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 354<h1 class="titlelink"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/08/pagely-headline.php" title="Permanent link to Personal Touch Yields Startup Success for Husband & Wife Team">Personal Touch Yields Startup Success for Husband & Wife Team</a></h1>
 355<div id="submeta" class="author-date-comments">
 356
 357
 358        By <a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/author/chris-cameron.php">Chris Cameron</a> / August 18, 2010  4:55 PM 
 359
 360       / <a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/08/pagely-headline.php#disqus_thread">6 Comments</a>
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 382<p><img alt="logopagely_aug10.jpg" src="http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/start/images/logopagely_aug10.jpg" width="150" height="96"/>In the heart of downtown Chandler, Arizona - a city at the south-eastern edge of Phoenix's low and flat suburban desert sprawl - sits <a href="http://gangplankhq.com/">Gangplank</a>, a collaborative co-working facility of designers, engineers and other Web professionals. Tucked away in a back office, two L-shaped desks cluttered with papers, stickers and computer monitors sit in opposite corners of the small room. </p>
 383
 384<p>The desks are those of Joshua and Sally Strebel, the husband and wife founders (and only employees) of <a href="http://page.ly/">Page.ly</a> - a premium <a href="http://wordpress.com/">WordPress</a> hosting service celebrating its first birthday this month. The young company has quickly made a name for itself offering quality products backed by friendly customer service. Today I sat down with the duo to discuss how they got to where they are today, and what they learned along the way.</p>
 385</div>
 386
 387
 388
 389
 390<script type='text/javascript'><!--// <![CDATA[
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 404  <p><img alt="strebels_aug10.jpg" src="http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/start/images/strebels_aug10.jpg" width="250" height="204" class="alignright" /><h2>Discovering the Underserved Market</h2></p>
 405
 406<p>Page.ly actually isn't the first venture the couple has launched together since meeting in college ten years ago. In 2003, the Northern Arizona University grads launched Ob├╝, a Web design and development shop that eventually grew to include a handful of employees and some office space in Scottsdale. They later realized by turning away jobs not $25-50,000 or higher that an important segment of the Web development market was being underserved and needed a solution.</p>
 407
 408<p>"People were calling all the time and I would have to ask them what their budget was. I knew how much we wanted to give to people, and here I am the dream squasher having to tell them we can't work on their budget," explains Sally. "I was telling Josh, 'You just said no to $10,000 today,' and we saw that there was a stack of money being left on the table everyday."</p>
 409
 410<div class="pullquote">"Our entire first year, besides sponsorships, we probably spent $1,000 on advertising. We didn't see it as a necessity because we relied on word-of-mouth."<br/>- Joshua Strebel</div>But Page.ly wasn't the first stab at solving this problem for smaller clients. Joshua and Sally aimed their first business, Flare9, at development agencies like Obu that wanted to act as resellers for WordPress hosting solutions. The timing, however, was not right for Flare9, explains Joshua, as WordPress's popularity and mainstream adoption was just beginning to blossom, and national economic downturn made times tough.
 411
 412<h2>Launching and Spreading the Word</h2>
 413
 414<p>In 2009 as the couple re-evaluated their businesses, they decided that while Flare9 had failed to take off the way they had hoped, the idea "still had legs" and perhaps needed a new touch. In the 3 years since starting Flare9, social media innovations like <a href="http://twitter.com/">Twitter</a> made it far easier to market and get word out about your products - and thus Page.ly was born with these principals in mind.</p>
 415
 416<p><img alt="pagelyscreen_aug10.jpg" src="http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/start/images/pagelyscreen_aug10.jpg" width="610" height="325" /></p>
 417
 418<p>One year later, Page.ly has slowly built a strong following of users that turn to the company for both its quality hosting products and its highly personalized and friendly customer service.</p>
 419
 420<p>"Page.ly was totally bootstrapped, and we thought about how we could launch it on the minimum amount of advertising," says Joshua. "Our entire first year, besides sponsorships, we probably spent $1,000 on advertising. We didn't see it as a necessity because we relied on word-of-mouth."</p>
 421
 422<h2>The Personal Touch</h2>
 423
 424<div class="pullquote">"We never thought of it as customer service. We just treat people how we would want to be treated."<br/>- Sally Strebel</div>The couple credits Twitter for playing a large role in the company's ability to give customers the personal touch - a concept they consider a fundamental cornerstone in the success of their business.
