Onepager, a simplified tool to assist small business in creating quality websites, has been featured in many established business and technology publications like Inc., Business Insider, TechCrunch, and Betabeat—just to name a few. Not only a co-founder and integral part of its success, Matthew Shampine also helps manage various other online resources. Spending some time away from his hectic schedule, Matt speaks with us about his ventures and the rising NYC startup/tech community.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m one of the co-founders of the New York based startup, Onepager, where we’re focused on helping small business owners succeed on the web and grow their companies. I also co-founded and currently run the website We Are NY Tech, which is a site we profile a person a day from the New York tech community (approaching 250 profiles) and host a job board. Back in April of this year, my friend Jesse and I co-founded a co-working space for early stage tech startups called WeWork Labs. We’re grateful for the generous sponsors of the space who help us support our members, which include PepsiCo, Bing, JWT, WilmerHale, and Boxee.
Aside from managing three ventures, you also work as an advisor to a few startups (Tout, Consmr & Dealburner). How do you juggle so many projects at once? And what does an average workday look like for you?
This is only possible because of my amazing co-founders – Eric, Yin, and Matt with Onepager and We Are NY Tech, and Jesse at WeWork Labs. They’re all incredible individuals, and I’m honestly not sure what I’d do without them.
These days I try to get to the office around nine in the morning with a large coffee in hand. My time is split between meetings, phone calls, and the inbox. Weeknights are typically a rotation between meetups and tech events, while I try to use the weekends to do research and prepare We Are NY Tech interviews.
Onepager launched this past August and it has been garnering a lot of press and followers among small businesses. What makes Onepager an ideal solution for small businesses to grow their business? Also, design- and functionality-wise, what converted you and your team to covet the one-page layout?
Our goal with Onepager is to streamline the creation of small business websites, similar to what Tumblr did for blogging. In the past, setting up a new website for a small business was a tedious process. You had to buy a domain, purchase web hosting, set up a Google Analytics account, and maybe sign up for a newsletter service like MailChimp or Constant Contact – not to mention actually designing and coding your site. Now, with Onepager, all of those tasks are either done for you or integrated into our easy-to-use platform.
The Next Web recently called Onepager the “world’s easiest way to create a beautiful website.” Though we feel that producing a great looking site is important, we realize that the main reason that small business owners create a website is to reach potential customers and grow their companies. With Onepager, every small business owner can now keep track of their visitor’s activities, reach out to them with our built-in newsletter, and use analytics to track what people are saying about their business on Yelp, Foursquare, and Twitter. In addition, their site is inherently optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). The ease of use not only puts together a nice looking site, but utilizes our tools to connect with customers and grow their business.
As one of the founders of WeWork Labs, a co-working space for young startups, what do you think of the NYC startup scene? Do you think NYC rivals, and maybe even exceeds San Francisco as the place to foster entrepreneurship?
I love the New York startup community. While it’s definitely inspiring being surrounded by passionate entrepreneurs working on their companies, it’s the sense of camaraderie between them that I think makes our community special. In regards to choosing between NYC and SF, I actually think that both are great places to start a company. They each have different strengths, and I recommend to entrepreneurs that they choose the one that best fits their industry and company vision. With that being said, I’m obviously partial to New York, and I think we’re extremely lucky to have such a tech startup supportive local government with Mayor Bloomberg and his administration.
How has the growing influence of social media changed the way you develop businesses/websites and build clientele?
I’d like to think that we roll with the changes in social media as they come in a fairly strategic manner. I’m personally a big fan of social, as a quick glance at my Twitter or Foursquare account will show, but I do think you have to be more thoughtful when choosing what and how you will integrate it with your business.
Besides your business ventures, you’ve also dabbled in politics, having run for Township Council in NJ in 2007. What did you learn from that experience? And do you have any plans to further your political career in the future?
Running for town council was really a transformative experience. I learned an incredible amount and gained invaluable experience that actually became quite applicable when we began our startup. Even though our team lost in a close election, the time I spent knocking on every door in the town, creating campaign literature, debating, public speaking, talking to the press, and raising campaign funds helped prepare me for what we’re doing today.
I’m not quite sure about my future in politics, as I really love what we’re doing now in the New York tech community. Here’s a more political answer though – I’m keeping my options open.
On your We Are NY Tech profile, you stated that you want to start as many companies by the time you’re 64. What are some projects we should be looking out for?
Ha. I was being a bit facetious when I said that. When we started We Are NY Tech we didn’t quite plan for it to become as serious of a platform as it has, which is why some of the interviews in the beginning are a little more playful. As for the future, I’m very focused on Onepager, We Are NY Tech, and WeWork Labs. I love discussing projects and new ideas, however, if anyone wants to talk.
Lastly, any words of advice for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?
My advice will sound cliché, but after talking to a number of founders I’m convinced that it’s true. Surround yourself with great people and be passionate about what you do. There are a lot of ups and downs when you are running your own business. If you don’t sincerely love what you’re working on and the people you’re working with, it’s easy to become discouraged to the point of wanting to give up when things aren’t going well. I’ve met a lot of successful entrepreneurs and not a single one has ever said it was easy, but they’ve all mentioned in some way how grateful they were for the journey and the people that completed it with them.
[Photos: Courtesy of Matthew Shampine, Onepager]