Tag - Joe White

Wed, 21 Mar 2012


Wed, 21 Mar 2012, 14:28

A Successful Husband-Wife Team

This interview by Sramana Mitra first appeared in her blog. Part 1 of the interview is reproduced below but you can read the whole of it here.''

Wendy Tan White is the CEO of Moonfruit, a company she co-founded with Eirik Pettersen and Joe White. Moonfruit is an on-demand website development platform that allows anyone to develop a website for any purpose in a matter of minutes. Prior to Moonfruit, Wendy worked at Arthur Andersen as an IT consultant and helped establish Egg.com. Joe worked as a website developer while finishing college and completed projects for clients such as Disney and Egg.

Sramana: Let’s start by reviewing your personal backgrounds.

Wendy Tan White: I studied computer science at Imperial College in London. It was a great experience and a great college. I used to program really old assembly line systems, which is a far cry from where we are today. Both of my parents worked in IT, which was unusual in those days, especially for my mother. She worked for DEK in Reading, England.

After college I ended up working for Arthur Andersen. It was good commercial experience although it was not my passion. I ended up in a financial services IT consultancy. One of my first big career step came when one of my clients headhunted me to help set up the Internet bank Egg.com. It was the first UK Internet bank which came around in 1997. That is where I got the bug that led me to try and understand how communities work on the Internet. Initially I approached that from the perspective of banks, but I quickly started looking at how people shared their passions online. That is when I founded Moonfruit in 1999.

I was quite lucky that my boss at Egg told me that if I stayed around a bit longer, he would help seed the business, which he did. He also let me work part-time at Egg to give me the opportunity to get the business started while being able to maintain some income. He was a tremendous mentor.

Sramana: When you started Moonfruit, what was in your head?

Wendy Tan White: It has always been about democratization. As a developer, I realized that if someone wanted to publish something online, they could not do it themselves if they were not a developer. I wanted to give them a simple user interface to share their passion online. It did not matter to me if it was a hobby, business, or passion. These were the days before blogging and social media.

We ended up building something that was like a PowerPoint editor. It really was a SaaS product, which was not a common concept in those days. The idea was that it was a very literal editor. It was a visual editor to create a website.

Joe White: My story dovetails into this. I was at Cambridge getting an economics degree. In the summer I started working at a software company, which is where Wendy was in the graduate program. When she left that company to go to Egg, I was going back to my finals at Cambridge. One of the guys I met at that company was interested in setting up a web design agency in 1997. I told him that I was going back to school and that I could look for some clients with the intention of sharing the work with him if I were able to find some clients. The first client we got was The Big Issue, then we got the London School of Economics, Disney and a few others. By the time I graduated, we had a group of clients that included Egg.

I was traveling between London and Cambridge, balancing school and work. I got to know Wendy when I went to work on commissioned projects at Egg. Wendy was the one commissioning work to us. When Wendy decided she wanted to leave Egg to start Moonfruit she got me involved, along with Eirik, who is our other co-founder. This all occurred before we were married.

Wendy Tan White: Eirik Pettersen was my best friend from university. He was a physicist but would do programming on the side. We always talked about starting a business together in college but we ended up going our different ways after school. When we set up Moonfruit, I wanted him to come in as CTO, and Joe’s agency built the prototype that we went out and raised money with.

How To Optimize Your Facebook Shop For Valentines Day

This article by Joe White originally appeared in All Facebook

This year, the National Retail Federation projects that consumers are prepared to spend over 15.7 billion dollars in gifts this Valentine’s Day season, and with over 845 million monthly active users on Facebook, it’s time for shop owners on the network to take note.

With Valentine’s Day just under a week away, here are three ways to romanticize your Facebook shop and drive last-minute buyer traffic to your store in time to cash in on sales before the holiday.

Encourage Likes, Shares And Suggestions

Facebook’s natural format, optimized for sharing and suggesting serves as a perfect environment for both getting and giving gift ideas.

Shop owners can take advantage of the Facebook news feed to publish gift guides and package popular items as coordinated gifts for that special day, urging shoppers to connect and share their finds.

Additionally, shops can connect their Facebook shop to their main web site, linking users to published posts with content themed for the upcoming love day. .

Offer A Free Gift

For boyfriends, wives, fiancés, secret admirers and parents, Valentine’s Day is a cherished day for gift giving and as customers are looking to buy, they’re also looking for the best buy.

Offer shoppers an incentive to purchase from your storefront. Whether it’s an entry for a weekend trip to wine country, a 15 percent discount or simply free shipping for the customer — shoppers will be more inclined to purchase from your store.

For example, Méli Jewelry’s love-themed blog posts to Facebook and subsequent offer for free shipping through Valentine’s Day has already driven countless customers to purchase everything from watches to bracelets on its Facebook shop.

Design A Valentine’s Day Storefront

Draw in those rose-colored glasses and lovestruck shoppers with a themed storefront, recognizing the upcoming holiday and giving customers a virtual window-shopping experience.

Stores can utilize online site building and do-it-yourself design tools from numerous free storefront software providers to create a Valentine’s-themed microsite in a matter of minutes, producing a gift-giving guide for their Facebook storefront and planting their shop directly in consumers’ search feeds.

