NC State Grads Develop A Code-Free Way For Websites To Load Faster

Padeo co-founders Camden Conekin (left) and Ben Hardison met in high school and started the company that became Padeo while they were NC State students.

After two seconds of extra load time on website, 90% of web visitors leave completely. For online businesses in the U.S., the difference translates to losing potential sales and millions of dollars in revenue every year. Amazon, for instance, missed out on $1.6 billion last year when some of its pages loaded too slowly.

And while smaller, local businesses also miss out on potential sales from having slow websites, the vast majority don’t have resources that Amazon or Google do to engineer a speedier website. 

Until now. A newly launched Raleigh-based startup, Padeo, offers a website plugin that decreases loading times using a predictive model to track a customer’s browsing to determine what website resources to preload. Preloading technology not only helps businesses save money, but helps customers with limited bandwidth have a better web experience. 

The friendship and business partnership of Padeo co-founders Benjamin Hardison and Camden Conekin goes back to when they were in high school, where they co-ran a business doing digital marketing and web design and construction services for local businesses. 

The pair continued their contracting business as NC State students, where they graduated in 2020—Hardison with a degree in Computer Science and Conkein with a degree in Graphic Design.

The genesis of Padeo began about halfway through their college career, in 2018. Conkein and Hardison kept running into the same problem with many of their clients, who wanted a speedier website but couldn’t benefit from the existing services that many big businesses use.

Padeo’s plugin helps speed site load times by pre-loading certain assets.

A popular way to speed up websites involves the use of CDNs (content delivery networks), which boost the speed of websites by caching content in multiple locations around the world. CDNs are most beneficial for big companies like Amazon, whose web visitors are spread out geographically, while local businesses whose online customers are in close proximity to each other often miss the benefits, Conekin said.   

“We decided to transition our business from individual contracting into providing a solution that all of our clients could use,” Hardison said. “And once we actually started doing the math on a developing product, we realized that the niche that we were in was super-impactful for rural and local businesses.” 

Here’s how Padeo works: once the plugin is installed, a single line of Javascript is added to each page. It then tracks website traffic to identify navigation patterns and pin-point the most highly trafficked pages to preload files, images and resources for. 

Preloading website resources is already a technique used by many big companies like Amazon and Google to speed up site speed, and is incorporated into many modern web browsers. But it is a relatively arcane technology that requires some technical ability and regular monitoring of website traffic analytics to employ—aka more resources than a typical small businesses has.

Padeo aims to address that gap by making the speed benefits of preloading accessible and affordable to small, local businesses, Conekin said. Raleigh businesses can use Padeo’s predictive preloading service for free, with premium plans starting at $19/month. For agencies with many web clients, Padeo offers discounted agency pricing. 

The startup launched in May and is currently on about 370 domains, Conekin said. For clients so far, Padeo’s algorithm accurately predicts where on a page a customer will click one out of every three times and is decreasing web loading times via resource preloading by an average of about 600 milliseconds.

Equitable access to internet

Nowadays, a fast and reliable internet connection is not only expected by online shoppers but increasingly required for many people to do their banking, healthcare and education.

Yet, for a worldwide population of almost eight billion people, only about four and half billion people are on the internet, in part due to limited access to bandwidth in certain areas. One of Padeo’s main missions is addressing this disparity, Conekin said.

“What’s nice about Padeo is that we’re able to offer a high-speed connection to every user regardless of where they are,” Conekin said, “because when they connect to a website, Padeo uses their available bandwidth to download those resources in advance.”