Interview with Zyro: Building Websites, the New Normal, and More
Zyro is one of the platforms vying to be named the best website builder, especially for beginners and businesses looking for something that “just works” and want to launch a website in minutes. It made our list thanks in large part to its inexpensive plans, simple drag-and-drop editor, and reliability.
We caught up with Giedrius Zakaitis, CEO of Zyro, to learn more about some of Zyro’s biggest successes and how the company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also learned more about how Zyro is leveraging new technologies to improve user experience and the company’s plans for the future.
Can you give us a brief overview of the company and what it does?
At its heart, Zyro is a website builder that aims to lower the bar for individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, and individuals to establish an online presence. This means no-code web design accessible to beginners but with professional results.
However, since its inception, we have always had in mind that we wanted Zyro to go beyond what other website builders offer, to become the first true online success builder.
That’s why, in addition to developing what we believe to be one of the most accessible and functional builders available online, we’ve at the same time developed a number of branding and marketing tools, many of which are based on new artificial intelligence technology.
Zyro is quickly becoming a one-stop solution not only for creating a website, but also for developing a brand identity, finding an audience, and driving success. We offer an affordable website and marketing resources that are nearly as good as those provided by an agency, at a fraction of the cost.
What has been your greatest success and why?
In terms of the product itself, the crown jewels of Zyro (currently) are our AI business tools. It’s no secret that we benefit from our close relationship with our parent company, Hostinger. Being able to learn data mined from millions of live websites hosted by Hostinger has supercharged our AI capabilities.
Our users can take advantage of tools that help them create a unique logo, or even generate search-optimized copy, all with the power of AI. They are essential tools to save time and money for small businesses. I can’t express how satisfying it has been to develop the AI tools and see that they really make it easier for our customers to succeed online.
Beyond the product, however, I think it’s worth pointing out that the secret to our success so far – as I see it – has been embracing our customer obsession within the team and building all our processes in this spirit.
We ensure that there are clear communication channels between our customer-facing teams and our product team. This means that all conversations and feedback we receive through customer service or on social media directly shape our roadmap.
We have seen our internal metrics and customer satisfaction consistently increase with this approach.
What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Honestly, I think you should have just watched when we started. Choosing the right technical solutions (architecture) for the foundation of Zyro was quite difficult.
We built three different proofs of concept until we understood and committed to what would be the best long-term solution. From the start, we were clear that we needed to stay on top of web standards while maintaining ease of use for customers.
We also knew we had to choose a solution that would support the steady, consistent, and iterative development of our platform; something that would allow us to create a believable MVP version of our builder, but that would have no limitations as we grew.
Looking back, the timing couldn’t have been better, because CSS Grid was gaining support from all major browsers at that time. It was a clear choice once we picked it.
What impacts – positive and negative – has the pandemic had on your business?
Thinking of the positive, let’s not ignore that the pandemic has galvanized the emergence of entrepreneurship. Millions of people have seen it as an opportunity to launch new ventures, try out side gigs, and turn long-held business ideas into reality.
While this trend may have served us better later on, when our position in the market was more secure, rising tides lift all ships. What better time to enter the website building space with a product designed for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs?
In terms of the negative, it depends on your point of view. When the pandemic first hit and we were facing lockdown, the entire Zyro team was still only a few dozen people strong. The majority of our growth as a company has taken place during some version of lockdown.
Initially, I worried that having a totally or mostly remote team at this crucial time would limit growth and affect cohesion. Many colleagues working on the same teams had only met in person once or twice, often only in the summer of 2021, so it would certainly have been nice if that had happened sooner.
However, my concerns appear to have been unwarranted. We have a lively Slack and regular Zooms, and have mastered the art of building remote teams. At this point, working together in the office is just a bonus.
What new challenges and market opportunities have you seen emerging?
I don’t think the main challenges we face are unique to us, or even to our industry. Being the offspring of a large hosting company means we understand the dangers of lax cybersecurity better than anyone. We recognize that it’s not just our organization’s work and data that is at stake if we drop the ball on security, but that of all of our users, so it remains a top concern for us.
I guess that’s just part of the other two main challenges we face, which is delivering a strong customer experience and building loyalty. No startup will ever succeed without going off the wrong foot at some point, especially in its early years.
However, when you take the responsibility for the online success of thousands of customers on your shoulders, one misstep can have significant consequences.
I would frame the opportunities available to us within the same customer success paradigm. What our users want is a fully functional online presence. A website alone is not good enough in 2021; small businesses need cross-channel marketing and communication, and often a sales solution to be successful.
This holistic approach is important horizontally, across all types of business, not just in a single vertical. By creating the tools and leaving room for infinite flexibility, we make online success accessible to everyone.
Are you enjoying the new world of mixed working and telecommuting? If so, how?
I love our team and I’m proud of the incredible culture we’ve managed to develop in such a short time. Having the foundation of a great work culture and an engaged team allowed us to work even more productively after COVID hit and we drifted away.
I guess here I should describe the setbacks we encountered when we turned to work outside the office, but honestly the transition was so smooth there’s really nothing I can report , aside from missing the office culture and talk of coffee machines.
Anyway, we are an international team, so in a way, we were already ready for all the challenges of working remotely. Now that we’re slowly returning to the office, we obviously appreciate the benefits of a dedicated workspace and in-person interaction, so we’ll stick with the hybrid model.
What are your goals for the future?
Our plan is the same as it always has been: to listen to our users, understand their needs, and create quality solutions to the challenges they face. I know most companies claim to base their decisions on customer needs, but we take the concept to the next level.
We regularly update our company roadmap, where all our users can see what new feature we are planning or currently have in development. For each feature in this roadmap, I can point to at least one customer interaction where they requested that feature.
Right now, we are focused on creating specialized tools to improve our builder’s usefulness for specific industries. A recent example has been slideshows designed to showcase photography work, and the team is working on booking forms for hotels, hairdressers and other businesses.
It may seem like we’re just reacting, but we’re really sticking to the same approach.
How do you see the website builder industry evolving in the next five to ten years?
First and foremost, it will be dominated by Zyro. Well, that’s obviously what I hope anyway.
Perhaps being more far-sighted, it’s safe enough to say that going online isn’t temporary – it’s the new normal. This unprecedentedly rapid change represents a big enough opportunity for many web-building or e-commerce platforms to succeed.
Indeed, the market will grow at such a pace that it can support a number of big players, and users will benefit from greater choice and a wider range of features. Pay what you can afford for the tools you need. We are only in the very early days of capitalizing on this opportunity, and we believe the time for growth has only just begun.
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