefore savings can be passed on in due course). Recurring subscriptions capabilities provide the opportunity for that ever important repeat revenue, and a Cloudware City membership fee is payable (although for a limited period, new members will pay nothing). Further products like all-inclusive hosting platforms to complement the Cloudware City service are in the pipeline.
The immediate needs—at time of writing—are focused around the marketing and PR, along with development and support opportunities opening up as the business expands.
Cloudware City – www.cloudwarecity.com