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In today’s episode, Joe talks to Miriam Schwab, the co-Founder and CEO of Strattic – an all-in-one static site generation and hosting platform that instantly optimizes WordPress by converting it to a static architecture. Content managers and marketers can continue to manage content in WordPress as usual, while developers get to bask in the glory (and enjoy the peace of mind) of a fully headless website.  

Miriam shares her agency’s vision to provide a link between the WordPress functionality and the speed performance of static sites, what it was like to build a company while raising 7 children, and why they continue to offer a 30-day free trial to new customers.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 07:01 Welcome to the pod, Miriam
  • 08:36 What is Strattic?
  • 13:55 Site performance is important in converting visits to clients
  • 15:29 It started from discovering static site generators 
  • 23:54 Managing an agency while raising children
  • 28:30 Work at a pace that works for you, take baby steps
  • 29:45 Funding is focused on product improvement and building additional functionality
  • 33:54 Clients providing their customers high quality hosting company
  • 38:30 Why offer a 30-day Free Trial?
  • 44:46 Headless WordPress is no longer foreign but it’s not too common yet
  • 47:55 The religious limitations of being a Jewish woman
  • 50:54 Being a female founder becomes a challenge when it comes to fundraising
  • 54:59 Find Miriam online 

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

[00:00:00] Joe Howard: Howdy folks, Joe Howard here. All right. Before we get started with this week’s episode of the show, let’s talk WP MRR, virtual summit. It is coming up next week. So it’s here. Uh, it’s only about seven days. It is seven days away as of, uh, when this happened. Goes live. So let’s talk through a few things.

Shall we first off a few more speaker announcements a couple weeks ago. I announced it, most of the speakers here on the intro to the podcast, but I’m going to go through, uh, some of the ones you may not have heard of already. Uh, we have Rob Dr. Team. Uh, we’ve got lead Jackson this year. Jennifer Bourn.

We’ve got Stephanie Hudson or Robert Jacoby. Sandy Edwards, Jeff Missoula. And Alex wines and I am missing a few more that I’ve yet to like post post I’m gonna post those later today. But a few others, we have our Lindsey Haas, Marco barrel, cow semi-hard co-chair and actua Choudhry. So that rounds out the speakers for this year.

If you want to check out all the speakers, it’s all on WP, mrr.com and community dot WP, mrr.com. So speaker lineup is a strong one this year. I’m excited. So you know who the speakers are now, but topics, what are they talking about? Obviously we want to help folks, you know, help them responsibly grow and hit their MRR goals and milestones.

So that’s what the summit is all about. We have the. Calendar or the full schedule up again, both on WP mrr.com and community dot WP, mrr.com. So feel free to go check it out. It’s all listed right here on the homepage and where we will be live streaming at in a circle community. So. Definitely go check that out as well.

Not going to go through the whole schedule right here, because that would take me like 10 minutes of just talking and I get super excited about each guest and what their topic is. So I’ll leave it up to you if you want to go check it out yourself. Okay. Another shout out to sponsors of this year’s summit.

Uh, we’ve got two groups of sponsors. First, our legacy sponsors. We’ve got GoDaddy pro WP remote green geeks. Growth suite from WP engine and flywheel. We got cloud ways and wordpress.com. Those are our legacy sponsors, and we also have some growth sponsors this year as well. We’ve got kin sta Molly Elementor paid memberships, pro site ground Jetpack.

And. Uh, licked edition, extend, defy big shout out to all our sponsors. We’re trying to do a lot of work this year, uh, and it makes it much easier to have a little financial support from our sponsors. Um, and all these companies are great. They have great products, great services, definitely go check them out.

Homepage of WP, mrr.com, links to all of the cool stuff that they do. If you want to go check it out, I would definitely recommend. All right. So last two things. If you’ve heard about this summit and you haven’t. Signed up or registered yet. It’s a free event. We’re excited to do this next week. Definitely go and sign up.

We’d love for you to attend live, but also if you sign up, you get notifications. When all the talks are uploaded to YouTube for free after the event. So if you want to get a heads up there, you also should. No to make sure you get that notification, uh, regardless community dot WP, mrr.com, or you can just go to WP mrr.com and there’s a little chat widget on the bottom corner, uh, that opens up into our community.

Go ahead and sign up and register for the community. It takes about 30 seconds or so, and you’re automatically added to the space where we will be live streaming and posting updates. So do that now, what are you waiting for? Uh, last but not least, uh, after you register, I guess two last but not least. Um, one make sure that you, uh, add the event to your calendar.

