In today’s episode, Joe talks to Artur Grabowski of Extendify – a team of passionate professionals with the goal of building a modern WordPress experience that just works. It has a templates library and other great WordPress products such as Editor Plus, Redux, Gutenberg Forms, ACF Blocks, MetaSlider, Block Slider, and GutenbergHub.com.

Artur shares the technical and business aspects of Extendify, how the beta stage is aimed at introducing customers to block-based editing, the mission to help SMB’s on a limited budget, and extending Gutenberg exposure to potential users.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:27 Welcome to the pod, Artur!
  • 04:28 More on business operations but technical-leaning from day to day
  • 09:29 Extendify is for SMBs with mission critical website’s on a limited budget
  • 14:53 Similar business solutions can lead to different outcomes based on execution
  • 20:01 Gutenberg as a tool
  • 24:49 The funding structure for Extendify
  • 31:36 The mentality of growth at any cost
  • 37:04 There’s always a core WordPress experience in betas before paid version is launched
  • 44:02 Figure out how users can see the value in your product
  • 46:28 Find Artur online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here. So a few announcements before we get started with today’s episode, number one, the WP MRR community. So you may have seen on Twitter, but we have launched a online community built on circle for WP M R R a. You can go to community dot WP, mrr.com. Uh, if you are a business owner, an agency, a freelancer, a WordPress professional, and you want to tackle your subscription.

Business or the subscription revenue part of your business. You want to make it better. We’re doing that together in the community. It’s kind of like the podcast here, except you actually get to be a part of Adrian. Just have to listen to me. Talk your ear off every week. So come join us. It’s going to be a good time.

Community.WPMRR.com. Number two, the WP MRR virtual summit. So we are throwing our second virtual summit this year. It’s going to be bigger. It’s going to be better. It’s going to be more Mr. R tastic this year. So that is coming up September 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Oh, we’ve got three days of great content for you this year, as opposed to two last year, we’re still doing day one sales, marketing content that kind of work.

Uh, day two is going to be more operations focused ops systems, hiring team management, all of that jazz. We’re adding a day three this year, which is specifically geared towards website, man. That’s going to be really cool, damn, really excited for that day. It’s sort of something, a little different something.

I don’t think you’ll get at any other online conference a day completely dedicated to website management. So how do you get signed up? We are live streaming the entire event through the. Uh, on circle. So, uh, you can, again, just go ahead and go to community dot WP, mrr.com and get signed up. Get logged in, earn some, some cool badges there in the community.

And you’ll already be automatically signed up to attend the summit later this year. Cool. Number three, we are accepting sponsorships for the summit this year. We didn’t do it last year. We did it a self fully self-funded last year, but we wanted again, do things bigger and better this year. So we are accepting sponsorships for.

This year. So if you or your business is interested in sponsoring, the demand has been like way higher than I thought it was going to be like they’re selling very fast. So I’m truly not just saying this to like, create some like fake scarcity thing. It’s like, no, like they’re selling pretty quickly. So by the time.

This podcast episode comes out. It will be about a week after recording. So it’ll be even tougher to get a sponsorship. So if you’re interested in doing a legacy of sustainability growth sponsorship, just go to the sponsors page on the websites have been an application. You can also message me directly in the WP MRR community.

If you want to chat about it directly again, that it is community dot WP. Dot com okay. Enough for the announcements. Let’s get into today’s episode today. I got to sit down and chat with art tour, Grabowski. Our and I have known each other for a little while in the WordPress space. I have been pretty familiar with the work his company is doing, but it was really cool to be able to sit down with him and.

Pick his brain artists are really smart guy and he’s really thoughtful and everything he has to say. And he’s very nuanced in his perspective. And he’s just one of those people who, when he’s talking, you just like intrinsically trust that he knows exactly what he’s talking about, because that’s just how he comes off.

So it was interesting hearing about how he is growing extend defy he’s has him and his co-founder have raised funding for the company. They have. Dreams. They want to go big with this company. That’s going to be their goal. They’re solving an enormous challenge for everybody in the WordPress space that you’ll hear about in the podcast episode, but excited to see where extended  goes in the future.

They’re in beta right now, but. I think they’re going to come out of the, out of the blocks running on this one, so, okay. That was an extended intro. So without further ado, let’s get into today’s podcast episode. Enjoy

WP MRR. WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP boasts manages WordPress websites, 24 7 and powers digital growth for agencies, freelancers and WordPress professionals. Join our white label program. And by next week you could be offering a 24 7 a white label website, support to your clients and passively growing your monthly recurring revenue or become a WP buffs affiliate to earn 10% monthly payouts every month for the lifetime of every client.

And finally, if you’re looking to sell your WordPress business or website, check out the WP buffs acquisition unit, learn more about all3@wpbuffs.com. All right. We are live on the podcast this week with Arthur Grabowski. Arthur, am I saying your name? Right? I get that. All right.

Artur Grabowski: [00:05:22] Yeah, no, that’s right. That’s what it’s, it’s originally attitude. I’m originally from Poland, but Arthur just makes it easier for everyone. So, so Arthur, Arthur is good.

Joe Howard: [00:05:32] Arthur our tour. Cool. Well, thanks for making sure I got the pronunciation, right. And happy to have you on the podcast. I know you in that, some of the stuff you do in WordPress, but tell folks who are listing a little bit about all this other stuff you do clearly.

You’re a big WordPress fan and can see your t-shirt, your WordPress WordPress guy.

Artur Grabowski: [00:05:52] Read it out just for you. I did. Uh, yeah, so I’m Arthur. I mean, my quick background is. In the grand scheme of things, I’m relatively new to WordPress, I think relative to, I mean yourself and some of your listeners, I imagine, um, my background, I started way back on the software development side, and then most recently the past few.

