Innovations: App gives users flexibility to manage online personalities



Innovation: Customizable online platform for managing a web presence


The initial stages of the StageBloc platform began seven years ago when co-founder Tom Giles, a college musician at the time, saw a need for a better way of creating, sharing and marketing an online personality.

Initially just for personal use, Milwaukee-based StageBloc is now poised to launch its private and eventually public beta, which also will allow users to take full advantage of the company’s mobile applications, Giles said.

“About three years ago we decided that we really did have a business here,” Giles said. “We sat down and put together our long-term goals and started building a team of really talented developers to build out the infrastructure.”

StageBloc is an online platform that fills a void between Tumblr and WordPress.

“It helps you build and manage an online presence more efficiently and effectively,” Giles said.

Initially designed for musicians, the StageBloc platform gives users as much freedom and flexibility as they want. Users will have the ability to create a web presence by using StageBloc hosted sites and templates or use the platforms API and open-source Front-End Framework to design, develop and manage a completely customized site, Giles said.

“Our team has spent the better part of a year building out the infrastructure to support future growth,” Giles said. “We want to fill a need and provide a way for people to create, share and discover individuals or personalities online.”

Giles has teamed up with developers, including Mike Branski, Greg Ipp, Josh Holat, J.D. Hartley and Greg Billetdeaux, to build StageBloc.

Three of the six people are under 20 years old, but Giles says what the team lacks in years they make up with experience and a very talented advisory committee. Ipp is a senior developer at Topspin and has 12 years of experience with Nintendo, EA and Midway. Branski, 26, has 10 years of industry experience. Thomas Ryan, the chief executive officer of Threadless, and 19-year-old entrepreneurial phenom Cory Levy are on the team’s advisory committee, Giles said.

The group plans to offer StageBloc in a “freemium” model, Giles said.

“The basic platform will be available to everyone, but some additional capabilities will be given to those paying for the premium accounts,” he said.

StageBloc will allow users to post blogs, create an event calendar, post photos and update statuses for Facebook, Twitter and individual websites, Giles said. Eventually, premium models will become available and will probably allow users to create password-protected fan sites for exclusive content, updates and even e-commerce sites, Giles said.

For the past three years, StageBloc has done a lot of initial testing with projects for musicians, including Eminem and Trent Reznor, bands including Linkin Park and The Glitch Mob, and record label Red Bull Records, Giles said.

“We really wanted to give users the flexibility to have complete control over their web content,” Giles said. “We’ve found that existing platforms fall short in a variety of ways, and we’ve developed StageBloc to fill that void.”

In addition, users can do everything from the StageBloc mobile application for iPhone and Android, Giles said.

“Too often, mobile applications don’t allow users the full capability of their website,” Giles said. “We think that’s a problem. Mobile is the future and the StageBloc application has full network integration so users can manage their blogs, post statuses, videos and photos directly from their mobile devices.”

“The mobile application has got one of the best user interfaces you can imagine,” said Josh Holat, co-founder and developer at StageBloc. “It’s got pretty much everything. We knew that if we didn’t build it that way we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot. Why would we want to limit ourusers? Developing the application with this type of extensive infrastructure fits well into our plans for the next five to ten years.”

The mobile applications are already available, but users can’t use them until they are able to sign up for accounts.

The private beta version of StageBloc should be available for select users in January, with a public beta available near the end of February 2012, Giles said.

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