Why we invested in Octana

Alex Dam

We’re excited to welcome the newest addition to the Hillfarrance Village – Octana!

Octana has built the front-end & integration layer for Headless Content Management Systems, and we are thrilled to be leading their Pre-seed round to disrupt the way websites are built!


A bit of backstory…

Not every day do you get a random message on LinkedIn saying:

Hi Alex, have we met before? – Anna

However, I am glad it happened because we got to meet Octana’s two awesome Co-founders, Anna Dao & Jon Beattie!

Turns out, Anna and I grew up in the same area and were a part of the same Vietnamese community in Auckland, New Zealand.

After a bowl of Vietnamese Pho at our local Vietnamese Restaurant, “Try it out”, Anna explained her vision of creating a world where building and maintaining enterprise-grade websites IS NOT a pain to accomplish.

Fast forward to now, and we couldn’t be more excited to lead their first external capital raise after hearing about what they have built at Octana.


So, what is Octana?

Octana is the easiest way for organisations & enterprises to deliver modern, scalable and high-performance websites. They’ve done this by creating a software product that provides the front-end and integration layer for Headless Content Management Systems (HCMSs).

Born out of a digital design agency, the team suffered from the problem of having no predictable and scalable way of building enterprise websites on top of Headless Content Management System’s (HCMS). They decided to solve this problem and have designed a product that provides the frontend and integration layer for HCMSs. Octana is now used by two large enterprises across Australasia, making their websites faster, better performing from an SEO perspective and much easier to edit for content authors.

Websites have two core parts:

  1. The Backend, which is usually hosted as a Content Management System to store all the assets and stuff you see on your everyday website; and
  2. The Frontend, which is all the visual stuff you see and view when you’re casually browsing any website as a user.

Headless Content Management Systems (The Backend) have rapidly become the industry standard over traditional CMS’s because, as the name says, they separate the “Head” from the content layer. This offers a myriad of benefits to organisations when building their websites, such as:

  1. Excellent Omnichannel Experiences;
  2. Flexibility in the Type of CMS Solution an organisation wants to use;
  3. Developer Support & an overall better experience for Devs; and
  4. A Future Proof Solution at a Lower Cost.

However, there are very few true solutions out there that provide The Frontend to all this.


What problems do organisations face with websites?

Enterprise website quality and performance are few and far between

Currently, there is no predictable and scalable way for organisations or agencies to deliver and manage websites on top of Headless Content Management Systems. This has only gotten worse since they are increasing in favour and adoption by organisations, yet you still need a custom-built front-end to display to website users at the end of the day.

This leads to:

  • Poor website performance and unoptimised pages (slow loading times, etc.) if done wrong. 4+ second loading times adversely affect user experience; and
  • Significant time spent on producing, reproducing and migrating different pages within an organisation’s many websites.

No-code/low-code solutions out there like Squarespace, Wix, or Webflow are great for static pages and small businesses. However, enterprise-level websites are much more complex, require a certain level of security measures, and need domain experience to manage well.

A marketing/content team’s ability to manage websites is beholden to the development team

Currently, when a marketing team member or content author (the ones who edit and change the front-facing stuff you see on websites) wants to make a change, edit or revision on a website, they must rely on a developer or agency dev to make that change for them.

This ends up becoming a back-and-forth exercise between the marketers/content authors and the devs to come to a final agreement on what should stick.

The traditional website agency model is broken & hated

We’ve all experienced it before if we had tasked an agency to create a new website for us:

  1. You brief the agency on what you want.
  2. Go through a discovery and design phase.
  3. Build up assets for the website and content.
  4. Finally, you’re bewildered by the price tag quoted at the end.

Websites are a huge upfront capital expense (CapEx) for companies, both large and small. It’s not outlandish to see an enterprise website cost between $200k-$600k and take 6-12 months to stand up.

The modern-day website is part of the software stack, yet is the most under-loved

For a for-profit business, a website serves three purposes:

  1. To drive traffic and leads to your site/product/service;
  2. To explain what you do for people who visit your site; and
  3. To ultimately generate revenue.

