UMD grad debuts Super Bowl commercial

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The University of Maryland has had players on the Super Bowl field before. Now it has another graduate in the Super Bowl of advertising.

Anthony Casalena has gone from late-night dorm room programmer to the biggest of big leagues.

Did you notice his ad in the clutter? A small business owner faced what the commercial portrayed as the dystopian horror show of the internet.

"It was a pretty incredible experience," the founder and CEO of Squarespace said of seeing his company's commercial on the Super Bowl broadcast.

A decade ago, Casalena was a dorm room entrepreneur writing code for his own website. His big idea? The software he was writing could make it easier for anyone to build a website: restaurant owners, photographers, even couples getting married.

Nurtured at Maryland's Hinman CEO entrepreneurship program, Casalena founded Squarespace, which has now grown from just him to 259 employees and hundreds of thousands of customers. And Squarespace has enough money to pay $4 million dollars for a Super Bowl ad.

Squarespace is now an industry leading, do-it-yourself website publisher, and Casalena has advice for would-be young moguls hoping to build their own companies. "I would hope that people work on problems that are true to them. Problems that they have themselves. As opposed to wacky business ideas," he said.

It worked for him.

Casalena says he watched the Super Bowl at a sports bar in New York. He insists a hush fell over the crowd when his commercial came on and he imagined millions of other people watching it all across the globe.


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