Moonfruit secures $2.25m funding to accelerate internationally

You would think most people know how to get a simple web site up and running these days just on something like WordPress, but the fact remains that millions of people don’t have these skills. As a result Moonfruit, the web site building business which has survived the dotcom bust to return in the age of Web 2.0, is on a charge. It’s profitable, growing internationally and as a result has chosen to fundraise to really take the market on. It’s just secured $2.25m from U.S. investment bank Stephens. The bank originally helped Moonfruit to buy, the domain registrar but since then Moonfruit has been spun out to go for accelerated international growth.

Moonfruit competes with Weebly, Yola and Webnode, and many others that provide services for building simple but elegant web sites, as opposed to blogs. Clearly its drag and drop Flash interface appeals to ‘design aspirers’ who want to customise their own site styles.

Moonfruit is a real blast form the past come good. It was founded in the UK in 1999, went through the whole VC-backed-to-bust cycle but fought back and now over 2.8m websites have been built using its DIY software. Over the last year it’s partnered with Edgecast to put all of its tools and websites on a CDN, serving North American and Far Eastern users much better. Thus most of this new funding will be put towards sales and marketing to acquire new customers.

Wendy Tan White, founder and CMO of Moonfruit says the company has been profitable for seven years “But the self-publishing market is only just starting to gather serious momentum, and we want to accelerate our growth… The time is right now for a calculated risk to take the business to the next level.”

Moonfruit managed to re-invigorate it’s brand last year by being among the first to trend on Twitter for a laptop giveaway contest. #Moonfruit thus became the top trending term on Twitter three days in a row, reaching 2.5% of all twitter traffic. Yes foks, it’s only a year since that kind of marketing started. Now you couldn’t trend for a giveaway for love nor money, unless maybe Ashton Kutcher pushed it.

That campaign led to a 20% increase in new subscriptions per month, with the bulk of them coming from the USA. Now, 26% of Moonfruit’s customers are in the USA, 49% are in the UK, with the remaining 25% scattered around the rest of the world. Not bad for the price of 10 Mac laptops.

What of the competition? Weebly and Yola (rebranded from Synthasite) are their main US competitors. While Moonfruit has been profitable on a subscription model, these competitors have entered the market more recently and are focused on a free, no ads model. There is also the German-born Jimdo which has since concentrated on Asia. Moonfruit has moved towards a freemium model, with a premium upgrade path for users.