The modern company’s software stack is retrofitted for the needs of the individual company. You have outsourced CRMs, Customer Success/service tools, Analytics tools, Content Management Systems (CMS), Cybersecurity providers, etc. However, the majority of enterprise organisations still rely on agencies or internal development teams to handle their websites. Whilst a website is a core part of an organisation’s marketing, lead generation, image and brand reputation, it is still being constructed in some of the most archaic and time-consuming methods.


Octana is solving these problems.

In short, Octana solves these problems by:

  1. Offering a low-code SaaS solution that marketers & content authors love and empowering them to build websites without the need for any developers.
  2. Allowing enterprises and organisations to scale with any Headless CMS of their choice;
  3. Providing pricing surety to organisations, so they’re not spending a sh*t tonne of one-off CapEx on website costs; and
  4. Offering composability all throughout a company’s tech stack so you can plug & play different tech without affecting how their website performs.

The team

Jon & Anna are a husband and wife duo with an incredible drive and passion for changing how enterprise websites are built, created, and managed.

Anna Dao – Co-founder & CEO

Having been a finalist for the Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award in 2021, Anna is intimately involved with developing technology and digital industries in New Zealand. With nearly a decade of experience in the technology sector, four of which in the start-up world, running her own successful global award-winning full-stack digital agency, Apolinar, which boasted clients such as World Vision, Fisher & Paykel, Dubber and more.

Anna and her team have now found a deep passion for changing the way website projects are delivered, particularly at the Enterprise level, from their experiences of working on such projects as an agency. This has culminated in them building a software product to solve this problem that they had faced as an agency.

As a daughter of refugees fleeing from the Vietnam war, she strongly believes in making the absolute most of the opportunities her parents have given her, which has led her down the path to entrepreneurship.

Jon Beattie – Co-founder & Chief Product Officer

Jon has lived and breathed agencies and digital transformation his entire life, having run three separate agencies and one successful video game studio where they built games for the likes of Disney, Zynga, Sony and more! Jon has over 20+ years of experience in digital and technology leadership and has worked with a broad range of organisations and industries in the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan to deliver value using technology and digital.

Through his role as the co-founder and CEO of Marker, a leading digital transformation and product development agency and games studio, he has worked with a wide range of organisations and industries on digital projects and boasted a client list that includes Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment, Air New Zealand, World Vision, St John, Yellow Pages, Commbank, Royal Mail, Barclays, and McLaren. He has delivered hundreds of digital and technology projects during his career and is known for his strong strategic focus and ability to traverse commercial and technology to create great customer experiences, leveraging best-of-breed technology.

Outside of the business world, Jon is also an active soldier in the NZ Army Reserve and has served overseas on humanitarian and reconstruction projects in the Pacific.


Why we’re so excited

There are several reasons why we are excited about the team at Octana, but if we could boil it down to a few points:

We’re supporting an A-team lineup that are veterans, serial entrepreneurs and domain experts in this space

People are the lifeblood of early-stage startups, especially in the Pre-seed stage. As a collective, Octana’s team have spent more than two decades solving problems related to websites and digital transformation. They have also been founders themselves in the past, having founded a successful gaming studio and multiple award-winning agencies.

Their passion for this space is genuine and has been born out of their frustrations on website projects at their agency. We believe them to be the right team for the job.

We have a founding team that is passionate, visionary & exudes high integrity

Jon & Anna have been a pleasure to work with over this extensive DD process, and their vision of what Octana is now vs. what it will become is something we can be proud to get behind. Jon & Anna exude all the characteristics of great founders – from always striving to learn, a deep passion within their area of expertise, and a needless drive to continue innovating.

An ever-growing market that is ripe for a solution like this

The way websites are created is changing quickly. A considerable percentage of websites currently out there have been built on WordPress; however, the trend to migrate to a Headless CMS is one of the fastest-growing trends we’ve seen on the enterprise side. We believe that this will become the new norm for websites in the future because it is so flexible and, most importantly, gives power to the marketers & content authors.

Rain or shine, every organisation needs a website.

The Vitamin vs. Pill thought exercise is done by us every time we consider an investment. Octana is most certainly in the Pill category, having a product that is a necessity for enterprises to use for managing and creating their websites.

When investing in startups, we need to think 3-5 years into the future and internalise, “Can we see this being widely adopted?” We do not see websites ever going out of fashion anytime soon as the most important marketing tool for any organisation.


Need to upgrade your enterprise website? Octana is the way to go! Book a demo with them here.