Small business owners in the emerging markets don’t have many digital tools that are designed to meet their needs both from a usability standpoint and accessibility due to cost, language barriers and many other factors. As a result, they find it difficult to keep up with the rapid growth in Internet penetration and technology adoption.
Pagevamp, a budding startup that builds websites based on Facebook pages, plans to change that.
“We previously ran a digital design agency catering to small businesses and organisations,” says Atulya Pandey, Co-founder of Pagevamp. “When working with these small business clients, it quickly became apparent that even the easiest website tools on the market were too difficult for small business owners to manage themselves, so they often had to pay a lot of money for someone to maintain their web presence, or their website would go completely out of date.”
Pandey adds that the one tool most business owners already knew how to use was Facebook, so it made sense to create a website builder where content management was done straight through the social network. “One hackathon later, a prototype of Pagevamp was born,” he said.
The Pagevamp team, born out of an Ivy League dorm room, went from working exclusively in their bedroom to having employees spanning three continents. It initially started out in Philadelphia, but has now expanded to serve customers in over 80 countries, with the largest customer base residing in Southeast Asia. While food and beverage businesses are the company’s largest customer segment, it also serves salons, photographers, real estate companies, musicians and more.
Pagevamping your business
Pagevamp works by simply asking small business owners to copy the URL of their business’ Facebook page and paste it into a search box. In less than a minute, the site pulls all the relevant data from there and automatically builds a beautiful, professional, mobile-optimised website for their business.
Owners can easily change the design of their sites to meet their needs and add features that are relevant to their businesses. Such examples include a newsletter signup widget, restaurant menus, music/video contents and others. Once the site is published, they would only need to post on their Facebook page and the content will be synced automatically to the website, keeping information updated.
Because it targets small business owners, the service is inexpensive, easy-to-use and offers great customer support. Understanding that most of its market is in Southeast Asia, Pagevamp partners with local companies in the area so that clients who prefer to pay with cash, check, or bank transfer and who prefer to get custom service in their local language still have access to it.
Always looking forward
“We look to continue to grow our customer base internationally and provide more awesome features for our users. One of the things that we particularly look into is feedback from the various local markets we operate in,” says Vincent Sanchez-Gomez, the other Co-founder.
“This helps us guide product features and development as we want to make sure small businesses in different countries get the best digital solution,” he adds.
As a result of this feedback, Pagevamp recently launched its e-commerce beta platform, where businesses can open an online store and sell their products online. Shortly after the e-commerce feature was released, one of their customers, a photojournalist, described Pagevamp as the “simplest, most efficient platform” for his photography business.
Looking ahead to the future, the co-founders are optimistic, but also realistic. “We want to make sure that as we grow and serve more and more customers, we’re still providing a top-notch service to everyone” says Pandey. “We’re growing fast, but we have to make sure we’re doing it right.”
Still, for Pagevamp and the small businesses it serves, the future looks bright.