50. Catch the Tornado with Dominik Angerer, CEO & Founder at Storyblok

Dominik Angerer

Dominik Angerer

CEO & Founder at Storyblok

Transcript

Piotr Karwatka  

Hello, everyone. Today my guest is Dominic Angerer, co-founder and CEO of Storyblok, one of the first headerless visual content management systems. We are going to talk about the business models raising money for developers tools and coming into building aspects of the product development. Hi, Dominik. I'm super happy You accepted my invitation.

Dominik Angerer 

Hi, there. Yeah, I'm super happy to be invited, actually.

Piotr Karwatka  

Maybe you can tell us about Storyblok? What is it? How it works and how you found the company? 

Dominik Angerer 

Yeah, absolutely. So Storyblok itself is a headless content management system. So it's a CMS, similar to WordPress to do advanced and so on. So we allow people to manage contents fairly easily in an interface. And instead of producing fine websites or HTML, we actually only produce data, so Chase and data that developers can use from an API perspective. And we put a twist on it by adding a visual editor. And that is what visual Atlas CMS is for us. Yeah, I did this storybook. When it comes to finding, we founded Storyblok with Alexander about four years ago now. Yeah. So it’s been quite some time.

Piotr Karwatka  

I had another question. Like, why do we need the next CMS? And I suppose you partially answered I mean, the headless itself, the new architecture is one reason. The other one is that I haven't found any other CMS having this visual builder natively. And isn't this like, maybe we have other reasons for the next CMS? And the second question right away? Is this a visual builder? Was there from the very early days? Or was it something you added along the way?

Dominik Angerer 

Yes, so actually, it was there with the first version, even before we switched to Vue JS. So we created the first prototype of Storyblok, probably six years ago, while Alexander and I were both working at an agency and we tried every CMS out there, basically, at least, it felt like they could probably about 30/40, something like that. And a little background on the story itself- we actually used an enterprise content management system at the agency. And at one point, we sent a feature request to them. And instead of like an ETA or something like that, we actually receive the message that they're basically told us in six months, the thing is gone. How about switching now to our new products that have no functionality whatsoever? Yeah, or the way we saw it, we're looking for something that actually works out there and use that instead. And so we tried different content management solutions. We liked the idea of a headless content management system itself. But for us, we always had the issue that we had to give it to our marketers or customers. And he wanted to actually build things themselves in a certain way, they wanted to have additional stability, that component based approach to content management. And sadly, most headless CMS are structured in a way that you can easily build API's. So you can build collections, you can build single type content types, which you can also do Storyblok, you can do the same thing. But so what we decided to really focus on from the beginning was it you can create components inside your content types, you have a copy blocks, fields, that allows you to nest elements directly in one content site itself, that allows you to build something like a page that contains of different components like a hero, a creative column in it, a slide of slides and the news to the component. And marketers can easily rearrange that in the content itself. Because it's just objects that you're basically just rearranging in that array of components. And for us, the visual editor was the core of it, like almost in the beginning, because how would a marketer actually do that kind of content without knowing what's going on? Because the feedback that we received when we built POCs with the likes of Sitecore, Adobe Experience Manager and so on. So they actually wanted to see a complete preview of whatever they're doing. And it's, there is nothing like that out there that allows you to have the flexibility as a developer, but still cares about markets enough, not only enough to a certain degree that they actually are enjoying using it. 

Piotr Karwatka 

so, having having this product as a kind of bridge between the developers in having, you know, structural eyes, headless API with JSON based documents, but also the marketing, force, reserve Merchandising, and guys having the features they understood and like to work with

Dominik Angerer 

It is actually the small script that we have up to two hours for previewing individually to work, it's actually called Storyblok pitch. So it's exactly what you just described

Piotr Karwatka 

So, six years ago, you had some POC, MVP version, something like this, then you started the real company. The message you got from those vendors was saying that they want out the feature to this enterprise, CMS was kind of an inflection point, I guess, ignited the whole story of Storyblok. Which is also great, because it wasn't out of the blue, it was a real need. Also, you told me just that you listen carefully to the needs of both sides of the equation, the concentration is all of this kind of equation. Because beforehand, it was like people wanted to add new components, they needed to go to developers back then to add it, wait six weeks, or how long the deployment process was, was there at the company and had it? And right now with storyblocks, it works? Is that coupled, right? So developers can add new components, and the editors can just manage? I really like it. So it took you some time already to be out on the pond, wherever you are right now. When did you realize that this is it? I mean, that the common wisdom is that for startups for three years is a crucial period, because you're gonna find this product market fit or not you survive or not? And when did you realize that this is a product market fit? And adoption?

