15 Nov

mob.is.it is an online tool for easily and quickly building mobile optimized websites. Our goal is to allow anybody – small business, web agencies, marketing professionals and individuals – to create mobile optimized web pages and web apps with the least effort, the best results and the wisest investment.

We had an in-depth and lengthy interview with Mr. “Silvio Porcellana“; Founder and CEO of the US (Boston, Massachusetts)-based start-up “http://www.mob.is.it” about his Company.

As per Mr. Porcellana; Mob.is.it is an online tool for easily and quickly building mobile optimized websites. Our goal is to allow anybody – small business, web agencies, marketing professionals and individuals – to create mobile optimized web pages and web apps with the least effort, the best results and the wisest investment. The online CMS we built is extremely simple and straightforward and is specifically designed for anybody who needs a beautiful mobile website without having to worry about HTML coding, images conversions or web programming.

Our whole business is founded on the idea that the mobile web should really be for everybody and we base this vision on three main pillars:

– everybody should be able to build a mobile website: this is why our online CMS is so easy and straightforward
– everybody should be able to enjoy a mobile website: this is why the websites we build work on over 5,000 different phones, looking like native apps

on the latest smartphones such as the iPhone or Android while being perfectly optimized also for older and less powerful feature phones

– everybody should be able to afford a mobile website: this is the reason why we offer the best deal and the highest ROI to all our customers

The vision behind mob.is.it is simple and powerful. The Internet was the extraordinary event that changed the way we live, mobile phones are the ubiquitous tools that changed the way we communicate. Result? The mobile web is the true revolution of our days. But it needs to be for everybody, otherwise its power will be lost like tears in the rain. And this is what mob.is.it does: empower anybody, no matter what their web skills are, to build mobile websites that work on all phones, no matter what the hardware or software is. At a price everybody can afford.

The tool we built to achieve this goal is a simple yet extremely powerful online CMS. Users register for free and they can immediately start building mobile websites: with a couple of clicks they create pages, customize colors and choose the layout they want. With another click they publish their mobile website, while receiving all the perfect tools for marketing it and using it to increase their business: QR code, customizable domain, JavaScript code to redirect smartphone visitors from their desktop pages to their new, mobile-optimized websites.

Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Porcellana regarding his start-up “Mob.is.it”;

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Mob.is.it” is all about?

mob.is.it is an online tool for letting small business or agencies and resellers build mobile websites easily and quickly. Our vision is to empower anybody to fully take advantage of this great mobile web revolution we are living and be able to create in a very effective and extremely affordable way web sites that work like native apps on advanced smartphones and that are also perfectly optimized for older and less powerful devices and featurephones.

2. When has “Mob.is.it” been founded? And what stage is “Mob.is.it” currently at?

Mob.is.it was incorporated in August, 2011 and we went live at the end of September, 2011. We are a bootstrapped company and we are currently in the “business development” process: we have (sort of…) found our product-market fit so we are now focusing on brand and traffic building with the goal to grow our revenues

3. What is “Mob.is.it” business model and how does it work?

Our model is subscription based: we offer a B2C product where users pay a monthly or a one-time fee to build their mobile website and B2B plans (for agencies who want to resell our product to their customers) where customers pay a yearly fee to have a huge discount or unlimited mobile websites. Each site you build comes with a 21 days no-credit-cards no-obligations trial period.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

The front-end guy and current CTO of the company wrote me about an year ago telling me “your blog looks like crap” (I own an HTML5-related blog). I then replied: “well why don’t you try and make it better?”. I immediately fell in love with his style and skills and we have been working together for the past year with very good results. And this is the team: as you can imagine, we are currently missing a few marketing/sales guy but it’s not easy to find them…

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

We are unique because we have a strong vision – that is, a clear idea of what we want to achieve in the long term. We believe the mobile web is a truly revolutionary force and we want to bring this revolution into everybody’s pocket by making mobile websites that are easy to build, universal to use and affordable to buy.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Mob.is.it” achieved so far?

We have a 8% free trial conversion rate, which is quite good given the fact that you need to register and validate your email address before using our tool. We have just reached our break-even point so now it’s time to raise the bar a little bit and keep growing steadily as we’ve done so far.

