From Websites to Themes to SaaS: Challenges, Insights and Wins

Do the Woo - A Podcast for WooCommerce Builders
Do the Woo - A Podcast for WooCommerce Builders
From Websites to Themes to SaaS: Challenges, Insights and Wins
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Maziar Firoozmand from Artbees has walked a path on and off the web. With a love for acting, there was also the desire to build sites and then to creating products from themes to marketing automations. It all came from a burning desire of entrepreneurship and taking on the challenges that came with it.

On the Path to Creating an Automation SaaS

Jonathan and Anna talk with Maziar about:

  • What Maziar and his team do at Artbees (00:55)
  • Discovering WordPress (1:55)
  • Initial decisions on selling their theme on ThemeForest (4:10)
  • How WooCommerce came into the picture (5:30)
  • Starting in design as a career path (7:05)
  • Making a choice with a variety of talents (9:26)
  • From a theme on ThemeForest to building a business (11:05)
  • Lessons learned of starting a business (15:15)
  • A big jump from themes to marketing automation (18:47)
  • From building for WordPress to building a SaaS (22:26)
  • Reading an audience and knowing what to build next (24:35)
  • Moving into the WordPress community (26:06)
  • The history of Growmatik and how they are growing (28:21)
  • Entering the global market (32:56)
  • Where to start building with no existing platform (33:56)
  • Building something for WordPress or Woo with unlimited resources (36:21)
  • Concerns in the ecosystem for the future (39:10)
  • Advice to new Woo product builders (41:35)

Connect with Maziar

Thanks to Our Pod Friends

Mindsize

Mindsize has helped individual stores handle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of orders. Their Site Performance Audit with ongoing monitoring and iterative performance improvements are key to help you optimize your next client project. Visit mindsize.com to learn more. 

FooSales

If you have a client who is looking for a point of sales solution, consider recommending FooSales. FooSales is the first native WooCommerce point of sale to support in-person payments using Square Reader. To learn more, check them out at foosales.com.

Jonathan: Welcome to Do the Woo, Episode 152. Anna, you're my co-host today. How are you?

Anna: Hi there. I'm actually really good. I had a long nice vacation, but not that long, but long enough to skip one episode of Do the Woo. How about you?

Jonathan: I'm doing well. I'm trying to decide, do we miss Bob when we're doing this? I know he's behind the scene.

Anna: Of course, we miss Bob. Don't we? We should say that. Right?

Jonathan: Bob is fantastic. And we have a fantastic guest today. Maziar, welcome to Do the Woo. It's very great to have you.

Maziar: Hello to you too, Jonathan and Anna. It's a pleasure being part of this show in this episode. And hello to your great audience as well.

Jonathan: Maziar, we have our opening question that we're going to.throw at you now. How do you Do the Woo?

What Maziar and his team do at Artbees (00:55)

Maziar: So I have actually a history of 10 years, about 10 years with WordPress. I have co-founder of the company called Artbees, which is basically a WordPress company so far at the least. And we specialize in creating wide range of WooCommerce WordPress and WooCommerce products and services, including Jupiter X WordPress theme Growmatik, which is a marketing automation and personalization for WooCommerce, WPDONE, which is a white label WordPress services, as well as WunderWP, which is a free extension for Elementor to create reusable and ready made styles for Elementor. That's actually a summary of what we have done up to this day.

Discovering WordPress (1:55)

Jonathan: So you guys have done a lot of different things. I'm looking forward to unpacking that in a bit more detail. Let's first start with your own background. How did WordPress first come across your radar? And then I'll ask you to say about Woo.

Maziar: Sure. So I'm originally Iranian. Me and my brother back in 2010 when we were in Tehran, Iran, we were both designers, graphic and UI designers, and we were working in different companies as designers. So we had a chance to working with different kinds of clients and designing them different websites. So we were very close to their problems and their needs. And we were thinking of a solution, a platform, product that can help them set up their own websites without the need to the agencies.

