From theming to ecommerce
For many years, alongside startup adventures, I had been freelancing in the UK as a web designer, working with a variety of international businesses. Renting my time. Getting paid by the hour.
It was a hard slog and it was largely repetitive work. Through this process I discovered a blogging platform called WordPress. This blog was birthed as my first WordPress installation. It became a testing grounds of sorts and a creative outlet.
In late 2007, after building many WordPress websites for international clients, I connected with two like-minded strangers. We were in opposite corners of the world, but shared a common goal – to turn our limited billable hours into off-the-shelf WordPress products.
Commoditising our web design services and growing a more diversified and sustainable income stream.
Winning others over
In 2008, we launched a company together – WooThemes. (We only physically met 18 months later…)
WooThemes was born as a globally distributed company (with a small IRL presence in Cape Town). We built commercial WordPress themes and were focussed on making beautiful, innovative design accessible and affordable.
Fast forward a few years and we’d built a huge portfolio of WordPress themes. We’ve also answered many, many support tickets and sifted through a sea of sales data. It was quite clear that our customers were demanding more and more functionality from an evolving WordPress. We decided it was time to venture into plugin development.
In 2011, we launched WooCommerce – which soon became the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, and the fast growing eCommerce platform on the internet… It changed everything for our business.
Fast forward some explosive growth, accompanied by some fantastic highs and hard learnings, WooThemes was acquired by Automattic in 2015.
Our quest remained:
To democratise eCommerce, whilst making meaningful contributions to the open source world.
After nearly 2 years, packed full of learnings, with Automattic I’ve moved into a non-operational, advisory role. Actively tracking projects whilst helping to shape an exciting roadmap for the platform.
Onwards and upwards 🚀
- From commercial themes to the fastest growing eCommerce platform (a talk I gave at WordCamp Europe about our WooCommerce journey)
- Distributed with a twist (some words about our remote and distributed team)
- WooThemes has a new home (my acquisition announcement post)
- Why Automattic’s WooThemes acquisition is so important to South Africa’s startup space (an article by Ventureburn that I really enjoyed)