We talked to Marius Vetrici, founder of WPRiders, about WordPress support and solutions for startups, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marius Vetrici: If you are like most families with kids these days, your daily routines have probably been affected quite a bit by COVID-19. This has also been true about our family because our kids switched from going to school to online teaching, and that brought up a lot of cascade changes, schedule, and habit adjustments for the whole family. But we were fortunate to be avoided by the virus itself up until now, so we are grateful.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded WPRiders.
Marius Vetrici: I remember I wanted to work in software since I was a 10-year-old kid. Coming from a family with academic background, I went ahead and studied a lot to become very good at this craft. That was the way my family taught me, and I followed it diligently by getting an MSc in Software Project Management and a Ph.D. in how to Estimate the Duration of Software Projects. At the same time, I had a passion for building new things and entrepreneurship, and therefore, when I was 22, I established my first software company, which I ran for 10 years.
My second and current company, WPRiders, was founded in 2015 to provide ongoing WordPress development and support for small to medium businesses in the growth stage and need a dependable technical team by their side.
How does WPRiders innovate?
Marius Vetrici: We don’t innovate as much as I’d like to, but here are a couple of things that we do to make leaps forward:
- We run weekly Sharing is Caring (we call them Shkering) meetings where we share what we’ve tried and learned or read during the last week.
- We are currently running a WPRiders Contributor of the Year contest with nice prizes 🏆 where our colleagues are encouraged to learn new things and share them with the team.
- We have small individual initiatives supported by our company where one of our team members sets on building a new thing and where he/she will be a partner in that venture alongside our company. Further to such an initiative, we have just launched Self-service Dashboard for WooCommerce Subscriptions, a simple self-service interface integrated with WooCommerce Subscriptions that allows customers of a subscription shop to manage their subscriptions by themselves.
- We have evaluated more than 15 potential new business ideas during the last year by interviewing potential customers and trying to understand their Job to be done.
- I’m planning to personally set aside 1 day/week starting with Q2/2021 to spend time researching new ideas and products, checking what’s already there, and talking to prospective customers to understand their needs.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Marius Vetrici: At the beginning of 2019, we prepared for the worst by drafting 3 different scenarios with income thresholds that would trigger this or that scenario. Luckily, none of the scenarios has been triggered.
WPRiders was one of those fortunate businesses that have benefited from the increase in online services usage. Many new online businesses have been set up, and our profitability and revenue have grown compared to 2019. We have signed up more clients than ever on our WordPress retainer plans, and we are now a 14-people international team spread across 8 countries.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Marius Vetrici: Some of the most difficult choices when it comes to our colleagues I had to make when I realized that our Customer Success Managers – CSMs were not technical enough for the kinds of projects we had. We needed CSMs with technical backgrounds, ideally former coders, to continue to deliver a 5-star experience for our customers. The replacement was long and painful but eventually got to that point, and things have improved ever since.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Marius Vetrici: In 2020, I realized how important it is to network with our existing clients. Therefore, I’m regularly inviting a few clients per month to one-on-one meetings, where we talk about their business, what they can do about Covid-19, and books that we read. We use Active Campaign for CRM, Calendly/Doodle for scheduling, and Google Workspace in terms of tools.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Marius Vetrici: Yes, we did. Back in 2015, I got EU funding from our local government, which allowed me to hire a team, to set aside the money worth of 3 months of salaries and taxes; and to buy them the latest Mac Books so they can feel good while working and be very effective. During Covid-19, our government offered grants to those impacted by covid-19, but (luckily) we didn’t qualify for that.
Your final thoughts?
Marius Vetrici: Here are two major things that helped us grow as a company:
- Reading books regularly. And here, I can recommend the last 3 that caught my attention: High Output Management – a book on management and systems; Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning, so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It – a book on the positioning; Principles: Life and Work – a book on life principles and productive decision-making.
- Getting mentorship and getting involved in business mastermind groups to share and learn.
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