And it wasn't because we thought an agency is an extra in the process, but there were some frictions back in time that may even be relevant now between the client and the agency and we were in between these two polls. And we thought how it's possible to actually make website for clients without the need for them to do this, coming and going and interacting with agencies and making them capable of updating that website, adding content to that. So we got familiar with WordPress. And we started our activity back in 2011 in ThemeForest, which is actually where we are selling our premium WordPress theme Jupiter X. And since then, we have had about like 150,00 users, and it's still active and off and running. So that's how we started our WordPress journey.

Initial decisions on selling their theme on ThemeForest (4:10)

Jonathan: I'm curious about that with ThemeForest at the time. How did you make that decision to go to the platform? Because that was still pretty early days. Did you consider selling it yourself? How did you make that initial decision?

Maziar: It was 2011, when we submitted many different themes, but many, but like about three different themes and they were all rejected some reasons, some about design, some about the technicality. And we were able to submit our first official theme there tried a different name and it was 2011. And the reason that we ended up in ThemeForest was that since we were both graphic designers, we actually started our activity in that marketplace with graphic assets, ready-made graphic assets.

It was actually in the deviant art as well. We were good in submitting freebies there and stuff. So we thought it's time for monetization. And we found GraphicRiver. So when we started with GraphicRiver in a lot of marketplaces, we also got to see ThemeForest, which is for the WordPress themes. And That's how we ended up in ThemeForest.

How WooCommerce came into the picture (5:30)

Jonathan: How did WooCommerce first come across your radar? When did that come into the picture?

Maziar: So, naturally when we created a theme, we wanted to make it comprehensive because the first thing that you want to solve a lot of problems from the client side is to give enough features and enough customization possibility. And for sure, for many, for the big section of the clients, having an online shop is a must and WooCommerce was a solution given by WordPress for those clients. And that's how we first started with creating different kinds of customizations for WooCommerce store inside our themes. And then we added a lot of different templates for different kinds of WooCommerce niches, online shopping types and kinds. And yeah.

Jonathan: So I want to go back to your personal background for just a moment. So I heard two things. One, you started out with a design background. And also it sounds like you started working with your brother? That's what you mentioned, right?

Maziar: Yeah, we started as two. And almost a few weeks later, a third co-founder, which was a very close and talented friend of mine, Bob joined us as the technical guru and that's how the trio shaped.

Jonathan: And are you guys still working together?

Maziar: Yeah, we are still together.

Anna: That's awesome.

Starting in design as a career path (7:05)

Jonathan: That's fantastic. How did you start in design? For you, was that always an interest from a young age? Or what led you into design as a career path?

Maziar: So I can say I was a nerd, to be honest, when I was in, let's say middle school I think. Me and my brother were just crazy for computers. And we actually won awards, not we, sorry, I actually won an award to just answer very, very unusual for my age computer question about something that was popular back then. And it was called Fusion. I don't know if you remember.

Jonathan: Oh, yeah, I remember that.

Maziar: Yeah. So, and I got awarded. Anyway, but I also had interest in art. My actually high school education was concluded with art. I high wear school diploma in graphic design, even though before previous years, it was more into mathematics. So anyway, that's how I ended my teenage years with the mixture of these two. And I tried to keep a balance between these two, art and my interest into computers and the digital world.

And then there was another thing that I ended up doing, which was theater. I actually chose not none of these two and ended up going into a acting career for about like six, seven years of my 20s. I did education up to masters in tutor directing and tutor acting both. It was a very hard mission for me to keep a balance of all of these things. I actually started the company Artbees, as well as my pro student life acting career altogether up to a point that it was not possible. And that's where I just dropped the acting career temporarily it's still on hold. So I'm not sure when I'm going to go back to that, but hopefully someday soon.

Making a choice with a variety of talents (9:26)

Anna: So you're a person of many, many talents. What I'm wondering right now is that out of all of the things that you were passionate about and all of the things, you present yourself as a marketing specialist and also as an entrepreneur. So how did you make this choice? There is a gap there.

Maziar: Well, that's an interesting question I have been asked many times. I actually think that my background is different and multi-faceted and it helped me enter and thrive in market, and also product design. These are both things that I'm actually doing in these years. Because my background in design and working with different clients helped me understand their needs and also go good with aesthetics of the job.

