Websites are an inextricable foundation of the Internet as we experience it today. From business facilitation to personal use, a website is the fundamental form of digital real estate these days. Some websites run on quick and easy-to-use templates provided by WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace, and others rely on Webflow for its deep customization and advanced features. However, many try to create websites on Notion with difficulty. Michelle Marcelline, Kevin Nicholas Chandra, Putri Karunia, Anthony Harris Christian, and Albert Putra Purnama noticed that many people were building workarounds to the limitations of Notion and created Typedream as their go-to tool. typedream is a no-code website builder “that’s as simple as Notion and pretty as Webflow”. The startup is based in San Francisco and has already raised venture capital funds.
Frederick Daso: What are the driving factors in the bifurcation of website builders based on easy-to-use templates (e.g. Squarespace and Wix) and more complicated customizable options like Webflow?
Kevin Chandra: Website builders, like any other software, are born simple. They were intended to serve users with simple needs. However, as these users grow their business or audience, they need more features, and it is because of these features that complicated and customizable options like Webflow are born.
Initially, website builders were a tool for the hobbyist, but as we move into an era where individuals, brands, and businesses all need digital real estate, that is no longer true. Building websites became a job, and with the explosion of web designers and web freelancers, tools like Webflow were born.
Today, this choice is no longer binary. With the significant development of rich text editors and design tools, it is possible to combine ease and customization, and that is why we created Typedream.
Daso: Of the hundreds of thousands of new websites launched every day, how many of them are not built on Squarespace, Wix, Webflow and similar competitors?
Albert Putra Purnama: According to this The source, only around 3.45% of the internet is built using CMS/website builders. This number shows you that most of the internet is still created using code, which most people in this world don’t know how to do. Therefore, there is still plenty of room for more no-code tools to help democratize the internet.
This is one of the reasons we created Typedream; we wanted to help make website building accessible to everyone. The fundamental design of Typedream is based on one of the most popular pieces of software on a computer, a text editor. We want to make sure that there will be no knowledge barrier to create a website.
Daso: How did you combine the concepts of “what you see is what you get” and industry-leading web design standards to produce Typedream? Which of these was prioritized during your initial stages of product development?
Michele Marcelline: We were inspired by Notion, where they combined the simple WYSIWYG editing experience with savvy design. It allows users to focus only on their content; However, we took it a step further and created a tool specifically designed for building websites. We have incorporated website building elements like section templates, CTA buttons, integrations, etc. in our rich text editor. Beyond that, we’ve made sure that our users will use the latest and greatest design trends, such as 3D assets and gradients.
We knew early on that we had to master the editing experience first. Therefore, we took our time to talk to people who build websites on Notion and ask them how Notion’s editing experience has deterred them from using all the other website builders out there today. . We learned from them that typing a document is usually the first thing people do when they log on to a computer. Therefore, we modeled our editor on MS Word, Google Docs, and Notion.
Daso: You have already mentioned that you and your co-founders have worked successfully on previous projects. How have these successes and failures of past collaboration shaped the way you all work together on Typedream today?
Anthony HarrisChristian: We never succeeded; we have failed so many times over the past six years. However, the lessons we learned along the way have led us to where we are today. We first came to the US as international students with 0 knowledge of how the tech industry works and 0 role models to draw inspiration from as there are not many Indonesian engineers or entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
It took us five long years of building projects and tinkering. Looking back, Steve Jobs’ famous quote, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back. is an accurate description of our trip. We kept building, not knowing where it might take us, but looking back, our previous projects helped us build Typedream.
We built Typedream based on our learnings at Cotter. Cotter is a passwordless authentication solution. We built Cotter based on our learning by creating a mobile app for developing countries. We came into YC wanting to build Robinhood for SEA. We were exposed to YC due to our experience working in a YC company. We worked for this YC company because one of our projects was taken over by them.
The many failures we have had have taught us that no one knows how to succeed; it’s just a matter of failing cheap, fast, and often. Fortunately, in technology, we have the privilege of failing quickly and cheaply, which unwittingly leads us to do the right things. We learned over 1000 different ways to fail; today it’s just about not repeating those mistakes, trying different approaches and making new mistakes. Hopefully we will run out of mistakes one day!
Daso: Why did you prioritize community building for Typedream? How have these efforts guided and shaped the technical development of the startup and your ability to sell to users?
Putri Karounia: The community is our fluke, and they will take us far and build a meaningful business. We focus on building a community because we understand that the software is easily replicable in the world today. With a community-driven approach, our users help us prioritize the features we build and set our roadmap for the foreseeable future. Listening and observing our community also allowed us to glimpse what the Web could look like in the next 5 to 10 years. We’re excited about the possibility of being able to do what Pixar did for animation, we for websites. Moreover, our users not only enjoy using the software but also creating and managing their websites with the community. We’ve created a space for them to easily request feedback and early support.
Typedream connects with its users through many memes; we even have a referral program that we call a simping program. Our community loves us so much they helped us win Product of the Month on ProductHunt, and since we were able to connect with our users and create a product that they and their friends want, we found it to be relatively easy to sell to them. This initial group of simps allows us to not compete on price but to focus more on giving them the most value possible.
Daso: What lessons have you learned so far by rotating the key roles that a founder is responsible for in the early stages of startup?
Chandra: Signifying a founder means you have to do everything that drives the business forward, which involves wearing many different hats. My co-founders and I mainly had a technical background, but when it came to creating Typedream, we had to learn how to talk to users, market the product, nurture our community, among other things.
The most important lesson I’ve learned moving from one key role to another is the ability to learn over and over. Learning involves finding the right mentors and the right content and putting in the hours to practice what you’ve learned. My co-founders and I have made so many mistakes that we are comfortable being a newbie many times.
Today we have documentation for every role each of us has played before. The knowledge base we have is to ensure that if we were to switch roles or pass a role on to a prospective recruit, he/she would be able to transition into the role fairly quickly.