334 – Building a platform: helping developers commercialise their projects

Interview with Vova Feldman and Nathan Wrigley.

On the podcast today we have Vova Feldman, the founder of Freemius.

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Vova is an entrepreneur with a passion for software development. He was introduced to WordPress by accident. While working as a software developer in the Israeli intelligence and doing startups on the side, Vova created a SaaS product as a hobby.

People started requesting a WordPress plugin for his product, which sparked his curiosity about the platform. Vova delved into WordPress and created his first plugin, realising the potential of turning his side project into an eCommerce solution.

With the help of two others, it took them a year to commercialise the product and they realised the challenges of turning a development project into a successful business.

This led them to refocus their efforts on building a platform to help developers easily commercialise their own passion projects. This marked the beginning of Freemius, a platform that simplifies the process of bringing products to market.

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The conversation is varied, covering two quite different subjects, podcasting (Vova’s new podcast) and Freemius.

We get into the world of podcasts and discuss the value they can bring to listeners and the ability to store and revisit content. We touch upon the potential need for a visual element in certain topics such as YouTube videos, but make it clear that WP Builds will remain an audio-only podcast, I’ve no real interesting in making video content really.

Vova shares his journey as an entrepreneur, from his early passions to his experience as a software developer in Israeli intelligence. He talks about how his side project evolved into Freemius, a SaaS solution designed to help developers commercialise their WordPress products quickly.

Vova’s discusses the growth of the Freemius platform, the mistakes made, and the constant learning and feedback loop. He emphasises the reward of sharing and educating through content, which led to the creation of the podcast plugin.fm. His aim is to provide value to software product makers beyond WordPress, featuring conversations with product people who share their unique experiences and actionable tips for success.

The interview also delves into concerns about the long-term future of Freemius and the reassurance that they plan to continue the product for the foreseeable future. Additionally, Vova teases an exciting new project related to WordPress. I’ve no idea what it is!

The episode covers various aspects of Vova’s background and his belief in the value of computer science knowledge in designing software architecture. We touch upon the automation and pre-configuration in marketing processes within the WordPress ecosystem, highlighting its impact on conversion rates and subscription churn.

This episode offers insights into the world of podcasts, entrepreneurship, and the growth of Freemius.

TLDR; This podcast covers:

  • The versatility and benefits of podcasts.
  • Vova’s background in entrepreneurship and software development.
  • The evolution of Freemius as a platform for developers.
  • The benefits of Freemius for developers using self-hosted solutions.
  • Vova’s passion and enthusiasm for their work.
  • The name and purpose of the podcast, “plugin.fm”.
  • Vova’s commitment to sharing knowledge and helping other software developers.
  • The growth and future of Vova’s team and product.
  • Affiliate relationships with WordPress products and an exciting new project.
  • Vova’s background in tech and WordPress.
  • The value of computer science knowledge in software development.
  • Automation and marketing processes in the WordPress ecosystem.
  • The impact of automated interactions on conversion rates and subscription churn.
  • Vova’s happiness and motivation in his job, and the constant flow of ideas and suggestions..

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:21] Nathan Wrigley: Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. You've reached episode number 334 entitled building a platform, helping developers commercialize their projects. It was published on Thursday, the 13th of July. 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few moments by our guest today. But first of all, a few bits of housekeeping, if you're into what WP Builds, produced, head over to our subscribe page, WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. There, you can find all of the different places that you could potentially share the links.

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And if you fancy joining us for that feel free. It's at 2:00 PM UK time, every Monday. And the URL for those WP Builds.com forward slash live. We're joined by a host of guests from all over the world and typically a host of commenters from all over the world. So if you fancy joining in that, it really is genuinely quite a lot of fun. 2:00 PM UK time, like I said, WP Builds.com. Forward slash live.

The last thing to mention is our deals page. It's a bit like black Friday, but every single day of the year WP Builds.com forward slash deals.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting. That includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases, you can find out more, head to go.me forward slash WP Builds. Once more, go.me forward slash WP Builds and true sincere thanks to GoDaddy Pro for helping us keep the lights on.

And the WP Builds podcast. Okay. What have we got for you this week? Well, we've got volva Feldman. He's the founder of free MIS we talk about his journey, how he got into WordPress development. It's a curious, curious thing that developed out of his. Experience in the military and working with computer science, we talk about what freemiums is all about, how it's a platform, which is trying to make it easier for people to sell their WordPress products that might be themes, or it might be blocks, or it might be plugins. But we also talk about a new project that he's got, which is a podcast it's called a plugin.fm.

And we talk about what he's doing there and why he's launched it. I hope. You enjoy the podcast.

I am joined on the podcast today by Vova Feldman. How are you doing?