Shop owners have the opportunity to get creative with visual collage platforms such as Pinterest, to showcase suggested gifts for that special someone in a simple, eye-catching format.

Take advantage of this shopping occasion and give your Facebook shop a rosy tint this Valentine’s!

For the original article, click here

Wed, 21 Dec 2011


Wed, 21 Dec 2011, 10:10

How online and social commerce is opening doors

Moonfruit's COO Joe White writing for the Smarta blog says: As the web continues to evolve, smart businesses look to use its new features in ways that can help them expand, compete and remain profitable - even at a time when the economic outlook seems bleak. This is particularly true when the web gives us opportunities to make money.

When Moonfruit.com was created, its aim was to allow anyone - from individuals through to small business owners and beyond - to control, maintain and customise their online identities, without needing big budgets or technical expertise. Together with the proliferation of social media platforms, this created a more equal playing field for people vying for online exposure.

Since then, people's online priorities have progressed from controlling their presence to boosting their sales. Online platforms use a number of methods to focus on money-making: traditional ecommerce, where people can buy products or services online using electronic payment; ad-supported platforms, which offer a service or content funded by commercial advertising; and paywalls and micropayments, which allow sites to monetise individual units of content.

What's new in ecommerce?

So why has ecommerce been so important for smaller businesses with a mandate to grow? Since launching our ShopBuilder tool - which allows people to publish online shops across a number of platforms, including their own site, Facebook and mobile - we have seen some innovative ways to make money using ecommerce functions. Some of these go way beyond simply selling products for payment.

Our customer Yoga Bellies, a pre- and post-natal yoga class that takes place across the UK, has done something very interesting with ShopBuilder. Its online shop function collects customers' payments for classes that take place offline. Similarly, the King's College London Symphony Orchestra is using ShopBuilder to allow people to purchase concert tickets in advance of the event.

While this isn't new in itself (most people have purchased tickets for a concert or holiday online), Yoga Bellies and King's College are integrating ecommerce into real life without using the complex online registration or billing systems required by tour operators and ticket vendors. This is hugely significant for small businesses and micro-traders because it removes some of barriers that may have inhibited growth in the past: customers not carrying the right cash, for example, or not possessing a chequebook.

Ecommerce vs. social commerce

Social commerce is a concept that builds on ecommerce by adding interactivity and sharebility to the traditional buy/sell structure. A number of studies have shown that people trust the recommendations made by their family and friends online more than they trust other types of promotion. It makes sense: Why would you trust an advert or even a third-party endorsement when you can access unbiased advice from the people you know in real life?

Facebook is a particularly fertile platform for social commerce not only because it has so many users, but also because ecommerce functions have started to be integrated with company pages. It's powerful because it allows people to buy within their own network without needing to visit other websites - and because they can engage with the brand in ways their friends and network can see. This process introduces a viral effect into the selling chain, and enables smaller businesses to grow organically using popular platforms such as Facebook.

We originally launched ShopBuilder to allow site owners to set up shop wherever their customers wanted to buy, and to fill a gap in the ecommerce market. So it's interesting to see that our users are most excited about one specific ShopBuilder feature, and that's Facebook integration! Thousands of our shops are already using this feature to publish their whole product catalogue into the social network to allow buying and selling inside Facebook itself. It will be even more interesting to see how they innovate with social and ecommerce in the future.

See the original article here

Wed, 14 Dec 2011


Wed, 14 Dec 2011, 10:07

Video: Moonfruit's Joe White on surviving the dot com crash and thriving in the recession

This video by Dan Martin originally appeared in BusinessZone: Technology, Business profiles

Web design company Moonfruit raised millions of pounds in funding during the dot com bubble of the 1990s and then almost collapsed after the crash. A decade on, the company is thriving again. Dan Martin met co-founder Joe White to find out why.

To see the video, click here

Fri, 9 Sep 2011


Fri, 9 Sep 2011, 11:34

Startup Accelerators and Internet Bubbles

Joe White is COO of Moonfruit.com. He wrote the blog (below) for Reuters' The Great Debate UK series.

All this week Seedcamp, a UK-based internet startup accelerator, has been running its headline annual event Seedcamp Week in London.

As an accelerator, Seedcamp has mimicked a successful process established in the U.S. by Y Combinator, Techstars and others of taking early stage internet entrepreneurs and running them through an intense programme of mentoring and business development. Mentors are laid on from different disciplines and work with the entrepreneurs each day. They cover founders, product experts, venture capitalists, marketing specialists and more. The best ideas at the end of the programme get funding to get started. Seedcamp Week brings the best of the best from the Seedcamps throughout the year and around the world for a final London mentor and pitch feast.

Seedcamp has grown its fund to €5m this year and made some other announcements to bolster its success. There’s no doubt that a tie-up with Dave McClures’s 500 Startups will boost Seedcamp’s profile (disclosure: Dave McClure is also a Moonfruit investor).

But there are two questions that have plagued internet tech financing in recent months: Can Europe produce internet companies that rival their U.S. cousins in terms of success and influence? And are we in a tech bubble?

