TakeShape is revolutionizing web development by making JAMstack seamless

This is one in a series of stories that highlights each company in the 2019 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Visit LIFT Labs to learn more about this world-class program for connectivity, media and entertainment startups, and get information on applications for the next class.

Mark Catalano and Andrew Sprouse can build websites that perform incredibly well, look gorgeous and engage users. They're experts at working with the JAMstack, the new standard in web architecture that eschews traditional servers and promises better speed, higher performance, increased security and a better developer experience.

Still, they couldn't help but notice some obvious problems working with the JAMstack. Why is integrating APIs application programming interfaces (aka the way companies communicate with each other's software) still such a heavy lift? Why aren't there intuitive experiences that help content creators, product managers and developers work together seamlessly?

These questions led them to launch TakeShape, a startup offering a set of tools for developers who want to build on the JAMstack. With TakeShape, companies can get far more production out of their development teams — and let's face it, they're some of the most expensive hires at any company. With TakeShape, developers work more efficiently and finish projects faster.

Simply put, TakeShape makes development better, cheaper, faster and way more efficient.

"The JAMstack is basically the future of web development," Catalano said. "It's how everyone is going to be building websites for the foreseeable future. Developers just needed the right tools to make the technology work for them as they scale up the complexity of their projects. TakeShape enables front-end developers to do a lot more with the skills they have."

The company already has some impressive traction, working with companies like GE, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, John F. Kennedy Airport Terminal 4 and Parsley Health. They have six employees and more than 1,400 people using the platform — and appear seriously primed for growth.

For 13 weeks this summer, Catalano, Sprouse, and software developer Sean Rogers moved from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to take part in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. It was their chance to work with people from Comcast NBCUniversal and meet with startup founders who've built great companies. Sprouse says the relationships he made have been really special.

"The people involved with Comcast NBCUniversal and Techstars have been very encouraging," Sprouse said. "It's exciting to be in the belly of a giant company and have people here engaged and interested in what we're building."

Rogers said he was's particularly impressed with the comradery he's built with other entrepreneurs in the accelerator.

"They're in the same stage of life, stage of company, and experiencing the same highs and lows as us," Rogers said. "Being around that can be comforting. When we're all just working from home or by ourselves jamming on this stuff, it's hard to form as strong of a community as we're experiencing now."

Life-Long Tinkerers

Catalano's love for technology started at an early age. His father worked in tech, so he had access to some of the earliest home computers.

"I remember having a VAX/VMS system that I would get to play on," he recalled. "We could program into the Unix shell when we were really little. It was pretty cool."

Catalano's father also instilled another passion into his son — entrepreneurship.

"My dad always wanted to be an entrepreneur and continuously encouraged me to build my own thing and be my own boss," he said. "That was what really pushed me to start TakeShape, as well as the design agency I started before that. I wanted to be the master of my own destiny."

Sprouse's story is similar.

"My mother was a graphic designer and she had the earliest Macintosh — the square one with the telephone cable to plug in the keyboard," he recalled. "That started me doing stuff on the computer that was creative."

When Catalano and Sprouse met during freshman year at Northeastern University, they became fast friends. All these years later, they find found themselves in Philadelphia for the summer, where they started the JAMstack Philadelphia meetup to network with fellow developers.

"Finding people like ourselves has been a breath of fresh air," Catalano said. "We just love problem solving and tinkering away with like-minded JAMstack developers. It keeps us on our toes and up to date with the latest trends in the space."

The future is bright for TakeShape. They're continually improving their product, expanding their impressive client base — which includes Comcast and Universal tech development teams — and planning to raise a seed round of capital.

"In five years," said Catalano, "we will be the de facto place for developers building on the JAMstack to start their projects," Catalano said.

Disclosure: Comcast and NBCUniversal are parent of CNBC.

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