[00:03:15] Vova Feldman: I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:03:17] Nathan Wrigley: I have a feeling I just butchered your name. I'm really sorry about that. If I did.

[00:03:22] Vova Feldman: No worries. That was fine. Yeah.

[00:03:24] Nathan Wrigley: Tell us how you actually.

[00:03:25] Vova Feldman: I didn't notice.

[00:03:26] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, good. Okay, perfect. In that case, we will just carry right on. You have no doubt if you are a WordPress podcaster, if you are a WordPress implementer, if you are using plugins or themes, whatever your strain of WordPress may be, you have.

Definitely come across the products that we're gonna be talking about today. We're gonna split this podcast up into various different sections. We're gonna talk about an exciting new project that v's. Got on the go. It's all a podcast, a WordPress podcast. Would you believe? We'll talk about that towards the end, but before that, I'm gonna just drop the name Freemius and I know that you'll have heard of that.

Yeah. Boom. There we go. I know that you'll have heard of that because. You've definitely downloaded products, you've probably downloaded themes. You may have an affiliate relationship with the products over there. And that's where we're gonna begin our first little bit of the podcast. But before we do that, Vova, I wonder if you wouldn't mind just giving us a little bit of background.

Tell us your history with tech or your history with WordPress. Wherever you wanna begin, however far you wanna go back, just tell us who you are and how the heck you are connected with WordPress.

[00:04:30] Vova Feldman: Oh wow, you're taking me back. I always had a passion for entrepreneurship since I was a kid. But I'm not going to share that whole entire history because it'll take some time. I fell in love in programming when I was a kid. I graduated computer science and math. I was in the Israeli intelligence as a.

Software developer and already started to do startups during the military time. I was not part of the war ecosystem. We're talking about, I don't know, 2007, eight, something like that. And back then I was working on other things but I had this side thing that I was doing just for fun, a little widget.

It was a SaaS product like a JavaScript that people can embed to their website and use it to get something. And then I was very busy running my startup. I was living back then in Cambridge, next to Boston, and people started to request, sending me emails. Hey, Vova. It would be really cool if you add a plugin to WordPress because we don't know how to take JavaScript and edit to WordPress.

And I was ignoring those requests because I was busy. That was just like a hobby site thing. But after I got a few dozens of those, I, asked myself let's check what is WordPress? And this is how I got first time exposed to what WordPress is. I created my first plugin by taking another plugin and adjusting it to my needs, the beauty of open source and kept running it on the side.

And then in mid 2013 my previous company was acquired. I left the company slightly before and I was thinking what I'm gonna do next, and I decided to take that side project and turn it into a commercial solution. It took me about, I. A year to do that. It was me and another two guys. And what was really interesting to find after that year is that the product itself didn't change.

It remained the same thing that I built as a hobby in a few weekends of my spare time, but it took us, me and two more guys a whole year to commercialize it. So that was our aha moment, that something doesn't make sense because for developers it's relatively easy to build a product, but when you wanna turn it into a business, like there are so many more things that you need to deal with living the whole, legal stuff, but you still need to integrate with payment gateways and you need to handle licensing and updates and email marketing and like gazillion things that you need to deal with that usually.

10 times more complex and time consuming than building the product itself. So that was the moment that we realized. It's interesting, there are many developers out there, right? Maybe instead of working on that product, we can basically refocus and build a platform to help others like ourselves to commercialize and work on their passion projects on their side, hobbies.

But instead of wasting a. A year of their life getting to the market, they can do that in a matter of minutes. And that was the premise in the beginning of Primus. And over the years it evolved and, we're doing much more this days, but this is my backstory of, WordPress Freemius and what I'm doing today.

[00:08:29] Nathan Wrigley: Perfect. That's great. Can I just rewind a little bit, actually right to the beginning of your bio there? Not right to the beginning when you were three, a little bit after that, you mentioned that you did a computer science Course college degree or whatever it may have been. So this university, so this is really off piece, but I wanna ask it anyway.

And the reason I'm asking is cuz I have children who are that age. I want to know what the utility was of that course on the other end. In other words, if you could replay your life. Was there enough in that university course to make it worthwhile or would you skip that whole thing and just jump in with both feet as an entrepreneur?

So in other words, did it teach you the skills that you needed or was it just a nice thing to do for three years that kind of, I don't know. Got you. Some social connections or something like that?

[00:09:19] Vova Feldman: It's a great question and something that I've been thinking about, many times in my life and I think there's, I. Like theoretically, you can learn things yourself, right? There is Google today there's internet shared G pt, whatever. But in 95% of the day-to-day work, you don't need those extra kind of high level, abstract computer science knowledge.

Yeah, but the 5%, that's what makes a big difference in terms of how to design software like architecture, understanding things that just by playing with WordPress or other web platforms like you really don't get to that. Like understanding, for example, you take a course on. Building a compiler to understand how a programming compiler works, how databases are working, algorithms, data structures.