My acting career and experience helped me understand different personalities and dig deep into the characteristics and how should I tailor my message for different kinds of people, which is the personas in selling or marketing. And this helped me also in a way to design the products, in product design, not the aesthetics strategy and the concept. So I think in a way I have been making use of these all, you say talents. I hope that they are talents, but this experience in my career. That's what I think.

From a theme on ThemeForest to building a business (11:05)

Jonathan: So let's go back to Artbees and when you got that first theme on ThemeForest. When did you had something? Did it start getting lots of sales right away? At what point did know, and maybe you knew from the beginning, but what point did that we can build a business on this?

Maziar: It took a while and it was actually so dramatic. It wasn't a garage story like many other startups, but it was something like garage when we actually started this. We were into a deserted parking lot. That's where we started our thing.

So we submitted many unsuccessful graphic items in GraphicRiver and they went popular. And we were very hopeful that the same thing was going to happen in ThemeForest, which actually didn't happen. We submitted two items and they were rejected immediately because one of them was marked as an amalgamation of different styles and features and is not quite ready to be sold.

Yes. Yeah, and then that was when my brother and Bob, Roozbeh and Bob, they both went to Malaysia for education, one in medicine, I think, sorry, medical science and Rooz into graphic design. And I'd also left to Cyprus. So we were just not together anymore. And we continued our journey remotely. So while they were in Malaysia and I was in Cypress, we worked on another third theme WordPress theme that was finally approved. And that that was actually the beginning.

Jonathan: Now, I'm curious, were all those trips already planned? Or when you started, was it like, hey, if this takes off, we'll just do this? So you had that moment where you submitted and then it didn't quite take off yet, and you guys went to different ways. Was that a conditional thing, or were you gonna take off anyway or was that based on whether it was going to take off?

Maziar: No, no, it was just a need of that time. We wanted to continue with our higher educations and stuff and that was inevitable.

Jonathan: Got it. So then you just worked distributed?

Maziar: Yes. And we were not planning for this, especially when you leave your country. You have to be very cautious with the spend and the stuff. We were short on budget. There had have been the dramatic nights that we spent during working on these themes, WordPress themes.

Jonathan: So you kept working together remotely? At what point did that all right, you had something? Well, how long did it take before it started to accelerate?

Maziar: So we were working on these different versions of the themes for about two years. And after two years, it was approved. And fortunately when it was approved, it was very welcomed by the marketplace back then. The competition was quite lower compared to what it is now in and outside ThemeForest. There wasn't as much competition as you see today, but still there was competition and we were quite new to the community. So we were lucky. Our final submission actually got accepted and it went to the top sellers chart for about a month. And then we continued our journey with some more themes. Later on we introduced Jupiter in 2013 and then retired the older ones. And we chose that to become the primary product that we want to maintain for a lifetime.

Jonathan: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I bought one of your themes way back in the day. I couldn't find it because I'm sure it was retired, but I recognized the logo. No, I think I recognized it was a positive association like, "Hey, I remember this." I think I did must have done this for a client way back in the day or something.

Lessons learned of starting a business (15:15)

So you launched Jupiter. Now you have a lot of other things that you do under the Artbees brand and you've created other things out of that. In those first couple of years, what are some of the lessons that stand out to you? What are some of the things that you learned from that getting started stage of the business?

Maziar: Yeah, one important, maybe the most important thing that we learned was the very essence of WordPress as a solution which has a piecemeal structure, and this is useful, and this is advantages in some way and disadvantages in some other ways. So the mission for every WordPress theme that is promising, covering different sectors and different niches is to maintain the balance between the customizability and user experience because when you just bundle your theme with a lot of plugins because WordPress allows you to do that. Plugins and customizations, sometimes you make everything possible, but nothing is actually possible a good way. And it was a hardly learned lesson for us. So we wanted to make sure... That's why we actually reconfigured our theme, Jupiter X with different versions. The Jupiter V5 back in 2015, and then Jupiter X, and there's also Jupiter X2 coming up very soon.

And so these versions are actually a reflection of our what we are learning from this. And over time we had the challenge of updating the theme or I dramatically updating the theme, configuring it, refactoring the code and stuff. It's going more challenging because the user base grows and it's very risky to just touch the critical parts of the theme.