You may have some other stuff going on next week. I’m sure you, you might. So if you want to add this to your calendar, just to, so you can know, you know, when you can attend what events you can attend and you can block yourself as busy as well, so that nothing else. Uh, uh, booked in your calendar in that time, if you want to attend the whole event, that might be helpful for you.

So that’s a one last but not least the other last, but not least is pre summit survey. We have a survey up. Um, I’m gonna email people about it this week at some point, but if you just go onto community dot WP, mrr.com, it’s a little, uh, Which in the sidebar just says, summit survey, I’m looking at it right now.

Just click that you don’t even have to go into a new window or a new tab. You just fill it out right in the community. And just all you’re doing is answering a few questions and not as anonymously so that we can give more information in detail to our speakers so that we can give the best, the most personalized talks possible answer as many questions as possible, help people as much as possible.

Okay. That’s it for the summit. Uh, the last thing I’ll say is I hope to see you there, uh, Let’s get into this week’s episode of the podcast. This week, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Miriam Schwab. Now, Miriam is the CEO of a company called strandic. You may have. Um, they are doing headless WordPress as a hosting solution.

It’s a very interesting model. They’re they’re going after. If you’re in the WordPress space, of course, you’ve heard of managed WordPress hosting, um, you know, shared WordPress hosting. This is kind of a different take on hosting. Uh, she’s gone in a different direction, raised millions of dollars of funding to grow this company, talking to her as someone who’s is the CEO of her own company, big ambitions, big growing company, and also how she finds time to, uh, uh, Uh, a family at home and spend lots of time with that family.

That was something that really struck me as like, wow. She is someone who’s, who’s figuring out how to do all of that at one time. So for other folks who are thinking about how am I going. Start a company, run a company and enjoy my life and spend time with the people I want to. This is a really cool episode as well.

The last thing that definitely struck me chatting with Miriam was her it’s like her value structure. At the end of today’s episode, we talked about a big decision she made in terms of refusing a PR opportunity that, uh, she was presented. That would have been pretty big. But because of her principles, she actually declined on that offer.

And that’s something, you know, a lot of people talk the talk, but not everybody walks the walk. Uh, so that was something that really struck me. And I think something that will definitely stay with me for a while and hopefully make me stronger in terms of making, making decisions that are going to be really value-driven, that’s really important these days for business owners to do that.

So, all right. Without further ado, please welcome Miriam. Enjoy today’s episode. All right. We are live on the pod this week with Miriam Schwab Mariama. Very nice to meet you. Good to see you and times to tell folks a little bit about what you do with WordPress and the WordPress community.

[00:07:12] Miriam Schwab: Okay. Well, I folk I’m I’m Schwab, I’m the co-founder and CEO of a company called strata strata because the next generation hosting platform for WordPress website, uh, we convert the WordPress site to a static and headless version of itself, which is what the internet ends up being.

That, that it can handle. This version is just a collection of, uh, static files, which means HTML, CSS and JavaScript, because there’s no underlying processing server. The sites are basically unhackable very, very fast and very scalable. So it removes a lot of the headaches around managing a WordPress site and that’s static.

[00:07:48] Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. I’ve had a few folks talking about headless on the WordPress button. Never had the CEO of a big company doing this before on the podcast. So it’s very nice. Have you on and get to talk a little bit about this with you, obviously, like some of these advantages are like crazy. Like I’ve seen static sites that load in like, literally, like I snap my finger in there, load it.

And I’m like, how does that, how, what, like, that’s crazy. Like, so speed. Clearly good. Unhackable is also probably a good thing. You know, just having a static HTML site, you know, you don’t have to really worry about that scale. Also great. You know, you can scale up, you know, when you are scaling up traffic or check out or whatever on the site, Hey, there’s, you know, it scales well.

So there are a ton of advantages here. I guess my question is like, why would, why would someone not use this? Are there any cases where a static site isn’t a good choice or is there any, is there any just like piece of the, uh, you know, are there certain websites where just static, isn’t still quite the right fit for it? Why isn’t everybody using it?

[00:08:53] Miriam Schwab: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And there’s a few reasons why someone might not use static. One is it’s such a kind of new almost, I guess, radical approach to hosting that. Um, there’s still a lot of work to be done within the WordPress community to educate people about what this means and what it is and, and the benefits that it can bring.