So all those things are, first of all, super interesting. You use them pretty rarely in day to day in most, I'm talking about our ecosystem. Okay? Use them very rarely. But I would say that what will differentiate between someone who is a programmer versus someone who is leading the engineering in the company, you need that edge.

So that's the difference. So it was definitely valuable. I wouldn't say, all of that. Like many things, I didn't use them because you learn different directions. But I also, like my, I started my masters also in the same university. In ai it was many years ago, and the algorithms were different.

But it was super interesting, to understand what AI means, how machine learning works, and like all this super interesting stuff that you usually don't really get exposed to on a day-to-day work. Yeah, definitely it worth it.

[00:11:19] Nathan Wrigley: It's curious because a lot of people who I speak to have come into the WordPress. Ecosystem because they've just more or less stumbled across web design. There's a lot of freelancers, a lot of people who've got agencies and they're building websites for people. They might have a WordPress product, and they're self-taught, and that seems to be a significant proportion of the community.

They were casting around for something to do. They did some qualification at college or university, or none at all, and figured out that they could. Begin to work with websites, have a business there, and obviously the whole mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing. So it does seem that we have this huge huge constituency of people who don't have that university background.

And yeah, the reason I was asking that question, a, because there's family members who are going through that. Thought process at the moment, will it be worth it on the outside once I've finished it, or will it be better for me to just get three years or four years of work under my belt?

But also just the fact that there's so many people in our community who just stumbled across it and have made valuable careers. So yeah, that's a really interesting insight.

[00:12:29] Vova Feldman: You you can definitely build a great career for that, but there's a reason why you know so many, if you read through like the Stack Overflow annual surveys, why WordPress have such a bad name,

[00:12:44] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah.

[00:12:45] Vova Feldman: WordPress, many parts of that was built by. Non self-taught non-professional developers. And there are many flaws and, problems in the design of the WordPress code, which the entire commu community have to keep caring, and because of all that back work compatibility and I mean it works.

And the beauty of WordPress, we all know it's the community, it's not the platform. But yeah, it's clear every professional developer that would look on how WordPress is coded. It's all great

you know?

[00:13:22] Nathan Wrigley: If, um, If you wouldn't mind I did say at the beginning that most people would've heard of Freemius and the various different things that are attached to that. But if you wouldn't mind, there's bound to be somebody who will email me and say at the beginning, I didn't, I have no idea what Freemius is. So would you just give us the quick elevator pitch?

I know that you ran through the reasons why you built it, but just tell us exactly what it is. What does it do? What is its current status? Who are the people that you are having as customers, clients?

[00:13:52] Vova Feldman: Yep. So Primus is an e-commerce platform for selling software. Basically, we provide the entire commercial infrastructure so people who are building software can use to sell meaning we take care of payments, subscriptions. Managing users licenses, software updates, and higher things like marketing automation, affiliate platform, like the entire commercial stack from bottom to top so you as the developer can focus on building the features of your product, can focus on serving your customers and marketing.

[00:14:37] Nathan Wrigley: I guess your biggest rival in the WordPress space? First of all, let's clear this bit up. Y your rival isn't really the WordPress repo because all of that stuff is free. And I'm guessing in most cases you are dealing with clients who are selling on a product where there's a fee attached to it, a subscription or something like that.

But I guess one of your biggest rivals commercially would be something like, E d would that be about, have I hit the ballpark about right there?

[00:15:03] Vova Feldman: Yeah, we are targeting the same audience in the WebPress ecosystem. For people who are selling e D offers not only, not only for plugins in developers, it's just for selling digital goods. In fact, most of their users are selling eBooks and audio files and things like that, and only very small percentage are those plugin and thin developers.

But still, definitely, this is one of the solutions in our competitive landscape.

[00:15:35] Nathan Wrigley: So what is the difference? I know that like two minutes ago you just went through a laundry list of different things that you do. If I was, if I had a plugin and I'm staring at a screen with e d and I'm hovering over the buy now button and I've got on another screen, I've got Freemius open, what's the thing, which is you are hoping will drag my mouse over to the Freemius side.

And get me to explore over there. How do you separate yourselves? What features is it that you bring that perhaps they don't?

[00:16:03] Vova Feldman: Yeah. So from a developer perspective who wanna sell their products, the primary difference is that Premus is a sa. Meaning it's a hosted solution. You don't need to maintain it, you don't need to install it on your WordPress, all of that versus E D, that it's, you basically get the software and everything else is up to you.

In addition, Freemius acts as a merchant of record, meaning we are handling seamlessly for the developers the whole. Part of global sales taxes, fraud disputes, different regulations, privacy related stuff. So it's not only the technological burden, but also regulatory and tax related stuff that we're taking away from the developer.

