Scaling

Pagely – We help startups scale WordPress.

Pretty interesting, these guys provide a documented way to scale hosted WordPress using Amazon AWS and unlike most of the other players in this market provide the configurations and their methods they are selling.

A few years ago this site melted down when the guys from 4 short links at O’Reilly sent me thousands of visitors in a matter of minutes to a page that was a collection of over 100 IOT Startups all with images of the devices, my traditional WordPress hosting just melted, likewise I hear similar reports from startups that have suddenly had their Techcrunch moment and their traditional hosting couldn’t cope.

Its almost impossible to solve this problem on a traditional WordPress hosting platform in real time, you end up losing the traffic and if they notice your hosting company often will throttle the site. This is a good way to solve this problem.

 

Startup Name: Pagely

Tagline: We help startups scale WordPress.

Pagely created the Managed WordPress hosting space in 2009, and has been providing secure and reliable WP hosting services to companies like Facebook and NGINX with a focus on:

Performance: Opcode caching, full page caching, optimized PHP and Database setups are essentially platform defaults now instead of the customer trying to figure it out on their own with a mix of plugins and research. More sensible resource balancing on shared setups (old shared hosting providers were notorious for overselling). Collectively these things have made WordPress dramatically faster (vs. a default install) in most use cases.

Pagely Tech Stack

Security: Some level of malware/file scanning, hardened OS installs, least-privileged access, web application firewalls and DDoS mitigation may be defaults at most Managed WordPress providers now. You don’t hear about widespread security issues as we did in say the 2008-2011 period. Those that come up are mitigated quickly by the Core team (or the respective plugin author) and aided by rapidly deployed patches or firewall rules by the Managed hosts.

Tooling: Automating installs, code updates, and backups along with staging and deployment workflows enabled development teams to work faster and create more complex yet stable sites on WordPress.

Support: More knowledgeable support technicians that understand WordPress to a higher degree than a generic web host. Some providers are better than others but all seem to at least make an attempt to specialize in the unique support requirements of WordPress. Here at Pagely we take great pride in our quality over quantity approach to support ensuring that every agent is not only deeply skilled in WordPress but proficient in the core technical skills of DevOps and deployment management allowing them to address any performance or security issue that may arise.

What’s next for Pagely?
It’s odd to look at the landscape, this $1 Billion-channel we created (and of course others helped to grow) and reflect on where we fit in the picture going forward. For us, it’s fairly simple – do more of the things that have made us successful thus far: Investing in our people and focusing on the customer. It’s a recipe that wins over the long term.

Target Segment: Businesses

How will you make money? Monthly plans based on project size

Capital Raised? None

Founder: Joshua Strebel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pagely

Website: https://pagely.com

 

Pocketbook hits #2 Finance App on Australian App store

Pocketbook-web

Pocketbook-web

I met Bosco Tan at Peter Coopers Sydstart last year. At the time he looked like he was in for a long hard road to get users to give up access to their bank accounts and to get any support from the banks.

Well persistence pays, because it looks like they are really getting some traction. The Pocketbook web and Iphone app is Australia’s equivalent of Mint.com (which doesn’t work outside the USA), it allows you to sync all of your different bank accounts, credit cards and then automagically reviews your transactions and automatically catergorises most of them and tracks recurring bills and payments and puts these into a budget and bill schedule so you get a reminder when it due.
Pocketbook gives you one view of all of your accounts which is pretty handy.

I found the whole signup routine very slick, it was clear a lot of User Interface effort has been put into ensuring users could get logged in and their accounts setup very quickly.

I asked founders Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh a few questions about the journey so far.
Bosco Tan & Alvin Singh

Bosco Tan & Alvin Singh

What been the hardest thing?

The absolute hardest thing and the thing that we continually focus on is building something that people want and care about. Everything we do is focused on that.
Finance is not a ‘sexy’ topic for the average person and so we try to build something the cuts through the status quo and delights our users. Every feature, every item that goes into Pocketbook is critiqued and we are the biggest critics of ourselves. More often than not features are sidelined because it doesn’t fit in with the vision we have for Pocketbook.

What surprised you?

What continues to surprise us is the diversity of users that email us and tell us how they are using Pocketbook. And it’s across the whole spectrum. We have CEOs of ASX listed companies, 65 year old retirees, high school students, stay at home mums to young professionals contact us. We are constantly talking to our users which help us guide our compass – it’s one of the more important things we do.

Can you tell us how many users or at least a growth factor?

We’ve had a huge response from the Australian community. We’re growing at over 10% month on month.

Have you got any good startup war stories?

Thats a timely question because we just launched our iPhone app and we had a couple of sleepless nights.
Pocketbook Iphone App

Pocketbook Iphone App

It’s always hard to estimate demand of something when your not sure how people will take to it and how they will use it. So when we launched our iPhone we immediately hit the top 10 apps in finance and continued the climb to number 2 – beating apps such as Paypal, all the banking apps from CBA, Westpac etc., Kaching. This had a huge impact on server traffic and that morning we watched our server hitting max usage for a few hours.
Immediately we went into red-alert because we wanted everyone trying Pocketbook app for the first time to have a delightful experience and not have to experience slow response times. Luckily we are with a great hosting provider and can scale at will – adding extra CPUs and RAM to our servers. In a couple of hours we had scaled up and were humming along.
Lesson – have your finger on the scale button as needed and be ready for it.

Are you at the point where you need to think about scaling and architecture issues?

Yep – war story! Alvin was a senior architect at News Ltd in his corporate life so he has experience working on systems handling hundreds of millions of records and a huge amount of traffic. So all those learnings have been built into Pocketbook.

What mistakes have you made?

We don’t feel like we’ve made many big mistakes to date. It’s been pretty smooth.

We debate a lot – pros and cons about features, what platforms to be on, which banks to support etc. We let our users guide us a lot of the time. We get about 50-80 bits of email on a daily basis with great feedback and suggestions, we created a voting page for banks our users want added – https://getpocketbook.com/addmybank, and finally it’s always great to run into our users at events and take feedback in person.

What have you really done well?

We think we’ve done well to capture usability. Alvin and I are pretty average consumers – we hate having to do accounting and we both value our spare time – these things we suspect are pretty universal for most Australians. With this, we designed the product for people just like us. The web interface is for quick planning on the couch or the kitchen table, and the mobile app is for on the run – those couple of minutes at the supermarket or that morning train ride to work.

What we found was that most current personal finance products out there fall into two camps – they’re either for the sophisticated amateur accountant, or they require too much manual entry. So we set out to be different, if you know how to check your friend’s status updates on Facebook or if you know how to check your balance on internet banking, you should be able to budget with Pocketbook.

Whats your next big milestones?

We got a few exciting things coming up. From a product perspective, we just launched our mobile app on iPhone to an amazing response . We’re working on the next big request – an app for Android. It’s tax season, and we’re working on something to simply the process of doing tax returns – in fact, that’s where the product originated. Some info here – https://getpocketbook.com/features/tax-returns-2013

 

Aside from product, we’re closing our round of funding so we can move even faster. We’re also competing in the finals of the SWIFT Innotribe 2013 Startup Competition in Dubai this September. SWIFT is a financial messaging cooperative between 15,000+ banks globally. Think “SWIFT Code” whenever you transfer money overseas. So this is recognition at the highest level in our sector. Of the 9 companies competing, we are one of 3 representing Asia-Pac and the only company from Australia. You can read more here: http://innotribe.com/2013-grand-finale/