Especially if you think about how WordPress is like 18 years old. So for 18 years, millions of people have been doing WordPress in a particular way and hosting it in a particular way. You know, there’s a lot of hosting options out there and that’s great. Um, in the end, the experience is more or less the same, you know, you edit your WordPress site, you’re editing it, live it, you publish it live.

It’s like the same installation. It’s all happening there. You don’t have to, you don’t have this different approach that we have as strata. So, so that’s one thing. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Um, help people understand what this approach means. Um, and then there are the technical, um, potential challenges.

So, uh, because the static site is no longer connected to the server and the database that powers WordPress, there is functionality that is challenging to replicate on the static version of the site. So what we’ve done is we’ve taken very common functionality like search and forms 301 redirects that are managed, let’s say with a plugin, WPML, which is a challenging, very resource intensive plugin, we’ve, created support for all of that type of functionality.

So our users don’t have to change anything on their site. If they have that functionality on their WordPress site, when they click our publish button, the static version. of the site will also have that functionality, but there’s functionality that let’s say we don’t yet support. Well, nobody in the space really supports yet, which is some examples that we want to support and we have plans to support are WooCommerce.

So, uh, if you have a WooCommerce. You can actually use strata if you’re just using it for the catalog functionality, we actually have customers doing that. But as soon as you want to use the shopping cart functionality, which is the main goal of WooCommerce, right? Um, that depends, depends very heavily on communication with the lamp stack, with the database, with the processing and so on a static version of the site that will not work.

And, um, you know, we’re exploring ways to support that. But in the meantime, we’ll conversations, don’t work on strategy. Pretty much any static like approach or headless approach, unless you do a ton of work around it. Um, and another example is like, um, a site that offers users, uh, content, like if they log in, um, you know, as gated content, so a membership sites and that kind of thing.

And they’re using the WordPress membership, uh, user management system. And that also depends on the. So what we’ve done in order to try to increase the use cases where people can use WordPress, can you start out first of all, pretty much any content site we’ll work on Stratix. If you have a blog, if you have a company website, anything that’s content-based that we’ll work on strata, but we created, um, a tool or a resource center site, um, which is called.

We call it the static tools, directory, where we categorize and. Tools that people can use instead of, um, certain WordPress plugins to achieve the same functionality. The good thing about the timing of what we’re doing is that we’re not the only ones who are trying to develop this, this space, which has many names.

It’s called JAMstack. It’s called headless. It’s called static. It’s called decoupage. So we’re not the only ones. And so a lot of people are creating solutions that would normally depend heavily on processing server or like some kind of server stack that will work on a static site. And, um, so, so many of our, our customers have used that resource to find a solution that will work on static and then they can replace it.

Um, but yeah, we’ve, we all have a lot to go in this space and, and we’re trying to make as much headway as possible, um, to support as much as we can.

[00:13:09] Joe Howard: Yeah, it seems from what I’ve seen about headless and what I’ve dug into, it seems like the proof of concept is like done. Like it’s like, clearly there’s a ton of advantages.

This, I have a lot of applications, but to take that next step into e-commerce into wool commerce, into membership sites, like that’s where a lot of the like, revenue is driven right from WordPress websites. So if you could come in. Say you can, of course have a fully functional WooCommerce store, but have it be super fast and unhackable and super scalable, like that’s, it’s like the holy Trinity of like WooCommerce sites, maybe it’s the holy Trinity of any WordPress site, but definitely of e-commerce stores.

Right. So they pay an arm and a leg to have all that functionality. So is it, is that, do you, do you kind of have that on the roadmap for strata or is that something you’re like looking into and then tackling right now? And how far away do you think we are from like having. Headless and having, uh, this static WordPress approach be applicable to these, you know, maybe WordPress sites with a little bit more advanced functionality.

[00:14:18] Miriam Schwab: We get a lot of interest from WooCommerce site owners in strata because of what you just described, the performance of their site is so important to the result of their site in terms. You know, customer conversion and actual purchasing and also of course, ranking and things like that, that they are. And WooCommerce tends to be a sluggish system in so many cases.

So there is a big pain point there that needs to be solved. It is on our roadmap and we’re exploring ways to solve it. Um, we actually, uh, are looking into ways to potentially to partner with third party shopping cart. Functionality. So that would plug directly into the glucometer. So you would use them commerce as usual.

