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Meet the entrepreneurs trying to make the web much faster

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Stewart McGrath and Daniel Bartholomew used to work for online auction site GraysOnline in Australia, as CIO and website technical lead respectively, where they were in charge of optimising the website’s performance.

“Working on website performance can be commercially and technically challenging, and we knew we would have to continuously spend time and money to deal with new browser versions, devices and modifications to the web application itself,” Stewart shared with Anthill.

“We thought if it was difficult for a large business like GraysOnline it must be as hard for many other website owners. We just thought there should be an easier way of making websites faster to load and use. That led us to start Squixa in 2011,” he further shared about their motivation to start this website acceleration engine.

What problem does Squixa solve?

“The problem we solve is simple – how to make websites faster. It’s a critical factor for any online business, or any brand with an online presence,” Stewart told Anthill.

“Today’s users have no time for poor website performance. For example, we recently conducted research that demonstrates Australian users will just leave a website if it doesn’t load within five seconds,” he pointed out.

How exactly does Squixa work?

Squixa is a platform that sits between a user’s web browser and their customers’ web servers. The technology looks for ways to optimise a webpage’s content as it passes through the platform in real-time then modifies it for the user’s browser.

“It makes tweaks such as removing poorly performing code, changing the format and file size of images to suit the preferences of different browsers and re-engineering websites on-the-fly to cut seconds off the time to load a website or web page,” Stewart explained.

“We also store popular images and content on 168 end points located around the world so that it cuts the distance and time it takes to reach a user’s computer.”

Taking on a billion dollar competitor

Squixa, currently valued at AU$10 million, is taking on global giant Akamai, a $10 billion company, which tries to do something similar. Stewart revealed to Anthill that they do come up against older-style platforms like Akamai when they talk to customers here in Australia.

On what sets them apart, Stewart said, “First and foremost, we have a better product that is delivering better customer outcomes — a faster website means lower bounce rates which in turn means higher conversions and higher average pages viewed.”

“Secondly, Squixa is more cost effective with a simple pricing structure.”

“Finally, we provide superior customer service support as compared with the traditional players in this space. Most will sell you a platform with which you may or may not be able to improve your site performance. We sell an outcome – a faster website.”

“There is no other provider who approaches the website performance space in quite the same way we do,” he proudly stated.

Squixa operates over multiple content delivery networks at hundreds of locations around the world, including Amazon, Edgecast, Highwinds and OnApp.

How has Squixa performed so far?

The platform already has more than 70 websites on Squixa in Australia, including some big clients like NRMA Motoring, health fund NIB, as well as retail brands including Jigsaw, Lorna Jane, Marcs and Temple & Webster,  and has been able to improve website load times by up to 50 per cent, and in many cases instantly increase their customers revenue.

They have also recently raised a funding round from Vocus CEO James Spenceley, former GraysOnline director Damian McCarthy, and serial entrepreneur Trevor Folsom.

Stewart disclosed to Anthill that their plan is to keep delivering for their existing customers, while scoping out opportunities in the United States and United Kingdom.

“We also have some cool new technology coming for the third version of our platform that should really shake up the international content delivery network market by focussing on the needs of application developers,” he added.

Pictured above L-R: Ben Cook, Daniel Barthomolew, Stewart McGrath

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