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Pagevamp: Transforming Facebook pages into Websites

By Noor Anwar

Pagevamp is the easiest and fastest way to publish a website.

“Making a website was a problem.  So we fixed it.”

The innovative startup uses a Facebook page to immediately create a multi-page, sleek and beautiful, mobile optimized website.  Any update added to the Facebook page (news, photos, events), gets automatically updated on the website with just one click. Rather than forcing users to learn a whole new site creation and management interface, Pagevamp lets its users achieve this through a platform they already use and know: Facebook.  Now anyone can create a good looking and up-to-date website using Pagevamp.  So what’s the catch?  None, we have to admit: it’s really that simple.

Pagevamp’s co-founders are University of Pennsylvania graduates Vincent Sanchez-Gomez of Arizona and Atulya Pandey of Kathmandu, Nepal.  They, along with former co-founder Fred Wang, ran a small traditional design agency prior to Pagevamp, where they quickly learned that most people don’t know how to create a website themselves.  The co-founders felt that charging people money for a website, just because they didn’t know how to update it, didn’t seem fair.  They began to search for alternative options, but soon realized that none existed.  And so, they created Pagevamp.

These college best-friends created the first version of Pagevamp at PennApps Hackathon in 2012 during their final year of university, at which they won recognition.  They released Pagevamp’s first public beta in late March, 2013.  After receiving helpful advice, encouragement and some funding, after graduation they decided to take the startup to New York City.  In typical startup fashion, they began operating Pagevamp from a one bedroom apartment the three of them shared together on the Upper East Side.

 

 

That Simple?

You have a small business.  You own a restaurant, but you could also be a photographer or a musician.  Anything really, because in this day and age you are your own brand.  You decide you want to create a professional website to represent your brand presence online.  However,  the existing options – such as hiring a web agency – are expensive, time consuming and difficult to set-up and manage.  For adding a new photo, or just changing the opening hours of a shop, you would need to contact your web designer to do it for you – and they will charge you for this.  Or sometimes the websites end up looking so poorly designed and unsightly that you might as well not even have one.  Why should technically less-savvy people of the world suffer at the hands of such a complicated system?

Source: Pagevamp
                          Source: Pagevamp

 

Pagevamp helps you instantly create an easily manageable website presence “in under three minutes”.  It gives you the independence, cost-saving, hassle-free solution to do it all yourself.  It incentivizes business users to update their Facebook Pages, a platform everyone loves to use, and drives more traffic to their sites thanks to Pagevamp’s superior SEO.  Earlier this year, Google announced it has implemented a new algorithm change that will revolutionize the way mobile friendliness is determined.  If your website is not mobile friendly, you may see your SEO’s result starting to drop.  However, this won’t happen to websites created by Pagevamp as their designs are “fully responsive and look great across all devices”, ensuring flexibility for their viewer.

Pagevamp is a SaaS company: Software as a Service.  This way of offering software started emerging in mass only in the latter part of the decade by taking advantage of cloud computing.  Normally, you would buy a software, download it on your computer, and manually update it every once in awhile.  SaaS doesn’t require any kind of download for its software.  The advantage of this is that the software is able to stay in one centralized place, where Pagevamp is able to update and modify it regularly.  Your website automatically evolves with the continuous improvements Pagevamp makes.

Users pay a subscription for the software, rather than buying it once as you would for downloading it on your computer.  Facebook charges $144 per year, which is $12 per month.  With an annual subscription, you also get a free customized domain name.  Or you can pay $15 per month without a yearly subscription.

 

Why Facebook?

Facebook is the largest social media platform, and that’s not changing anytime soon.  It currently has a growing number of 1.01 billion daily active users on average, with 83.5% of these users being from outside the US and Canada.  With more than 72 million Facebook pages out there, a better suited question would be: why not Facebook?

snip 1
                        Source: Pagevamp

 

We spoke to Thomas McKinlay, the head of sales and operations for Pagevamp EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Africa), when he was recently in Amsterdam.  He replied simply,

“Because everyone knows how to use Facebook.  Irrelevant of age or tech-skills.  We give the opportunity for absolutely anyone to create a website, to be online, without needing to know anything more than how to use Facebook.”

Thomas elaborates that Pagevamp’s prime target audience is individuals and small businesses whose only presence online is unpaid for, such as on Facebook.  These are people with limited tech knowledge, and so Pagevamp is designed in a way to make it extremely easy for these individuals to showcase their online presence and be easily found.

