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Serial Aussie entrepreneur wants to help every business create a successful website – for free!


Serial Aussie entrepreneur Chris Sharkey, alongside his equally intrepid brothers Michael and Peter, has launched yet another internet start-up, Bislr (pronounced Bis-ler).

Are you a frustrated business owner trying to create a slick website and market your company online? Then listen up good: with Bislr you can build your site in minutes.

Start by choosing a professionally-designed theme, then add to it using a bit of nifty dragging and dropping. Bislr also gives its users the tools they need to market their business online and socially connect with their customers on Facebook and Twitter.

So what led the Sharkey brothers to tackle the world of websites?

Chris made his name launching successful businesses Stayz.com.au and DrivenByLimo.com.au. Stayz sold to Fairfax Media for a cool $12.7 million in 2006.

Michael, meanwhile, built a tradesman directory and a mining industry ordering system while still in his teens.

Rounding out the trio, Peter peddled his wares as a corporate lawyer in the city. Today, he’s the “adult in the company,” according to brother Michael.

While Bislr is yet to officially launch – that comes later this year – the brothers have been testing it with select businesses since the early months of development. Last month they decided it was ready to withstand the scrutiny of a wider audience.

Michael says: “We felt the best way to do that was to have a controlled invite system that allowed business owners interested to request an invite and slowly let them join Bislr.”

“Our beta has been going really well and we’ve been surprised by the interest level.”

Asked what challenges the company has faced in its short life, Michael reveals: “I would say making sense of some of the feedback. Some people think they know what they want but it’s not until you show them alternatives or a better way of doing something they realise what they actually wanted.”

“You have to show good balance between caring for every word that your users are saying but sometimes having the courage to challenge them and say ‘Hey we think we can help you better by doing this instead.’”

Michael says the team’s collective experience running businesses online naturally led to the point where they could build a product like Bislr.

“For example, one early mistake many businesses go through when creating a website is failing to think about optimising their content for search engines.”

“In Bislr, we just do this for you. Your HTML is perfect, your URL structure is how Google likes it, and a whole bunch of other best practices. As a result our websites rank higher faster.”

“Our theory is that you shouldn’t have to worry about this stuff, we should just do it for you.”

Web made easy

Taking the hassle out of building web collateral is an ongoing theme in all things Bislr. In addition to the aforementioned drag and drop editor, each application that’s made the cut “make it fun and easy to do tasks that most businesses absolutely hate doing.”

“For example, most modern day email marketing platforms are extremely hard to use – especially the editors. We sat down and re-thought the whole experience and have built our visual editing technology into email marketing.”

“You can create truly amazing newsletters and promotions in Bislr, and now it’s actually fun to do.”

The Bislr team envisage solo-preneurs and small businesses becoming their bread and butter.

“We’re targeting businesses who are starting out or who are currently running multiple solutions to manage their website, CRM, email marketing, social media, forms and e-commerce and want one central place to run their business online,” Michael says.

“Bislr is really built for a generational shift we see coming. We call this ‘generation entrepreneur’.”

“We believe the website of the future is where people will go to get the full story. A place where all of a businesses’ social streams and content channels come together.”

“Our vision is to give businesses a central place to tell their story, what they’re doing, what they’re about and where they’re going.”

Bislr V MYOB Atlas

Bislr has already been described by some investors as “a revolution for online business,” earning interest from deep pockets in both Australia and Silicon Valley. But just how does it differ from the likes of MYOB Atlas?

“The climate is changing rapidly online, most of a new websites traffic will come from social media in the first few months if the website is socially connected, not Google,” Michael says.

“Google takes time to master and MYOB and Google’s partnership is all about getting businesses to spend thousands of dollars on Google Adwords to drive traffic when they could generate the same kind of traffic from having a socially connected website.”

“MYOB Atlas is very much focused on helping you create a very basic brochure website.”

“Bislr is a central place to run your business online. Every business owner today knows that to market your business online you need more than a website. You need a place for your leads and enquiries, a place to manage all of your social media streams, a place to sell your products, a place to send email newsletters and a place to help you grow your business online.”

“Not a brochure.”

While Bislr is free to setup and use, businesses can also join Bislr premium for $199/year which includes a free domain name and provides more benefits such as increased bandwidth, storage and email credits.

Business owners interested in checking out Bislr should visit www.bislr.com. Invites are being released daily and wait time is averaging 2 days.