[00:17:00] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, you handle all that. So the tax side of things. Oh, that's interesting. I didn't know that. Anyway. Sorry I interrupted. Carry on.

[00:17:06] Vova Feldman: No, no problem from a user perspective. I believe that we offer a better experience because we help connecting between users and developers in a better way that allows them to have a feedback loop, which eventually help users because the developers can better understand who are their users, how they use their products, and what environments.

And ensure that they produce a better quality solution that is more specific to their user needs. In addition, we also if you are purchasing or using multiple products at running Freemius, you get a dashboard, like an account area or a user dashboard where you can see all of your products that using Premus, even though.

They are sold through different developers, so you can manage your entire licenses, websites, subscriptions, everything in one place under one login, which simplifies the whole maintenance and remembering, 20 different passwords and all of that.

[00:18:23] Nathan Wrigley: So are you speaking from the let's say I'm somebody and I'm in the market to buy a whole bunch of plugins. I'm not a developer, I'm a purchaser of plugins. I'm implementing websites. The principle there is I could have one username and one password, and all of the products that I buy from your customers.

Which I am in effect their customer, I would be able to log into Freemius and I'd be able to see plugin X, plugin y, theme X, theme y. That's all in the one interface. So I just need to remember one username, one password, and I can see all of the billing details and all of that in there. Okay.

[00:18:59] Vova Feldman: Exactly.

[00:19:00] Nathan Wrigley: And that I presume, that's the principle behind that is less friction.

You've just got one thing to log into, less to worry about, less to

[00:19:08] Vova Feldman: Yeah. And it's, everything is unified. And we also offer much more flexibility in terms of the payment stuff. So you can very easily switch between payment methods, upgrade, downgrade, buy more licenses all of that management. We build it in a march more flexible and advanced way, so you as a user have more control of your licenses, websites, and payments.

[00:19:37] Nathan Wrigley: And I guess I've gotta shift the focus now. So I imagine I'm a developer now, and I'm using Freemius to sell a product. Have I got the typical laundry list of payment solutions, PayPal, Stripe, square? I don't know. You can tell me what the list are, but how do, how does the payment side of things work?

Do I give you a percentage or do I pay a fee to be part of the platform? How does the payment system all work?

[00:20:04] Vova Feldman: So the our business model is revenue share. So we are partnering with the developers that we choose to work with, and we are, as we're the merchant of records, it goes through our payment gateways and once a month we distribute the earnings directly to the developer. Financially, thinking about that, The developers who sell with Primus only have one customer, which is Primus, and we are de facto reselling their licenses to the, to their kind of end buyers.

So that's the fin financial structure, which simplifies a lot of accounting related headaches because you need to deal with one invoice per month instead of. Many of those, which may be not a biggie in some countries, but in Europe or in other places, it's a big thing.

[00:20:57] Nathan Wrigley: So it's it fails a little bit. Like the I'm gonna say it, the Apple model where, apple have that ecosystem. They've got the app store on iOS and they've got the Mac App store, and I've just got one login for that. It's my Apple login. Everything's there. If I buy a New Mac, I can just, Log in and download all of the bits and pieces I want.

And so it's a bit like that you take a cut of the price of the product. And is there some sort of variation in that, if there's a particularly successful product that comes your way, do you have a tiered like pricing structure? You don't have to go into the specifics, but, or is it just a blanket fee?

We take a percentage of every sale that you have.

[00:21:35] Vova Feldman: Yeah, w we do have a few tiers, but once you cross the $5,000 in sales through Primus our cut is 7%.

[00:21:47] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. Got it. That makes sense. And how has this gone down? Obviously it's successful. You are here, you've been doing it for years. Wow, congratulations. That really is a long time. How has it been received over these eight years? My, my estimation is that the people that are using it would be, they've come to you, they've done their research.

They're happy with it. But I can also see that the, how to describe it, that the fact that everything is being corralled into. One point of failure one ecosystem. Imagine the argument against the Mac App store as opposed to the Android Google Play Store where you can side load things and all of that kind of stuff.

Do you have people knocking on your door saying, hang on a minute, this is against the philosophy. Of free open source software. We've got this one growing ecosystem where everything is bound to wouldn't it be better if it was all decentralized? You understand the question?

I'm not really wording it very well, but I'm getting that. You get my message there.

[00:22:49] Vova Feldman: Yeah. I think you know, the difference between an app store and Freemius is that we don't lock you in any way, and you have full transparency to all the data customers, everything. So if for some reason you are unhappy and you wanna, transition to another solution, no one is locking you, it's really up to you.

So that one thing in the end of the day what happening with the workers ecosystem and others is that developers who've been using self-hosted solutions like WooCommerce or E D. Eventually, maybe in the beginning it's easy, I just wanna process payments and that's it. So it works.