Uh, you could use the catalog as usual, you know, all the products, et cetera. Um, and, but the moment you click to add something to cart it’s actually would be added to like a third party cart. Um, the idea is for the user, the experience would be as seamless as possible. That’s always our goal, right? Our goal is to keep the user experience as aligned as possible with the native WordPress experience.

Um, but you know, I, that’s not, that’s a very complicated application to support will commerce even with a third party shopping cart. So, uh, it’s on our roadmap. It’s going to be one of our next main focuses, but it’s. It’s the way out. It’s going to take us some time to get there.

[00:15:42] Joe Howard: Yeah, of course. Um, I want to hear a little bit about your story getting into, I’d like to talk about starting the company and doing some raising funds for, you know, it’s a strata is a funded company, and I do want to talk a little bit about that, but first I actually want to talk about how you first got into headless and static WordPress websites.

There are a lot of hosts around, right? There’s a lot of really good hosts around that. Don’t take the approach you use, but you’ve gone in this direction of saying we’re going in this headless direction and really building a company around it. Like when was the first time you discovered headless WordPress and started really getting into it and starting to think, okay. Maybe I want to do more around, around this area and WordPress.

[00:16:29] Miriam Schwab: So before I found it static, I had the founded, um, a WordPress development agency. Uh, it was called the Lumina and, uh, did that for about 13 years, um, building a lot of websites for, uh, Israeli tech companies in particular, um, and ad tech companies actually insulted today, tend to be.

One of our most common types of customers because tech companies have content-heavy heavy sites, um, that, that actually do have a lot of, uh, financial value for them as, or commercial value for them as a company. Um, because they use the sites for lead generation, right. And marketing purposes, that’s the window to their business.

So while like you were saying, well, commerce is like the most, I guess maybe revenue generating, but for a lot of companies, a regular content website, It really critical for them for their bottom line. So anyway, so we did that, um, with a lot of Israeli tech companies to add WordPress sites as their marketing sites, um, and wanted like a high-quality supplier.

Uh, so, um, learned a lot over the years and, um, as time went on just managing the WordPress. It became more and more challenging. It, it started demanding more of our time. As in the agency, we had a kind of maintenance package that we offered our clients. And, um, that was great because they could access, you know, us if they needed support and we would keep their sites alive and well, but just, you know, WordPress’s market share was growing and growing and.

Uh, it was being increasingly targeted by hackers and performance was becoming more and more important, but also more and more challenging to achieve as websites became more dynamic scaling could be a huge nightmare where let’s say one of our clients was going to run a campaign or launch something and we’d try to provision servers and make sure they’re ready to go.

And then, you know, sometimes it just didn’t, it wasn’t enough. Um, so I started and also WordPress’s reputation started to kind of, uh, Be tarnished a lot because of these issues. Developers started looking in other directions for solutions. So I started to think, well, you know, maybe just focusing on WordPress for our clients was not the right approach.

Maybe we needed to explore what else was out there at that time in the world of web development, you know, 13 years then using WordPress. The internet changed there, there must be something out there. So, um, I started doing research and I came across this emerging trend, um, which was known as static site generators, and then became known as JAMstack headless falls under that umbrella.

Um, so static site generators are a way to, uh, basically build websites like we did in the beginning. At least I did, I’d been in the web space for a long time. So we would like. HTML files and then FTP them up to a server. And that was the site. It was the collection of, and every page was its own HTML like page file.

So static site generators were taking that approach, but in a much more sophisticated way with a templating system and a system that would generate the pages. So you didn’t have to like, like, what I used to do is go to page FTP Kobe’s FTP, which is not efficient. Um, and I was like, wow, that’s amazing because those static sites are super, really.

You know, there’s no issues related to, there’s nothing to hack. So vulnerabilities are not a thing scaling. It just would scale infinitely because there’s not, there’s no resources involved in serving up that page. Like very minimal reasons. In WordPress, when you request the page that generates it for you on the fly, these stages are pre-rendered.

So all they have to do is just serve it to the person and that’s much faster. And that’s why you feel like the speed on these sites. And also once it’s fully static, it can be fully served up through a CDN through content delivery networks. So it’s fast everywhere. And, and WordPress, that’s not the case because the actual content pages don’t exist as files and WordPress.

So, so I was like, okay, this is all amazing. I love it. I want this. And, um, but when I looked into what it meant to build those sites on the static site generators, I saw it was very complicated. It would take a lot more time. It would mean that the sites are more expensive for our clients. They would not be excited about that.

