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Weave Some Designer Magic with YCombinator Startup, Markupwand!

Shyamal Dave
31st Aug 2012
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Designers are still using print media design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks to design web pages and mobile apps. The output of these tools is just an image. A developer has to spend days converting the design into a working UI and then making it work across multiple browsers and screen sizes. This work doesn’t involve much logic, and isn’t worth a developer’s time. Markupwand is a tool that takes the design file and gives out clean and maintainable HTML and CSS. It also lets the developer customize the code to his taste, in a few clicks.
Markupwand is the brainchild of three smart minds: Alagu, at age 19, built an analytics tool for World Bank and Govt of India to choose institutes to fund in India. He also built an internal Twitter as pet project at Yahoo in 2007, which attracted a small set of people who loved it. They maintain and use it till date even after he left Yahoo. Rajagopal completed Google Summer of Code 2006 and built a product that crowdsourced synchronization of music videos with lyrics, which Yahoo! adopted, and launched as an experimental product. As a Product Manager, he doubled the conversion rate for Myntra, an Indian e-commerce company, in one quarter. Suren achieved 40th rank in the state engineering qualifiers among 170K odd students and was Yahoo Super star within a year of joining. He built a feature for LibreOffice (Open source equivalent of Microsoft office - Previously Open office) and got it accepted.

We've been reading Hacker news and Paul Graham's articles for years. That way we already knew about YCombinator. Alagu and Suren worked for a YCombinator company called InterviewStreet, and knew how useful the program would be. A couple of our friends - Prasanna and Vivek – who had gone through it as well encouraged us to apply for it,” says Raj.

The YCombinator experience has been excellent for Team Markupwand. Some of the notable veteran entrepreneurs - Paul Graham (Founder of Viaweb - acquired by Yahoo), Paul Buchheit (Founder of GMail, and Friendfeed - acquired by Facebook), Garry Tan (Founder of Posterous - acquired by Twitter), Geoff Ralston (Founder of Rocket Mail - acquired by Yahoo) just to mention a few - are helping them build the company. Every week, a notable entrepreneur would come for dinner and share their experiences with them. They also got to learn quite a lot by observing the other companies in the batch

There are several service companies that offer the same things, the major difference being, Markupwand completes the task automatically within minutes whereas the companies take a lot of time. Adobe Dreamweaver was an attempt by Adobe in this direction. But designers didn't like it because it constrained their creativity; developer didn't like it because the code it generated was unusable.Markupwand is targeting the segment of companies with professional designers and freelancers. A few freelancers who do design can deliver HTML/CSS as well, but after using Markupwand, they can deliver it and are earning more than earlier. The number of pages created using Markupwand has been growing 83% week on week from the time they launched. Users either buy monthly subscription packages or pay per page they create.

Once we decided to startup, we started looking at all the costs we could cut down to get frugal and increase the runway. While listing out the costs, we noticed that we were paying for Flickr but not using it much. So we wrote a bunch of scripts to move all the photos to Facebook and put them in our timeline, since FB offered unlimited photo storage. After we wrote the scripts, we felt that it might be useful for others too, and built a website for it and posted a link to it on hacker news. It stayed on top in hacker news for an hour, after which it went to the second page. We were disappointed and went to sleep. Suddenly Alagu woke us up and said that the product was featured on ZDNet. Then came TheNextWeb coverage and then the GigaOm coverage. The next 4 days went sleepless. What started out as an idea to save $50 ended up costing us $300 in server costs and 4 sleepless nights. But not many a times would a pet project get to handle a million photos in less than a week,” says Suren.

They wish to change the workflow of how websites/webapps are designed and developed. In future, no developer would have to write HTML/CSS by hand.

Are you a designer troubled with HTML/CSS issues? Check out Markupwand!

Markupwand is now on YourStory Pages! Check out their profile here .

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