Hashnode enables the tech developer community to set up their own blog pages in a few seconds, without requiring them to cede their content rights and traffic
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Blogging is becoming more and more popular among businesses as a key way to build trust with customers. Blogging not only allows one to prove expertise in a particular area but also provides the opportunity to solve problems for customers, offering solutions that no one else can. Building a blog, then, is a great step toward building a loyal customer following.
Marketing departments worldwide would agree that having a company blog helps build a company’s reputation and allows it to grow. However, something not many marketing departments touch upon is how vital it is to have contributions from different staff members to the blog.
To get more members of the company on board with the idea of contributing to the blog, you need to develop a culture where everyone enjoys blogging about their successes.
For Hashnode chief executive officer Syed Fazle Rahman, financing in the funding round represents the end of the first stage of developing the company, a process that has taken place at breakneck speed. Like so many good ideas, Hashnode took shape because its founder was fed up that no one was catering to his needs.
“As a developer, I was frustrated that I couldn’t just start a blog on my own domain and stay connected to the rest of the developer community,” he recalled.
Developers such as Rahman and co-founder Sandeep Panda faced a dilemma. They could post blogs on platforms such as Medium, but this would mean surrendering control of their content and handing the traffic it generated over to the platform. Or they could publish through a personal WordPress account, but there would be no guarantee of other developers ever coming across it.
“We realized many developers wanted the best of both worlds,” Rahman explained. “They didn’t want to lose control of their content, but they wanted to stay in touch with as much of their community as possible.”
Enter Hashnode, which sets out to do exactly that. The platform enables developers to set up their own blog pages in a few seconds, without requiring them to cede their content rights and traffic. The content is available to the entire Hashnode community, but search engines still direct traffic directly to the developer’s own domain.
“Content ownership is hugely valuable to developers,” Rahman adds.
Fine in theory, but in practice, the site requires critical mass to deliver on this promise: after all, without plenty of developers in the community, there’s no point in posting content to read.
Hashnode’s success in this regard is one reason why it has managed to attract so many marquee investors. From a standing start in June, the community has grown its community at a rate of 25 per cent per month. It started out with around 100 users and no brand recognition; today, it has over 1.3 million active users.
All of that growth has been achieved through word-of-mouth recommendation, with Hashnode yet to spend a penny on marketing or advertising, the company claims. The company’s fundraising, therefore, represents a potential step-change: with finance to meet the cost of building the brand and hiring new talent, Rahman sees an opportunity to accelerate what has already been very rapid growth.
It’s an ambitious target, but Rahman is confident because the Hashnode concept is built on his own experience. He’s part of a developer community that thrives on collaboration, sharing ideas, and problem-solving for one another; but he’s also conscious of the value of content ownership.
Rahman told Entrepreneur India that back in 2019, developers primarily had two choices to build an online portfolio using blogs: self-host (where you spend a lot of time managing the setup) or publish on third-party sites like Medium (where you give away your content for free). They asked themselves how they can create a platform that is the best of both worlds; a blogging platform that lets one keep one’s content on one’s own domain and at the same time has a built-in developer community to build initial readership. That led the co-founders to create Hashnode. They launched in June 2020 and have been growing fast organically without spending anything on marketing.
“We’re firm believers in content and data ownership. We believe content creators should always try to own their content without sacrificing visibility and reach. That’s precisely what we are solving at Hashnode. We abstract away all the boring parts of tech blogging and let our users map a custom domain for free. They now own their content and don’t have to spend time managing infra. All they have to do is focus on producing content and delivering value to their readers,” he explained while commenting on the company’s driving belief.
Hashnode, a Bengaluru and Delaware-based blogging startup, has raised $6.7 million in a Series A round led by Salesforce Ventures. Sierra Ventures, Sequoia Capital India’s Surge and Accel Partners along with angel investors Naval Ravikant (co-founder, Angellist), Des Traynor (co-founder, Intercom), Guillermo Rauch (co-founder, Vercel), and others also participated in the round, only eight months after its Seed round of $2.1 million.
The focus of the funds will be on scaling the team and introducing monetization. The company believes that growth and monetization are everything. If they crack that, it won’t be difficult for them to raise more money in the future.
“We are following a bottom-up approach, offering everything for free to individual developers and charging businesses for advanced features. It’s similar to models followed by GitHub and Postman. Our idea is to solve a problem, make life easier for individual developers, and keep growing through organic word of mouth. Once we hit a critical mass, we’ll introduce monetization by introducing team collaboration features,” Rahman stated while telling the distribution for the platform.
He believes that the current scene and the competition in this space are only getting stronger as several companies are building generic communities that address everything from photography to programming. But the company believes by building a niche community and delivering dev-oriented features; the platform is able to personalize the experience of software developers to a great extent. They have the liberty to introduce several features that general-purpose communities can’t support. Even the companies that are building communities exclusively for developers don’t give any attention to content ownership. IMO, that’s the most significant differentiator for them than the rest.
Although they are a twelve-member team, they have just five engineers at the moment. The company says that its goal is to rapidly scale the engineering and community teams and keep growing fast in all their KPIs.
The next challenge for Hashnode will be to monetize the business. For individual developers, the platform is completely free, but Rahman envisages a time where Hashnode becomes so ubiquitous that corporates will also want to use it to disseminate their content. The platform would then charge these business users to post on the platform, offering access to a highly targeted but very large audience of subscribers.