Equipped with a $30,000 loan from his father, Anthony Casalena set out to launch a startup focused on making the process of building websites easy enough so that anyone could create their own. He was working out of his cramped dorm room on University of Maryland's campus, hacking away at his project in order to change the way websites were built for the better. That was ten years ago. Now, Casalena is the proud CEO and founder of Squarespace, an industry leading, all-in-one website publishing platform provider that is debuting its first Super Bowl ad during the big game this Sunday.
A proud moment for Casalena and Terps everywhere, Squarespace will be running the ad titled, "A Better Web Awaits," to broadcast the company's mission to a broader audience.
Here's a sneak peak of what the 30-second ad will look like on February 2:
"Our goal was to create a spot that was appropriate for the Super Bowl while also communicating our values," said Casalena in a press release. "The ad clearly establishes our mission as a company: Squarespace helps sets your website apart from the clutter we commonly find all over the web." Squarespace is offering creative tools that give anyone the opportunity to have a voice on the Web, providing effective solutions that make the online publishing experience near effortless.
What's more, according to the press release, "Squarespace offers simple drag-and-drop website management, blogging capability, modern ecommerce and donation capabilities, social media integration, a full suite of content block types such as photo galleries and events calendars (and no need for plugins), as well as special features for bloggers, photographers, musicians, restaurants and more."
Casalena attributes much of his success to his alma mater, for it was there that he was a member of one of the first cohorts of the Hinman CEOs program. Dubbed "the nation's first living-learning entrepreneurship initiative," the program provides young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to work as a community with like-minded innovators interested in launching their own new ventures.
"The Hinman Program is a great facilitator of ideas," Casalena added. "The program can connect you with the people you need to meet. It fosters a more professional way of thinking about a business and exposes you to things you wouldn't see otherwise, such as venture capitalists or evaluating business plans. It is valuable for you to see how all of these things work in the real world."
Perhaps it was his involvement in the Hinman CEOs program that has led him to the success he has found today. Casalena has managed to build an award-winning company that boasts accolades like: a Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year in the category of computer services, a People's Choice Award in the Best Home/Welcome Page category at the 17th Annual Webby Awards, and the title of one of the best places to work in New York City by Crain's. Casalena was also named to Forbes' list of "America's Most Promising CEOs Under 35" last year.
After being bootstrapped for six years, Squarespace completed a $38.5 million minority investment from Index Ventures and Accel Partners in 2010, making it one of the most successful startups to ever come out of UMD.
Now, with his first-ever Super Bowl ad due to go live Sunday, Casalena and Squarespace have much to be proud of, and so too does the school that helped groom such a brilliant entrepreneur.