Syed Naimath 2 years ago

When we launched our first plugin, Optin Feature Box, never did we plan on building a WordPress company.

Like most plugin developers, our aim was simply to have a great-working WordPress plugin that helps people, and could make us money by doing so.


But the deeper we got into WordPress, the more we fell in love with it. With it, and the abundant entrepreneurial opportunities it offered.

Within two years of starting, we grew from just two people discovering things about building WordPress plugins, to an eight-person WordPress startup. From creating one plugin, to four fully-supported, premium plugins under our belt.

In short, the WordPress industry helped us build the startup that we always aspired for.

And the journey has just begun.

It hasn’t, however, been a smooth one. We failed at several points.

From blogger outreach to customer support, we’ve made many mistakes. It’s been lessons learnt after lessons learnt.

Now, we want to give back to the WordPress community. In whatever little way we can – while we continue with our journey.

And this is how we plan to do it…

Since the quickest way to learn to do things, is to learn from the people who have done it all before you, we want to make you see what makes them tick.

And how they’ve gone about creating a great WordPress business.

So we’re going to interview some of the most successful WordPress entrepreneurs today, for them to share their entrepreneurial stories with you.

Plus, we are also going to share our day-to-day experiences with building and growing a WordPress startup.

All this, in an exultant attempt to celebrate WordPress Entrepreneurship.


Let’s get back to it in a while.

Two issues with the WordPress entrepreneurial ecosystem

1. In the past 2+ years, from personal experience, we’ve realized this –Most WordPress plugin developers consider themselves as developers. Not as entrepreneurs. Their plugins/themes as ‘projects’, and not as a startup.

As a result, they neither realize their full entrepreneurial potential nor build a real business. So we decided to change that, for ourselves, and then try and play our part in helping others as well.

2. WordPress requires certain procedures and guidelines for product creation. However, such constraints are not present in any other SaaS product development nor in Internet startups.

Some people may even find it to be a limited market. Especially those who intend to pursue businesses, beyond WordPress. However, this is an issue that we can do very little about. So, we stick to aiding issue #1.

We believe that these actually makes building WordPress startups more challenging. And that they affect  the overall growth of the WordPress economy to an extent.


Let me tell you why –

  1. A simple shift in mindset among developers is all it takes. A developer’s products are not just trinkets that people buy, as if from a push-cart vendor. Their plugins are scalable, much like a startup. Peter Suhm, co-founder of WPPusher, presented an interesting write-up on WPTavern, defining what a startup is, and how plugins can also be startups.
  1. Plugin developers who treat their plugins like startups, actually build one around them. Be it PippinsPlugins, or WooThemes. I think one reason how they managed to grow big, is how they treated their plugins as a business, and not as projects.

They have their own development team, support team, marketing channels which contribute to them having a startup culture.

That seriousness towards building a real business, solving real problems, growing teams, and earning revenues – is what WordPress needs to have a more thriving community.

There are thousands of contributors to WordPress. That’s powerful stuff – however, most of them are unknown, perhaps because many do not intend to make a brand for themselves, or do not know how to make one (again, the mindset plays a role here).

Problems that plugin developers face


1. Solving only smaller problems: Many developers solve only problems that they face, never expanding to solve the problems of a larger audience. In fact, that’s how we went about it initially.

However, that results in more fundamental issues going unnoticed. It even affects innovation in the industry.

I doubt if WooThemes would have been what it is today with WooCommerce, if not for their astute business moves.

2. Poor Maintenance of their Plugins / Themes: There is a unique kind of motivation and energy that startups beget. It enables them to change the world, as many have already done.

If plugin developers contributing to WordPress consider their products as startups, their efforts to maintain the tools will be that much more regular. Not that they aren’t now, but things can be drastically better.

A few other things that can also improve are –

  1. Code quality
  2. Frequency of updates
  3. Time spent on creating WordPress products
  4. Customer support
  5. Engagement in the WordPress forum
  6. Innovation as such

To reason this, some of the most updated plugins on the repository are the ones with freemium model. Free, limited versions are made available only get upgrades to paid versions. I believe, that’s something people who think that their plugins are a startup, would do more consistently.

Back to Our Series

So, in our WordPress Entrepreneurship Blog, we intend to show:

We’re just like so many others. We started out with one plugin, and turned it into a startup. We’d like to think we understand what our peers would want to learn about.

If you have a successful WordPress startup and would like to share your experience, do let us know. We’d be more than happy to feature you.

About Syed Naimath

Syed Naimath is Co-founder and Growth Hacker at Plugmatter, a WordPress plugin development startup passionate about creating products like Optin Feature Box, Document Importer and Pricing Table to help WordPress community.

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  • Amit Shah

    Good article. WordPress is a platform that allows anybody start their entrepreneurship journey. May it be business website designs to bloggers.
    I design websites for my clients and i mostly work with wordpress platform.
    I seen clients needing help with maintenance work such as back up, malware issues.
    So I started a company call Managing Site – to help designers and wordpress website owners with their maintenance work besides doing core updates and back ups.

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