And then maintaining them with demand much more developer resources, whereas. with WordPress If you want to do something, you install a plugin or you use a page builder. It’s a free landing page. Like you don’t need positive valve reasons. It sounds like, okay. WordPress is still the best DMS out there. Yay. Um, but now that I am familiar with this world, maybe we can bridge these two worlds, like, or bring them together.

So if we turn WordPress into a static site generator, you get all the benefits of WordPress and there’s a lot, right? It’s very flexible. Open source, great community plugin ecosystem tooling. Everything. Um, but click a button and then generate the static version of the site. And that would be the site that the world would visit.

And that’s that excite would be, you know, super fast, resilient, unhackable, et cetera. So that removes the headache around, um, people call it like WP ops or web ops, like management of site. So anyways, that’s how I came to the idea for strike, but, um, I, I was still managing the agency. So I transitioned away from that.

Uh, eventually sold the agency and, um, started working on strategy. I joined some startups. I early on, I knew that I wanted to go like a startup route or also known as like a venture backed company. Probably a lot of that has to do with the fact that. Based in Israel where like every second person here is, has founded a startup.

[00:22:08] Joe Howard: No, Israel is like a huge tech hub and there are other WordPress companies in that, in, uh, in Israel too. I know Ella mentor’s based there and I’m sure a few others. Yeah. So yeah.

[00:22:18] Miriam Schwab: Elements or is based here freemium. Freemium is based here. Yeah. And, um, WPML has some roots in Israel as well, and I’m sure there’s more, but yeah.

So, um, So, so I had joined a startup accelerator and, uh, anyways, things like moved from there. Yeah. And then telling the story as if it was like I said, I founded it and everything went. It was like a lot of work and many years, and a lot of, you know, sweating and crying until we got to a place until we got to where we are now and raise the funding. But anyways, that’s, that’s how I got into strategy.

[00:22:56] Joe Howard: Oh, very cool. I know this is like the secret to like running a company was like sweating and crying until you finally get there. It’s like, it takes a lot of hard work. People see. No, they look at you now and they’re, you know, reading news articles. I was doing a little research before I hopped on with you.

And I, you know, reading, you know, I, I assume this is right, you know, you and your co-founder raised $6.5 million seed round, uh, which was according to this article, I’m reading the size of the round was nearly 10 times the 2019 median seed for a startup with a mixed gender founders. I mean, yeah. $6, million dollars is no joke.

It’s a, it’s a large amount of money to raise and it’s not something that maybe it’s something that. A five time founder. Who’s totally like on cruise control. Maybe they could like get a collection of people together and raise a bunch. But for 99.9% of people, it’s going to take a ton of work to get there.

So although it looks cool in the news article, oh man. The amount of work and time it took to get there, I’m sure was, was a ton. And I believe I also read that you have a pretty large family. So you were all, you were doing this at the same time. Yeah. I mean, I have just a 20 month old at home and like, I feel like I’m busy all the time and I think you’ve got a few kids at home.

So man being able to do all that while also having a big family, I love to hear a little bit more about like, how that experience was, because I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

[00:24:19] Miriam Schwab: Yeah. Um, so, so having a 20 month old at home is really hard because that stage. Very demanding. And, um, also when you have one kid it’s like, it might sound easier cause it’s less than more than one, but that kid is like that doesn’t have siblings to play with or entertain them and believe me, that makes a huge difference.

So it’s, it’s. It’s uh, it’s challenging, but yes, I have, I have seven kids. Um, but when I started working on static, it was at the stage where my youngest was already three. Now that doesn’t mean she was going off to college like that she’s still small. But at that point I was past the baby stage. I did the baby stage for many, many years, um, you know, with seven kids.

And, uh, my oldest was 14 when she was born. So it was like 14 years. And then another three years of, until she was three. It was a different stage. And you know, when you have older kids, they help with the younger kids and they also are more independent themselves. And, um, I, I had my agency while I was doing all the babies, the baby stage.

And, but that worked out well. That was, that was like ideal for me at that stage because, um, I, I actually founded my agency after I had my fourth kid, because I realized that, uh, like having like a regular job where I have to show up, it’s an office, like from nine to five would not work for me with four small kids every day.

