David Braun shares his experience and learning both by success and critical mistakes done in business
No secret that on the template market there are several influential names this business can't be imagined without. One of them is TemplateMonster, who this year got to the Top-3 template providers on TrustPilot. So we are happy to introduce you TemplateMonster CEO and co-founder David Braun, who agreed to uncover the story of the company and give some pieces of advice for successful business running.
Interviewer: Hello David! We are glad that you found time to give us a short interview. Your experience in web design area is really impressive and we appreciate you agreed to share it with our readers. Let's start with an easy question. How did it all start? How was created one of the most influential companies of today's template market?
David Braun: On TemplateMonster.com you can read that the company was founded in 2002. This is not a secret. But not many people know that the actual history of the project started a few years earlier. Back in 1998 a group of co-thinkers founded a small local web studio with only few people in the team. At first we were working more for the sake of the idea, but soon afterwards the number of orders we were getting exceeded our possibilities. In search of the solution we came to the idea of selling ready-made templates.
Interviewer: So in reality the company is now more than 18 years old! That's quite an age! You were standing at the origins of the ready-made themes. So what are the key company's milestones?
David Braun: You know, that's quite a difficult question. Over these years there were so many big and small events that somehow influenced the company's history... Well, perhaps the first turning point was, when we actually started hiring people. For the first year or two there were about 40 people in our team. Then the tendencies in the web world started changing. We shifted the accents and moved from producing just PSD files to HTML. That was where the coders came in. After that there was an era of Flash and when it died out we stroke into CMS. We hired many programmers. And as we extended our business to such level, client support, pre-sale system, etc. became of vital importance. So step by step we were evolving from a group of enthusiasts to the world famous brand. Now we constantly keep updating and improving our products, because if you stop developing, you start regressing. We are launching new products. Keeping up with the time we created a big collection of multipurpose website templates, such as Starbis, Intense and many others, such as the most famous headliner Monstroid 2.
Interviewer: It is not a secret that the competition on the template market is really tough. There are several big template providers to say nothing about individual web developers. Can you name 3 reasons why the customer should choose you?
David Braun: Ok, the first and the most important one, as for me, is the support we provide for all our premium products. As far as I know, no other company provides free lifetime 24/7 support. The second reason is the wide choice of the templates we offer. There 26+K themes in our collection, all up-to-date and user-friendly. And the last, but not the least, we are in charge of every template. You can be sure in high quality of coding and design. Every template is thrashed out by the whole team of professionals and elaborately tested before being added to our collection.
Interviewer: Sounds rather persuasive. And what about custom designs? For sure there are clients who want "the template like this, but...". Do you provide such services?
David Braun: All the themes we produce, are fully editable. The times, when everything was strictly fixed sank into oblivion long ago. One of the main features of a modern template is flexibility. The majority of the themes are equipped with visual builders, so that you can simply drag-and-drop the elements on the page. No coding skills. Those who want to have everything done for them can always apply to our TM Service Center. For moderate price you will get all the modifications you want.
Interviewer: And who else can benefit from your themes? Do you partner with web studios or offer some loyalty program?
David Braun: Actually both these things. First of all, web studios and individual web developers can benefit, building the client's website on our templates. It saves quite a lot of time, comparing to creating the website from scratch. And at the same period of time, they can complete 3 times more orders. We also collaborate with web studios and web developers all over the world. Passing the Certification Centre course any web studio can be included to TemplateMonster Web Studio Catalogue. Then we have affiliate program. Anyone can join in as a partner and get his commission from every sale. The commission plan is quite fair. The more you sell, the higher percent you get.
Interviewer: And what do the Monsters do besides the work?
David Braun: Oh, we do lots of things! Over these long years we really stack together. And even though that we always have some new people in the team, these good vibes really keep the collective tight. We have developed lots of traditions and corporate events. We have an active social position, take part in charity and sport events. In one word we have a really fantastic team!
Interviewer: TemplateMonster offers a wide choice of free templates as well. Many people are interested, if they give in to the premium ones and if they can be used for serious projects.
David Braun: If we talk about TemplateMonster free templates, you can boldly use them for any project! They are of the same quality as the premium ones, but a bit lighter in the number of features. The only thing they are inferior in is that we don't provide support for them. Concerning free templates from other sources, I can't say anything definite. It really depends.
Interviewer: David, you are in business for so many years. Have you always done everything right? Or were there some mistakes, you regret about?
David Braun: Of course, I have done mistakes. It is impossible to run business without mistaking at least once. And the main point is not in trying to plan everything in advance to avoid all possible mistakes, but in being flexible and reacting adequately to the situation. What is done is done. No use in crying over the spilt milk. Just draw the conclusions and move on. The biggest mistake I can think about was following the voice of reason instead of my intuition at some points. For example, when guys from MotoCMS suggested joining their project as investors. They were creating drag-and-drop page builder and I really liked their idea, I knew it was the future. But because of some doubts, I didn't push it then. We joined in as investors on the later stage. But having I done it a few years earlier, we would have been billionaires by now.
Interviewer: And when you were just starting your career, was there someone who you considered to be a role model?
David Braun: Yes. It was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. I really liked the way he was running business and his manner of communication. He could be really persuasive. Expressing some wired ideas to the investors, he never had a doubt, that they would believe him. A really outstanding personality and great visionary.
Interviewer: Ok, thank you, David! It was really informative and useful interview. One last thing, before we wind up. Can you say some parting words to the young entrepreneurs, who are just starting their project. What is the main thing they should know to run a successful business?
David Braun: The main point in every business is to know your customers. You should use every possibility to learn more about them. If you know their preferences and dislikes, what they think and what they want , you will always be successful!
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share your business experience in the comments section.