Have you ever considered raising the profile of your technical team?
Do you mean on an individual basis or in terms of the projects we put out? I’ll address the project awareness, if that’s it.
As I mentioned above, time is the enemy. I’d love to say we have a super-awesome growth-hack that everyone would love to read about on Hacker News, but I don’t have one. I don’t have a finely-tuned “say no to everything”, give your client this handbook, and reap the rewards at the end of the rainbow formula to success. It just doesn’t happen in this line of work until you’ve hit optimal cashflow levels. (Recurring Revenue + New static work) - Costs, to put it simply.
We are the 99%.
We aren’t blessed with being globally recognized – yet. We aren’t being referred by adjacent vendors in our industry – yet. We don’t have the fanciest of portfolios (http://slocumstudio.com/case-studies/) – yet.
Which dovetails into your next question:
What are some of the challenges/advantages of running – and being the face of – a software services/products business as a “non-technical”? Anything particular to the WordPress space?
The challenge we faced was, we weren’t able to do the work that came to us.
Sure, I could build a WordPress site and customize it like any other consultant/power user, but that was the extent of it. We could have idled along at that for a while, but we had always wanted a product focused company and building a strong team was a priority.
Again, I’ll use Jake and Brad as examples – two technical founders. Two developers that could not only produce the work, but were also well known in the community which is by and large driven by reputation. We were just getting into the market, I was still learning where to begin.
The downside of that? We don’t always land the shiniest of projects. We say yes to things others would say no to. We’re still very profitable, but they aren’t headline material. I had a lot of failures along the way of hiring the wrong contractors when we needed more bandwidth.
On to the flip side, I knew I had to build some type of reputation and that came in the form of a podcast and really putting ourselves out there.
A lot of the attention is spent on developers and developer focused content in this space. Look at this forum, look at ManageWP.org and look at high comment threads on Tavern/Poststatus. Business/marketing/tech news isn’t as popular and I don’t know if it ever will be. Yes, there are unicorns like Chris Lema that come along, but those are moon shots that are rare.
There’s 1 of him and 99 of “me’s” out there and that’s a good thing. A rising tide raises all boats. I’ve carved out a niche within a niche. It’s not a very big audience, but I’m thankful for the folks that do listen. I might not hold any credibility within the developer circles, but that’s okay with me.
Over 100 episodes of Matt Report & 5,800 subscribers to our Slocum Studio YouTube channel, leads me to believe I’ve built a decent cache of industry knowledge to which I leverage in sales calls. For better or worse, we put ourselves out there in combo with our past work and let the client decide if that’s good enough for them. In most cases, it is.
What do you really think of Jetpack?
I think there were some answers to that within my interview with Matt, you just have to listen deeper. He’s a pro at this you know
I like to think of Android vs iOS. Think fragmented vs refined. Loosely controlled vs very controlled.
If 50% is the mission, we’re going to see more control over the experience of .org installs and finding themes+plugins. You ask what will take the hit? I’m afraid it might be us.
Android: Many manufacturers each with their own flavor of the OS and various hardware specs. I love my LG G3 w/ Lollipop, but when I use iOS8, it’s so much damn smoother. Why? Because Apple holds the entire experience to themselves. This is why I brought up the Disrupting the Experience thread and this is why I say, we might be in the crosshairs.
Distribution is super-important (read: Array moving to TF) and .org is a great source for this. If WP wants a smoother onboarding process, with a richer experience in terms of design and extending function, that’s their first roadblock to get through. No more shitty themes and plugins that aggravate the enduser.
Or give them Jetpack.
Sadly, I don’t know how they will push the 3rd parties to improve, but I think it’s coming. Getting a theme reviewed and approved is already painful (overblown imho) and it’s only going to get tighter as time goes on. Plugins see much less policing, something I still don’t fully comprehend. (sheer volume? Man hours?)
A number I’d love to know is the total valuation of the .org theme + plugin repo in terms of premium upsells. Just throw out a number: $30 Million. Someone is watching that firehose - what will they do with it? Someone must be looking at this and realizing that authors are profiting off of this unintended marketplace and fragmenting the market at the same time. Yes, I know, open source but don’t forget about 50% adoption. Something has to give.
One last conspiracy theory on 50%: WordPress as an application layer that you never see, rolled into the vanity metric of that 50%. In other words, not just blogs or websites as we know it, but powering apps/platforms.
How does incumbency in the WordPress space compare/contrast to incumbency in other industries?
I don’t know if I have a good answer for this. I think it’s difficult in the open source space and in this WP vacuum we live in.
I hope I don’t offend anyone with this phrase, Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
Everyone can be a Chief here, which is good and bad. See someones code and don’t like it? Contribute your own or worse call them out on it. See a plugin and want to do something else with it? Fork it and make your own flavor. All of this leads to positives and negatives for WP.
I count mostly positives.
Let’s look at the hottest tech company right now, Periscope. Purchased by Twitter before they even went to market. A homerun before even getting to the plate to swing the bat! Enter in their rival which was available before them, Meerkat. Don’t worry, with $12 mil recently injected by Greylock, they sit comfortably at a $50m valuation.
Scaled down to our size, could a plugin shop akin to Meerkat be as valuable as fast when faced with such a competitor? I won’t argue if that 50m will make them sustainable, but it’s sure nice too see in the short-term.
If you forked WooCommerce and revamped the UI, could you be as valuable out of the gate? In this industry?
Matt, do you hate open source? No, in fact, I love it. It’s why I continue to invest in it. Like WordPress, I’m in it for the long game.