While browsing the internet, we are largely focused on the immersive and engaging websites – the frontend. We experience the content, which is essentially the essence of every website. But, rarely do we think about how these various forms of content are published on the websites. This is where Content Management System (CMS) comes into play.
“Content management systems (CMS) are nearly as old as the world wide web and can be traced back to August 6, 1991, when Tim Berners Lee laid the foundation of the WWW with the creation of hypertext (HTML) and launching the first website at CERN. Consequently, this led to an inflation of content being created and the need to properly write, publish and update this content,” mentions Peter Lasinger, founding partner of 3VC – a Vienna-based venture capital fund – in an exclusive guest post on the evolution of CMS for Silicon Canals.
“The traditional way of publishing (on paper) was disrupted and a new set of tools and suites had to be created to support content creators and editors to adapt their content to the new channel and possibilities of the web,” he adds.
The need to evolve
He believes that the exploding amount of content poses huge challenges for the existing, monolithic CMS. “With nearly 2 billion websites globally (count increasing) the need to manage all that content is constantly increasing. Also, the requirements have risen dramatically, leading Forrester and Gartner to extend the definition of content management to “digital experience management”. Basically, they describe these systems as being capable of providing and managing the digital journey of customers, across (digital) channels.”
This is why headless CMS is slowly gaining popularity, and a number of startups have mushroomed in this sector. One such startup that’s striving to lead the pack is Storyblok, and it just raised funding.
Austria-founded Storyblok, a headless CMS for developers and marketers to deliver content experiences on any digital platform, has raised an $8.5M (€7.08M) Series A.
The investment was led by Mubadala Capital, which counts TIER Mobility and Cazoo among its portfolio, and existing Storyblok investors firstminute capital and 3VC.
According to the company, intends to use the funding to expand its platform by introducing new features including a new custom design system for third parties, agency partner listing, geo-location filtering and typed GraphQL support. It also has plans to grow its international team and begin its global expansion with sales offices set to open in Germany and the Republic of Ireland in the coming months.
Back in November 2019, Storyblok had raised $2.5m (approx €2.08M) in funding from firstminute capital (backed by 30 Unicorn Founders, Tencent & Atomico), 3VC and Founders Factory.
Storyblok was founded by Alexander Feiglstorfer and Dominik Angerer in 2017. In an exclusive conversation with Angerer, co-founder and CEO of Storyblok, he reveals more about the company, headless CMS, it’s future, and more.
“During our day job at an agency we noticed how headless CMS technology offered huge benefits to businesses but adoption was relatively slow. Our view was that the problem wasn’t the technology, it was the complexity of the platforms. They were being built for highly technical audiences such as developers, rather than the regular users of these platforms such as marketers. As a result, we wanted to build the world’s first headless CMS that works for both developers and business users,” he reminisces.
Talking about some of the initial challenges that you faced while setting up Storyblok, Angerer says, “Believe it or not, but one of the initial challenges was to get Google to understand that “Storyblok” without a “c” is not a spelling error. It took us about 2.5 months to achieve that by writing articles, creating landing pages, and delivering our website’s best possible performance.”
Another major challenge the duo faced was to get the pricing just right. “When we were still working for an agency we got asked the question of “how much will this cost us in 3-5 years” and it was nearly impossible to answer with existing solutions, so we wanted to change that. With a per-seat pricing model on your projects, you don’t have to rely on some magic numbers of API requests or limit yourself with a certain amount of roles that you can create.”
Making head and tails of headless CMS
According to the company, with traditional CMS’s, as the front and back end are tied closely together, repurposing content for different channels becomes quite difficult. “In contrast, the new generation of headless CMS is significantly more flexible for developers but has limitations for editors. A headless CMS consists of a back-end which stores the content, and a decoupled front-end display, which means content can be streamed via an API to any platform including apps, digital displays or wearable devices. This decoupling of the front end from the back end introduces friction for content editors who are unable to visualise content changes, making existing headless CMS’s unpopular with some content editors and hindering adoption.”
In contrast to other headless CMS solutions, Storyblok claims that its CMS provides customisable content blocks and visual editing tools. It is the first headless CMS to integrate these features directly into a modern headless architecture.
“On paper headless CMS technology solves a lot of these problems, but in practice most platforms are only geared towards developers, which makes them incredibly difficult for non-technical people to use. Storyblok’s solution marries the needs of both editors and developers, which has given us a unique position in the market and resulted in rapid growth,” says Angerer.
According to the company, it has built the world’s first headless CMS that works for both developers and business users.
Let’s talk business
Storyblok is a SaaS business. Its platform works for big corporations and solo developers alike. Angerer says, users pay a monthly or yearly subscription, based on the number of editors and developers working within a Storyblok project and the features needed.
“We are currently powering more than 60,000 projects across 130 countries and recorded a six-fold increase in enterprise client growth in 2020. As you can imagine, we’re looking forward to doubling down on that growth and accelerating our offering with our agency partners,” he states.
Storyblok recently launched its eCommerce integration offering, teaming up with the leading eCommerce platforms to give customers fast and easily maintainable webshop content experiences. Integration for leading eCommerce solutions includes BigCommerce, commercetools, Shopify Plus, and Shopware.
Angerer further adds, “With our new partnerships with outstanding solutions such as VueStorefront, Shopware, BigCommerce, and others combined with native integrations into Storyblok, we’re eager to achieve even more this year.”
Currently, over 39,000+ developers, marketing teams and content editors are using Storyblok.
Human capital & plans for the Netherlands
The company has a total of 30 employees. Its goal is to double the number by the end of 2021. Currently, it is looking to hire for the following roles: Senior AWS DevOps Engineer, (Senior) Site, Reliability Engineer, Business Development Representative, and PR and Communications Manager.
Talking about the company’s plans for the Netherlands, Angerer says, “Amsterdam is fascinating as we have a personal connection due to our friends at PassionatePeople who organize a yearly event called Vue.js Amsterdam. We see quite some growth in northern Europe’s customer base: brands such as HappySocks, Amsterdam Trade Bank, Damen, Accell Group, and New10 choosing Storyblok for their CMS.”