Paul Sheng co-founded FoundHere, Inc in 2013. Previously, he was a partner at Bain & Company, an international strategy consulting firm, where he was a co-founder of the private equity group. Earlier in his career he worked at McKinsey & Company, in Hong Kong, helping multi-nationals develop growth strategies in the region. Paul has a BA, MA from Oxford University and an MBA from Stanford University. Founded in 2013, FoundHere.com enables users to easily build and maintain a fully functioning website for free, including design templates, hosting, and built-in search engine optimization. The intuitive website service offers hundreds of professionally designed templates that are organized by specific markets for easy selection, as well as search engine tools, drag and drop editing, and content customization through widgets and flexible content blocks.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you come up with the concept behind FoundHere.com?
Paul: We have had great success creating easy to build and maintain websites specifically for the real estate sector with a client base of over 25,000 realtors. We really wanted to put easy-to-use website building tools in the hands of a broader market and felt we had the majority of capabilities and infrastructure to succeed. My methodology for coming up with new business ideas is not to start with a “blank sheet”, but to begin with asking myself two questions – “What are we really great at?” and “”What knowledge and capabilities can we leverage?”
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the process behind developing a product/service that allows anyone, regardless of their web experience or technical prowess, to create and maintain a website to market their business? What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
Paul: We were fortunate in having previously built a modern website building platform and infrastructure for real estate. Real estate websites are actually pretty complicated, therefore, technical aspects and challenges were well understood and manageable. The biggest challenge by far is to build a logic and user interface that folks could intuitively understand so that anyone can build and maintain a great website. We constantly agonized on every tiny step in the process to make it as easy as insanely impossible. To be honest, it is vital to largely ignore engineers’ viewpoints on this topic. Software engineers find most things technical easy, and often can’t understand the minds of ordinary people!!
BusinessInterviews.com: What tips would you give to someone about to design their first website?
Paul: Unless you have experience and a good design eye, start with a service that provides great looking pre-built templates as a starting point. Without this starting point, it is easy to end up with a website that looks amateurish and pretty unprofessional. The analogy is, most of us can’t paint a picture, so start with a paint by numbers kit.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the FoundHere features that you’re most proud of?
Paul: As mentioned above, we are most proud of FoundHere’s easy-to-use editing tools. My own mother tried it out and ended up building a nice website! To make things even easier, for those with an existing website, we are close to launching a website import tool which allows users to simply type in the domain name of their current website, and we can bring in most of their content into the FoundHere platform. This will help solve problems that people have in updating and maintaining legacy websites.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some web design trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Paul: From a pure design perspective, we are definitely seeing some new trends with home page design. Rather than constraining home pages to a single page, we are seeing more multi-page home pages where scrolling is required. Fonts are getting bigger with more white space. There is most definitely a big downward trend in terms of costs of building a website. New services and tools are making it hard for web designers to charge thousands of dollars to build a simple website. Social media has definitely arrived and is here to stay. It is now vital build in these hooks into your website.
BusinessInterviews.com: How do you plan to keep the momentum going?
Paul: The DIY website space is certainly getting more crowded. The key is differentiation and making the process really simple for non-technical users. As mentioned, we are gearing up to launch a website import tool to make the process easier for those with an existing website. We are also continuously adding new templates particularly as we gain traction with various vertical segments.
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