BuiltWith is perhaps one of Australia’s most profitable online companies and has zero staff

- September 30, 2015 4 MIN READ

The idea for BuiltWith came in 2007, when Gary Brewer was visiting a lot of random sites, looking at their source code and discovering what platforms they were built with. He was researching elements like the writing of code on the site by viewing the source, seeing if they were made in PHP or if the company was using Windows and similar information in that arena.

Brewer wanted to get into the ‘startup thing’ himself and discovered at the time that nobody had created a platform that made it easy for others to discover what an online business was ‘built with’, and so that became the starting point for his company.

BuiltWith is a free tool that allows users to type in a website address and then discover the technology that is powering that website. At the time, Brewer was not trying to solve a problem or anything like that; instead, he says that he just found that type of information interesting, and it turns out that many other people did as well.

But a few years down the track, users of the site started to approach Brewer asking him if BuiltWith could provide them with data they were after.

“I started getting requests from users wanting niche data,” says Brewer. “For example, I was being asked if I could put together a list of sites in Australia using a CDN or that were using Magento for their ecommerce stores. Everyone asking was saying they would be willing to pay for it.”

It was at that point that Brewer realised the commercial potential of what he had created. One thing that’s important to note is that when BuiltWith started in 2007, Google Analytics was just going into BETA, so many of the data collection tools we now have available like marketing information platforms and live chat tools did not exist – they have only appeared over the last 7 years as the internet started to mature. So 8 years ago, Brewer had essentially created the right product at the right time, because having the ability to identify what technologies sites were being built on was kind of revolutionary when it came to sales and lead generation in the ICT sector.

In addition to the free version of the site, BuiltWith now has a SaaS-based membership model for users that want to take advantage of a number of services that the platform now provides around lead generation, sales intelligence, and market analysis. The most popular user case is a customer that uses curated data from BuiltWith as a lead list. For example, a business that has created a platform that allows businesses to send newsletters to customers may build a list of all companies in Australia using Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp to target for marketing activities.

Other examples of how companies and individuals are using the platform include hedge funds looking at the technology being used by companies in the public space and whether or not there is a growth or decline in those particular technologies, while technology media are using the site to identify data points for stories around products they are covering, like whether or not a particular platform is being used more by small businesses or enterprise clients. Some customers include major technology brands like New Relic, Google, and Twitter.

There are three levels of pricing for the paid service, The Basic at $299 per month for customers that want lists of sites mainly for the purpose of lead generation; Pro at $495 per month, suited more for users that work in an industry using a lot of A/B testing and comparison-type data; and Enterprise at $995 per month, which covers all bases and allows sales teams with multiple people to all use the platform at once. Brewer says that in terms of paying users on the platform there is a ‘few thousand’ and the split is about 40 percent Basic, 40 percent Pro and 20 percent Enterprise. The platform has users from all over the world but the vast majority are US-based.

In addition to this, the platform also has an open API that a number of companies use to build products in the marketing and big data space. In fact, many popular data-driven sites in the space, like marketing automation sites and website comparison services, have all been built using the BuiltWith API in some way.

Given the fact that the platform has over 500,000 total users a month and around 2 million page views, and services between 2,000 and 3,000 paying customers, it’s amazing that the team behind BuiltWith is not bigger. Other than Brewer himself, who codes and manages the entire site, there’s Andrew Rogers, who came on board early as a cofounder but does not work in the business, and a contractor based in the UK that produces content each week for the BuiltWith blog.

“It’s a small team because I am trying to make it as automated as possible,” says Brewer. “Everything is designed and created so that users can do it themselves by simply signing up to the platform. We set out to make it as simple as possible and if there is a problem they can email us. The responses to those emails are also automated to a certain degree as we’ve created guides and videos showing users what they have to do in specific situations. There is also no outbound sales team. The free tool is what gets users signing up to the paid service.”

Featured image: Gary Brewer | Source: Provided