I am Dusty Davidson, the co-founder, and CEO of Flywheel, a delightful WordPress hosting and development platform built for designers, freelancers, and agencies.
I spend about half my time recruiting exceptional people to build the Flywheel team and the other half steering big-picture strategy to create an even stronger business.
The Journey Began
As a serial technology entrepreneur, I’ve started a handful of projects and products, including Silicon Prairie News, Tripleseat, and Big Omaha.
My partners, Tony Noecker, Rick Knudtson, and I worked together building WordPress sites for many years before starting Flywheel.
The Need for Flywheel
To cater to our needs, we decided to create a platform, we wanted it to be the software, the workflow tools, the brand, and the company that we, as freelance web developers and WordPress developers, wanted to work with and wanted to work for.
When we launched Flywheel in 2012, most of our competitors were extremely technical, and we dreamed about a world where web hosting was specialized, allowing us to more easily build, launch, and manage sites for our clients.
For a long time, it was just the three of us making 100 phone calls a day to customers and potential customers. We learned that the three of us complemented each other really well and together could build, market, sell, and support our early customers without the need for anybody else.
Eventually, Flywheel began to grow very quickly, and we knew that in order to keep growing, we would need venture capital dollars to do so, which led us to our biggest challenge we ever faced: raising venture capital in the Midwest.
It’s incredibly scarce, so it was extremely hard to convince investors to take a chance on a WordPress hosting company in Omaha, Nebraska. But, ultimately we got through it and found some extraordinary partners to help us grow amazing things in an amazing city.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
The Flywheel is now a company of more than 200 people, located all around the world, and while we attribute a lot of our growth to our product, we also attribute it to the culture we’ve built over the past eight years. It can be relatively easy to have a “good culture” when you’re small and mighty, but oftentimes, as a company grows, the culture erodes because the leaders haven’t been thinking of transforming it over time.
I’m a huge proponent of making investments in culture early on because the way you build a lasting business is by getting the people right. If you build an environment that attracts, retains, and builds the best people, you’ll then build the best products, provide the best service for your customers, and hopefully have a bit of fun along the way.
Advice for Business Owners
To other young entrepreneurs, don’t be afraid to hustle and do the hard work in the early days! It’s easy to look at Flywheel and not understand all the long nights it took to build the company we are today.
WordPress & Beyond
While WordPress was growing, so were its competitors. I’ve noticed non-WordPress competitors and page builders using the sentiment of “it just works” more recently, implying that there’s no malware, no tinkering, no stress to be had.
But, Flywheel was built with the exact same mentality eight years ago. We provide a platform and tools to make WordPress as easy as possible, so if we continue doing our job of helping creatives do their best work, I think the world’s biggest CMS will be just fine.
My Love for the WordPress Community
When we first started Flywheel back in 2012, my partners and I were building WordPress sites full time, so it was really a no-brainer. As we’ve scaled, we’ve doubled down on it due to its customizability, security, and incredible community!
Since WordPress is a community-driven open-source CMS. To support the cause, we have been sponsoring WordCamps around the globe and continue to do so.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I spend a lot of time with my colleagues, helping and learning new stuff. It helps me to keep updated with the industry and what our customers want. Besides this, I follow the WordPress news and a few of the most popular websites including WPTavern.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
When I’m not eating, sleeping, and breathing tech, I’m supporting the local Omaha arts scene and traveling with my wife and daughter around the world, searching for the greatest cuisine on the planet. Although Flywheel is number one in my heart, some close seconds are Diet Mountain Dew, French Pinot Noir, and my Macbook Pro.