A startup in LIFT Labs' accelerator says JAMstacks are the future of web development - Technical.ly Philly


Jul. 24, 2019 1:01 pm

A startup in LIFT Labs’ accelerator says JAMstacks are the future of web development

The Brooklyn-based founders are working on a product called TakeShape Mesh, which developers can use to combine their favorite JavaScript, API and Markup programs.
TakeShape founders Andrew Sprouse (L) and Mark Catalano at the LIFT Labs space.

TakeShape founders Andrew Sprouse (L) and Mark Catalano at the LIFT Labs space.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Catalano)

Two founders who will spend the next few months developing their company in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator believe that the more freedom web developers have with the programs they use, the better.

TakeShape, a Brooklyn-based content management system founded by Mark Catalano and Andrew Sprouse, was one of 11 companies chosen to spend 13 weeks refining, developing and growing their company in the accelerator, which is powered by TechStars.

The media, entertainment and connectivity startups were picked for their work in one of four areas: smart places, immersive and interactive experiences, digital-first customer engagement and next-gen marketing.

Sprouse and Catalano launched TakeShape in September 2018 with its first service: a headless CMS, GraphQL API and static site generator for developers, content creators or product managers to build and manage websites.

“At the time we realized there was an opportunity to build a CMS for the JAMstack,” Catalano said, referring to JavaScript, API and markup programs. “We decided on few design goals for a CMS, and that content modeling tools should be really easy to use, it should have a user-friendly interface and a highly performant static site generator.”

The TakeShape CMS differs from other website-building services like WordPress, which is a monolithic CMS — you’re limited to only the programs that are built to be able to work inside WordPress, Catalano said.

By building a CMS for the JAMstack, it enables users to distribute functionality across other services and products.

“You’re assembling APIs from all over the web,” Catalano said.

Catalano and Sprouse were the only full-time team members until they hired Sean Rogers to join for the accelerator program. They also have four remote, part-time workers and are hoping to grow the team as a result of the accelerator.

Rogers said that being encouraged by LIFT Labs to set performance indicators in the first few weeks of the program has been motivating.

“Having a concrete goal broken up into small chunks makes everything feel more manageable,” Rogers said.


The product the team is building during the accelerator is called TakeShape Mesh, which developers can use to combine their favorite JAMstacks together, Catalano said.

“We’re kind of doubling down on the idea that JAMstack is future of web development,” he added.

The team is hoping the accelerator helps them find the market fit for the mesh product and be in a position to raise seed funding that’ll allow them hire more full-time employees.

While they haven’t been in Philly for long, the trio has been enjoying living in a rental in Passyunk and is excited to get more acclimated with the tech scene, they said. Catalano created a JAMstack meetup group, and tentatively scheduled an event for the evening of Aug. 21. About 30 people have already joined the group.

“The tech scene in Brooklyn is very strong, but I’ve heard really good things about the dev scene down here, and I’m excited to get more into it,” Catalano said.

The accelerator program will conclude with a Demo Day on Oct. 10, though the companies will be allowed work out of the LIFT Labs space through June 2020, when the next cohort will arrive.


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