In this interview, we hear from Vishal Kothari from Tyche Softwares. They are the developers of the Booking & Appointment, Abandoned Cart Pro and Order Delivery Date Plugins for WooCommerce – the pro and the lite versions.
Below is the summary of the video discussion. If you have any questions or comments, please share in the comment section of this post.
My background is mainly in PHP development and I am a developer at heart. That’s what I typically try to focus on. However, my day-to-day duties also involve non-programming tasks like writing blog posts for our own blog and guest posts for other blogs, helping my team out with programming and support tickets as needed, and planning for the updates and release roadmap.
So that’s what a typical day looks like.
I worked for a services company until 2009, and then tried to build an ERP solution for the diamond and jewellery industry after that to build a modular framework like WordPress. But I noticed that we weren’t making as much progress as I had wanted. So in February 2012 I started Tyche. I started to look for plugins that might be in demand. Alongside that, I took on service projects so that there was some cash flow coming in. The first plugin I built was Order Delivery Date for WP eCommerce and started getting a few downloads.
Then I learned about WooCommerce from some friends and I developed a version of the plugin for WooCommerce, which got more traction from the get-go. I put the lite version on the WordPress repository, and added a pro version for $9.99.
I initially started selling the plugins on CodeCanyon, who put up the plugin for $13 and had a 50% fee. The problem I had with them was that they don’t share customer data, which put me off. That’s when I put it up on my own site for $9.99.
Today, we have 12 people including me – 2 content writers, 2 for testing and research, 3 doing tech support, and 4 doing development.
In the first month of selling plugins on my own store, we had about 10 sales, which I was very happy with. It was almost a dream come true that I go to sleep at night and wake up to a sale. It was in June 2012 that sales started picking up which got me more interested.
I saw some plugins in the WooCommerce ideas board and picked those which people were up-voting but not getting too much attention. I hired someone in October who used to come to my house to work since I only had 2 computers at the time. What I would do is look at the WooCommerce ideas board for plugins getting up-voted, and check on Elance if someone needed the same plugin.
Someone needed the booking solution for WooCommerce so the development was funded from the client project, and then I released the plugin on my store. I took a similar process for the Abandoned Cart plugin.
The lite versions are a key factor for sales of the pro versions. One thing I regret is not focusing on marketing too much until 2015. There was a point before that when one of the customers asked me whether our site was a scam. That hurt me a bit, but was a clear sign that I needed to do something about it. We hired a marketing partner from Bulgaria who created the brand properties that we have today.
Another big part was investing in Google search optimization – which gives us a lot of traffic. Recently, we’ve started doing social marketing and also focusing on content marketing through blog posts.
The free plugins have about 16,000+ active installs. On the pro side, they’ve been purchased for about 3,000+ active sites.
Keeping updates aligned with WooCommerce release dates can be a challenge. For example, when the WooCommerce release dates get postponed or shifted, we have to rollback changes and get prepared for the release cycle again.
And equally time-consuming are the support tickets that we get especially when customers find a bug.
Try to solve a real problem. There are a number of ways to find out what people want and are asking for. Don’t be afraid to take on a plugin that may someday be developed within the WooCommerce core.
The second is to maintain the code quality. Get code reviews done by third-party developers to make sure you’re following the right things.
Lastly, try to be social and do some marketing so that people know who you are.
Focus on abandoned carts because that’s a huge untapped revenue. Secondly, do spend time focusing on your blog writing about your own products and about your industry.
The market for eCommerce is growing and getting complex. So perhaps one thing in the future would be plugins that are specifically for a niche market.
The goal was never to have lots of plugins, but have a few plugins that we do really well. In 2017, we’re trying to improve the user interface for our plugins to gain some competitive advantage. We are also looking to do a booking solution for WordPress. In addition, expanding the abandoned cart plugin to other platforms as well.
For all the plugin developers, do put some time and money towards marketing as that’ll help accelerate your growth.
What did you think of the interview? Were there questions you wanted to ask that weren’t in the interview? Tell us and ask further questions in the comments below.