7. Who are your competitors?

Our main competitors are Wapple.net, DudaMobile and piJnz.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The main obstacle is forgetting what you know and what you think your customers and visitors want and let them tell you. As a web developer I’ve always been totally convinced that I knew better than my users what was “right” for them, what was the best layout, navigational funnel and overall design. That’s wrong and leads to a lot of wasted time and resources: it’s much better to have an humbler approach and build, measure, learn, then re-build and start all over again.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

I think the general market still has to understand how important – I’d say vital – it is for any business to have a mobile website: nowadays this is still seen as something “nice to have”, I am sure in a few months especially small and medium businesses will start to realize that it’s something absolutely fundamental for their survival.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

Passion and skills. I see lots of companies with great passion but poor execution or with a great engineering team and a product as cold as an iceberg. I think we found the right mix between heart and brain, we put 100% of ourselves into everything we do, giving our users our desire to excel and our passion in doing things “right”. And that’s the best recipe for success, I guess.

11. If “Mob.is.it” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

We definitely want to make building mobile websites even easier than what we do now, developing new tools for empowering small business and agencies who target them with a product whose ROI is even more measurable and positive.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Mob.is.it” based on?

I started building WAP sites in 1999 and the idea of being able to navigate and use the Internet on a mobile phone has always fascinated me. As soon as smartphones started popping up building an online tool for letting everybody build mobile websites and tackle this huge new market has been a very strong idea and a firm goal in my mind.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

The most important thing I’ve learned is that the user is always right. Not because they “know better” but because they are the people you build your company around. You cannot act like a little God and let your “word” fall upon them but you need to listen, listen and listen. And once you listened you need to be smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff – but if you did not reap, you wouldn’t get neither chaff nor wheat!

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Managing users growth, in terms of resources required and customer care. At least, that’s the problem we hope we will have! 

15. What’s the benefit for the user?

The main benefit we offer our customers is to give them access to a huge new market (in the World there currently are about 5 billions smartphones and mobile devices who can browse the Net) without having to worry about technology: just a few clicks and in less than 5 minutes they can be online with a perfectly optimized mobile website, ready to be used to find new customers and grow their businesses.

16. How did customers and/or users find out about you?

Most of our customers find us thru reviews on sites like yours or word-of-mouth. We also do some Search Engine Marketing (paid listings and SEO) while we are still looking for an effective social media marketing strategy.

17. Who are your current users? Who are your target users?

We target two distinct markets:
a. B2C: small and medium business who need a quick and easy solution for building on their own a perfectly optimized and extremely useful mobile website.
b. B2B: web and marketing agencies who need a white-label technology that allows them to build and resell mobile websites to their existing customers.

18. Where do new users come from and what makes new users try you?

Mostly from word-of-mouth or because they read reviews and articles about us on magazines and blogs. A few come from Search Engines either in the form of paid advertising or through traditional SEO. I think the most important driver in free trial conversions is how easy yet professional our tool looks – and that’s actually how it is!

19. What do your users say about your product and/or service?

Well, it’s not easy to answer this question without sounding a bit presumptuous but I have to say that so far we have received only enthusiast reviews: you can find a few testimonials on our homepage and in general users are very happy about our tool and the care we put in answering their questions and solving their problems.

20. How are you going to scale?

Once our product-market is even more fit we plan on raising our marketing efforts so that volumes will get bigger and the whole system will become even more self-sustainable, fueling its own growth.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers keep asking for?

That’s probably a tool that converts mobile websites into native apps. We really don’t believe in this but as a few customers ask for it we will probably be adding it in a few weeks.

22. Are you going to internationalize?

We are based in Italy so we have “internationalization” in our DNA: in addition to the English website we already have an Italian version and we will soon have a Spanish, French and German one. Moreover we have customers from all over the world, from Australia to Italy, Denmark, US, Canada and Mexico.

23. How big do you think you can get?

The sky’s the limit! We think the mobile web is a huge, humongous market and we feel all small and medium businesses will need at least one mobile website: as our product is perfect for this we are really excited of the growth possibilities we have.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

We are actively looking for:
a. Social media marketing experts: we are lacking a social media strategy and having someone who can help us leverage this marketing channel would be great.
b. Sales guys: we have a strong technical background and we lack those skills and capacities that would allow us to convert our leads to sales and deals. That’s the biggest challenge we are facing right now so if we could find someone there, well, that would be simply awesome.
Everybody interested can write me at silvio@mob.is.it

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We are always looking for partnerships and we would be very happy to talk with anybody interested in helping us grow. Again, potential partners or investors can contact me at silvio@mob.is.it

26. Finally, what advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Build, measure, learn. I guess you all have already heard this – just do it! 

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