ManageWP is at it again, with another influencer AMA. This week featured Jason Cohen, CTO and Founder of WP Engine and creator of A Smart Bear blog. Cohen has more than eight years of experience in the world of WordPress and has great industry insight to share.
Many questions revolved around how to create and grow a business, including how to ask for money and the best city to start your company in.
Here are five takeaways.
At The End Of The Day, The Customer Needs To Come First.
WP Engine has grown to more than 300 employees and has offices in San Francisco, San Antonio, London and its headquarters in Austin. However, none of it would have worked without the support of the customer. Cohen made it clear that everything about a business comes second to the customer. If you have a great business model but aren’t communicating with your customers, you won’t have anyone buying your product.
When it comes to addressing problems, always be honest. If a customer sees that you are aware of the problem and working to solve it, they will trust that it will get solved. Remember that you are building relationships.
Raising Money Isn’t Easy, But You Gotta Do It.
Raising money and speaking with investors is part of growing a small business, even though it can be nerve wracking. Cohen talked about how investors are looking for big, successful companies that will start to bring in $100 million a year after eight or nine years.
In the WordPress world, there aren’t many companies that are going to make that much, but Cohen says you shouldn’t be discouraged. The key is not worrying so much about how much you can make, but create something you are passionate about and believe in. Cohen said if you don’t get funded right away, tweak your business plan. Make a product that uses WordPress as a component instead of revolves around it. That way you can expand into other platforms.
An Idea For A Company Should Come Naturally.
A great and successful business idea is one that comes from insight. Look at something you are passionate about and figure out how you can solve a problem within it, and build your company around that.
Find a customer base you care about and want to help, and a product you care about. Cohen also said it is important to never stop thinking like a startup. According to Cohen, “The day we stop innovating like a startup is the day we start dying, so my new few startups are projects at WP Engine.”
WordCamps Are Like A Reunion.
As someone who has attended his share of WordCamps all over the world, it’s no surprise he was asked the difference between European Camps and US Camps. Cohen’s answer was simple, WordPress is still a newer idea in Europe so the vibe is very exciting. Though it can feel more novel in Europe, the US WordCamps act like a big reunion where all the people you talk to online are gathered in one place.
Austin Is The Best City.
Cohen could have started WP Engine in any city, but he chose Austin because it is where he was born and raised. It has always had a strong draw to him outside of the cool music, food, and culture. Who wouldn’t want to live in Austin?
If you enjoyed this AMA, don’t forget to tune in next week for a talk with CTO and Chief Strategist at Crowd Favorite, Chris Lema. ManageWP intends to make this a weekly event with the biggest names in WordPress!