But as you grow, you have additional needs and the e-commerce part becoming more sophisticated, and you are finding yourself eventually spending a lot of time on maintenance of the platform. And that's not your business. Your business is the plugin, is the theme. And I'm not even talking about the whole, fiasco of the sales taxes and European VT and the Brexit, which brought the UK V a t and Economic Nexus.

And every country right now want to get something from you. So there's a lot of operational headache that involved just if you wanna sell. A product in addition to the technical side of things. So developers are getting to a maturity level that they understand that they're, they could allocate those resources into the core of what they're doing.

Plus, we already have a lot of evidence of developers that transitions from other platform. And after our 7% cut, All of them are making more than 7% because we have all these mechanisms in place, and it all works together as one cohesive solution that not only that, they get rid of that additional operational and technical burden, they also make more money.

So that's what they want in the end. I'm not saying that Freemius is a solution that it's meant for everyone because some people really want to have like full control of everything. And unlike when you know you have something that is open source, you have the entire code sitting on your website and you can manipulate it the way you want.

You can really do that with a platform, right? With a SaaS solution. With a SaaS solution. Like we are the one that need to configure and decide what would be editable, configurable and what not. Sorry,

[00:25:39] Nathan Wrigley: sorry,

[00:25:39] Vova Feldman: carry on.

No, that's fine.

[00:25:42] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. If I go to the Mac app store, they do a fairly good job of kind of promoting products at me. I open it up and it has presumably some heuristic, some metrics of the kind of things that I've been interested in the past. And I just wondered, do you get into that kind of thing?

In other words, do you have a public facing marketplace where I could go and you can list off all of the different things. If you're looking for a. This kind of plugin, a form plugin. Here's a bunch of things that we've got. If you've got, I dunno, an SEO plugin, here's a bunch of offerings, do you do that?

And if you do, let's talk about that. But if not, you did say the word marketing earlier, and I'm guessing that there's marketing, there's a marketing suite built into Freemius that your customers can utilize. So first of all, do you have a public facing marketplace?

[00:26:34] Vova Feldman: Do you have the previous hidden roadmap?

[00:26:38] Nathan Wrigley: No, but, okay. Have I just, yay an intelligent question at last.

[00:26:43] Vova Feldman: question. Yeah. Not yet I would say, but it's definitely on the plans.

[00:26:49] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Because you feel like I. On the Mac, it's there, right? You just click a button, you go to one single place, and all of the different things can be exposed. But also I feel if I was a, if I was a developer and I was giving you my 7% cut or whatever it may be, there's something quite nice about knowing that.

Freemius in this case has got your back. They're gonna go out of their way to not only sell it and provide the mechanisms for figuring out all the tax and all that, but also promote it, make it so that people can surface it more easily. I don't know, maybe even get into blogging about it or who knows, creating podcasts about it.

We'll get to that later. But yeah just that idea. Okay. Maybe that's a roadmap

[00:27:32] Vova Feldman: The answer is, yeah it's on the plans.

[00:27:35] Nathan Wrigley: Nice. That is nice. Okay. And so the other question then, which is slightly related, but somewhat tangential is about marketing. If I'm a developer and I use your ecosystem, you mentioned that there are things that I can do inside of Freemius to, I don't know, send out emails.

What are you doing on that?

[00:27:52] Vova Feldman: Yeah, so there is a lot of things that. Are automatically handled for you, not related to marketing automation. Many of them are already pre-configured. You don't even need to know about them. They're just happening and helping you make more money. And others with some tweaks you can utilize them and most of them are related to emails.

So there are like the basic stuff. When credit card is about to expire, we'll automatically send an email. For the person to tell them, Hey, update a credit card number so the subscription will remain active. If a license, if a subscription was canceled and the license is about to expire, then will send a sequence of emails trying to encourage the person to get back on the.

Subscription, maybe with some dis discount depending on the configuration of the coupons. They're like exited intent coupons that you can very easily configure. So if someone is trying to abandon your checkout, then they will get this little popup that says, Hey, before you leave, take a five, 10% discount that is valued for the next hour.

And a lot of those kind of. Micro interactions with the user that all of them combined. We have I don't know, maybe 40, 50 different emails that are being sent with all these micro kind of tweaks, and that makes a difference. It increases conversion rate and it reduces the churn of the subscriptions, which in the end helps you maximize the financial potential of your existing users and customers.

[00:29:33] Nathan Wrigley: If you were to rewind and go back eight years to when you began the product and you were staring at the eight year younger, you staring at the eight year older, you now. How are you feeling about where it's gone, over the last eight years? Has it exceeded your expectations?