Kind of adventures I’ve been on in the business world have been at Adobe in San Francisco. So I was at Adobe for a few years as Adobe was going through the transition for the creative cloud from box licensed software to subscriptions. And so got to support that team in various ways, including some acquisitions and investments in and around the creative tools, such as VR.

Uh, 3d texturing, those kinds of things. Uh, it helped, uh, Adobe set up their, um, early stage fund for design, which is a very early stage seed fund for investing in, in, in companies. Um, and from Adobe, uh, when my wife and I, we moved from San Francisco to Cleveland, uh, And when our, when our first kid was born, I joined automatic.

And so I was that automatic for a bit, um, automatic working on a variety of things, but it was really my first deep dive into WordPress, uh, which was amazing and got to spend a lot of time with those brilliant folks there, uh, with Matt and that, uh, and the kind of crew there across wordpress.com and Wu and Jetpack and, and VIP and all those offerings, which is awesome.

Um, and there, it was. Kind of a variety of things focused on growing, uh, automatic, whether that was some acquisitions in and around the WordPress space, some acquisitions investments outside of WordPress, like tumbler, um, some other kind of like strategy and operations work and those kind of, uh, first real deep dive for me in WordPress space.

And it’s also where I met Chris. Love Kurt, uh, my brilliant co-founder and what we’re working on now, which is exciting. And so we, we left automatic a little bit ago now and have been, uh, working on extended fire, which is, um, and we’re really bringing a modern, uh, kind of digital experience, uh, interface to WordPress for largely targeted SMBs who want kind of a, uh, a very modern, almost like Wix or Shopify.

Onboarding site creation, product discovery, experience in WordPress, um, and, and really bring bringing that to open source. So we’ve been working on that for a little bit now, and we’re, we’re super excited, uh, there, so we can dive into that some more. But anyway, let’s kind of the quick version of my background.

Joe Howard: [00:08:23] Yeah. Cool. I love the stuff you have going over it at extended fire. I’m on the site now. It’s like, there’s this challenge. I feel like most people in WordPress understand this. But is a great way to build a site, but the onboarding is pretty tough for new people like to get a site up and like rock and roll is hard.

You’re just like attacking that problem straight on. So I definitely want to get into extend defy stuff here in this episode. I also do want to hop a little bit more into your background because I’ve talked with you a little bit, kind of before we recorded this podcast. Not just like the minutes before, but we’ve known each other for a little while.

Now you struck me as someone who is who’s technical, but I’m not sure if your background is more technical or if it’s more like the business side of things, maybe some marketing and acquisition stuff you mentioned, maybe, maybe think like maybe you’re a little bit more into that side of the business.

Artur Grabowski: [00:09:13] Totally. Yeah. So I started out really early on. I mean, it was a family of developers. My first development gig was in a kind of, uh, R and D setting. A company that was making, um, capacitance measuring systems for like the military and stuff and working on the operating system there, it was like in assembly, like really old school stuff, really not sexy software development, uh, and then did a little bit of front end development for a very traditional sort of Silicon valley startup.

Um, but then made a hard pivot into the business world. And so I’ve been doing a lot of business stuff for a long time, whether that’s acquisitions and investments or, uh, kind of growth and operations. And so. No. The, the majority of my career at this point has been on, uh, on the business side, but I lean on the technical part of it daily, whether we’re in, you know, at work where in a get hub and we’re talking about some product development or, uh, you know, just kind of like keeping up with the latest of what’s going on in WordPress.

I lean on that side, even though I don’t. Any code. Right. And the closest I really get to writing code. And I was, you know, some, some, uh, if statements in, in a Google sheet that’s, that’s about it. So, um, yeah, super valuable even though I don’t don’t don’t, you know, actually get in the code base anymore.

Joe Howard: [00:10:25] Yeah. I guess you find that your technical background and summary of technical experience help you to now manage a technical product from a business perspective. I don’t, I’m not super technical, like, um, probably even levels of technical. Unlike levels lower than you in a technical capacity. And sometimes I do wish I had a little bit more of a technical note, just so I could know, like how hard something’s going to be, or like how long something’s going to take.

I, I kind of rely on my team to tell me that stuff a lot of the time, but it would be helpful if I think, I think it would be helpful if I had more of an idea of that kind of information. So I could, I could, from a business standpoint, like make better bets on things. Yeah.

Artur Grabowski: [00:11:08] Yeah, no, I get that. And I’ll tell you that, like, there’s a, there’s a downside in that. I think it’s easy to get overconfident in, in technical knowledge, like for myself. And, um, and, and, and I think our team. Has w w w we have a healthy environment of challenging each other. And, and, you know, we’ll just say like, Hey, like Arthur, that that’s not how it is. It’s like that doesn’t work, or this is going to take longer or whatever.

So I think really what it comes down to for me for me is I try to, even though I’m sure I, I crossed this line all the time. I try to not make recommendations as much as lean on my technical knowledge to ask better questions. That I, um, you know, just try to understand, like, what are the problems, what are, what are our options?

And, uh, yeah, but it’s easy. It’s easy to like, Over be over-confident in, in something like that. And, uh, especially, you know, some of the technologies that we’re using for the stuff we’re building, I’ve never worked with. So I didn’t even know what the limitations of them are. I’m kind of, you know, leaning on like general frameworks.

And I mean, the reality is I’m, I’m guessing you actually, I mean, you you’re you’re I think you’re being humble. I think the reality is like, you ha you have. That context as well. And that’s probably as far as you need to go, like, I don’t, you know, if, if I get too in the weeds, I think it’s just a distraction for, for the team.

Joe Howard: [00:12:29] That day flee maybe true. I know of a lot of technical founders who are like too involved in things and they almost know they almost know like too much. It’s like there sometimes I feel, I felt like in my experience, it’s been somewhat of an advantage, not knowing some of this stuff because I have to ask other people I have to lean and other people or.

Not be as involved. So in some ways, maybe a disadvantage, but also in some ways advantage, like, like everything in business, you know, I think he understand everything is pretty contextual, so, yeah. Cool. And now you’re working on extend defy. So let’s talk about extended five, because I mentioned earlier when we were talking like, yeah, like onboarding for WordPress is.

Challenging. It’s a challenge area. I think for WordPress in general, a lot of people go to these competitors. They go to Wix, they go to Squarespace. They go to, um, Shopify, because cause you can like whip something up really quick. Right. And it sounds right. It’s uh, uh, that is probably a space where those companies have an advantage over automatic over the WordPress ecosystem.

Um, you’re trying to shift that a little bit. You’re trying to make, you’re trying to bring some. Experience from some of those other places into WordPress. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. You can correct me if you feel like my wording. Isn’t totally right here, but I think that’s. That’s a big like mountain to climb.

And so I want to hear a little bit more about, uh, extended , which is in beta right now and, and pushing into, I guess, quite a bit at some point. So yeah, just tell me a little bit more about stuff going on extended.

Artur Grabowski: [00:14:10] Yeah, totally. I mean, we. No. The reality is I don’t think anything that I can say here about what we’re doing is going to be like a light bulb, light bulb moment for anyone.

Um, we didn’t have some epiphany that WordPress long-timers were, were pres experts. Uh, haven’t already had, so this isn’t, this isn’t a case of where like, you know, aha, like this is, this is going to be a completely, uh, new idea that we’re pursuing. I think it comes down to the fact that WordPress is this amazing, uh, tool.

And it serves, you know, whatever, all those like wild stats about are about the, you know, the, the percentage of websites that it powers, et cetera. Um, and, and, and is such a strength that is also inherently a limitation where WordPress, because it is built for everyone. It’s not really built for it. And that is sort of the, it has to be that way, because if you’re both powering, you know, like my cooking blog and you’re powering Facebook’s marketing pages and everything in between you’re, um, you, you you’re, you’re going to have to be a generalist.

WordPress is going to have to be a generalist and cater to all those use cases. And that means that, um, Individuals who have a simpler use case, potentially a blogger as especially as a more casual blogger, it can be well-served someone who has a huge budget for custom development, et cetera, um, can do really well with, uh, you know, leveraging all the expertise that exist in the WordPress ecosystem to build a truly bespoke digital experience for them.

There’s this kind of middle ground of largely SMB. For whom their website is mission critical, but they don’t have that endless budget to build a completely custom experience for whom WordPress remains a challenge. I mean, a lot of these users sign up for WordPress. They think they’re getting wicks and instead they get WP admin and.

Again, that’s not, I think news to anyone that’s listening to this podcast, but it continues to happen. And I think one of the most telling data points comes from hosts in the WordPress ecosystem. And we keep close with those folks and they’re such an important kind of cornerstone to WordPress being successful.

And when you talk with hosts and you asked them about market dynamics and competitors, It’s quite rare for them to bring up other WordPress hosts as primary competitors. Really? They talk about users turning to Wix, Shopify Squarespace. Kind of the usual suspects. And as a result, their retention rates tend to be quite low.

Whereas user acquisition costs are pretty high for hosted as it is kind of whether it’s advertising or content or whatever. It’s pretty expensive to acquire user. And a lot of those users that do churn over to those other platforms. Do tend to be pretty valuable users in terms of the investment they’re willing to make in their website.

And at the end of the day, that investment, whether it is the hosting, they’re buying the plugins, they buy the themes. They, they, they buy. All of that is money that if it was staying in WordPress would make, because all better off would grow. The pie would make open source stronger, would invest more resources back into these products.

So the products can evolve, but instead, a lot of those dollars end up churning to, to these other platforms. And one of the just shocking stats is. In WordPress, the largest product developer. So let’s ignore hosts for a second, but the largest product developers in the WordPress space. It often gets stuck in this, in this kind of like revenue ceiling of, of a few million dollars.

And it’s quite rare for, for WordPress product developer to, to exceed that amount. Whereas in Shopify, you have product developers, plugin developers generating well over a hundred million dollars revenue, and that makes it really challenging for those WordPress developers to then hire enough. Product folks, support folks, et cetera, to build these really world-class experiences for their users that make it just easy and delightful and, and super effective to build that experience purely on WordPress.

And that’s anyway, that’s a long, long way of saying that we think that, especially in the SMB part of the WordPress ecosystem, there’s, there’s a lot of room for improvement and, and that’s really where we’re are.

Joe Howard: [00:18:54] Yeah. Yeah. I buy all of that. Uh, I think it’s an interesting space to be in. Um, there are probably a lot of companies in this space trying to tackle.

This problem other than extend defy. I don’t know if you’ve done some, any, like, I don’t know if you’re like into competitor analysis or like checking out what other companies doing, or if you’re more focused on just like, Hey, let’s stay on our road, but, um, how, how are you extended by like differentiating yourselves against the other companies in your space?

And I ask because I’m, I’m usually thinking about, you know, I want to be WP buffs to be unique. I want WP MRR to be a unique community. I want it to be a place where people can go that you can’t just. Run somewhere else to get the same experience. Are there things that you’re thinking about Azure and beta, uh, to make the experience at extend defy, uh, unique, uh, above and beyond maybe the experience folks get can get at other similar companies?

Artur Grabowski: [00:19:53] Yeah, like I said, at the beginning, we haven’t, we’re not the only ones are first ones to, to, to kind of see this, this, this challenge that users or users are facing. And we’re not the first ones to try to tackle it. I would say. I mean kind of ch two comments at, uh, at the highest level one is, um, I do believe that broadly in business a lot does come down to execution and that two similar solutions can, can lead to very different business outcomes based on execution.

So, so, um, even, even if there were other products out there, like we think that we have. Just a really strong team and we’re and, and a strong vision. And we’re, uh, just very focused on prioritizing what is, what is most important. And we’re, we’re able to execute against that and we can be successful even if other folks are attempting to accomplish the same thing that said, one of the core tenants of what we’ve set out to do is to build something very closely, tied to Gutenberg.

Uh, we’ve been strong believers. That Gutenberg is the future from while before we left automatic, that was, that was a core premise of, of us setting out to work on extended by is that Gutenberg is the future. Folks are starting to experiment with it, but most of these are kind of experiments, you know, some block libraries, et cetera.

They’re they’re, um, you know, people are testing, what are the limits of Gutenberg, but, but they’re still relatively limited and unlike some other. Products out there that, that try to help users get onboarded and build a really effective digital presence, et cetera. By building ours completely on Gutenberg.

We are doing a few things. We are one, we’re not introducing a new experience for users, so you don’t have to learn a new editor, a new whatever to work with. Extended five, we’re really extending, hence the name we extending the core experience of WordPress to, to certain use cases where, where we’re press is falling short today.

That also means we are. Getting the benefit of all the performance benefits of Gutenberg. So there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of this that, uh, sort of bounces around Twitter and whatever, but in these various comparisons of Gutenberg to whatever other solution, whether in WordPress or outside of WordPress and Gutenberg is super fast and we value that and we want to leverage Gutenberg to, to, to its fullest.

Now we also, um, we also appreciate that Gutenberg is still early. I kind of, I haven’t talked about products going through this continuum of it starts as a technology kind of through R and D. It starts as a technology, then it moves to be a product. And then eventually it becomes a solution that really solves people’s problems.

And people are really excited to invest. And Gutenberg has kind of made this journey from technology to product, but I think it’s still not a solution and there’s lots of investment going into it. It’s slowly trending that direction, but there remain many gaps and, and, and one of the ways we’re filling those is we’ve brought on a couple, just incredible products into the extended family.

Uh, those include editor. Plus an editor’s kit at risk. It was just an acquisition. We announced just a couple of weeks ago, and these are tools that really extended the core Gutenberg functionality with additional features to make it really both really easy to, to kind of move additional levers, have additional toggles for control over Gutenberg.

Um, More more power to users. So whether you are a power user and you want to have access to functionality, you don’t otherwise without writing code or just the kind of like the simpler functionality. You just want it to be accessible. Uh, with just a couple of mouse clicks either w either way at AirPlus emitters kit are really the tools for doing that.

And so we are, um, not only are we fully leveraging a Gutenberg, we’re trying to, to. To extend it a little bit as well. And, and the reality is we want to be on the forefront of what’s happening with Gutenberg, whether that is full site editing or global styles, or, or what have you. We want to bring all of that into extended files, so that as users, more and more users adopt, extend defy, we are also pushing people deeper into Gutenberg.

And so Gutenberg adoption has accelerated. And I think that is a win-win for just everyone in WordPress.

Joe Howard: [00:24:26] What do you think about Gutenberg the move from classic editor to Gutenberg? Like, are you, what’d you say, I guess my question is like, when you say Gutenberg is a future of WordPress, did you say that?

Because I used to work at automatic and like Madison at a hundred times, and we’ve decided that Gutenberg is the editor and like that. Yeah, like that’s the decision or do you actually truly enjoy the experience of Gutenberg? Is it obviously not perfect, but I mean, I totally agree with the speed thing, like performance it’s like it’s got accessibility, maybe it’s still lacking some stuff.

So what are your kind of overall thoughts about as someone who may be a little bit biased, having worked automatic, regardless of what are your just general thoughts on Gutenberg as a company that’s now. Tying themselves to the future of Gutenberg and that’s the future of WordPress.

Artur Grabowski: [00:25:11] So let’s like if we kind of like leave the Gutenberg branding to the side, although I think, I think, I mean, it’s some of that team’s actually trying to, I think, has been trying to distance themselves from brick anyway.

But if we think about it as the block editor, that’s what I’ll actually go back to my time at Adobe. So, so at Adobe. Um, and we had various website building tools. Um, some of the more recent ones fell into a category of products called, um, spark. There are these, um, Tools for super easily creating whether it’s social media posts or a really simple kind of a video presentation, or also a super simple landing page or website.

And as part of that process, I got to spend time with pretty much every kind of innovative new website building tool that’s out there, all the ones that you’ve heard of. And it became very clear to us. And this is circa 2016. Maybe it was very clear to us that block-based editing was the future. And this kind of brings me to this idea of sometimes like when people talk about technology is.

The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed. And people often applied that to, for example, self-driving cars like self-driving cars are here already, and there are people in parts of the world that won’t have access to them for 20 years. So for them that’s the future, but for other people, it’s the present.

And so the future is here already. It’s just not evenly distributed. And the reality is I think that block-based editing has been here for years. It just hasn’t been in WordPress. So for work. Folks, especially those who used the classic editor. It’s this new thing. Like we’re developing in the wild, this, this RND, like who knows if it’ll work, we know that it’ll work.

Like it works elsewhere like this, you know, the, um, I think there’s a, there’s a lot less unknown here about the end state than people than people realize. Now, even though the end state is known, that doesn’t mean that the journey there is super clear because we’re press is so big. A smooth transition for everyone.

You have to make it work with all these things, whether they’re plugins or themes or whatever. So, so the journey may not be clear, but the. The end point has kind of been known for a while, even if it hasn’t been known in the WordPress space. And so that’s why when I joined automatic and people were talking about the block editor, it was just the most obvious thing in the world.

Like, of course, of course that’s where we’re headed. Of course that’s going to be successful. And, um, it’s been true with the larger kind of wicks as in whatever, but also of all the small tools out there that maybe some folks haven’t heard of, but are just doing really cool things in the space. So yeah. I, I, I feel a lot of conviction behind this and that bias is pulled the slightly, uh, resulting from, from my time at all.

Joe Howard: [00:27:52] God damn. That was a good answer. I feel like I kind of threw a little bit of a curve ball there. I was like, oh, I, you just rock automatically. What do you think about before you think we’re good and broke and you’re just kind of nailed that one. So very nice. Uh, yeah. I can see so many advantages, especially as it’s continuing to evolve from just being a I’ll reference it as you have, as the block editor into what potential full site editing could look like.

That is the step that takes WordPress from. WP admin into more. Maybe it’s still some WP admin, but it’s really shifting more into a block-based full site editor, which is much more of the experience of some of the other competitors we were talking about, which would reduce some of that churn into other those other companies.

It would make WordPress and itself much more attractive, I think, to new users. Yeah. Lots of interesting stuff. I did have a quick question about, cause you’ve talked about a few things that in my mind, Like suggests the company, it suggests something financial about extended five, because you mentioned you have a team working on stuff.

You mentioned you have a, you’ve done an acquisition, I guess it kind of leads me to the question of like, what is the, what’s the funding structure behind extended, like personally financed by you? Have you raised any money for extend defy? Is it revenues, revenue, uh, you know, bootstrapped, is it revenue funded?

It’s just kind of very successfully and pretty quickly revenue funded through like a successful beta. What is the, what does that look like?

Artur Grabowski: [00:29:24] Yeah. Yeah. So, so the core product is in beta right now. We will, we will take it. We’re not following like the Gmail or Google maps route or having something in beta for, for 10 years.

Uh, we, we will, we will, um, We will take that out of beta. As soon here, we’ve gotten just awesome user engagement and, uh, we’re excited to, to, to kind of get, get the full tool in, in, in, in, in folks’ hands. Um, and so we did it, so, so, so Chris person, I, we did raise, uh, funding for extended . Um, we, um, we raised the funding last year and our.

Super excited about the folks that were, um, excited about the vision, the opportunity, and wanted to back us and, and really see the next kind of see what we’re doing. Push, push word, press forward. So we have lots sort of in that last week we have w we have several investors from both kind of the WordPress ecosystem.

And outside of the WordPress ecosystem, our, uh, lead investor is someone we’ve been super excited about, uh, um, a group called village global. And they are an investor in the traditional sense, but even more importantly, they’re a community of technology leaders who are, um, Now bring both capital, but just bring a level of expertise about, um, about growing a software business that, you know, you don’t, you don’t get elsewhere.

And so these are, these are kind of like well-known folks who’ve been successful in building software companies and, and that’s invaluable. Uh, and so, like I mentioned, we also have some, some folks from the, uh, WordPress ecosystem. Who’ve built some of the larger, if not the largest, uh, businesses in the WordPress world.

And. And we really view this as if we’re successful, then we’re going to push WordPress forward and everyone else is going to be successful. Whether you’re building a theme in WordPress, you’re building a plugin, you’re a host. You are a service company, either an agency or you’re helping people maintain their sites or whatever you’re doing.

If we are able to onboard and make more WordPress users successful, every single one of those stakeholders. Is going to have a healthier business, have more resources to invest back in their product, back in their services, back in their support and build a better, stronger, better, stronger ecosystem. And that’s why these folks are excited to invest in extended high is they see that they’re like, this is a tide that rises all ships.

This is such a universal experience for so many users. We knocked this out of the park. We’re we are bringing lots of folks over from the Wix is the Squarespaces et cetera. And it’s super valuable and, and that really is what has gotten people excited. And, um, and it’s great. I it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a kind of level of that sort of, uh, community of engagement of folks who, who wants us to succeed, who believe in the mission, and you can always have champions for your business.

You can always have people who, who are coaches or, uh, just like friends in the ecosystem. Who, who, who want to support you, et cetera. Uh, But then when people have actually invested a stake in what you’re doing, they really feel engaged. They really feel like they are part of the mission field. They feel like they’re part of what we’re doing.

And whether that means they will sort of pick up the phone, uh, whenever we need them, or sometimes it’s giving. No just really honest feedback. Even if that feedback is not what we were hoping to hear, uh, they feel really kind of committed to what we’re doing. They feel really bought into what we’re doing and that’s super valuable.

And, and the fact that we’ve been able to bring on some sort of, um, uh, kind of well-known personalities and, and folks who’ve been successful and I’m sort of intentionally not naming folks because we’re w we, I, I, you know, Uh, keep confidentiality, um, uh, folks, um, you know, respect their, their confidentiality.

But, but, but it, it, it is super valuable to us to, to have that kind of support.

Joe Howard: [00:33:42] I think it’s smart to raise funding both from people internal to WordPress and from people external to WordPress. I think it gives you probably a good mix of knowledge, of experience of background. Of people to lean on to drive the product forward.

People from the WordPress base who know the WordPress community works, who knows how to cool know how to grow WordPress in that grow a company in that space. Also people external to WordPress, who honestly like may not have some of the biases that some of the people in WordPress have. You know, it’s WordPress is a small community.

It may be big for some people, but in the grand Tex game, it’s a small open source community and the, at least the core, um, like community, community, folks, um, the books go to word camps to folks that could contribute to core that kind of people, folks like us. But, uh, yeah, people from outside may have different.

They have, may have different ideas. Uh, you know, how to scale a tech business, maybe regardless of some WordPress stuff. And that may be very helpful as well. Totally respect, not mentioning certain folks. No worries there. Um, that kind of leads me into my next question, which is, you know, I think a lot of people in WordPress community.

If they think about funded companies that could name a few off the top of their heads of companies that have been funded and grown to pretty substantial sizes. The one I usually have at the top of my head had his Elementor who, which is, you know, Pagebuilder that raised money and now, yeah, there’s arguably the leading page elder in the space.

I don’t know how arguable it is anymore. Maybe at this point it’s that they are the defacto page builder in terms of. How they would probably measure success, which is in market share in terms of number of users, um, what traditional metrics, um, it sounds like, cause you mentioned before, Hey, if we’re successful here to extend the fly, like we’ll have touch points with everybody in the WordPress space.

I mean, if you think to extend the five, five years. Into the future, maybe it’s three years in the future. Maybe it’s two years, you know, you’ve been successful with this. You’ve launched out a beta you’re successful. I mean, it does extend if I have a team of 500 folks working on it, um, are you running and managing a team or a product that has, you know, reached a significant scale and continuous.

Like grow. I, I just, um, I’m interested to hear if that’s, is that where you see the company in the future, is that where you want the company to be?

Artur Grabowski: [00:36:14] Yeah, I think the opportunity and the problem is significant enough that it’s certainly easy to justify growing a large team and really investing in this, you know, we are.

I think something that’s a little different between us and I think what you sometimes hear about with kind of traditional Silicon valley type venture backed startups, you know, none of us are in Silicon valley, um, is that. Mentality of growth at all at any cost. And, and, and some of those companies are, you know, tend to be on these trajectories where they run out of cash every few months, because they’re just constantly spending.

They have to raise more funding nonstop and, and there’s potentially not even the idea of generating. Yeah, they’re just like, let’s just get users, users, users, users, and that’s the most important thing. And then we’ll figure out revenue later and we think it’s important to grow sustainably. We think it’s important to grow with our users, um, and, and not get to the point where we’ve, um, yeah, builds such a big team that now we have to do things we don’t want to do from a product or business perspective just to support that team.

But yeah, I think the reality is that there is an opportunity for WordPress. Uh, businesses to get quite large. I mean, with a couple of exceptions, you know, the biggest these teams ever get are 20, 30 people. And, and, um, again, that doesn’t really make sense when you compare it to other ecosystems, maybe it’s a Shopify ecosystem or other open source ecosystems, where, where folks have, uh, created much bigger teams.

And if we’re really, um, you know, with our journey of really becoming. Experience for any SMB that’s trying to be successful on WordPress. Well, that’s massive. That’s millions and millions of websites. It’s tens of millions of users. And yeah, that’s certainly is, will justify a large team on our end and we’ll grow that sustainably in over time.

And, um, there, there’s no question that, that the ecosystem can support that to date really? That has come just in the host. Stakeholder segments where companies have gotten that big, but the future has to be more, more broadly in the, in the, on the product side. And, you know, you’ve seen a lot recently on the acquisition front and the WordPress ecosystem and there there’s a consolidation, whatever.

So who knows exactly what that means for product companies growing to a certain size. It might mean that before certain product companies reach this kind of escape velocity to grow bigger than make it swallowed up. That might be the case who knows exactly. I think probably the acquisitions in WordPress are overheated right now.

I think you’re going to hear. 12 months from now, maybe that quite a few of those have not been successful products will be either shut down or teams will get downsized. And some of this acquisition stuff will kind of cool off. And maybe that’ll be kind of like the next phase in the cycle where people are building new things again and growing teams organically.

And anyway, the cycle will come back and forth, but, uh, Yeah, but, but, but I’m excited to grow our team. And I think other product companies in the WordPress ecosystem will grow theirs as well. And, and, and I look forward to extended by supporting them in that.

Joe Howard: [00:39:26] Cool, man. I’m excited to share this episode on Twitter in five years and be like, Hey, I had my podcast five years ago and look at him now he’s still busy.

He’s look at all this amazing stuff is doing so. Yeah, that’ll be fun. Um, yeah. Okay, beta coming out of beta soon. I want to get a little more tech tactile into the beta stuff, because I don’t see a ton of companies doing like, deciding, like we’re going to do a beta as opposed to like, I guess like betas could be the same as whatever an early access thing is.

But yeah, I guess I’m just interested for people listening who have a potential product or potential thing they’re doing. They’re like, I want to. Like soft launch this and like get a few users in and have, get feedback from them and make it, you know, maybe not potentially launch an MVP, but launch like an MVP version two or three.

That’s not like earliest stage thing, but it’s got enough to like stand on two legs too. Launch something, which is probably important for a product that’s aiming to be a centerpiece of WordPress. So, you know, so I think about like WP MRR community, which has recently launched, we had this idea of like a beta, you know, but it was just like, we’ll just get a few people in and, and get some feedback and like add some spaces, remove some spaces, like get conversations going, and then we’ll launch it big.

And like, my personality is. I’m really impatient. So I was like, sure, that sounds good. And then a week later, Forget this, like, let’s just invite everyone and like, we’ll figure it out along the way. So obviously that’s not how you run a beta, but as someone who obviously as higher stakes than just launching a community and a hangout for people to people, a place for people to, to grow subscription businesses.

Tell me about, um, what it’s like and maybe some of the steps of, of running a successful beta for a company that has a big potential trajectory in front of them. I’d love to know any like little details or the process of what it looked like to. As a, as a team.

Artur Grabowski: [00:41:28] Yeah. It’s a good question. I guess it comes back to how we think about the development of extended high.

So I’m sure every you, Joe, and every single one of your listeners have the same experience of using some WordPress plugin. It’s no longer supported. Hasn’t been updated in six months or 12 months or whatever you love the product, but, you know, WordPress has moved along and needs to be updated. You, you, you hope for new things to be added to the product, et cetera.

Um, and this actually just happened with us with editors kit. We love editors kid. It’s such a cool tool. Jeffrey had been, uh, you know, building anything was. Pushing the envelope, uh, on, on, on what Gutenberg was, you know, a year or two years ago. And, um, he joined 10 up at an amazing opportunity. There editor’s kit was kind of put on the back burner for him.

Hadn’t been updated in nine months. We kind of reached out to him, was like, Hey, we want to like, make sure this, this product doesn’t go stale. Like, can we, can we, can we take it over? We’ll we’ll we’ll invest in it. Um, extended five is very much so. Inactive development and will always be an active development and always pushing the envelope of what WordPress WordPress experiences can be.

Doing whatever the latest thing is coming out in Gutenberg. We, we want to build that in text 10 to five, while that new feature is still in beta, we want to just like, you know, move people along as quickly as possible. The latest kind of, um, opportunities for people to build their audience into WordPress, to monetize their audience.

We want to make people as successful as possible in WordPress, and we’re going to be constantly pushing the envelope with that. And that means that that there’s going, there’s always going to be a core WordPress experience. That is a. Uh, a paid experience and we’re going to take that revenue and reinvested in our team, just hire amazing people, constantly build just the coolest product there is in WordPress for what we’re doing.

And when we think about that and, and, and we kind of, we weren’t ready for sort of like launching a paid offering or yet the product wasn’t there, but we wanted to get it in user’s hands. We really thought, okay, we want to have real users. Test this out, get some value from it. But what we don’t want to do is put out this free product.

And then out of nowhere, you know, some sort of have this like grand surprise that, oh, that free thing you’ve been using, it’s actually gonna be. Behind it’s actually going to be a paid offering now. And that is really the idea of the beta is like, we want, we want to let people get their hands on it before we were ready with the paid plans, because just, we aren’t, frankly, uh, we haven’t been in and, and, uh, we didn’t want people to wait, but we wanted to be clear that, you know, eventually this will come out of beta, right?

If you’re getting value out of it, we’d love you to join extended five pro and continue with, with us on this journey and, and help you, help you build an amazing WordPress experience. Um, but that kind of like bait and switch of like, Hey, it’s free now. But actually that thing that was free is not free anymore.

That’s really the idea of the beta. And so we have a way for people to register for the beta, um, kind of through the tool, it takes them to our website, that register. We send them a license key. They enter that license key into, into the product in, in WP admin, and it gets them. Right now full unlimited access.

And that was what we thought was sort of the best balance of getting the tool in people’s hands as early as possible while also being transparent. Right. This is a beta thing. And so, you know, have the right expectations if you go into it. And, um, and you know, any, anything that anyone ports from extended, it’s all open source.

You get to keep it like after the beta, you know, you could, you can just stop using standard fine. It’s yours, it’s, it’s open source, but, uh, for all those users that are getting a ton of value out of it, and we know a lot are. Um, you know, you can continue with us w w with extended, by pro once, once we, uh, launched those, those, uh, paid offerings.

Joe Howard: [00:45:37] Yeah. Cool. I was, I’ve been super engaged in WP MRR community, and I’ve been like, I have notifications on for like every poster, every comment, because I just want to like, keep up to date and like keep things rolling. And Alex Denning wrote a really cool article, um, that was shared in the community around like how to be successful using this freemium.

In the WordPress space. So like.org, where you plug in, how do you upsell into pro like it, should you even do that? Or should you just do a premium? We were like talking in the comments. It’s really interesting conversation, but the, I really liked the idea of. Look, I like as much as anybody else providing free stuff for everybody as much as possible, even the plain fields.

That’s great. But a business has to be somewhat financially successful as well, especially a funded company. So I think that I really am interested in that idea of doing a beta in order to one, get users in the door, using it, but two to. Make it so that you’re letting everyone know, like we’re launching a paid plugin, but like, it’s going to be awesome.

Like we’re, we’re like, we’re really like focused on making it, like add enormous value through this beta. And that, to me, I think makes that jump from like the free to premium, a little easier, because you have, you know, not just a product with like three more things you can do. Yeah. You have a product that you really like battle tested for however long, three months, six months a year, you know, uh, yeah.

Battle-tested is a good way to, to put it. And so that when it launched as a paid plugin, you know, that. People are going to pay for it. And that they’re going to get enough value of your dividend to get enough value from it over the longterm that they’re not going to churn, or the churn rate is going to be significantly lower.

So it kind of is like, it seems like a great direction. Maybe instead of that freemium model of like the free play, that’s just lots of free plugin and that’s how we’ll get our paid users. You could instead of going out and you could just do a beta and go then directly. Maybe it’s like a paid version.

And then maybe there’s also a free version after that. The beta sounds like an interesting way instead of like the free plugin in order to like really put your plugin or put your product to put your services through a pretty rigorous testing. Yeah.

Artur Grabowski: [00:48:02] Yeah. I think there’s like an element of you can’t hide your product from your users.

Like you need to like get in user’s hands and see if they find value from it. And, and you have to figure out some way to do that. And, and at the end of the day, people vote with dollars, right? Paid paid product and see if there’s enough value in amazing businesses have been built in the premium only part of the WordPress ecosystem, that WP rockets and whatever.

