Alan Pledger, founder of Techstars Atlanta graduate company Landing Lion, thought his product could do better.
Landing Lion aimed to solve a problem Pledger had identified while working as a software consultant: the difficulty faced by non-technical marketers when they needed to quickly put together a website. They often had to work with designers or developers, all busy with their own projects, to throw up something as simple as a single page for a marketing campaign.
Landing Lion was a fast and intuitive way for marketers to build landing pages, a single web page that usually are primarily for lead capture, without coding. Using drag-and-drop elements and customizable templates, users could conceivably create dozens of pages in a day.
Unlike competitors such as Instapage and Unbounce, Landing Lion also integrated SEO and analytics into each page, so marketers could drive and track traffic.
The platform was finding a groove — in 2017, the startup reported increasing month-over-month revenue at an average of 35 percent growth. By the time of their first substantial equity funding round — half a million in spring 2018 — they had landed enterprise customers like Cox Enterprises, Cushman & Wakefield, and Caterpillar.
However, the mostly-technical team wasn’t satisfied with the platform’s capabilities. Pledger expressed his discontent with the current landscape of website building back in 2017.
“You don’t just use Illustrator to build brochures; it’s for brochures and posters and invitations and everything else. There needs to be a website builder that works the same way — it’s for an event page or a website page or an e-commerce site or a blog post,” Pledger told Hypepotamus.
He also hinted at creating customizable components that could make each page unique.
“That’s the big thing our competitors haven’t done in a while — rethink the entire component architecture. It’s all still the same basic text and images. We want to create integrated components, carousels, things that you haven’t even seen yet,” Pledger said.
With all that in mind, the team decided to pivot. Rather than a landing page builder, they wanted to offer an entire content management solution that would allow everyone who works on a website — marketers, developers, and designers — to collaborate.
Makeswift reflects the same spirit of Landing Lion that allowed pages to come to life without code, while also integrating an option for developers to build and configure custom components with React.
For marketers, the text editor allows for direct edits on the page, similarly to typing in a Google doc, with preselected types or your own imported fonts.
As developers create custom components, they get added to the platform’s repository. Eventually, it will host hundreds of dynamic carousels, feeds, and accordion menus that can be imported to every page across the website like in a Powerpoint template.
Just like Landing Lion, Makeswift pages are automatically mobile-responsive and optimized for SEO and analytics.
Makeswift was revealed to the public last week. But before that, the team spent months communicating and working with their current customers, many of whom had paying plans, and some who had been using the tool for almost two years.
They made the decision to transition to a tiered rollout of “Founding Makers”, early-access customers transitioning from Landing Lion to Makeswift. These customers receive personalized training and support on the new platform in webinars led by a Makeswift team member. Some of the startup’s bigger clients even receive in-person trainings to ensure a smooth transition.
Once locked in as a Founding Maker, customers receive early-bird pricing, spots for their entire team, and unlimited sites and domains.
Ahead of the public launch, Makeswift had signed 73 Founding Maker spots, who have begun onboarding. The second group begins the process this month.
The team was conscious to not force their customers immediately off the original platform; Landing Lion pages continue to run as usual. As the year progresses, they hope to transition most of their current customers and continue to scale customer acquisition to new users.