Has it been a pain in the neck to keep going? You could take this question in any which way you like. There's bound to be bits that you think, oh, that was great. And there's bound to be bits. You think, oh no, we did that and we really should have done it another way. Just give us a bit of a window into the last eight years and maybe you can end on.

How the platform is at the moment in terms of, are you happy with the numbers of people that are passing through your system each year, month,

[00:30:15] Vova Feldman: Naan you have really great questions, I must say. No, it's an interesting one. I'm not sure if I actually had the time to, do that. Retrospect.

[00:30:27] Nathan Wrigley: You got eight years.

[00:30:29] Vova Feldman: yeah, so I'm excited about Freemius, Eight years in and I'm waking up every day and I'm passionate to keep working on

[00:30:42] Nathan Wrigley: That's a good sign.

[00:30:44] Vova Feldman: I, I really enjoy it. I feel that we're making difference in people's lives and the platform is getting better. I am evolving as entrepreneur. The team is growing. We have, I enjoy working with great people. The quality of people in the team has improved and that's a big thing. Whether I would change things I mean for sure, there are like mistakes on the way.

Things that maybe we rushed a little and we could do slower or things that we've done too slow and should been done quicker. Maybe some marketing mistakes. But in the end of the day, like I'm trying to do my best here and learning on the fly, always trying to keep my ears, eyes, everything open, and have that kind of constant like listening mentality, being that infinite student.

I don't know if you heard that

[00:31:46] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. That's nice. I like that. Yeah.

[00:31:47] Vova Feldman: Yeah. Because in the end, I'm not like what we're doing. We're enjoying the ride and everything and very passionate about the problem. And I'm helping other people like me, other software developers, so like our audience, our Vva, and I'm really trying to help them share what we've learned along the way.

And as we growing. The company, the team size and all of that, we're going through additional lessons that we can share with our communities. So it's a meta cycle where whatever we're learning on the fly, including the product, right? I told you, we build Primus because we build it to ourselves and learn many things.

So we're in this constant loop of growth and sharing the growth with our partners. So it's very rewarding, I would say, and motivating to move forward. Yeah.

[00:32:43] Nathan Wrigley: the the growth thing, I guess is always important. You mentioned that you've got a team now, and you don't have to gimme the numbers, that's fine, but your team is basically growing. I think the one thing in the back of my head, if I was a, I'm not, but if I had a WordPress plugin, say the one thing in the back of my head when I'm coming and I'm browsing, okay, do I go with Freemius?

Is that the platform that I wanna stake my plugins future on? I think the one thing in my head is, Are they gonna be here? In five years time and have they got my back? Those, those kind of questions. And although you may be able to trot out an answer I honestly want you to answer that as honestly as possible.

I Are you in this for the long haul Vva? Do you see yourself in five years, six years, eight years doing this? Exact same product. The reason that I ask is because, let's take e d as an example. If you rewind the clock a few years, we all know who built that. And we all know who that was. And then the landscaping WordPress kind of got a bit everything started to be bought by other companies.

And and I think for some people, the foundations of trust started to. Be a bit shaky, I dunno, who owns this product anymore? Is it owned via a company? Is it owned by an individual? And are they in the back pocket of a venture capital company? I don't really know where it is, so just put our minds at rest about that if you can.

[00:34:13] Vova Feldman: Yeah you don't see my face here, but I'm having this big smile because this question, I was asked about it when we just started. I was asked about it a year, in two years, in,

[00:34:26] Nathan Wrigley: Every year. Every year.


[00:34:27] Vova Feldman: and, And apparently eight years is still not enough, it's hard to say something is forever because there's nothing like that.

But I'm super passionate about this problem, motivated, excited, whatever you wanna call that. And I think that, you mentioned running with the same product. I think that unlike maybe a plugin. Which also depends what plugin, like the e-commerce space keep evolving all the time. So like we're eight years in and our to-dos list is just growing.

It's never shrinking. So there is always so many things to do and we can expand. We have tons of stuff before we expand, but there are so many places where we can expand to. So I'm not seeing myself getting bored. There are so many things that we can work on, and the beauty of working on something like Primus is that we work with product people, so they always, come up with additional ideas, additional, requests.

So we are in the stage that we don't really need to think about anything. We do need to prioritize, operate the company, decide what it's, what we wanna focus or not. But in terms of a flow of suggestions, ideas, capabilities, all of that, it's like endless.

[00:36:08] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Oh, that's lovely. What a nice answer. Really en enjoy listening to those kind of answers. I'm all about the word press community, and so I, I like to hear. When people are committed to whatever it is that they're doing. Listen, I think after 35 minutes talking about Freemius, I think maybe it's time to move on to something slightly different.

One of the, one of the reasons that we got on this call was because you are you're like everybody else. You don't just do one thing. You've got many quivers in your. I don't even know what that expression is, but you are. You are into doing multiple things at the same time and you've got a new podcast and you've got the best, you've got the best URL for what this is.

