We Talked to Mike Vertal of Crafter Software about commercializing the open-source Crafter CMS project and serving the world’s most reputable organizations.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Vertal: Everyone is doing well. Thankfully everyone in my family, and my extended Crafter Software family, has stayed healthy. We have all learned how to navigate the new normal.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Crafter Software
Mike Vertal: I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for most of my career, having joined early-stage startups and co-founded several tech companies along the way. Crafter CMS was founded as an open-source project while running a web design agency serving large enterprises. We had the unique perspective of seeing up close the fundamental limitations of traditional content management systems, and we built Crafter CMS from the ground up to solve those problems.
I co-founded Crafter Software to commercialize the open-source Crafter CMS project, and we now successfully serve many of the largest and most respected organizations such as MasterCard, Marriott, BNY Mellon, PGA Tour, Pokemon, AT&T Mobile, US Defense Department, UK Government, among many others. We also help other startups who are building their own digital native products that need to scale quickly and reliably in the cloud and benefit from a modern CMS platform on which to build a scalable business.
How does Crafter Software innovate?
Mike Vertal: Innovation takes a combination of courage, vision, and listening to customers and the market. You have to listen to real customers and learn their challenges, but they can only tell you or teach you so much. You must also have a vision of where technology is headed, where your customers’ markets are headed, and where natural disruptions may be occurring. Finally, you need the courage to make dramatic leaps into new areas informed by your vision and your customer and their market future needs.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mike Vertal: COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital innovation across all enterprises and organizations, which has accelerated our business. Crafter CMS is gaining rapid adoption as many of our customers, who are large-scale enterprises, look to build innovative and modern websites, mobile apps, intranets, streaming video experiences, and e-commerce solutions to better engage with their customers, employees, and business partners.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Mike Vertal: Stress comes with the territory in any competitive business, especially with startups. At a company level, we minimize stress by staying close to our customers, keeping them extremely happy, and maintaining a strong financial position with a sound balance sheet and generating positive cash flow. On a personal level, I minimize stress by hitting the barbells in the gym and the trails outdoors, eating healthy, and trying to sleep once in a while.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mike Vertal: We compete against some of the largest and strongest tech companies on the planet, such as Adobe and Oracle, and some of the largest open-source CMS solutions like WordPress and Drupal. We win by innovating faster and more nimbly than large companies, and large open-source projects are able. The CMS market is evolving rapidly as software development moves to the cloud, as software release and content publishing cycles accelerate, and as new technologies and digital channels constantly emerge. Most of our competitor solutions were built over 2 decades ago and cannot easily adapt to this rapid pace of digital innovation.
Your final thoughts
Mike Vertal: Management guru Peter Drucker said that innovation is one of only two business functions. That’s how important it really is. Whether you’re in a startup or a large enterprise or a government agency, you must constantly innovate to survive.