Dominik Angerer 

Yeah, absolutely. So in 2015, we actually started not with building the product. We started with the writing phase. So we actually tried different content management solutions. And only with the omission at the end of 2016. We started with the first initial prototype itself. And when we did that, we created the first version, I still remember it. And we're so many reloads in there that weren't usable, a few quite, quite fast, like two weeks later with version 0.11. So quite early. And at that point, when we started the prototyping, gave it to one of the most senior clients that we had in the agency back then, just for him to try it basically. And they switched the whole corporate side, including the Ecommerce area in about four weeks. 30 languages, four weeks, that's quite fast, of course, with the help of us, and we knew the project in and out, that needed to be clear. But it's still crazy how fast it went. Then the next one we gave it to was a large retailer. And the retailer used it in not a website setting actually in the iOS Android setting, so mobile catalog, instead of having like, yeah, it was 3/4000 pages catalogs. They don't have just an iOS app. So yeah, it's quite nice. And what we did after that, we just built smaller POCs. For clients, we pitched it to new clients as well, inside the agency. And in the beginning of 2017, we realized we are not using another CMS anymore, we are just using that thing that we build for storytelling with components with blocks. So we gave it a name, finally, so we called it Storyblock. And shortly after that, we actually decided that we could do more. So what we started was building more enterprise features on top of it, you know, like release scheduling, we added some content pipelines, more workbook options. So all kinds of features that you would just need to get more interaction with other solutions in there. And just getting started. And that was the point where I realized that the thing that we are building, it's actually way more powerful than we expected it to be. And so in the middle of 2017, we decided to found a new company, September 2017. We founded it and launched a small landing page and some articles, you know, like, how can you use storyblocks in combination with your technology to solve a certain problem?

Piotr Karwatka 

That's how I found you guys. I was searching for VueJS, a headless CMS kind of like this. I suppose it was a medium article or something like this about Vue js into a story blog. 

Dominik Angerer 

Perfect. Yeah. Cool, because I still work, because that was just the beginning that we did. And it actually resulted in us really having about 1000 users after one month, and being positive already.

Piotr Karwatka 

And if you think that this channel works, worked well for you, I mean, because I was searching for it as a developer. I wasn't like a merchant or enterprise, I was just figuring out how Vue JS can be integrated with a CMS. So this was the office direction for the blog post looking for this kind of solution. And Vue js was growing, but back then it was super popular. Super high growth. So would you say that picking the Vue js and focusing on developers was kind of received for the first reaction? 

Dominik Angerer 

Yeah, it was definitely a lucky catch, to be honest. Because like we used Vue js, we still use Vue js, because we love it. It just works for us, and it worked back then it still works fast now. And naturally, the tool that we use, also, we wanted to explain how you use Storyblock to build certain things. And that's what we did. There was actually not too much marketing interest in those blog articles. To be honest, the main idea was that we had the slideshow on the website, like the bottom right corner, it's still there. It's still no bots, it's still humans to answer you, if you write something. And what we did excellently, we were in there like 24/7. And we still are from time to time, to be honest. But we were there. And what we wanted to do is we wanted to get as much feedback as possible. And a lot of feedback was around documentation. So instead of just explaining it once to that one customer that is in the live chat. We just started creating more documentation around topics that they asked us how to solve this, how to solve that with this specific technology. How does it compare to XY? And that's what we just did, we just created content that we were asked to you. And then we realized, Oh, the same content that we just created could be useful for other technologies as well. So we tried to solve the same problem in other technologies, like react to things like PHP, or Ruby, or Python, and so on. And that's what we did. We just created content. That is basically fast documentation, to be honest. And it resulted in more and more people trying it because hey, there was documentation. And it seems to work. And it just worked out. Yeah,

Piotr Karwatka 

That's cool. So what would you say, I suppose, is the air attraction. So early adopters, if you have this, you know, Crossing the Chasm chart, you have innovators, early adopters, and those guys like me back then were searching about the Vue js, react, whatever framework you have, and content management, but then you probably targeted some different kinds having more budget, I suppose. My next question is, who's your ideal, ideal client? And how has it evolved across the years? Because I guess it could, it could change or maybe not. Who's your ideal client? How do you approach and how do you find those folks buying sunblock?

Dominik Angerer 

Yeah, so actually, not that much changed. Not even the pricing to be on slick, the device just got better.

Piotr Karwatka 

The business model is typical SAS or somehow.

Dominik Angerer 

So this startup is a typical SaaS product you're paying per user, per project, basically. So per space, and that on a monthly or yearly basis. And we have two different areas, we have the self service area, which is the one that is used mostly for smaller projects, or SMBs, to mid market, kind of a business.

Piotr Karwatka 

So what do you mean self service is telling the cloud, right, it's awesome, but you don't get you don't get your account manager to support this kind of service. 

