Flywheel: A Serial Entrepreneur’s Latest Hit
“Tom Hanks, to me, took the easy route in Hollywood… He only made hits.” – Steve Martin
Serial Omaha entrepreneur Dusty Davidson has chosen to embrace a “Tom Hanks approach” to launching tech-focused start-ups – he only makes hits. His latest endeavor, along with co-founders Rick Knudtson and Tony Noecker, is Flywheel, a premium WordPress hosting company built specifically for design firms, freelancers and creative agencies. (WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, powering about 20 percent of the Internet’s website population.)
“We make it really easy for designers to launch and manage very fast, secure websites for their clients,” Davidson said. “When you take someone’s website that was really slow and move it to Flywheel, you see them get excited about what that means – and that’s super cool.”
Bankrolled, initially, with personal funds and later with an infusion from angel investors, Flywheel launched publicly in September 2013. The idea was borne, like many enterprising endeavors, out of frustration.
“My partners and I all came from web design backgrounds, and we all had to deal with really lousy hosting. … Flywheel is ‘scratching our own itch.’ It’s the hosting company we would have used when we were doing web design and development,” Davidson explained.
He said partnerships within the community were integral in helping the Flywheel concept… fly.
“For Flywheel, the best thing has been its association with the broader start-up community. We were able to raise our funding easily and get early customers because of that network and those resources,” Davidson recalled.
Flywheel is just the latest in a string of entrepreneurial ventures in which Davidson has been involved, a list which includes:
Silicon Prairie News (SPN), a digital media company that publishes a daily news blog highlighting and supporting entrepreneurs on the Silicon Prairie. Founded in 2008, SPN also produces events, such as the The Big Series (Big Omaha, Big Des Moines and Big Kansas City), the Silicon Prairie Awards and the Startup Job Crawl.
Tripleseat, an event management web application that increases bookings and streamlines the planning process for event sales managers in restaurants, hotels and unique venues
Davidson said he is “bullish on the Midwest” as a place that is viable and exciting for start-up companies.
“Silicon Prairie News, in particular, stems from our love for the region and our desire to see it grow and prosper as it relates to start-ups,” he said. “We continue to look at the Midwest as a place that is filled with phenomenal talent. The cost structure for starting, building and developing companies is incredible. The support network is solid and growing, whether it’s capital, mentors or advisors that can help you grow and scale a company. It is a neat time to be involved with start-ups and entrepreneurship in Omaha. There is a ton of activity going, and it’s only going to get better over time.”
And over time, Davidson sees Flywheel continuing to flourish.
“We want to be a big, impactful organization, recognized within the region both for our great technology and culture, and our design and brand,” he said. “For us, it’s heads down growing to get there. We’ll continue to push and grow each and every day.”