So you've got a new, you've got a new project, it's a podcast, but you've managed to snag the U R L plugin fm Nice

[00:36:54] Vova Feldman: you, You'll be surprised, but we paid for at $10. It was just a valuable.

[00:36:59] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Occasionally there's something lying around out there, which is still valuable. What's going on here? Why your launch yet another podcast? Does it in any way connect with what you're doing with your other bits and pieces, or is this just an utters standalone thing?

Sell us plugin fm.

[00:37:20] Vova Feldman: Yeah. So the, it's plugin fm, by the way, the name just work with WordPress, but the thinking behind it is we're trying with this podcast to get beyond WordPress and just, provide value to. Any software product makers out there. And the thinking was that yes, it will res resonate to workers, people that know what plugin is, but it's also coming from plug into the show.

And if you look on the logo, you will see this little plug an audio plug. So that was the thinking behind it. We had a bunch of names, when we're thinking about it. And in the end we didn't like any of them. I just said, let's check if that's available and boom, $10.



So yeah it definitely, connects directly with MIUs at Primus, me personally and the team, we strongly believe in, content and sharing and educating, like I said, what we're learning, what we're seeing, what we're observing outside of the workforce ecosystem.

And we, we have very strong written content. We have very strong video content and we wanted to get into podcasting for a while. But I personally, I. I don't feel that I'm a good host. I don't know. I never try to, but it's not something that I wanted to do, and it took us quite some time to find the right person.

That will be good fit because you need someone that not only like we are looking for someone that not only experience in podcasting, but also understand the e-commerce space. Understand software. Products have, experience in marketing and business. So finding that sweet spot took us a lot of time, but I'm happy we did it.

And it, it goes directly with, the educational content we produce. We are exposed and I'm exposed to a lot of interesting, discussions and conversations that are happening out there, whether it's, in world camps. Or masterminds that I'm part of, or other places.

So I know many product people that gone through very interesting experiences and have unique kind of stories that help them to succeed in something and they can share actionable tips. So instead of only me learning about this stuff and then, writing about it in some blog it makes a lot of sense to bring them the smart people, those experts with the, that unique experience and kind of unlock that knowledge for the public,

[00:40:21] Nathan Wrigley: You One of the,

[00:40:22] Vova Feldman: others can enjoy

[00:40:23] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. One of the greatest things about the podcast Medium, I think, is that you really can be doing. Almost anything else at the time that you are listening to it. Obviously the only thing you can't be doing is probably listening to another podcast that's probably out of bounds.

You can be sitting on a train, you can be sitting doing some work at a computer. You could be, who knows? You could be out in the. Garden, doing a bit gardening, whatever it may be, and it has this capacity to deliver content and you may not be able to action it right away, but there's a little bit of your brain, which when you hear that piece of content, that little snippet of something useful, you lock it away and you think, okay, that was about 12 minutes into that podcast.

I'm gonna come back to that. And I get that all the time. With the content that I consume. I listen to absolutely dozens of podcasts and I do that all the time this to me seems like a, it's the perfect platform. Having said that, are you gonna be sticking to audio only because, talking to people about, I don't know, coding or what have you there's obviously a visual element to that as

[00:41:30] Vova Feldman: We we don't talk about coding by the way. We talk about business, marketing product around that area.

[00:41:37] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. Yeah. So audio only,

[00:41:39] Vova Feldman: no, we're on YouTube. We are on, we are both audio video. There's no reason for us not to share it. We have very active YouTube channel and. We invested a lot of, resources into good production.

We have in-house video editor. So yeah, you can definitely watch that. And our goal, you said you can do many things during podcasts. You're right. Our goal is that you won't be able to do that, but you will actually be so anxious to sit down and write notes where you are listening. So the goal is to really provide you actionable, information that you can apply in your business today, not tomorrow, but right now.

[00:42:26] Nathan Wrigley: It's

[00:42:26] Vova Feldman: The primary goal.

[00:42:27] Nathan Wrigley: it's very fresh. You're still just a few episodes in. How many of you managed to pub, not record, but how many of you managed to publish so far? Are we into we're in single digits still, right?

[00:42:37] Vova Feldman: I think we're at the fourth. We published the fourth yesterday sorry. On Tuesday. And we already recorded like the we decided to do it like season based following, like advice that we got from, other experienced podcasters. So we'll have some time to reflect, learn, improve.

But we already recorded most of the season, which I think will have 11 or 12 episodes. We are very. Picky of the people we invite. And we are also doing a lot of research like we are coming. It's not a, played by the year freestyle kind of interview. And it's not about learning.

Who are the person and their background. That's part of it. But the primary thing is, it's topic based. So like the first episode was about mastermind groups. So we took that topic and really dive into that. Like, how do you start one, how do you join, what are the structures, experience, like tips, like really dive into that specific topic.

