"Hosting for designers" startup Flywheel lands funding, opens beta

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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 12:00 am

In addition to its website, getflywheel.com, Flywheel markets itself with the site "We Heart Designers."

Flywheel, the Omaha startup on a mission to make web hosting easy for designers, is in month two of its private beta, with more than 150 design firms and freelancers using its product.

"We're a hosting company, but we also look at ourselves as a software company," co-founder Rick Knudtson said. "We're trying to solve problems for creative agencies and companies that manage a lot of WordPress sites for clients."

Founded in August, the company of three—Knudtson started Flywheel with Dusty Davidson and Tony Noecker—closed an angel round of funding in February. Davidson, the company's CEO (he's also Silicon Prairie News' CEO), declined to reveal the amount raised, but said Jim and Karen Linder's Linseed Capital is an investor.

Since we first covered the company in October, it also now counts Noecker (right) as a full-time teammember. He had been working part-time on Flywheel, remaining in his role as lead developer of Tripleseat—the startup where the three of them first worked together—until February.

"It's kind of the dream team of founders," Davidson said in our earlier interview, "with a technical co-founder, a design co-founder and myself, (a CEO)."

That dream team offers designers a combination of managed hosting—Flywheel takes care of WordPress updates, site backups and malware scans—and a control panel, which allows users to see, modify and bill their clients' sites, among other actions. Its control panel is stripped back and features a workflow tailored to designers, Knudtson said, a characteristic that differentiates it from other managed hosting options, such as WP Engine.

"It's always been kind of a race to the bottom for hosting," Knudtson said, noting many of its customers transition to Flywheel from providers like GoDaddy. "But there's kind of this new change in the hosting landscape where people are interested in more secure options, more speed-oriented, managed hosting environments that are more specific to platforms like WordPress."

Flywheel offers users a control panel providing an overview of their sites launched, among other actions.

So far, more than 250 sites have been launched using Flywheel. Depending on how many sites a user needs to manage or how much storage they want, the company's plans range from $15 to $75 per month.

"It's been really exciting to see people building sites on Flywheel," Knudtson said. "It's kind of like it's intended. Now it's just, 'How do we get that number to be 5,000?' "

To get there, the company will have the help of a "pretty large email list"—close to 4,000, Knudtson said—of individuals who've signed up to learn more.

Toward the end of the summer, Flywheel expects to launch its public beta.


Disclosure: Flywheel co-founder Dusty Davidson is the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Prairie News. Flywheel subleases desks in the Silicon Prairie News office in Omaha.

Credits: Screenshot from weheartdesigners.com. Tony Noecker photo by Adam Nielsen. Flywheel control panel screenshot courtesy of Flywheel.

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