Dominik Angerer 

You mean you still have the community support the summit supporters includes but of self so it's really like you can register, you can start your project. And when you need more users, you can just go in there and subscribe with a credit card using Stripe. And that's it. You don't need any data with us. It's basically the hands off method of scaling your new project into a storybook, and it starts for free. So you have actually unlimited API requests. You can just jump in, play around with a storybook, one user is completely free, and we'll say for free. And you can just create content and use API itself and most of the features to be honest, and then you can put roles on top that you would need if you have more users on, and therefore scale with the pricing, so $7 $14 to 30 feet $21. And there was from the beginning like this was the initial price that we always put up. And we later on realized that more and more people would love to have a contractual uptime guarantee that we guarantee a certain level of service. And also like emergency SLAs, that we have achieved them to also see like, hey, the website is broken to some degree is it reflected from some issues of Storyblok in the back end or something like that. And so we added this enterprise plan on top of it, which is the same products, different infrastructure, kind of, at least some points are, where we can even have a high uptime guarantee for those clients. And we can enable single sign on with internal solutions like Salesforce login and stuff like that. So really enterprise features that you would need if you are a large corporate, or like a large mid market company itself. And those are the two tiers that we have: self service and enterprise. And it's still the same, that nothing changed there. And to answer your second question, like how do we attract them? Actually, I guess, by now it's a lot of word of mouth. Plus, we actually, we actually still create articles and content. The content is now not only pure technical anymore, because we already captured quite a lot of articles there. But we also started creating articles for marketers. So they know the benefit of a headless and a decoupled way of for example, using few storefront for the front end, using storybook in the backend of the CMS using commerce tools, Bigcommerce or any other ecommerce tool or client in the background for the commercial purposes, and then combining it to have a fast experience for the customers itself. And those articles that we just just create and the continent creates. And we even wrote a full eBook about e-commerce in 2021. About 70 pages, just knowledge of the people that we have here at storybook and surroundings to be asked. And so that content itself helps us to attract those those customers

Piotr Karwatka 

Is the E commerce domain, you know, segment of the market, where you find you know your clients or not only?

Dominik Angerer 

Not only. So it's actually quite interesting. We started with E-commerce marketing late last year. Before that, it was always a combination of we know that it's a huge huge market to grow with. But with the end of last year, we built integrations for eCommerce vendors, natively into Storyblok. And that's where we started to actually really push on the marketing side there. When it comes to our customers, they're quite distributed. We have many financial Institute's like P, one absent trading bank, and so on. So quite huge, huge banks, to be honest. And that's awesome. Also ecommerce. Of course, as you mentioned, like Happy Socks. It's just amazing, or ASCII, or all these cool new shops that pop up that are actually having good products. But we also use it in a completely different setting. We also have a car manufacturer using us for the car configurator. So the configuration options that you have, yeah, that are configured inside Storyblok.

Piotr Karwatka 

So I suppose it's super complex.

Dominik Angerer 

Actually, if you say that, that's the cool thing. So the preview that we have the it's just an iframe that allows you to have this childhood bridge enabled. And they used for the marketing people that creates those kinds of configurations for configurators. They just put in web assembly for the preview of the model itself in the iframe. And nobody can interact with that right away, they can play around. So it's actually not that hard for them to manage configuration for computers, because they can just see it. So it's really nice.

Piotr Karwatka   

That's awesome. I suppose it's way more complex under the hood. So would you tell me which model that works for you? And what's great is kind of having developers be ambassadors of your brand and your product. So nevermind, your small, medium or Enterprise Client, probably the way you get to the Storyblok is that your developers read your content, or maybe tried out some boilerplate, Zoji whatever. They find it. They like it because it's so cool. The API's are so cool, the product is great. And they are doing a great job internally convincing the business that this is the right choice. 

Dominik Angerer 

Right, you're right. So we have a lot of things to do in the onboarding, there are cool things happening in the background. So the onboarding is more smooth and more and more streamlined and works for more people. So even though the product itself is really good, like we can do a lot on the onboarding. So for those people that want to try Storyblok, please keep hanging in there twice, even though the onboarding isn't that good right now. But it will be better soon. I promise you, the product is perfect.

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Dominik Angerer

Dominik Angerer

CEO & Founder at Storyblok

After spending 7 years in the digital agency area as either consultant or software developer Dominik Angerer is currently the CEO of one of the fastest growing software companies of Austria. After focusing purely on the product side of Storyblok in 2017 until the end of 2019 with two people, he moved to London to participate in the Founders Factory acceleration program and has helped develop Storyblok to currently support 90.000 projects globally like Stronger, HappySocks or Marc O'Polo.

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Opis czego dotyczy link:
https://www.catchthetornado.com/podcast

Opis czego dotyczy link:
https://www.catchthetornado.com/podcast

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