 425
 426<p>"We never thought of it as customer service," adds Sally. "We just treat people how we would want to be treated."</p>
 427
 428<p>Joshua recommends that startups use a tool like <a href="http://zendesk.com/">Zendesk</a> - web-based customer support software - to manage support tickets, because he says emails are easy to loose track of. A lot of the support load can be cut down, he adds, by simply designing your product well and providing clear instructions to the user. And then, of course, there's social media.</p>
 429
 430<p>"Being available and transparent on Twitter helps," says Joshua, who manages both his <a href="http://twitter.com/strebel">personal account</a> and the <a href="http://twitter.com/pagely">official Page.ly account</a>. He also believes that as the company grows, it will still be able to provide the same level of personalizes customer service so not just hundreds, but thousands and maybe millions of users. </p>
 431
 432<p><img alt="pagelytwitter_aug10.jpg" src="http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/start/images/pagelytwitter_aug10.jpg" width="300" height="167" class="alignright" />"We're not going to hire a $9 an hour call center guy, but I think we can scale that kind of relationship," he adds.</p>
 433
 434<h2>Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs</h2>
 435
 436<p>Sally points out that one of the biggest things she learned since college is that startups need to be sure they are building products for their users, not for themselves.</p>
 437
 438<p>"I wish I had known that your dreams of what you want to have happen aren't always what is going to happen. You have to build for the public, and take the ego completely out of it," she says. "If you wrap yourself into it too much, and it's entirely your idea, then maybe no one else wants to use it. Put something out there, wait for the feedback, and build on what they want and not so much on what you want."</p>
 439
 440<p>Joshua stresses the importance of not underestimating the amount of time, money and resources launching a product takes. </p>
 441
 442<p>"With Twitter and word-of-mouth, marketing budgets are a lot lower, but there is no way Page.ly would exist if I was working a nine-to-five job for a salary," he says.</p>
 443
 444<p>A year after launching Page.ly, and knowing each of their first 100 clients by name, Joshua and Sally are now closing in on their 1,000th customer. While their product both meets the needs of underserved users and is well built to be flexible and strong, the success of their small piece of the WordPress market can be attributed in no small part to the couple's service-with-a-smile philosophy.</p>
 445
 446<p><em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://acmephotography.net/">Phoenix photographer Adam Nollmeyer</a>.</em></p>
 447
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 463            <li class="widget-list-item"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/10/what-nigerian-universities-can.php" onclick="pageTracker._trackEvent('In-Post Related Entries','Click','What Nigerian Universities Can do to Support Nigerian Online Startups');">What Nigerian Universities Can do to Support Nigerian Online Startups</a></li>
 464         
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 468            <li class="widget-list-item"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/10/weekend-reading-the-intelligent-entrepreneur-bill-murphy-jr.php" onclick="pageTracker._trackEvent('In-Post Related Entries','Click','Weekend Reading: <em>The Intelligent Entrepreneur</em>, by Bill Murphy Jr.');">Weekend Reading: <em>The Intelligent Entrepreneur</em>, by Bill Murphy Jr.</a></li>
 469         
 470      
 471         
 472         
 473            <li class="widget-list-item"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/10/the-4-ms-of-attracting-investors-to-your-startup.php" onclick="pageTracker._trackEvent('In-Post Related Entries','Click','The 4 M's of Attracting Investors to Your Startup');">The 4 M's of Attracting Investors to Your Startup</a></li>
 474         
 475      
 476         
 477         
 478            <li class="widget-list-item"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/10/get-your-fill-of-fail-with-startup-post-mortem-essays.php" onclick="pageTracker._trackEvent('In-Post Related Entries','Click','Get Your Fill of Fail with 25 Startup "Post-Mortem" Essays');">Get Your Fill of Fail with 25 Startup "Post-Mortem" Essays</a></li>
 479         
 480      
 481         
 482         
 483            <li class="widget-list-item"><a href="http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/09/startup-weekend-set-for-rapid-with-kauffman-foundation-grant.php" onclick="pageTracker._trackEvent('In-Post Related Entries','Click','Startup Weekend Set for Rapid Growth with Kauffman Foundation Grant');">Startup Weekend Set for Rapid Growth with Kauffman Foundation Grant</a></li>
 484         
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 488   </div>
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 591				<div id="dsq-comment-header-110221260" class="dsq-comment-header">
 592					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221260">