But over years we have found the ways to minimize this and do this in a way that not much of the legacy versions are affected, do our best to make possible as seamless migration. And that was the first lesson.

The second one was that this piecemeal structure should be taken into granted and should be deeply considered when you are ideating any product for WordPress space. That was actually what helped us ideating Growmatik. So Growmatik's idea was like, okay, somebody, some client, some user has created the website for their business or their own personal views, anything. Now they want traction, they want more traffic, they want leads. What's the next thing to do? So we ideated Growmatik as all-in-one solution that helps people, WordPress website owners to gain traction, gain leads with as much automation as possible without the need for marketing experts or marketing agencies as such. And that was also how Growmatik evolved.

A big jump from themes to marketing automation (18:47)

Jonathan: So I see this theme so far, no pun intended, but I see a theme of empowerment. When you to first started doing the WordPress themes, you saw that tension where it's like, "Hey, agencies aren't bad." And some of the customers that you're working with, you wanted the customers to have that choice to be able to do it themselves. And it sounds like that was also part of the interest in Growmatik, is that hey, with these other areas. Now, marketing automation, that's a pretty big jump from themes. What led you to that? What led you into that space?

Maziar: So while I was doing marketing for Jupiter X as a marketing chief in the company, I had my own challenges I personally experienced, including a very cluttered space in marketing space. A lot of tools that you have to use for lead generation and then nurturing them, and then trying to retain them, showing pop-ups, sending emails, personalizing pages for different segments of users, all of these have their own plugins in segment outside WordPress repository.

So I thought is it possible that we create something for WordPress community and just unifying many of them into one dashboard that not only makes it more affordable and easier to use, but also makes your marketing more smart because when you're using two tools for collecting the leads and then communicating with them, and then one another tool personalize your homepage for them, they are not aware of each other. So your personalization, your marketing is actually not harmonized. They're not in harmony. They're not aware of each other. So that's how it helps in that way as well.

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Jonathan: One thing I'm curious about, so with Growmatik, so it's a new product to me. I wasn't very familiar with it to and tell this. Does it run entirely in WordPress or does it have a SaaS component to it?

Maziar: It is actually SaaS service.

From building for WordPress to building a SaaS (22:26)

Jonathan: Excellent. So then it connects to WordPress? So you built a SaaS service. So did you have to bring in building a SaaS component and a service is a whole other line of thinking, right? What was that experience getting into that where you been building stuff for WordPress, you know the WordPress ways of doing things, and then you're going to build a SaaS. How did you navigate that?

Maziar: It was actually a challenge. It was really a challenge both in the product design and the concept, the strategy, how you're going to gain traction, how you're going to communicate with people inside WordPress community. There is no marketplace anymore and stuff. That was one challenge in getting the traction. In marketing side, there also technical challenge as well for our development theme led by Bob.

And it was that okay, just like you said, Jonathan, we have developed plugins or themes. We know the code base for WordPress and stuff. Suddenly we jump into a service, a SaaS service. So we took this challenge and it wasn't so easy, but we did this, we wanted to pay this price and we were up for the challenge because that was one of the fountain corner's tone ideas behind the product.

Why? Because you have more with plugins and WordPress, all of us have work. These back backend front end thing that you have to do. This back and forth checking, the post types, the metafields back there, you have to deal with different things. There's customizer, there's front end, there's backend, there's post meta options and all. So we thought how would we just create something in one space as a SaaS service, very completely different user experience and user interface to make this for the first time delicate and no dealing with all those metafields and stuff? So that was why we took that challenge.

Reading an audience and knowing what to build next (24:35)

Anna: How do you read the audience? That would be my personal curiosity because you played a lot with different services, products, themes, you got feedback from the marketplaces, from the users. What do you do with all of this to make a decision on what to build next?

