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My 7-Year WordPress Product Journey -- Success, Failures & TBDs

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As founder of one of the first commercial product companies in WordPress, I’ll be sharing the success and failures that we’ve had along the journey, including releasing our biggest, most collaborative, most expensive project for free (iThemes Exchange), and home runs (like BackupBuddy). I’ll also be mentioning some of our miserable failures (trying hosting and services twice) and the lessons we gleaned from it.

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My 7-Year WordPress Product Journey -- Success, Failures & TBDs

  1. 1. Lessons Learned from 7 Years in WordPress Products Cory J. Miller iThemes @corymiller303
  2. 2. @corymiller303#WCMIA Share Success, Failure, TBD Product Stories • The Goal(s) - why we did it • What worked • What didn’t • What we learned, are learning
  3. 3. @corymiller303#WCMIA 1. Themes
  4. 4. @corymiller303#WCMIA What Got You Here, Might Not Get You There • January 2008 • One of the first commercial theme providers • Goals: Help people build sites; make money, establish the brand, business for what’s next • Kept innovating but hit a wall • Market became saturated, 
 ultra-competitive (i.e. Theme Forest) • (Design) Talent + Execution was key
  5. 5. @corymiller303#WCMIA 2. Hosting & Services
  6. 6. @corymiller303#WCMIA Miserable Failures Lessons • 2009 & 2012-2014 • Hosting - wanted recurring revenue & 
 control of server environment • Services - additional revenue line + 
 value add to customers • If you or team isn’t interested / passionate 
 about it, it’ll likely flop but mostly suck • Became distractions & drains to what we 
 & our customers cared about more
  7. 7. @corymiller303#WCMIA 3. BackupBuddy
  8. 8. @corymiller303#WCMIA Grand Slam Home Run • March 2010 • Came out of our own disaster(s) and loss(es) • First to nail it backups, restores, migration • Hit every customer and market; natural upsell • Customers said, “Shut up, take my money” • Insider said, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that …” • Utility - save money, effort, time
  9. 9. @corymiller303#WCMIA Getting Back to the Plate • Sometimes a product gets more brand love than the company (i.e. BUB, Gravity Forms) • Keep iterating for the customer 
 (i.e. BUB 6.- & Deployment) • Take chances - uhm, rather make investments - in new, innovative products • Helping fund the next things
  10. 10. @corymiller303#WCMIA The Future Our Next 3 Investments
  11. 11. @corymiller303#WCMIA 4. iThemes Security
  12. 12. @corymiller303#WCMIA Better WP Security • December 2013 & changed name in 
 March 2014 w/ big release • One the most popular plugins in WP 
 (600K+ sites) • Found it (and ChrisW) because I needed it personally • Challenge: Take freemium & establish sustainable business model on it (i.e. make money helping people)
  13. 13. @corymiller303#WCMIA Batman’s Robin • Perfect compliment to BackupBuddy • Huge user base (headstart & established) • Security becoming huge need / topic in community • Appeals to almost all of our customers • Security + free WP plugins are sometimes brutal • Very promising present and future in many ways
  14. 14. @corymiller303#WCMIA 5. iThemes Sync
  15. 15. @corymiller303#WCMIA The Centerpiece • November 2013 • Solution for core customers: freelancers/builders • Integrating all our products together • Recurring revenue / glue • 6K users / 34K sites and growing • Optimistic about short-term and long-term
  16. 16. @corymiller303#WCMIA 6. iThemes Exchange
  17. 17. @corymiller303#WCMIA “Hey, let’s tackle the biggest, most expensive project we’ve ever done … with entrenched competitors … oh, and give it away for free.”
  18. 18. @corymiller303#WCMIA Ecommerce is HARD • June 2013 • Make ecommerce easier; Plant a flag • Tried eating the entire elephant (Never-ending roadmap) • Core audience is vastly different • Fundamentally changed & improved how we work
  19. 19. @corymiller303#WCMIA My Key Takeaways • “Be everything to someone” — Know and serve your key/core audience better than anyone; lead, guide, iterate for them, EVERY day • Know who you are, what you’re good at, passionate about … and DON’T stray from it • Be early • Don’t make it harder than it needs to be • Always, always, always be investing in the future • It’s only failure if you don’t learn and grow
  20. 20. Thank you! cory@iThemes.com @corymiller303

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