Toccaweb founder, Rebecca Oliver
The first post on a new blog is always a daunting challenge.Whenever I sit down and actually think of all the things I could write about, it is rather like looking at Amazon and trying to think of a book that you want, or browsing iTunes and trying to remember the name of that artist you meant to download. There is just too much information to think about.
So to begin with, I’m going to write about me. Not in a pointless “let me Instagram my breakfast” kind of way, but in order to help you understand a little bit about my work history and how Toccaweb could benefit your business.
Going way back, I studied English and Theatre Studies at university, followed by a Masters in Law. That last bit sounds impressive, but in reality it was a rather chaotic experiment in trying to “find myself”, or at least find a job. About three weeks into European law, property law and contract law I realised that my Masters was a mistake. But in the absence of anything else to do, I graduated, and started looking around at my options. This was in 1999, and the dotcom bubble was well and truly established. When a friend of mine complained that there were no websites that helped you to find temporary work abroad, I started to hatch a plan. Aided and abetted by another friend, we started to put together a business plan, and borrowed £500 from family to get a website built and some branding done. The website was called www.gapwork.com, and the idea was that it would help young people work and travel abroad on a gap year or for a summer by publishing up-to-date job information.
At the time, investors were very interested in anything that had a dotcom at the end of the business name, so throw into the mix the facts that we were relatively young, female and realistic about how much money we needed, we soon attracted a syndicate of angel investors. We grew the business over the years, with one arm of it focussing on advertising-driven or subscription based websites, and another arm publishing more traditional printed materials for schools in the UK.
My role as co-founder in the business had always been related to content and new product development. So now, in 2015, I have created Toccaweb (from the Italian toccare, to touch) to bring my skills, knowledge and experience to start-ups and SME’s who are new to the game, or who are missing my skill-set in their team. I work with established “bricks and mortar” businesses too, but my heart will always be with the visionaries, the dreamers, the entrepreneurs who want to go it alone. These are the people who have the mindset where, instead of asking “why should I?”, they ask “why not?”
When we started gapwork.com, we paid £500 for a website with four pages. Whenever we wanted to change something we had to call the developer and ask him to do it. Our first sponsor paid £6000 to have a banner advert on the website for twelve months. At that point we had about 5000 visitors to the site a month. Now a small business or start-up can pay £500 for a website that does everything they need it to do, gives them complete control of the CMS, works on all platforms and looks very similar to huge corporate sites that cost thousands of pounds to create. In terms of online advertising, Google and Facebook give a small business unprecedented reach and access for a tiny spend – something that eventually spelled the end of our business model for our own advertising-driven sites.
These are exciting times we live in. Technology has democratised entrepreneurship, meaning that almost anyone, on any budget, can create a website and an online business. But what many of these fledgling businesses are missing is a basic understanding of how to make the content of their sites (and by content I mean words, forms, images, video and everything else) really work for their business model. This is where Toccaweb can help. If you are launching a new business, or running a business with a website you are not happy with, then please get in touch, and I will be happy to listen to what you need.