University of Maryland student Anthony Casalena believes he is opening the realm once reserved for computer geeks to the entire world.
After seeing the limitations of popular blogging tools and the complexity of common Web page publishing sites, Casalena single-handedly created Squarespace, an intelligent Internet content management system he believes is the next evolution of publishing on the World Wide Web -- for everyone.
Squarespace is a hosted web content management / micro content management solution.
"People want to do more than publish blogs -- and they want it to be easy," said Casalena, chief executive officer of Squarespace. "They want to create multiple pages with different content and cater it to different audiences -- rather than just having one, big, long blog. People want to publish and share files, and easily protect them with passwords. They want to publish their journal to newsreaders in advanced formats and create discussion boards -- without doing any programming. People want to track who's visited their site and what search engine words found them -- without paying for expensive tracking services."
Launched in December 2003, Squarespace has already attracted political columnists, athlete fan sites, large organizations, small businesses, students, and home bloggers.
Harry Siegel, publisher of New Partisan (http://www.newpartisan.com), a richly textured online magazine covering politics, culture and the arts, chose Squarespace for his Web site.
"Prior to finding Squarespace, we spent six months dealing with inept college students, shady, fly-by-night operations, excessively expensive solutions, and inflexible, free tools," said Siegel. "Squarespace allowed us -- without any knowledge of HTML -- to design a complex, content-rich Web site and then focus on putting out a magazine -- not keeping our site running. It is highly advanced and flexible, but demands only a layman's knowledge of the Internet to operate. Technical support is responsive, quick, and intelligible. I can't imagine running New Partisan without it."
Squarespace's more expensive competitors are Typepad, Blogger and LiveJournal. Casalena believes an exhaustive, user-focused feature set, along with a simple, browser-based interface, sets his company's offering apart.
"Publishing a photo online should be as easy as dragging a picture onto your browser window," said Casalena. "Squarespace makes this possible."
Casalena threw HTML editors and file transfer protocol (FTP) software out the window. With Squarespace, users log into their sites and configure everything with just a Web browser. "You can change the look, the organization, or the order of your site, and still -- the system keeps track of all your content and puts everything in its proper place," Casalena explained. "It remembers this blog entry goes into this category, this photo goes with that Web album, or that text goes with this discussion."
It took Casalena one year to develop Squarespace. He's currently working on additional features for the service, including secure e-commerce solutions such as shopping carts, credit card handling, and PayPal compatibility. He's also planning more advanced project management features for corporate users, much like Basecamphq.com -- only better.
"Without a question, the longevity of the blogging trend is predicated on it being able to sustain professional and business users," said Casalena. "Squarespace's service attempts to break out of the copycat routine present in the blogging industry by providing a service that gives the intelligent publisher what they want: a flexible and streamlined way to maintain a multi- page site that also leverages the power of blogging."
"For a professional publisher to fully subscribe to the benefits of blogging," Casalena explained. "A compromise must be found between regular site publishing and holistic blog publishing. Blogging can only revolutionize professional publishing if it breaks out of its single-minded approach and embraces true flexibility for intelligent authors."
Casalena is a member of the Hinman CEOs Program, the nation's first living-learning undergraduate entrepreneurship program. The CEOs Program, a joint effort of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Robert H. Smith School of Business, gives students the tools they need to start their own companies, including: high-tech, office-like facilities; conference and meeting rooms; wireless Internet access everywhere; and modern office equipment. The Hinman Program brings in speakers each week from the entrepreneur community to teach students about venture formation. The program also matches students with mentors who can guide and help students during the critical early stages, and links them with the business and legal personnel who can answer questions in a timely fashion.
Squarespace's advisory board includes Edward Schauweker, a marketing executive with more than 14 years of experience, and founding principal of Tactile Marketing Group. Schauweker has held senior and executive marketing management positions with leading firms, including CSC, WeberShandwick and Ketchum. His clients have included Oracle, Intel, and GE, among others. The COO for Squarespace is Tony Casalena, owner of management consultant company Casal Enterprises Inc. Casalena's 20 years of sales operations and management experience includes senior management positions at companies such as Hewlett- Packard, Cisco Systems, Avici Systems and SkyStream Networks.
For more information about Squarespace, please visit http://www.squarespace.com
. For more information about the Hinman CEOs Program, please visit http://www.hinmanceos.umd.edu
Source: Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute