When people think ‘big websites’ they think ‘big money’ and an enormous amount of resources. This is not the case. Diego Solorzano and Paul Conroy of Square1 explain why.
Three years ago, Diego Solorzano, (previously operations director of Adverts.ie) and Ciarán Maher (formerly CTO of the Distilled Media Group) set up Square1. Their intention was clear – to create a company that offered publishers high-end websites, built on WordPress that could handle large traffic volumes.
Paul Conroy, (previously director of product and engineering at Daft.ie), soon joined the team as CTO.
The year was 2013; things were picking up in an economy ravaged by recession. Money was beginning to flow from Europe and startups were getting grants, mainly to ignite online projects.
“It was an interesting time,” says Solorzano. “There were large, expensive agencies that could build websites for businesses and then there were lots of ‘lone ranger’ developers. We thought there was room for a one-stop shop for publishers who wanted more than just a website.”
“We were fortunate in that we had clients early on,” says Conroy, “the big one was Maximum Media. It gave us great profile in the market.”
Surely the fact they all ‘graduated’ from the same publishing house that created such web giants as Daft.ie, The Journal, and Adverts.ie was all the profile they needed?
“It didn’t do us any harm,” says Conroy. “We had learnt the ropes and cut our teeth on some of the biggest websites in the country, so we now know all the mistakes publishers are likely to make. This allowed us to refine our product.”
The secret sauce
The product Square1 offers is called Publisher Plus.
“It’s a ‘secret sauce’ that we layer on top of a WordPress content management system,” explains Solorzano. “It’s particularly suited to websites that experience large spikes in traffic.”
“The last thing you want,” explains Conroy, “as a publisher, is for a surge in traffic to hit your site – particularly at the weekend, with no one in the office to take care of the problem. Your servers get hit hard and the site can go down.”
What Publisher Plus offers publishers is protection from any unforeseen events.
“A brochure site is different from a publisher’s site. We make sure our sites can handle large volumes and big bursts of traffic all the time. That’s where our clients started seeing our added value,” says Solórzano.
In a competitive market, cost and value are everything. What’s the firm’s USP?
“Again, we think we offer very good value. There is a small setup fee, which includes the design and website build and our consultation,” says Conroy. “Then there’s a monthly subscription fee. If you want to add two native apps (e.g. iOS and Android) to that, it’s a little extra per month.”
Pictured above are (l-r) Juan Diego Morales, web developer; Kim Childs, project manager; José H Milán, head of development; Ciarán Maher, CEO; Paul Conroy (back), CTO; Diego Solorzano, COO; Roberto Prato, head of mobile development; and Louise O’Doherty, graphic designer.