Monstrous Success: Interview with David Braun


Nothing can be more encouraging than a real life example. Today we are going to hear the rollout story of TemplateMonster, one of the biggest and the most influential companies in the web design market. This year TemplateMonster got to the Top-3 template providers on TrustPilot, which is another evidence of the high quality of products they provide. We will learn all the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. Meet David Braun, successful entrepreneur and TemplateMonster CEO and co-founder.

Interviewer: Hello David! It is a pleasure to talk to you. I am really happy you found time for the interview. You are in the web design business for more than 15 years. When did you first get the idea of being involved in web design?

David Braun: It is hard to recollect the exact moment. It was not an impulsive decision. As long as I can remember myself I was interested in everything related to new technologies and computers. In 1998 I, along with the same enthusiasts, started a small web design studio. We had a small office on the outskirts and a team of 10 people. We were happy with what we had. However, very soon it turned out that there was a great demand for what we were doing. As there were only a few people in the team we had to invent something to be more efficient. This is how we came up with the idea of ready-made templates.

Interviewer: This means that actually, TemplateMonster started from a small local web studio? How did you manage to develop the company to what we see now?

David Braun: Yes, it might be hard to believe, but TemplateMonster started as a small web studio. We have come a long way since then. There were several stages in the company’s history. At the very beginning, we were producing only PSD files. Then we shifted to HTML and enriched our team with coders. When the trend for Flash templates came in, we hired lots of animators, illustrators and musicians. When CMS stepped forward programmers became the most important part of the team. The bigger the company grew, the more people we needed. To provide the communication with the clients we needed a pre-sale department and customer support. We produced lots of products. To let the world know about them we needed a marketing department. Of course, it was not always trouble-free. There were ups and downs, but we managed to overcome it and become who we are now. The 2016 year was really intense for us. We worked a lot preparing for the launch of Monstroid 2. We have also produces a range of powerful multipurpose templates.

Interviewer: You were among the first companies in the market who started selling ready-made themes. Now there are dozens of big and small template providers and web studios. Can you name three features that distinguish your templates from the competitors?

David Braun: First of all, we have very strong clients support. Far not every company provides free lifetime support for their products. Then, we offer over 26K templates to choose from. All of the themes are crafted with care and with consideration for the clients’ demand.

Interviewer: Who are you themes aimed at? Do you target only at end users or at web developers as well?

David Braun: Most of our templates are targeted at the end user who doesn’t have any coding skills. To make it possible for him customizing and maintaining the themes, we equip them with intuitive admin panels, installation wizards, visual builders, etc. All these features enable the user to avoid touching the code. However, many templates from our collection have features for web developers as well. The majority of our customers are end users but web studios and individual web developers can benefit from our themes too. Buying a ready-made theme and building the client’s website on it, they save a lot of time. With such approach, they can complete more tasks in the same period of time and therefore earn more.

Interviewer: Do you offer some discounts for web studios or some other bonuses?

David Braun:Yes, there are special discounts for the bulk purchases. Concerning other bonuses, we offer collaboration to web studios and web developers. They can be included to our TemplateMonster Web Studio Catalogue after passing the Certification Center course. This enables them getting orders from our clients.

Interviewer: Who else can benefit from your themes?

David Braun: We offer loads of opportunities for everyone. The first thing to mention is our affiliate program. It is a great opportunity of earning some extra cash. We provide you with all necessary tools and support all your initiatives. The commission plan is pretty fair. You start with 30% and can get up to 50% commission per sale. This is about $30-$45 for each sale! There is also a project for those who don’t have a website, but still want to become a part of our company. I mean Social Stock. Even people who don’t have any relation with web design can take part. You need to share a promocode and get cool prizes for that. We launched Social Stock a year ago on a pilot basis. It became really popular and many people got involved in it. So we decided to make the second round.

Interviewer: And what if your client wants a unique website? Can you offer him a custom design?

David Braun: Many people who don’t have much experience in web design projects come to us and tell that they want a unique personalized website. There are two possible ways: an expensive one and a usual one. An expensive one means they can buy a buyout license for the template they liked. In this case, we remove the template from the website and would never sell it again. However, there would always be those who have bought the theme prior. Usually, after talking to our manager, the client understands all the advantages of the ready-made templates. Advanced customization options allow you modifying the website’s look up to your taste. You can completely change it and no one will be able to recognize it. The clients who want some minor changes to be made can apply to our TM Service Center.

Interviewer: Everyone knows TemplateMonster as one of the most influential companies in today’s web design world. But what about your leisure activity? What do the Monsters do in their free time?

David Braun: Oh, we do lots of things. We have a tightly-welded team and enjoy spending our free time together. We travel to different places, share our knowledge and experience during various hobby clubs, take part in sports activities, organize charity events. Over these years we have developed a unique corporate culture with our own traditions and holidays. It is like a big family for me.

Interviewer: A personal question, if you don’t mind. Do you regret having done or not having done something during your career?

David Braun: I don’t think that regretting doing something is the right policy. It has already happened. So what’s the point crying over spilled milk? You need to draw conclusions and move on. I admit that I made mistakes during my career. And show me the one who didn’t. It is a natural process. For example, I didn’t listen to my intuition when guys from MotoCMS suggested joining their project as investors. If I did it on that stage we would have been billionaires by now. Still, I don’t regret it. I did what I thought was right then.

Interviewer: Thank you David! It was really informative and, I think, our readers have learned a lot of things. One last question to wind up. What is the most important thing in running a business?

David Braun: It might sound obvious, but the most important thing is knowing your customer. It seems easy, but it takes a lot of time to learn it. Still, believe me, without this you can never strike out.

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