Y Combinator-Backed Strikingly Launches To Help Publishers Build Compelling Mobile-First Web Experiences

In today’s web environment, where there are more mobile phones than toothbrushes around the world, and where smartphones are increasingly becoming consumers’ go-to computing devices, publishers who have yet to build a web site may be best focusing their development efforts mobile-first instead of building for the desktop environment. To help publishers reach new users on mobile devices, a new startup called Strikingly wants to enable publishers to quickly and easily build mobile web experiences. The company, which is part of the current Winter 2013 Y Combinator class, is launching a platform that will create a framework for mobile web sites that can take as little as 30 minutes for users — even those with little or no development experience — to build.

“Today, there’s no question that you need a mobile web presence,” Strikingly co-founder David Haisha Chen told me. But the company’s philosophy around web development is more than just about providing an easy way to reach a new platform. Since most small businesses don’t have a website, Chen believes that instead of trying to make one built for a desktop browser and squeezing it onto a mobile device, the better approach is to build for mobile first and then translate that experience to the broader web. According to him, it’s mostly a matter of simplicity.

It’s easier to scale up an experience and add rich features for the desktop environment than it is to strip away those built primarily for that experience. And so, Strikingly hopes to target organizations which may not have any web presence at all, and get them to develop for the mobile web first using its tools. That includes small businesses, restaurants, and other independent service providers (such as tutors, accountants, and others) who don’t yet reach potential customers on the web.

Since Strikingly launched in beta, the company has already had more than 10,000 mobile-optimized websites created with the platform. The company has a freemium business model, whereby users can create mobile sites for free, but can upgrade to more full-featured sites for a nominal fee. Pricing runs between $8 and $20 a month, depending on the service tier and whether or not customers are paying month-to-month or a year at a time.

Strikingly was founded by David Haisha Chen, Teng Bao, and Dafeng Guo. The three have experience mostly in gaming app development. The company has received backing from Y Combinator and the YC VC fund. Thanks to revenues already coming in and the small size of the team, the company is already “ramen profitable,” Chen told me.