There are many other solutions out there, such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.  However, they are built exclusively on do-it-yourself website systems.  With Wix, for example, you add one image, then you add content, description, etc.  Just to start-off, you need to spend hours – if not days – to set this up, and then update your Facebook page separately.

“Pagevamp saves you time.  And time is money – so you save both.”  – Thomas McKinlay

Source: Thomas McKinlay
 Source: Thomas McKinlay

 

Why do I need a website?

Since Facebook is so popular and widely used, what is the point of even setting up a website?  Thomas explains how in the last couple of years, many small businesses and individuals – especially in emerging countries, get a custom domain name but link it automatically to their Facebook page: so you end up getting diverted to Facebook when you type in their web address.  The problem: it limits you.  Facebook decides everything – how it looks like, the branding is overwhelmingly Facebook’s, and you are unable to customize anything to showcase your personal brand representation or attract your target audience in a unique way.

Pagevamp provides you with customized features that are “enriched with your own individualism”.  It gives you a large selection of customized design templates to choose your site design and layout from.  Through Facebook you automatically have website pages for your ‘about’ section, photo gallery, events, etc – but Pagevamp also gives you the option to add more customized pages that you want only your website to have.  They also have advanced features for these customizable pages available – such as a newsletter sign-up system, e-invoicing, analytics tracking, video and also e-commerce through which your business’ customers can buy your products and pay directly on your website.  You could say that using Pagevamp also limits you to some extent, as you have less flexibility than if you used a web designer.  However, it seems to be the best solution for those businesses that need a an easy to manage, inexpensive and snazzy looking website.

Another advantage: websites can be found by everyone.  You chances on being found on a search engine highly increases with having your own website, because Google’s algorithm pushes Facebook pages further down in their results.  However, Pagevamp websites are mobile optimized and so Google automatically puts them higher in the search results.

“We help small businesses grow by making them focus on their reach, rather than on figuring out how to get online in the first place”.  – Thomas McKinlay

snip 3
          Source: Pagevamp

 

Designed in New York – built for the world

So how does a tech startup from New York end up having employees across three continents, and 40,000 users from over 80 countries: Myanmar to Nigeria, and from Estonia to Bermuda.  According to Pagevamp,

“From Globalization through the prism of Pagevamp’s experience.  The level of connectivity, the ease of communication, and the rate of internet penetration have reached a level where this phenomenon is not just possible, it is becoming normal.”

Pagevamp’s sales are targeted mostly outside of the US, since comparatively people in the US are generally more tech-literate.  So while Pagevamp’s aim is to bring individuals and small businesses from all over the world online, it has a stronger focus on emerging markets.

Depending on what country they operate, online presence can be a huge obstacle.  Very often, customers have never paid for anything online before: not even a physical product, let alone a virtual one.  Some of these customers don’t have credit cards, or even bank accounts, and so they would be unable to pay online.  Pagevamp immediately addressed this issue by collaborating with local partners who go and collect payment in cash from customers, or through mobile payment – however it works in that particular market.

Pagevamp makes most of its sales revenue through these local distributors they partner with, such as web agencies or social media agencies, telecom companies, but also associations and companies that have a large contingent base of small businesses.  Partnerships can be as varied as, for example, a battery company in South Korea which provides sponsored Pagevamp websites to all the battery retailers it works with.

Pagevamp also has a creative Pen Pals program , which pairs similar small businesses from different parts of the world.  If you’re the owner of a seafood restaurant in Korea, you might be paired with a Spanish restaurant in Arizona.  Or if you’re a hair salon in Russia, you might be paired with a full-service spa in Nepal.

“You can freely share trade secrets and business strategies, because there’s no threat of competition – you’ll be thousands of miles apart!”

 

Here are a few examples of Pagevamp websites from around the world – Mom’s Chicken (Restaurant, Indonesia),Prague Cargo Bike (Bicycle vendor, Czech Republic), Ararat Erol (Photographer – Turkey), Independence Brewing Company (Brewery, India), Brostu(Dentist, Iceland), Núcleo de Perícia Psicológica (Forensic Psychologists, Brazil)

Fancy a sneak-peek of what your website could look like?  Go to Pagevamp.com, copy-paste your Facebook page URL (no personal profiles) and get a free preview!

 

Noor Anwar is a Pakistani/American journalist currently completing a Master in Media and Politics at the University of Amsterdam.  You can find her @noora_chapatti or LinkedIn.

Pagevamp: The only website builder fast enough to fit in a single Vine.