 593						<span id="dsq-author-user-110221260">Jonathan Nelson</span>
 594					</cite>
 595				</div>
 596				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221260" class="dsq-comment-body">
 597					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221260" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>Congrats to you and your wife on <a href="http://Page.ly" rel="nofollow">Page.ly</a>. Very good idea :-)</p></div>
 598				</div>
 599			</li>
 600			<div id="comment-110221259"></div>
 601
 602			<li id="dsq-comment-110221259">
 603				<div id="dsq-comment-header-110221259" class="dsq-comment-header">
 604					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221259">
 605						<a id="dsq-author-user-110221259" href="http://jeremytanner.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Jeremy Tanner</a>
 606					</cite>
 607				</div>
 608				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221259" class="dsq-comment-body">
 609					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221259" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>Congrats on your first year Josh &amp; Sally!</p><br><br><p>Jeremy</p></div>
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 612			<div id="comment-110221257"></div>
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 616					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221257">
 617						<a id="dsq-author-user-110221257" href="http://somethingepic.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Sarah</a>
 618					</cite>
 619				</div>
 620				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221257" class="dsq-comment-body">
 621					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221257" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>I&#39;m a big fan of WordPress, but there has been a big gap between personal blogs hosted at <a href="http://WordPress.com" rel="nofollow">WordPress.com</a>, and self-hosted WordPress blogs.</p><br><br><p>I know that WordPress has put work into making upgrades easier on bloggers, but I&#39;ve still seen so many things go wrong with them that suggesting clients manage their upgrades themselves seems like I&#39;m just asking for it.</p><br><br><p><a href="http://Page.ly" rel="nofollow">Page.ly</a> is the best solution I&#39;ve seen in this nebulous middle-ground, and the fact that they&#39;re so friendly and approachable is more than just a nicety... it&#39;s essential when working with very small businesses that are nervous about the web.</p><br><br><p>So glad to have found <a href="http://Page.ly" rel="nofollow">Page.ly</a>!</p></div>
 622				</div>
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 624			<div id="comment-110221255"></div>
 625
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 627				<div id="dsq-comment-header-110221255" class="dsq-comment-header">
 628					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221255">
 629						<a id="dsq-author-user-110221255" href="http://page.ly" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Sally Strebel</a>
 630					</cite>
 631				</div>
 632				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221255" class="dsq-comment-body">
 633					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221255" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>@Chris- Thanks for writing such a wonderful article. As you know, we are very appreciative. You Rock!!!</p><br><br><p>@Hold Studio- Thanks so much for the kind words. We try and we will continue to provide a quality product that we would use ourselves. Thanks for choosing to host your site with us. </p><br><br><p>@Joe Stump- And instead you own 0.000001%. We are so grateful to have your smart ass as a friend. =)</p></div>
 634				</div>
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 636			<div id="comment-110221253"></div>
 637
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 639				<div id="dsq-comment-header-110221253" class="dsq-comment-header">
 640					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221253">
 641						<span id="dsq-author-user-110221253">Joe</span>
 642					</cite>
 643				</div>
 644				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221253" class="dsq-comment-body">
 645					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221253" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>I remember when Josh was just starting to code this thing. The first thing I thought was, "I wish I&#39;d thought of that idea." Well done!</p></div>
 646				</div>
 647			</li>
 648			<div id="comment-110221251"></div>
 649
 650			<li id="dsq-comment-110221251">
 651				<div id="dsq-comment-header-110221251" class="dsq-comment-header">
 652					<cite id="dsq-cite-110221251">
 653						<span id="dsq-author-user-110221251">Hold Studio</span>
 654					</cite>
 655				</div>
 656				<div id="dsq-comment-body-110221251" class="dsq-comment-body">
 657					<div id="dsq-comment-message-110221251" class="dsq-comment-message"><p>A hearty congratulations to Josh and Sally Strebel.  </p><br><br><p>We&#39;ve used their service and it simply rocks.  They&#39;re doing a great job serving a very overlooked market.  </p></div>
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