Why website-platform developer Duda is growing in Louisville

LOUISVILLE — A $50 million Series D fundraising round by Palo Alto, California-based Duda Inc. will help drive growth of the company’s Louisville operation.

Duda announced the fundraise last week, taking its total raised to $100 million. The latest round was led by Claridge IL, along with past investors Susquehanna Growth Equity and Vintage Investment Partners. The Series D round was the company’s largest to date.

Duda’s website-development platform has seen rapid growth in recent years, with 17,000 web professionals using the platform to build one million websites, Oded Ouaknine, chief customer officer for Duda, said in an interview with BizWest. That’s up from 560,000 websites and 6,000 professionals using the platform in September 2019.

The company employs about 180 worldwide today — including 90 at Duda’s research-and-development center in Tel Aviv, Israel — with others in Palo Alto and a couple of other locations, with plans to grow significantly through 2022.

Much of that growth will occur in Louisville.

“I think we’re going to see about a hundred new employees worldwide in 2022, and a big part of it is probably going to happen in Colorado,” Ouaknine said.

Growth has already occurred at the company’s 5-year-old Louisville operation — which Ouaknine helped launch when he relocated from the Bay Area of California five years ago.

The company has expanded from an initial 3,000 square feet to almost 11,000 square feet at its current location at 1025 Cannon St. downtown, and local employment has grown from 11 employees pre-COVID to 40 today. Ouaknine said the Louisville operation likely will add another 10 employees by the end of 2021.

But that’s just the beginning.

“We have plans to continue a significant pace of growth, which means significant growth in Colorado, hiring more folks, adding maybe new areas that we haven’t focused in Colorado in the past,” Ouaknine said.

Louisville’s expansion has been fueled by customer-facing divisions, including technical support, engineering, sales teams, account management, sales and product marketing. Ouaknine said future growth would come from those customer-facing operations but perhaps other components as well.

Ouaknine said Louisville has benefited from Duda’s expansion for numerous reasons.

“When we started to build our customer-facing groups, we decided to hire those in Louisville for multiple reasons,” he said. “We found that there’s a very strong talent here that is looking for an innovative company like Duda.”

He said there also is a “cultural fit” between Duda and the area, particularly with technology and innovation prevalent around Boulder.

“We were very successful with the hiring,” Ouaknine said. “We got some excellent talent to the company, and this fueled a continuous growth in Louisville. It kept growing. I think as we were able to hire more and more talent to the company, we shifted lots of growth to this area.”

He said Louisville’s proximity to Boulder and Denver enables the company to recruit from both areas, and the downtown location has been important.

“We also wanted a downtown experience,” he said, with proximity to restaurants, coffee shops and breweries.

“It’s part of our culture,”  he added.

Duda was formed by two Israelis — CEO Itai Sadan and Chief Technology Officer Amir Glatt — about a decade ago to create a better browsing experience for smartphones and other mobile devices. Its product enabled small and medium-sized businesses to develop a better mobile experience for their websites.

“Duda built this real-time engine that could take any website — it doesn’t matter which platform and what it was built with — and in real time, create a mobile-friendly experience,” Ouaknine said. “This is what the company started with, the first few years, and that was very successful.”

As websites began to be built with responsive design — websites that serve any device — the company shifted gears to focus on the professional market.

“What we decided to do back then is to look at the professional market, the website professionals who are building websites for a living,” he said. “It could be a freelancer who is building websites for the local businesses around him, or it could be large companies such as GoDaddy … that are providing website building products for their users.”

That change has propelled the company’s growth, as Duda enables web developers “to integrate Duda seamlessly into their own workflows and their own products.”

“Once we made that shift, it took a couple of years to build a solid product, to come up with the right messaging, to put the right foundations and different brand out there for what we do,” Ouaknine said. “Once we did that, we saw consistent growth of between 40% to 50% year over year for the past three years, in terms of customers, the revenue that we get.”

Duda’s platform enables web developers — including freelancers, marketing companies, Software-As-A Service providers and others — to rapidly develop websites for clients, primarily small and medium-sized businesses. It facilitates collaboration among developers and clients, and enables developers to integrate website development with their other products.

“Almost everywhere you go, you can find a website, and in many cases, it will be Duda’s engine behind it,” Ouaknine said. “Let’s say you have a restaurant and you go to a web professional to build a website for you, there’s a very, very high likelihood that they’re using Duda as the tool to build the website for that professional.”

Duda’s latest funding will be used to develop new products and features and to expand investments across all departments, including R&D, sales, and marketing, the company said.

While R&D is focused in Tel Aviv, many of the other functions are housed in Louisville, leading to Ouaknine’s optimism about the office’s role in future growth..

“I think we’re just going to see massive growth here and are happy to be here in Colorado and Louisville and continue that growth with the talent that we have now,” Ouaknine said.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

LOUISVILLE — A $50 million Series D fundraising round by Palo Alto, California-based Duda Inc. will help drive growth of the company’s Louisville operation.

Duda announced the fundraise last week, taking its total raised to $100 million. The latest round was led by Claridge IL, along with past investors Susquehanna Growth Equity and Vintage Investment Partners. The Series D round was the company’s largest to date.

Duda’s website-development platform has seen rapid growth in recent years, with 17,000 web professionals using the platform to build one million websites, Oded Ouaknine, chief customer officer for Duda, said in an interview with BizWest. That’s up from 560,000 websites and 6,000 professionals using the platform in September 2019.

The company employs about 180 worldwide today — including 90 at Duda’s research-and-development center in Tel Aviv, Israel — with others in Palo Alto and a couple of other locations, with plans to grow significantly through 2022.

Much of that growth will occur in Louisville.

“I think we’re going to see about a hundred new employees worldwide in 2022, and a big part of it is probably going to happen in Colorado,” Ouaknine said.

Growth has already occurred at the company’s 5-year-old Louisville operation — which Ouaknine helped launch when he relocated from the Bay Area of California five years ago.

The company has expanded from an initial 3,000 square feet to almost 11,000 square feet at its current location at 1025 Cannon St. downtown, and local employment has grown from 11 employees pre-COVID to 40 today. Ouaknine said the Louisville…