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Omaha trio behind Flywheel hopes to help designers with hosting hangups

Flywheel has signed up around six clients for hosting and plans to release its management tool in December.

A trio with ties to Silicon Prairie News has revealed its next endeavor, Flywheel, a startup offering premium WordPress hosting and soon a management product. SPN co-founder and CEO Dusty Davidson teamed up in early August with Rick Knudtson and Tony Noecker. On Monday, the three unveiled what they’re up to with a website launch.

“It’s kind of the dream team of founders,” Davidson (above, far left) said in an interview Wednesday, “with a technical co-founder, a design co-founder and myself, (a CEO).”

Davidson and Knudtson (above, middle), who both recently left the mobile marketing startup Layeredi, are working full-time on Flywheel. Noecker (above, right) works part-time while he remains the lead developer of Tripleseat, a startup Davidson co-founded and Knudtson once worked for, as well.

“Our goal is to simplify (hosting) so that designers that don’t have the technical expertise or basically don’t want to deal with it don’t have to, essentially,” said Knudtson, a designer with a computer science degree.

Knudtson said that even with his technical background, he sometimes gets tripped up when setting up hosting. “I joke … what are acronyms like CGI? Or what version of PHP is it running? Or things like SSH access,” said Knudston, who came up with the idea for Flywheel.

Flywheel’s sole focus is to serve designers – from freelancers to employees of creative agencies – building sites on WordPress, the most popular content management system on the web.

Flywheel aims to be more than a hosting option, though. Its biggest value proposition for designers will be its management tool.

“The problem that we’re trying to solve is specific to web designers and agencies who manage large numbers of sites,” Davidson said. “Somebody like (Omaha design firm) Grain & Mortar will design 30 WordPress sites a year, and they need to manage those … they have to log into 30 different hosting accounts, or they have to remember passwords and user names or they have to do things that make managing that many sites and launching sites in that manner very difficult for them.”

Flywheel’s management tool will provide designers a dashboard that displays all the sites they’ve set up hosting for clients and give them the ability to log into a client’s site, if needed. It will also offer designers the option to bill their clients for the Flywheel hosting costs they incur.

Over the long term, Flywheel plans to expand beyond hosting and hosting management. Davidson said the startup hopes its product will become an “indispensable tool in a web design firm’s software toolbelt” like Basecamp has for project management and Campaign Monitor has for email marketing.

Davidson said Flywheel, which uses Amazon Web Services, is already hosting sites for a handful of companies, bringing in revenue. It plans to release its management tool into private beta by year’s end, with Grain & Mortar first in line.


Note: Flywheel co-founder Dusty Davidson is the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Prairie News.

Credits: Screenshot from getflywheel.com. Photos by Malone & Company / Big Omaha.

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