The second one was about. Leadership and team and culture that you bring into copays into the company. So really dive into certain topics in every episode. Then there is kind of story and narrative that we take the interview, the guest through that basically goes through their journey, but in the scope of that specific topic

[00:44:11] Nathan Wrigley: Um, it's really interesting that you've decided to launch a podcast. I'm obviously enormously bullish about. Podcast. I just think it's the best medium ever. It's certainly something that I've enjoyed. So yeah, I'm, I think that's great. And the fact that you are not winging it like I clearly do is all bravo hat tip to you.

I think putting out curated content that's well thought through, has some editorial, obviously a little bit of research on before you hit record and all of that is, is really admirable. You mentioned there, you're gonna do it in seasons, Is that anticipated? You're gonna finish those 11 and then take a break, regroup, rethink, and then do another season.

And do each of those seasons, are you intending them to have an overall umbrella subject?

[00:44:56] Vova Feldman: I don't know. Right now there's no umbrella subject. It's just, maybe I guess the format, maybe the length, like no, like maybe, I don't know. We're learning

[00:45:12] Nathan Wrigley: some feedback? Yeah. Get some feedback.

[00:45:14] Vova Feldman: Get feedback. Also it's also easier to kind of line up the guests and do the shooting like in a, in a month instead of spreading it across like many months, soop, operation wise, it also makes sense to you know about that in, in seasons.

[00:45:34] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's interesting. I've gone down all sorts of different ways of trying to crack that knot, and I never quite manage it. I either get like 19 episodes recorded in a week, or I have three months where nobody puts anything in the calendar, so it's completely random. So we can find that at plugin.

Fm, like we said the recording date of this podcast was the 22nd of June, 2023, so I have no doubt that by the time this goes out there will be significantly more episodes. The URL for Freemius is freemius.com.

[00:46:08] Vova Feldman: Yep, exactly.

[00:46:10] Nathan Wrigley: go and check out freemius.com as well. And VVA if they wanna, if people listening to this podcast just wanna hit you up directly, ask you some questions about Freemius or the podcast, where do we find you?

[00:46:24] Vova Feldman: So I'm on Twitter like everyone else, and at Vva Feldman exactly as my name. You can also, contact our support. I'm there. Contact freemius.com. If you wanna find me, it's pretty

[00:46:42] Nathan Wrigley: It's

[00:46:43] Vova Feldman: pretty active on social. My dms are open all over. I'm on all the slacks that you can imagine and it's always the same name, so no problem to find

[00:46:53] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's nice when you've got a name. I've never come across another vva before, so just typing into something like Slack, V O V A is, I suspect more or less guaranteed to find you, which is handy.

[00:47:06] Vova Feldman: It's pretty surprising because Vva is a short version of Vladimir.

[00:47:14] Nathan Wrigley: Ah, of which

[00:47:15] Vova Feldman: Every Soviet name has a short version, like Alexander is Sasha, and Vladimir is Vva. So Putin, I have the same name. Not that I wanna, correlate

[00:47:29] Nathan Wrigley: We're not getting into that. We're not getting

[00:47:30] Vova Feldman: Yeah, exactly. But it is pretty surprising to see that in the warfare ecosystem.

I also don't know any of us out there, but it's like one of the most like common Soviet names.

[00:47:44] Nathan Wrigley: That's interesting. Yeah. Honestly, it's been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today. It's been a real back and

[00:47:49] Vova Feldman: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.

[00:47:51] Nathan Wrigley: Thanks for coming on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

[00:47:54] Vova Feldman: Thank you so much, Nathan.

[00:47:56] Nathan Wrigley: Well, I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Fascinating talking to Vova all about his journey through WordPress freemiums and now his new podcast. If you enjoyed that or perhaps not. Leave us a comment head over to WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 334. And, you know, leave us a comment. There seems these days that everybody wants to share everything over on social media.

But with WordPress, we've got this fine commenting system. So I really, really appreciate it when people leave comments there. So that would be lovely. The other thing to mention is we will obviously be back next Thursday. We've got a podcast. Every single Thursday. You can subscribe to that by going to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. And we'll notify you via email, but also don't forget. We've got the show on Monday, this week in WordPress, join an international panel plus international commenters. As we talk about the WordPress news from the last week.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting. That includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with the hub by GoDaddy pro to unlock more benefits, to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases, you can find out more by going to go.me forward slash WP Builds. And we do sincerely think go to GoDaddy their support of the WP Builds podcast.

As I said, we'll be back next week. It'll be a chat with David Wamsley and myself. Between now. And then I hope that you have a lovely week. I hope that you manage to stay safe. I'm going to fade in as I always do some cheesy music and say, bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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