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“If we succeed, we will open a brand new market: Web Development as a Service”: Interview with Nicola Mattina, Co-Founder of Stamplay

Stamplay is an online service that helps web designers create web applications without the need to know a programming language (Update – March 2023: The startup seems to be no longer in business under this website, and we therefore deactivated the original link). We interviewed Nicola Mattina, Stamplay co-founder, to find out more.

How would you describe Stamplay in a sentence?

That’s easy! We have filled out so many application forms, that we have a description of Stamplay for every occasion. If you want just one sentence, we can say that “Stamplay is faster, safer, affordable web development for designers; no coding skills required”. A shorter and geeker version is: “Stamplay is IFTTT for web applications”.

Interesting! How does it work?

The process of creating a web application with Stamplay can be described in three steps.

First, the designer should configure the business logic of the web app. She uses special components that we call bricks. A brick can be a picture from a social network (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), a status or a tweet, a video, a ticket for a sweep-stake and so on. The designer can decide what actions the user can perform on the brick and can combine the bricks together. It is awesome, because we have put together a system that allows a designer to assemble a complex application in minutes instead of days. Without coding.

Secondly, once the web application is deployed, the designer can upload the look and feel. She has full control of the interface and will add the logic copying and pasting widgets into her html. It is important to notice that we do not ask the designer to learn anything new: it is like embedding a video in a web page.

Thirdly, Stamplay generates a full featured back-end so that the designer can administer the application and have statistics about the usage.

Is it suitable for online communication campaigns only or is it possible to build general purpose applications too?

It depends on the brick that we make available to our customers. At first, we decided to turn to web designers and create the bricks that allow them to build communication and marketing campaigns. Obviously, we do not exclude adding bricks that allow people to do other types of applications, but it is a future step.

This is not your first company. Can you tell me something more about your previous companies and experiences?

I founded several companies because I’m a bit allergic to being an employee. I tried with a startup in 1999; it was called Wikey and I raised more than €750k from the Elserino Piol fund. We wanted to produce Wap services; it is a shame that this technology has never taken off.

Then I founded a couple of small consulting companies in the field of communication: Elastic was a pioneer in digital PR in Italy, but consultancy is fun only when there are new things to discover. The rest is routine, clients who pay late and compromises that I don’t want to make.

Given that I spent the last few years studying the world of startups, I decided to try again with the goal of building an international, highly scalable company, with its headquarters in UK or in US, with software production in Italy.

What made you decide to start working on this new project?

Every day, agencies and freelancers around the world design and implement communication and marketing campaigns, outsourcing a huge amount of software development. Prior to founding Stamplay, we both made web and smartphone applications for major brands.

We want to make designers independent from developers, allowing them to design and create a web application without having to know programming languages or how to configure a server.

That’s why we decided to work on this project. We started in August and, after a few months of work and a pair of pivots, we finally arrived to the current version. When I look at what we have designed and what we are building I still can not believe what we are making; it is a product that has the potential to change web development.

What technologies did you use build Stamplay and what was technically the most challenging part of developing it?

Stamplay has different components and for each of them we made different choices.

The first layer, we call it Editor, is a web app built with Backbone.js and Handlebars.js and written in CoffeeScript. It renders JSON data from PHP and Node.js services. Our datatore is MySQL.

The core engine runs on Azure Cloud Services and automatically deploys our customer’s apps on Linux running on Azure VMs.

The assets, including images, are served by Windows Azure Blog Storage via the Azure CDN. We rely on Memcached Azure add on and we use SendGrid and MailChimp to send emails. Systems are monitored by a combination of New Relic and Pingdom. All of this is built, according to a TDD approach, tested and deployed with self-made automatic processes.

The deployed application is a PHP application backed by MySQL which provides API to a Javascript frontend that uses Backbone.js to render our components widget along with Handlebars.js for template customization.

Who is Stamplay’s biggest competitor?

There are several approaches to solving this problem, but none offer the same speed and reliability of Stamplay. Stamplay is affordable too. The application frameworks like Drupal, RoR, .Net are slow, expensive and targeted at developers; it is very unlikely that a designer can use these solutions.

Content management systems like WordPress help to create websites, but they have many limitations if the goal is to develop web applications. You can add plugins, but you do not go very far.

Recently, there are a number of solutions that have emerged under the label of Backend as a Service (BaaS). But these solutions are very technical and aimed at programmers too.

We can say that no one has yet invented a solution that represents the development of web applications, like WordPress represented for content management.

If we succeed, we will open a brand new market: Web Development as a Service (WDaaS)

Stamplay relies on a quite established team. How did you meet your co-founder Giuliano Iacobelli? And how did you selected the other team members?

We met in the tech community in Rome. We started working together on some ideas to learn customer development and lean startup techniques. We discovered that our natures and skills are complementary, so we decided to startup a more ambitious project. And, that is how Stamplay was born. I take care of business, and Giuliano is responsible for technology and production.

The developers who work with us are from Roma Tre University. Two of them, Mirko and Cristian, did their thesis with us and then stayed on because they are in love with the project. Alessandro was starting a promising career at a large system integrator firm, but we saved him.

You recently landed a seed round. How are you using those funds?

We raised a small seed round from friends and family, and we are using it to develop the first version of Stamplay. We are now raising more money to speed up the production and first feedback by prospective investors are very good.

Can you convince our readers to start using Stamplay?

I would invite your readers to watch a video of the product: it only lasts a minute and lets you get an idea of the magic (Update – March 2023: The website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link).

Generally, this is enough to convince a designer to ask to try our service.

Thanks a lot and good luck with Stamplay!

Grazie a voi 🙂

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Luca Mayer
Luca Mayer
Luca works as a Senior Security Specialist and Project Manager at Security Reply. On EU-Startups.com he writes about Italian startups and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Italy.


  1. Mobile apps are hot today. But hiring a programmer is too expensive. I used snappii.com to make apps. It’s really easy, the web service allows to make mobile apps in minutes, and without programming skills at all. If you are short of time, they can make an app for you very quickly.

  2. Many people want mobile apps but think it is too hard to create them. Fortunately now there are quite a lot of useful online services which allow building apps without programming skills and in hours. I am using SnAPPii at the moment and really glad I can feel like a mobile app developer and make apps on my own.

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