You never know what’s going to do with the kid. They’re going to be sick. There’s school’s going to go on. There’s a lot of Jewish holidays. So they were always we’re off again. Exactly. You’re like really another Jewish holiday.

It was like it’s too much to juggle. So I was with my agency. I was able to progress professionally and also like learn a lot, learn about managing a business, learn about web development, WordPress. Well, a lot of stuff around having a business. Having the flexibility that I needed to be a mom. So, um, so that, that I did at that stage and then strata came when, like I was at a different stage and, uh, and that makes a big difference.

So it’s still. I don’t like, they don’t need attention. I spend my count. You should see my calendar. It’s like static events, child related events, or like personal it’s like, it’s just, it’s a lot. And it still needs a lot of attention, obviously. And I, it’s very important to me to be a presence, mom and bald mom, and I always want to show up.

So that’s, that’s that, but, um, it’s different than the baby stage. Much different.

[00:26:57] Joe Howard: Yeah. I get that completely because I do spend a lot of time. I have to be active all the time around him, you know, but when they’re a little bit older, they do have a little bit more self attentive, uh, uh, ness that they can apply to themselves.

Um, I like the idea of, um, Moving into kind of working for yourself once you had a few kids and realize your schedule, wasn’t it wasn’t able to accommodate that? I think there are probably a lot of people out there that are like that, that are probably at that stage or, or are in a similar stage. You were at that time and they kind of continued to work that same job for a long time.

And I think you can, if you’re the kind of person who can be a little bit entrepreneur, I mean, how many people sit in an office all day and like order some stuff on Amazon or like hanging out in the coffee room and actually do like two hours of work. Well, you could like do to two really good hours of work as kind of working for yourself and then still be able to spend time with four kids.

So you can, you can actually do both. It’s really just kind of. You know, it’s a re-prioritization of your time and your schedule and that’s, I think it’s actually, it’s a scarier concept than it actually is an application. A lot of senses. I think a lot of people are like scared to make that jump, but then you do it and you’re like, oh, I can, I can do this.

Sure. There are hard days, but it’s hard to go to work for eight hours and have a, you know, try and come home and do, you know, be a full-time present mother or father, uh, at home after, you know, eight to 10 hours a day. Cool.

[00:28:29] Miriam Schwab: Yeah, for sure. I just, I just want to add to that, that, um, yes, it seems scary. And also having a job as like something that people understand.

It’s like, oh, I have a job. I go to work. I go home. Um, and like when you’re entrepreneurial, you have, it’s almost like you lose that structure in a way, so that can be scary for people. But the other hand, there are people who start families, which is great, I think, in my opinion, but then it’s just not realistic to keep the job going.

And then they. stop Having a profession. And I think if we’ve changed our expectations of what we need to achieve during those years, then you can keep progressing. It’s just instead of like giant leaps and bounds, it’s like baby steps and that’s okay. As long as you’re moving forward, you know, at some pace that works for you.

Then At some point, you will find yourself probably with your kids no longer needing all of your attention. And then it’s harder to get back into the workforce. But if you always like, keep your toe in the water or whatever the thing is, and if you’re always like moving forward a little bit, then, you can, because you’ve stayed relevant and you’ve, stayed current and you’ve stayed involved and, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I guess that’s what I’m saying. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

[00:29:41] Joe Howard: Yeah. Great advice. Okay. I want to talk a little bit about strandic now, but also like post funding. What has it been like running a company, I guess let’s start, like, you know, I mentioned how much the company’s raised, how big is the team is a, is this like a bigger team or a leaner team?

[00:30:05] Miriam Schwab: Well, the funding, uh, enabled us to do what our main goal was to do, which is to hire people and to grow our team. So, uh, We’re now a team of 22 people. It changes because we hire people wherever, but I, I’m pretty sure we’re now at 22. Um, and, um, and our main focus after we raised the funding was to improve the product and build out additional functionality and, and compatibility and support for different WordPress functionality.

Um, it turns out. Building, what we built and continue to build is very complicated. Making sure that a person, all they have to do is like simplifying it down to a button. What we do is we just add a button in the WordPress admin and simplifying it down to just the click of a button to make sure that it generates an exact perfect replica of the site quickly while capturing certain dynamic functionality.

It’s very complicated and also creating the user experience around it so that people understand what’s going on because it’s very different than how you would normally host your WordPress. When you have a regular WordPress site, you have one site, right? And the backend is tightly intertwined with the front end on static.

