It feels like startups are taking more and more steps to make the website creation process as easy as possible. There are companies like Weebly, which offer drag-and-drop interfaces for building websites. There’s Barley, which doesn’t require any layout work at all. And now there’s Pagevamp, which allows you to turn a Facebook Page into a website.
The company was founded by Atulya Pandey, Fred Wang and Vincent Sanchez-Gomez, three University of Pennsylvania students (now graduates) who ran a small WordPress design agency while they were in college. What they discovered, Sanchez-Gomez said, is that the process is still too complicated for many people. Facebook Pages, on the other hand, are easy to create, but they’re not particularly customizable.
“I think there are people, like my mom or my grandma, where if you said, ‘Hey, just make a WordPress site,’ they wouldn’t know what to do,” he said. “For them to make a Facebook Page is much more in the realm of possibility. And with Pagevamp, if they can do that, then they can make a website.”
I tried it out myself this morning, where I pointed Pagevamp at the TechCrunch Facebook Page and within a few seconds I had a not-terrible-looking website. (You can see a screenshot of the website, along with Pagevamp’s admin controls, below.) I could do some basic editing like choosing from different designs, but really, typing in the Facebook URL was all the effort required.
Pagevamp launched its public beta at the end of March, and Sanchez-Gomez said users from more than 80 countries have created more than 7,000 sites. You can see sample Pagevamp-created websites for an Indian nonprofit, a musician, and a restaurant. Sanchez-Gomez said it can be used by both individuals and businesses, though it needs to start from a Facebook Page, not a personal account.
Today the company is announcing that it has backing from the Dorm Room Fund, First Round Capital’s student-run investment arm, which means that it has access to the fund’s mentorship and network, as well as $20,000 in funding.
Like I said, the initial websites created by Pagevamp are pretty simple, but the company plans to expand its functionality through add-ons. Right now, there are two — an add-on for managing website menus and another for adding custom pages. There are more in the pipeline, Sanchez-Gomez said, and ultimately he wants to turn Pagevamp into a platform for add-ons from third-party developers. (In fact, there’s already a developer sign-up page.)
Creating a Pagevamp site is free, but you have to pay a subscription fee if you want to publish on a non-Pagevamp domain and if you want access to the add-ons.