This is out first series of Startup Stories for 2015. Our first is Marius Gheghici founder of Sligo based Own.ie.
I worked as a web-developer and online marketer for the last 10 years. I had the chance to see the evolution of both online marketing and web-development, to understand not only how the trends, but how people’s behaviour has changed over the years.
Because money is tight, most small business owners can’t afford to hire a developer to build their website, and they end up trying to build their online presence by themselves, using one of the big website builder players on the market. Which is great only that the big global players are not focusing on local businesses.
Most of my friends tried to create websites using one of these website builders and they’ve realized they are only allowed to use .com or .net domains. There wasn’t a solution for the local market, for those who want to have the label “100% Irish” – they were not allowed to use an .ie domain.
There was a window of opportunity to fill the gap. I had the tools and the knowledge to finally take the leap and create a product that can be a better version for the local marketplace (users/customers).
How you funded the startup?
I started on my own, and the only support I got was from my wife. This was and still is a time and money consuming project. The fact that she believed in this project helped me move forward every time.
When I finished the first version of the platform I was really enthusiastic. I thought my final product is done. But I was far from that. I had to talk with a lot of business owners, to understand exactly their needs, and that’s how I got to version two of the platform, and then to version three… And so on. I’ve learned that I’ll never have a final product. I’ll have to improve and to adapt all the time. But I can say that now I have a product that’s easy to use. And the first results are amazing. Most of the websites created with own.ie got on the Google’s results first page after a couple of weeks for their branded keywords. That was the local approach I was looking for. And the users don’t have to worry about Search Engine Optimization. The platform does this almost automatically.
Developing a Team, who are the key members?
The last few years I had the chance to work for the leading marketing company in Malta, and manage a team of amazing digital people. That’s how I got involved in both: web development and online marketing. The fact that I’ve worked for more than 10 years in Search Engine Optimization helped me to create a platform so well optimized.
I’ve always considered myself an entrepreneur and it was all about finding that moment when I was comfortable enough to make the jump. All the experience I’ve gathered gave me an advantage, and I managed to kick off on my own.
How Partnerships have worked to help grow your business?
Working with people from so different domains helped me to come up with this user friendly platform. Each and everyone of my clients played a very important part in always improving this website builder platform. I am still developing contacts in this sector, and looking for partners with the same vision.
How the economy has played a role in your business starting?
The experience taught me that web development and marketing are not cheap, especially in the actual economy. There is one question that would have made me rich if I got a penny every time I hear it: “Why is not my website first in google when I look for ‘…” almost all of my clients asked me at some point, after the website was up and running this question.
The idea actually came from the peoples’ need of affordable. Own.ie is affordable for every business owner: with a professional look and SEO friendly.
How you see Ireland's Tech scene for home grown startups?
There’s a huge potential in Ireland. There are many factors that contribute to the growth of startups in an economy, from governmental support to angel investors… But the entrepreneurial initiative is essential – and fortunately that’s one of the Ireland’s biggest treasures: startups with intellect, character and great ideas.
Please visit his site - own.ie