Let’s deal with Europe first. Seedcamp Week ends today – start-ups this time ranged from grabcad.com and farmeron.com, bringing the internet to engineers and farmers, to compilr.com and transferwise.com hoping to disrupt the software compiling and foreign exchange transfer markets respectively.

In my mind, for the UK to really produce world beaters with $1bn plus valuations, we need to have start-ups that play to our strengths. The UK and London in particular have strong industries in finance, design, music, and the marketing and creative industries. Some of these talent pools should help a great deal in the 2.0 world of slick UI and simplified design. NYC has done well to distinguish itself from the Valley based on a similar city profile to London, with companies like tumblr, foursquare and etsy.

Mint.com (started in 2006 in the US and acquired for $170m in 2009) was complimented for being a design-led site that happened to sell personal finance software. Wonga.com, which provides short term loans, is a UK champion in this ilk. It has similarly great, simplified design, is based in financial services, and with £73m revenues in 2010 and strong growth a high value IPO may be on the cards. Also in this vein is betfair.com, sourced from our national love of gambling, and zopa.com, providing peer-to-peer lending, sourced from the UK’s love of fairness and new found suspicion of banks. Successes like moo.com, last.fm and spotify.com show the influence of the design and music industries.

And now to the bubble. There’s been a lot of talk of tech bubbles, Angel bubbles and accelerator bubbles. Marc Andreessen says we’re not in a bubble and public tech multiples are too low, while Steve Blank says we are in a bubble, particularly at the Angel end which is playing out “by the book”.

The first Internet bubble took a long time to build, from the Netscape IPO in 1995 to the Nasdaq peak in March 2000 and subsequent crash. The U.S. was buzzing for a few years before the money, buzz and funding started to flow and build in Europe. New players piled in and more money chased fewer opportunities. Investors went further afield to chase them.

Moonfruit and I lived through that crash. We took VC funding in January 2000, and launched our business. We had no idea how close to the crash we were, and I don’t think we appreciated how long the boom had already been going when we joined the party. We have a post-crash happy ending, but this is not common. More and more of the U.S. VCs closed their European funds after the crash and many have not come back.

So what does that mean for Seedcamp and 500 Startups? Is this tie-up a sign that Europe is heating up? Is too much money chasing too few opportunities in the Valley? Too many accelerators? Are we beginning the last hurrah? I hope not.

As Mike Butcher from Techcrunch said in a recent interview, Seedcamp’s example spawning more accelerators in Europe could be a case of “a rising tide lifting all boats”. But even if the tide goes out those funds will have been injected into the economy and we’ll be left with more experience and knowledge.

For the original article, click here.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011


Tue, 23 Aug 2011, 15:27

The legal curse of running a small business in London

Joe White is co-founder and COO of website builder Moonfruit. He's grown the business across a decade to an international company with Silicon-Valley-based backing. But White has had his fair share of headaches along the way. Here are his tips for small businesses looking to avoid legal hot water.

Running a small business in London can be a battle at the best of times, particularly in terms of managing your own time as it is one of the most valuable resources in the company. You need things done correctly, you can't do them all yourself, and you don't want to be distracted by things you shouldn't have to worry about. I should know, as COO/CFO of the number one hosted website builder in the UK, Moonfruit.com. We're a DIY website builder for consumers and small businesses to share their passions online, based in central London. Legislation affecting your business can seem like one of those extra things you just shouldn't have to worry about, but it is real and does matter. Some of it is a real pain, some of it is good discipline with real benefits. The main kinds of legislation that affect the running of your business are:

  • Employment law: essentially, this concerns the relationship between you and your employees. From payment rights to varying types of discrimination.
  • Consumer protection: this looks to ensure that consumers are treated fairly by businesses and to ensure product quality is satisfactory.
  • Tax and regulations: anything from payroll taxes, VAT and corporation tax, to filing accounts and statutory documents.

It's your responsibility as a business owner to make sure you take notice of all these things. But this doesn't mean you have to do it all yourself. My first piece of advice would be to make sure you have an accountant who is looking out for the day to day stuff, particularly payroll and taxes. The revenue aren't particularly sympathetic to people who pay incorrect tax and a competent accountant will make sure you do. It is an additonal outgoing but - trust me - accountants are worth their weight in gold.

On the legal and employment side of things, treat people fairly, with respect, and you'll be okay in most cases. If you find yourself in a tricky situation, then take advice. There are several business services that will offer standard contracts and process documents (e.g. dismissal), so you can use these to save money. Smarta offers a business software bundle that includes legal and accounting software, so that can be helpful here. Most importantly, don't be afraid to do something for fear of regulation or concern that it's all too complicated. Seek to do things the right way and take advice if you're unsure, but don't get paralysed. Most government agencies want you to succeed and will work with you to help you comply, even if it's tidying up after the event! Some laws can even lead to a benefit for your business. Understanding that EU law requires us to give customers a 60 day right of refund for digital purchases has allowed us to promote this effective 60 day money back guarantee to our customers - to their delight! So it's not all bad :-)

Further reading: FREE Business Briefing: How to interview; The Comply or Die ebook

This article first appeared in SMARTA See it here