You have the WordPress site, which nobody else visits except for you and your team, or whoever has permission cut off from the internet. You click our button and that generates the static version of the site. So that’s your second site. We also give every user. An additional static site. It’s like they’re staging sites.

So if they want to test changes on not their live site, um, before, you know, before deploying it to this, through the live site, they can test it on their preview staging site. And then there’s a CDN on top of that. And like it’s, it’s different. So we also have done a lot of work on the user experience so that people can comprehend what’s going on hopefully pretty easily.

So that was. That was like our main focus for, for quite a long time. Um, while onboarding customers who found us, but we weren’t doing like aggressive marketing or sales. Uh, the main marketing was me doing things like this, you know, and speaking at conferences and doing webinars and blog posts and whatever, um, you know, and that helped bring in a nice trickle of, or stream even of users, but we weren’t ready to.

More. Yeah, because at that stage also, we didn’t have self-serve fully set up, so we would have to do a lot of handholding. And if we had too many customers coming to us at once, then we would be able to provide good service and providing excellent service is like real it’s one of our most important focuses as a company.

I believe in a lot of the spleen in the company that the value, the quality of a product, 50% of it is in the customers. Um, you can have the most amazing product, but if your support is not, is not good, then, you know, people can’t appreciate the product. So, um, so we want to always provide really like stellar support for our customers.

And so at that stage, we weren’t ready, but once we rolled a self-serve, which we have now, so someone can come to our site, sign up onboard and pay and go live on their own. Um, we started to grow further. The next stage.

[00:33:23] Joe Howard: Cool. I love talking with people in the WordPress space. Cause everyone’s so obsessed with customer support.

It’s like, I feel like outside of the tech space, people are like customer support. Like, so it’s like, like kind of secondary. Like we do it because it helps us grow. And like everyone in WordPress is like, I do it because it’s like super important to like make people happy and like for people to be happy with your product.

Yeah to help people in general. So I always, uh, appreciate that, that, uh, that mindset, um, cool. I was on the website. I was just kinda like checking it out. And I was trying to, I was, I was wondering who your kind of core customer or client is. It sounds like it’s some content sites coming to it. It sounds like maybe it’s per right now it’s website owners, people who are running their own website.

Is there, uh, any sort of like agency angle or anything like that? Like a company, like we have like a white label program, WP bus, where you work with agencies that run like twenty-five website. Have you, I guess maybe you could just sell the licenses directly to agencies for multiple seats. Um, is that something you’re thinking of or either doing now or thinking about in the future, going for maybe like people who are, have a hundred sites as touch points, as opposed to maybe one or two?

[00:34:38] Miriam Schwab: Definitely. I mean, we have agencies reaching out to us and they’ll say, yeah, 10 sites. I have 20 sites, a hundred sites. We’ve had people contest. They have a thousand sites. Um, only recently did we create like some kind of agency program and I’m putting big quotes around it because it’s like two line items.

We have to like really flesh it out. And, um, we’re trying, so we, we keep running it by agencies to see, okay, well, how does this work for you? What do you think of it? You know, what pricing do you need or are you looking for. So we have some agencies who are using static for sites and they, and also they, they generally want to start and should start with like one site and then another site.

So we do like a pilot and then, then hopefully that goes well, and they do other sites. Um, but we definitely want to like have a strong focus on agencies. I mean, static was created out of my agency needs. I needed less hassle around. Managing the WordPress sites that were under our management. I needed, you know, every agency, what do they want us to do?

Or at least I, I think it’s like, this is, we want to, we wanted to just keep building sites. That’s, what’s where the fun is in our work. And that’s the proactive work we want to build sites. We don’t want to have to stop building sites for our clients in order to go and clean up malware or whatever, reeks, you know, reset aside or restores.

Like you don’t want to be doing any of that. That’s I think a lot of value for agencies. And, um, once we have like a more structured agency program in place, we’ll probably start, you know, also doing outreach to agencies, but we’d also, I mean, if you have agencies listening to this, please contact us and we’d love to hear about your needs.

I don’t think we’re going to do white label anytime soon. It seems like it’s not something that, uh, the agencies that we’ve been talking to care about. So, you know, we always have to prioritize what we’re doing on our products. So nobody seems to care. They just want to send their customers. To their clients, to like a high quality hosting company.

And like, hopefully also that it works out for them financially. So, um, that’s that’s all right.