And that’s amazing. I think that’s a completely valid model. I think freemium is completely valid too. Um, I think I’ve heard too many times the premium part of freemium being. Uh, being an afterthought and it, you know, again, you never want to kind of take things away from users that they, uh, already have built their website around and whatever.

And so like, if you’re really kind of adding premium as an afterthought, then you’re like, really have to be like, Come up with something new, something incremental, uh, which, which can be challenging. And, you know, at the, at the end of the day, I think if the, if the products that people are really, are you okay?

The thing that ends up on someone’s site is open source. It’s all like, you know, kind of like, uh, by the rules there then. Um, I think, I think, I think it’s fair game to, to build a business around what you’re building, because again, No one wants to see their favorite plugin, not have an update for 10 months and not be compatible with the latest, whatever jQuery or whatever have you.

Um, and so, so I think, I think, uh, building a business is, is important and, and at the end of the day, customer. Users are happy when they have awesome products supported by brilliant engineers, with fantastic support teams, et cetera. So, um, if it’s freemium, if it’s beta, if it’s premium only, I think they’re all fair, but one way or another, you have to get your product in the customer’s hands.

Joe Howard: [00:50:03] Boom, great place to wrap up for the day. Thanks for jumping on our tour. This has been awesome. We’ve kind of caught up outside of recording a podcast lab. It’s really cool to just honestly, for me to just. Pick your brain and hear, hear your answers on stuff. So, yeah. Very cool. Having you on a couple of things, as we wrap up one, where can folks find you online?

How can they find extend to find you social media, all that jazz?

Artur Grabowski: [00:50:29] Yeah. So the best places really are. Keep an eye out on extended fight.com for the okay. Uh, our updates and the latest in terms of, um, our next version of the product and launching our, our, our plans in the coming in the coming weeks or months here, um, at extend if I ain’t cause the company Twitter, w w w w will be active there.

Um, you know, the other thing that I I’d say is. Um, so folks have gotten to hear a little bit about my background and I would say that, uh, Chris, um, uh, my co-founder who also just brings us credibly like unique, a set of experiences and perspectives to WordPress, relative to what most WordPress folks have gone through around growing a business acquisitions investments, all this stuff.

Um, and, and the reality is if you’re out there and you’re. Facing any of those questions, whether you’re, um, uh, you’re like, you’re gonna, you’re trying to like sell your company. You’re trying to acquire a company. You’re trying to raise funding. You’re trying to do some partnership with someone, whatnot. I mean, the reality is we bring a level of sort of experience and expertise around that, that, um, isn’t as prevalent in this ecosystem.

If you’re going through any of those things. Shoot me an email out to the R T U r@extendedfight.com or, you know, my co-founder chris@extendedcare.com and we’re happy to chat. Like that’s one of the ways we give back in the ecosystem is, is lots of folks are going through these experiences that we’ve gone through many, many times, whereas, whereas others have not.

And so we’re always happy to, to engage there. So feel free to shoot us an email. Also, that’s an easy way to get home.

Joe Howard: [00:52:11] Cool man. I was just thinking this morning, like acquisitions, whether you’re buying, I guess some people, if they’re in the buying space, they’re pretty experienced in it, but like when you’re selling a business, like you only do it for a short period of time.

It’s like most people don’t have like years of experience selling a business. Most people. Months maybe. And it’s like one time or maybe twice. So the experience is very valuable. So thanks for sharing that. Reach out to Archer with any questions about that. You can also go to identify.com. I was moving around the site.

I clicked the little chat in the bottom, right. And I saw Archer’s pictures, one of the pickers coming up. So he’s still right on the grind. And he’s, he’s around on the front lines with his team doing stuff. So while it’s still there, you can, you can catch him and his team right on extend defy site as well.

Cool. The thing I like to ask our guests to ask our listeners for a little apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to give us, leave us a little review, I’d appreciate it.

Artur Grabowski: [00:53:03] Absolutely. Go to your favorite apple podcast, your favorite podcasting app. Leave that review for everyone and, you know, share this on social wherever you can.

I’m excited to see seaborne online and gateway.

Joe Howard: [00:53:14] Cool. Thank you, man. Appreciate it. WP mrr.com forward slash review redirection right there. If you’re on apple or if you are on an apple or Mac device, if you are new to the WP MRR podcast, check out WP mrr.com/podcast 150 ish episodes in the backlog. We’ve got a search bar right there.

You can find. Content on all sorts of stuff. Uh, so go listen to some old episodes and, uh, do some, some benching of some old podcasts, uh, podcast episodes there. Um, WP M R our community has also launched. So just go to, uh, community dot WP, mrr.com. Uh, if you’re interested in joining a community, uh, where we try to grow our subscription businesses together, uh, Virtual summit, WP MRR, virtual summit.

We’ve got a lot of wrap up stuff today, Archer. So I just wanted to fit it in all at the end WP MRR virtual summit is coming up September 21st, 22nd and 23rd. You know, WP MRR all about monthly recurring revenue. It’s the virtual summit. It’s the one time a year. We get together online and have some great talks by some fantastic individuals, all about everything.

When it comes to growing a subscription and a rev recurring revenue focused business model in the WordPress space. So you can. Register for that just by signing up to be part of the community. So community WP, mrr.com. You can also check out the virtual summit space, uh, right there. Cool. That is it. For this week on the podcast.

We’ll be in your earbuds again next Tuesday, Archer. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

Artur Grabowski: [00:55:00] Awesome. Thanks so much. Talk soon.

Joe Howard: [00:55:02] See everyone.

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