Divshot lands in Los Angeles for Launchpad accelerator
Divshot co-founders Michael Bleigh (left) and Jake Johnson pose in their workspace at Launchpad LA.
Divshot, an interface builder for web apps hatched in April at Startup Weekend Kansas City, took first place at the Crowdstart LA pitch competition in July. That earned Divshot an invitation to a final round application pitch at Launchpad. Johnson and co-founder Michael Bleigh, the developer with the idea behind Divshot, rescheduled their flight for the opportunity.
Bleigh and Johnson felt the application pitch went well, and though they wouldn't receive an answer for weeks, they decided they'd move to Los Angeles if they were accepted. "When we won Crowdstart LA, we were completely confident and sure Divshot has a bright future," Johnson said in a phone interview last week.
Johnson, who was previously freelancing, began focusing on Divshot full-time following Crowdstart. Bleigh, who is part-owner of Washington, D.C. consulting firm Intridea, is now working on Divshot full-time, as well.
The startup's Crowdstart win earned it $25,000, and Launchpad provided a $50,000 investment. Intridea has also put its support behind the startup, investing an undisclosed amount, according to Johnson.
Currently in private beta, Divshot is an interface builder for web apps that allows users to drag and drop components onto a canvas and export what Johnson calls the cleanest HTML and CSS users have ever seen. "It looks like it's professionally coded," Johnson said.
Targeting developers, Divshot aims to cut the three hours it would take to build a prototype of a web app down to 15-20 minutes. "(It's) perfect for hackathons and quickly prototyping a web app out," Johnson said, noting that it was recently used by a team at Lincoln Startup Weekend.
On Monday, Divshot released a refreshed version. Bleigh and Johnson plan to begin public beta in November.
Divshot had 3,000 beta signups as of last week, and Johnson said he anticipates another 1,000 registrations with the new release — something that hitting the front page of Hacker News today should certainly help.
The team's most direct competition is recent Y Combinator graduate Easel.io. The startup is also out to convince developers that Divshot is better than hand-coding and using existing tools for mockups such as Balsamiq Mockups or Adobe Photoshop.
Divshot hopes to secure more funding as it aims to expand its development team before Launchpad ends in December. Johnson said the accelerator has proven particularly valuable on the funding front.
"We've already spoken to at least 8-10 investors," Johnson said. "(Launchpad is) all about connections and meeting new people, and that's the biggest advantage you get from joining."
Beyond December, Johnson said he and Bleigh are keeping their options open, considering both the West Coast and Kansas City. Their focus on hiring won't be limited to either place because they're comfortable leading a remote team, a characteristic of Bleigh's other company, Intridea.
"L.A. I think is a great place to start a company," Johnson said, listing its quantity of accelerators, startups and venture capital. Later, in response to a question about future plans, he added: "No doubt we'll be back in the Midwest, you know, working at hackathons and checking in."
For more on Divshot's offering, check out the startup's overview video below.