[00:36:41] Joe Howard: Yeah. I think in strata is like a pretty solid brand name in the WordPress space. Like people I talk to that know about Stratix like strata. Good company doing good stuff. So it helps folks, probably not to white label somebody that just like we partnered with to like bring you this grade hosting.

So I think that all makes a lot of sense. And I like that on your pricing page, I’m always like going and checking out people’s pricing and seeing like, why aren’t people priced out? Like what do they have on the pricing page? And for like the agencies and enterprises, like, come talk to us, which I love because it’s like, you’re going to come and pay a lot more, but like, I want to, we’re going to work with.

It helps both parties because it allows you as strata to like figure out pricing. It’s going to make sense, like more at scale. So you get to like work with people personally in that sense and like really find a price point. That makes sense for those people. And those people get to get something maybe it’ll slightly lower price than they would otherwise, if you were just like, let’s just call it, you know, price this at like $10,000 a month.

It’s like maybe people, you know, some smaller agencies can’t pay that much, so they’ll start low or something. I think it helps helps everybody. Um, the one thing I also saw on the pricing page is that there’s a 38 as of the time of this recording. There’s a 30 day free trial for hosting, which I don’t see very often in the hosting world.

Most hosts, at least the way I’ve seen it are either more expensive, like more, just your regular pricing, like people will pay and then start their first month, like a, a fully managed WordPress host. It will be like $30 a month, $40 a month. You pay, you start some of the like shared hosting will like.

It’ll be like $3 a month for like tiny writing, like for 12 months. And then, you know, after 12 months it’s like $400 a year or something. It’s like, they kind of trick you into like, you know, this long-term deal that you end up like paying a whole lot more for, but you have this third, I don’t even need to get into that today.

But the 30 day free trial is not something I see in a lot of, uh, with a lot of hosts. Maybe I’d love to talk a little bit about like, why. You’re the CEO of a company with a lot of people. So you may not be the like pricing and conversion specialist anymore. You know, if you’re the CEO of a five person company, maybe you’re in it, but you may not be quite at this level, but if you have any insight into kind of why you decided to go with the free trial and like what the process.

Making sure people are successful with the free trial and then move to a paying customer. I’d love to hear a little bit about that process.

[00:39:00] Miriam Schwab: It’s true. I actually I’m so used to us having a free trial. I kind of forgot that you don’t, that’s not for it.

[00:39:06] Joe Howard: I see it in software and SAS, but not as much in hosting. And it was interesting.

[00:39:11] Miriam Schwab: So, so yeah. Um, we see ourselves as, as, almost in a way that we Salsify WordPress. So that’s, that’s part of it. Um, I am involved in pricing. What I’ve learned since founding the company is that pricing is like a science and an art. And it’s a whole world. What I’ve learned is for example, companies like LinkedIn have whole teams that are just about pricing, like 50 people.

That just work on pricing. So I find that amazing. Yeah. Experiments and learning, and it’s just, it’s unbelievable. So I find that fascinating. So we’re obviously not at that stage of right now, our analysis of pricing is talking to people like, you know, the people who reached out to us, the agencies like you were describing, or the enterprise companies talking to them, listening, listening through our customer support.

Also we learned a ton through there, so, but the reason. The, the reason we do the free trial is, a, like I said, we see ourselves as like classifying WordPress, but also, because our approach is so different. We want to make sure that people can try it out fully. Usually people come to us with an existing site that’s somewhere else they can migrate a copy onto Strattic generate their first static.

Copy. See what that’s all about see if that’s comfortable for them. Yeah. Ask us questions. Sometimes when they generate the first static version of the site, things might not be working exactly properly so they can ask us and we can help them resolve those issues. And all of that needs to happen before they start paying.

Like they need to see how this whole thing works, see the value and then upgrade. And the upgrade trigger is pointing your domain name. So until that point, the static version of the site is running on like a Strattic company. so they’re not actually going live, but they can fully see what it’s like, and then they upgrade it and then they can put the domain.

There’s no risk. Exactly. There’s no risk. You try it. You don’t like it. No problem. We don’t ask for a credit card, nothing. Just test it out for you for the 30 days. After, like when, when you’re ready to upgrade after the 30 days, if you want to keep using it, also, our customers can ask us to extend the free trial.

Like if the, their testing is going longer, that’s no problem. The 30 days is just there so that there’s some limit. But, um, yes. That’s why we.

[00:41:34] Joe Howard: Yeah. