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Global market to accelerator: Cloud Cannon reverses the traditional path

Web creation platform venture Cloud Cannon hasn’t followed the traditional path to building a business. It had already notched 1500 signups and success in the US market by the time it was accepted into this year’s Lightning Lab accelerator.

“We made the mistake most technical startups make, we had a problem and we made the product we wanted and couldn’t find,” says co-founder and CEO Mike Neumegen. “The problem with that is you don’t know if there’s a market.”

With 1500 customers, it’s fair to say there is a market for the platform Neumegen created with co-founder George Phillips, who he went to high school with and met up with again while both studied computer science at Otago University.

The pair came up with the idea when they found it difficult to create websites for clients.

“You do the design and make sure the client is happy, then you integrate that into a content management system,” says Neumegen. “You have to split the design into different sections and do lots of programming. We wanted one where you finish the design and that’s all there is to it.”

Using Cloud Cannon, designers upload their files to the cloud storage service Dropbox and assign HTML tags to sections that need to be editable. Cloud Cannon produces a live site from the static version in minutes, says Neumegen.

The venture has struggled to get uptake locally but has had success in the US, where it’s been profiled on tech websites TechCrunch and The Next Web. The US will be its focus for future growth, Neumegen says.

He adds it’s a big commitment to relocate to Wellington for three months to participate in Lightning Lab, but is looking forward to focusing solely on the venture.

The founders had previously been contracting to clients for 10 to 15 hours a week to fund the business.

They’ll use any investment they get to scale the venture and continue to grow offshore, Neumegen says. 

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Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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