Maziar: We were lucky that we changed the license for Jupiter X into full GPL because yeah, in ThemeForest, you have the option of making your item Split GPL or Full GPL, which was introduced actually later in, I think, 2016 or something, which is actually a point of problem.. But anyway, we wanted to connect to WordPress community and go outside this marketplace model that was when we changed withJupiter X in 2018, we changed the license to Full GPL. That was how we actually entered the WordPress community by sponsoring different WordCamp events or speaking in WordCamp events about our experience with going into GPL and any other challenges we have at along the way. And that was a very, very useful for us later. On when we were working on new services, we were able to collect feedback from valuable members in the community. And that was one of the ways that we could do the shifts.

Moving into the WordPress community (26:06)

Jonathan: I'm curious, did you find that difficult going into the WordPress community? You made that decision. Was it an easy thing? Was it difficult going to the WordCamps? You'd been in it for a while, what was that like for you?

Anna: He was an actor.

Maziar: Oh, yeah.

Anna: It couldn't have been difficult for him.

Maziar: Yeah, Anna actually responded on behalf of me. Exactly. It wasn't personally difficult for me because I missed it. I actually like to go back on stage. Okay. So it was a good opportunity for me to do that as well. But there was some other problems. You always have the worry of your sales getting affected by change of the license because are competitors in the marketplace who are not doing this and they are protecting their things, their items.

Maziar: But for us, it was a worthy idea. We wanted to take the challenge because the idea, whole idea behind WordPress that made all this possible, including the marketplace is this, is the open source. So we wanted to both give back to WordPress that way. And also the second one was actually, like I said, connecting to community outside the walls of a marketplace.

Jonathan: So on that point of the GPL because you're right, people have fear about that like, "Oh, what does this mean?" What was the effect of the business? Positive or negative? What did it do for you?

Maziar: Well, my brother actually had a talk about had this WordCamp Greece, I think, just specifically about this. And numbers and statistics showed us that it was a positive effect movement for our business. Our sales weren't affected. And we were actually gaining more exposure and traction from outside the search results in theme for us or the top seller charts where we are there. But our items is being talked about outside. We can talk to influencer, we can talk to well-known community figures.

Jonathan: It opens new opportunities. Yeah.

Maziar: Yeah. So it was definitely worth it.

The history of Growmatik and how they are growing (28:21)

Jonathan: So with Growmatik specifically, so you built a SaaS, how long ago did it launch? What's the history of Growmatik?

Maziar: So we have been working heavily on it for the past two years. It was in beta for about like six, seven months. And then we got out of the beta and we have been developing new features for it, and new round of integrations from time to time with different plugins, with different platforms, and trying to collect as much feedback as possible from users to improve it over time.

Jonathan: Good. So it's a couple of years. One of the things I love about WordPress and the WooCommerce ecosystem, which is also part of what makes it channel is, it's decentralized nature. You have different places that you can go to.

Maziar: Right.

Jonathan: Have you guys done anything in the WooCommerce marketplace?

Maziar: The official marketplace, no. It's difficult to end up there actually.

Jonathan: Okay.

Jonathan: But how have approached that challenge because so basically a lot of the go-to-market stuff in this ecosystem, you have to do yourself if you want to grow something outside. So how have you thought about that? How have you approached this? You have a product, you're confident that you're solving a problem, you've done some early validation, how do you grow?

Maziar: We were known for WordPress themes. And that also helped us in the product design and ideation and execution and everything.

Jonathan: You had a reputation. You had something to start with.

Maziar: Yeah, that was the reputation. And also we were lucky to connect to very loyal users that are running agencies that built on Jupiter X actually and inviting them to use the product entirely for free just so they let us know about what they think because that opinion really matters, especially in the beginning. And wanted to see if this product is actually solving the problems, their needs with regards to marketing automation. And that was one important way.

The second thing that we actually made use of was our connections to WordPress community members, like I said, and we also had interviews, personal one-on-one interviews. These were all done during the pre-release stages for validation.

But after the release, we haven't excel at any paid advertisement up to this point because we don't think it's time for it. We have just tried to reflect the feedback that we receive from customers and try to improve the product over time. And at the same time doing some content marketing to fill the gap between the marketing, sorry, WordPress people and marketing automation because to some of them, it's not anything, it doesn't mean anything that you have to define the need or remind them how they need it and how such a thing can benefit them. That's what we did with the content quantum marketing, the active blog called GrowthMania in our website Growmatik website.

So these were basically our strategies for the beginning of the way, and also the growth hacking techniques like how you can make your product available for as many people as possible with minimum resources. Like I said, we didn't want to invest money into Google ads or Facebook ads and such, but we want to it to see how we can trigger this interest for our own Jupiter X community and also outside that by defining custom pricing, by defining referral programs and such. So these are actually a summary of our marketing strategy such at this point.

Anna: Did you also list it on Product Hunt?

Maziar: Yeah, we actually launched the product in Product Hunt last year.

Entering the global market (32:56)

Anna: Nice. And does it matter that you were based in Eastern Europe? This is an important question for me since I'm also based in Eastern Europe. So if you want to go to a global market from this point, is it somehow spec or different? Did it help you somehow?

Maziar: So our company is co-located in Istanbul and Hamburg. So we have been lucky to make use of the community the great to developer community in both countries, but in different areas based on the capabilities. But since we have been always targeting our customers within a global scope, even with a marketplace in ThemeForest, we didn't have so like a demographic or a geo focus.

Jonathan: Yeah, you're already global.

Maziar: From the beginning. Yeah, we were actually always trying to be global.

Where to start building with no existing platform (33:56)

Jonathan: So in your case, starting the SaaS in the WordPress ecosystem, you had a significant advantage, which was an existing platform that you could tap into with Jupiter X in the community that you'd built there. What guidance would you have to offer? So if someone is starting out and they don't have that, they have the capabilities. So maybe it's a theme, they have the design, development capabilities, they can build a SaaS service, and and they're confident that they can solve a problem in the ecosystem, but they don't have the platform and existing momentum there. What guidance would you offer? Where should they focus their energy?

Maziar: Well, I think that depends on what they want to build. Honestly, if someone asks me, I want to build the WordPress theme right now, I would answer them way different than I want to build a plugin for drop shipping for WooCommerce, or a checkout optimization plug in for WooCommerce, something like that because theme space is very cluttered and saturated, and the future's changing. There has been new names and new standards like Elementor that actually changed the themes thing and the page builders think forever together with Gutenberg, of course. So you have to make sure if you're building something new in that area, you have that in mind, these two names in mind. And also the competition is too high.

But about plugins, I think that's the best time. I was reading a blog today about the searches related to WordPress and WooCommerce that has happened this year in 2021, and how it has spiked compared to even the preview year because of the pandemic. Honestly, pandemic has affected everything. And there has been many people who shifted to remote working, starting their own business from home. These are small businesses and they are looking for solutions.

So if you can join this race to grab some part of that market by solving a problem or two from those people in e-commerce space, I would definitely suggest that. It's not that I don't suggest anyone to enter theme business because we are there, but based on the experience, competition is higher and there's a lot more factors we have to take into account to minimize the unpredictable things.

Building something for WordPress or Woo with unlimited resources (36:21)

Anna: I have one more here. If you could do anything WordPress or WooCommerce relate, build anything, have limitless resources, what would you build next?

Maziar: We thought about that kind of question earlier this year, and we started new product, which is like an idea right now. And it's about WooCommerce websites, who are dealing with the challenge of default WooCommerce, features, the cart, the checkout, the ways that they can actually drive sales, collect leads and drive sales and retain and improve their sales and stuff like that. So we started this idea, we are working on that. So if I have that chance of getting a lot of resource, I definitely use that into this new product with WordPress.

Jonathan: So one of the things I think a lot about is like strategic partnerships. My hypothesis is that the way that you grow in this ecosystem is through partnerships. Right?

Maziar: Right.

Jonathan: Like if you don't have a platform yet, you find someone who does, you figure out a way to solve a problem for them. And in the absence of central marketplaces, I think it becomes more important than ever. What's your experience been on that front? Has partnerships with other providers in the space been something that you've used? How do you think about partnerships?

Maziar: Absolutely. Especially if you don't want to not want to go with the paid advertising and paid marketing, which I don't think is the smartest move, especially for the startup, you definitely need to consider this kind of growth hacking techniques. The referral programs, affiliate programs, and partnership are definitely useful at this stage to give you exponential growth. And we also consider this in both Jupiter X and Growmatik, especially Growmatik because Growmatik is about marketing and it needs to. It inevitably needs to connect to other platforms.

So when you are connecting, you're making yourself integrable with other tools, you are actually giving a chance to the users of that tool to come and use yours as well as and vice versa. So that's why along the way, we have introduced integration with different tools and plug-ins inside workspace and outside. For example, I don't know, Mailchimp Intercom, HubSpot, they all have their own loyal user that they might want to give you a try and they see your compatible with them. So yeah, it's definitely something to consider, especially for products in the startup stage.

Concerns in the ecosystem for the future (39:10)

Jonathan: Excellent. When you think about the future, you have changes in WordPress with full site editing and WooCommerce is growing at a rapid pace. I think there's a lot to be excited about in general in the ecosystem. Is there anything that you're you feel concerned about as a product company? You're building this space, you have a lot of momentum, you look at the future, anything concerning to you?

Maziar: That is a good question. One thing is that lack of human resources, especially in these times when there's a very high demand for developer force. Designer's the same way, but there are many software companies and many software startups emerging and they all are looking for talent.

So the talent pool can be really limited based on where you are. And you have to get yourself used to remote working or distributed themes. So distributed themes, if you ask me after a decade of working as a distributor theme because we have always been at least 70% distributed. Once we had like 10 people, 12 people in Istanbul office, five people here in Homburg office, but after pandemic, it's done almost zero. It's just my brother, me and Bob, maybe sometime... Well, some of us in Istanbul, some of us in Homburg, but everyone else... We are like about 20 people theme right now, more than that, working remotely from different countries. So this has been both rewarding and not rewarding in some different ways.

So finding the talent pool in the Corona times because the demand is so high is one challenge. Controlling your theme, especially in my area, maybe not in development, but in my area in marketing, I really prefer in-house themes. That is almost impossible right now. That is also another challenge, the time zone problems or many other like other challenges related to managing the theme or the projects, especially when you're dealing with different products. We are working on three, four products right now. So this growth and these two challenges that I said are, yeah, are one our concerns.

Advice to new Woo product builders (41:35)

Jonathan: Last question from me. So when you think about the WooCommerce space broadly. We have a lot of builders who listen, who are building plug-ins extensions, who are maybe doing service businesses. If you take the sum of your experience and the lessons that you've learned over the years, are there any pieces of guidance that stand out for someone who is maybe new to the WooCommerce space and getting in and they recognize opportunities, but maybe not sure where to start, what general guidance would you offer for folks who are new?

Maziar: Folks who are new to this space? I would suggest focus on the needs of this very day. And like I said, go for something that people need right now. It's independent businesses without the need to spend a lot of budget and money the beginning of the way, making affordable solutions for them to start and thrive their businesses without the need for many tools. And I'm sure that's going to prove rewarding over time.

Jonathan: Excellent. I really appreciate all of that. If folks want to learn more about you, where can they go? What's a good way to get hold of you.

Maziar: So I'm on Twitter. I think the only favorite social media channel is Twitter, at least in our community. And my handle is @antialiasfactry. It's a little, maybe complicated. Oh, yes. Comes from my icon design background, which is part of my past. So yeah, it's antialiasfactry. And I will be happy to connect with any of your audience and share great things if possible.

Anna: I have one more here. So what's the story behind the pin picture that you have on your Twitter account?

Maziar: The pin picture is me and my sister.

Anna: And?

Maziar: So we were in WordCamp Europe 2018 and Serbia if I'm not wrong, and was one great night in the after party. Great time.

Jonathan: Yes. Yes. That was a good one. That was a good time. I remember that.

Maziar: Yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan: Excellent. Well, thank you so much. I want to give a special thanks to our pod friends, Mindsize, which does some fantastic WooCommerce work and FooSales, which has built some great WooCommerce, product. So Maziar, thank you so much for joining us and look forward to connecting again.

Maziar: Absolutely guys, that was a pleasure talking in this session and hope to see you guys with great new episodes and future and wish you guys all the best.