A Q&A with ImpressPages co-founder Audrius Jankauskas. The Vilnius, Lithuania-based startup, which has built an open-source content management system (CMS) designed around ease-of-use to compete with WordPress, Drupal, and others, raised €200,000 in Seed funding from Practica Capital in early July.
SUB: Please describe ImpressPages and your primary innovation.
Jankauskas: ImpressPages is an open source, drag-and-drop web CMS with in-place content editing. It allows you to manage your website up to four times faster, removes all hassles in the process and makes the learning curve almost flat. Even a three-year-old can start dragging-and-dropping. We’re making web content management sexy, easy and fun.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Jankauskas: Our initial target market is freelance web designers and web agencies. Those guys develop websites for money, and they need a tool that adds value to their customers. Therefore, through designers and agencies we are reaching end-users who actually are using and working with ImpressPages. So, we are solving pains and making life easier for all of them.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Jankauskas: When you hear the term ‘web CMS,’ you think about WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla—the magic three. We believe that it’s pretty much time to kick at least one of them from the table, or make a party of four. Even though there are quite a few, and much better, alternatives these days, those three monsters with their huge communities are hard to push. But we are stubborn to make that happen. Users deserve to have an equal alternative to WordPress.
SUB: What differentiates ImpressPages from the competition?
Jankauskas: Our advantages are the simplicity and usability of the product. ImpressPages is flexible and allows you to develop any website while keeping the fun part of dragging-and-dropping at your fingertips. Moreover, if you cannot code, our soon to be released integrated marketplace is a one-stop-shop for everything you’re going to need—from add-ons to services, whether it’s free or not. Everything is secure, tested, and guaranteed by the core team behind the product.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Jankauskas: We officially incorporated only a few weeks ago. Our first steps were a few years ago. Everything started when we were running a web agency. When we sold that business we kept ImpressPages as our side project. Since the early days, we believed that ImpressPages would go head-to-head with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. So we kept pushing and pushing. For a couple of years, with no budget, we were still in front of those market monsters by technological innovation. Investment we’ve just received proves that we did everything right for the past few years. And the whole CMS market is going in the direction we anticipated when we started.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for ImpressPages? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Jankauskas: We were desperate to find the right web CMS for our business and for our customers. We knew that to develop a CMS in-house for our own purposes is way too expensive for a small web agency. Since we couldn’t find any worthwhile tool—free or paid—we made a decision that we were going to build a CMS that will be open source and lives as a stand-alone product. It must benefit more than one company and the quality in such cases is much higher. All CMSs those days were based on WYSIWYG editing, when you have a blank space for a whole page with lots of input fields for extra information. And you have no clue what’s going to happen when you click ‘publish.’ One day some crazy thoughts came to our minds—why can’t I see my real website while I’m editing it, and why can’t I drag-and-drop different things on my website instead of filling forms? That was the ‘aha’ moment. It sounded stupid back then, but we gave it a shot.
Every one of us drag-and-drop stuff on our computers. We made that happen for websites through the browser, too. It was around 2007-2008. And we, three Lithuanians from a small country, started to pioneer dragging-and-dropping for a global market. There was no such idea that allowed you to manage content in such way. As you can see, it’s a hot topic for a few years now, all over the place. Now you can drag-and-drop anything—it’s so natural for people. We are so excited that we foresaw what was going to happen.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Jankauskas: Most importantly, we want to share emotions through everything we do. And one of the best emotions is being ‘impressed.’ We work hard to impress everyone who has at least some relations with ImpressPages. The second part is related to the area of our expertise—Internet pages or websites. We strive that all websites built with ImpressPages will be impressive. That’s why we made ImpressPages as one word. Websites should be impressive. Period. No spaces or anything else should be in between them.
SUB: You recently raised €200,000 in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Jankauskas: We were talking with investors for some time already. We are now at the turning point where our part-time, home based, open source product becomes a full-scale business. Users love ImpressPages, the community is growing, the commercial opportunity is evaluated. It’s a perfect time to start accelerating.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional venture funding in the near future?
Jankauskas: Depends on ‘near.’ We’ve just raised our Seed round and we have full hands of work to be done. Nevertheless, we are always looking for good partnerships and opportunities. The future will show.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Jankauskas: I believe that the hardest part was for the core team to work only remotely. Now, when we sit all day and night at the same office, communication is so much easier—decisions are made 100 times faster. You just see and feel each other.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Jankauskas: Our revenue comes from premium extensions: themes and plugins. More precisely, we are building ‘Marketplace’—a platform where third-party developers, designers, or any other service provider will be able easily to promote and sell their themes, plugins, and services. They will decide by themselves how much they want to share with us. It’s a truly open source and value-based approach.
SUB: What are your goals for ImpressPages over the next year or so?
Jankauskas: We want to bite hard into the heel of WordPress. They don’t feel like having competition despite so many good products out there. We will do that by improving the ImpressPages CMS, building Marketplace and community around it, expanding partnerships, and by impressing the world every day.
ImpressPages – www.impresspages.org