STARTUP TO WATCH

JS-Kit: Building Web 2.0 One Brick at a Time

Web 2.0 technology is revolutionizing the way businesses display their wares on e-commerce sites. The service delivery model of Web 2.0 presents a pressing challenge to Web designers in small businesses and home-based businesses. Anyone with a community-based information and public comment Web site is often hard-pressed to offer the look and feel of a modern, interactive portal.

That’s where JS-Kit enters the picture. It offers a library of cut-and-paste code that Web site owners can add to their pages to instantly provide ultra-lightweight, feature-specific content and community services in several languages for any site via a hosted platform. Since the startup released its first widget in November of 2006, its list of customers has grown to more than 17,000.

“It’s very much like Web 2.0 becomes Web Dos-Zero,” Khris Loux, CEO of JS-Kit, told the E-Commerce Times.

The Service

JS-Kit is a Web services provider that offers customers extremely small chunks of HTML (hypertext markup language) coding ready to be inserted onto a Web page for seamless links to a large catalog of Web gadgets. In many cases, Loux and his team of programmers tweak the script to the needs of the customer.

“We implement script for the Web site. It takes two lines of HTML code to drop on their site. We take it from there,” Loux explained.

Some of the Web services available Loux describes as pieces of a social network. Large companies build these services by themselves and run them on their Web sites. However, there is a technology disparity between the haves and the have-not companies, he explained.

Targeting a Market

Loux started his company by offering heavier versions of the Web services. That’s where he ran into his first problem.

“I realized that there are many social networks out there,” he said, adding that he needed a niche offering to separate his company from the rest.

The initial heavy code versions represented a big chunk of code to potential customers. It was a big decision for them to make. Plus, it was time consuming to implement.

The Problem

The biggest obstacle JS-Kit faced in fitting into the marketplace was more an issue in overcoming their initial expectations. The company needed a different approach than the ones used by service providers already in the market.

“The biggest problem was changing out mindset from what we needed as a product to what potential customers needed as a service,” Loux noted.

That business block led to the idea of just using what Loux called “little Lego blocks” of code. He likened this process to designing lightweight micros for Web sites.

Defining Moments

The first service JS-Kit introduced under this new plan was a comment service. Its goal was to fill a need for Web site operators to provide a customer voice and build brand loyalty.

The impact on business from a comment page is a tremendous benefit to marketing, according to Loux. Comment pages are a boon to customer service and customer response.

“This is the point of Web 2.0,” said Loux.

Crossing the Bar

That first lightweight service implant led to another successful micro, a five-star rating service. This added service was the beginning step to what became a more inclusive offering called “Navigator.”

The idea behind the rating service is to display top-rated objects across a customer’s Web site. Visitors can instantly reorder the way the site looks to suit their own purposes.

“Content management for any Web site is critical,” said Loux.

The Solution

With the change in the company’s mindset came a change in customer reaction. Two factors that Loux attributed to the success of JS-Kit are the ease of deployment and the ease of customization of the embedded Web code.

Customers could download the code for free and use it without registering the product. This was also an effective way for JS-Kit to grow a user base, and it was the proof of concept that the product was viable.

“We’ve grown in one year from no customers to 17,000 users of our code. Our list of Web publishers using our code grew from one to 200,” Loux said.

Making the Deal

JS-Kit’s early customers can still use the services for free; however, adding to the services will bring about JS-Kit’s revenue-sharing options.

Loux added in November 2007 an option for customers to switch to a revenue plan or display adds for continued free use. To join this program, free users have to register and select from two options.

One choice is to split down the middle with JS-Kit all revenue generated from advertising link clicks. JS-Kit now places its own ad banners on users’ pages. The other choice is for users to pay as they go.

“We learned that the vast majority of those who download our free scripts will opt to share revenue or pay to remove the ad,” Loux said.

A Capital Move

Loux is seeing good response to the payment plan. It allows his customers to buy into the plan for extremely low cost.

Those who choose the pay-per-use option pay 25 US cents per 1,000 impressions. This pricing level is just coffee money for the users, Loux noted. He already has millions of pages displayed per month.

“We can afford to do this at such low cost because we are dividing our cost among 17,000 user sites,” he explained.

Next Hurdle

Loux plans to continue the model that has proven successful. One way he plans to expand on the model is to continue offering customers stand-alone services or combine several into suites of related tools that will automatically configure on a user’s Web site.

“We are staying true to who we are,” he said.

JS-Kit is banking on attracting larger companies who want the service without the expense of developing the tools themselves, he offered. Take, for example, the internal communication staff at JetBlue Airlines.

“We’ve been very pleased with the service. We wanted to add some features to our existing internal Web site at JetBlue. We researched the different services and liked what JS-Kit does,” Justin Sachtleben, analyst for the corporate communications department at JetBlue, told the E-Commerce Times.

Competitive Edge

JetBlue researched insertable code solutions offered by several other Web service providers. There are several companies that offer similar services to what JS-Kit offers, according to Sachtleben. HaloScan.com might be considered the most direct competitors for what JS-Kit provides, he said.

“All of the competition have their good and bad points. But JS-Kit is much more customizable for our needs and is a clean, easy-to-integrate process,” Sachtleben said.

He plans to meet with Loux in the next few weeks to discuss new features that JetBlue wants to add to its internal communications.

“Both Khris [Loux] and his main programmer have been very helpful in meeting out needs,” said Sachtleben.

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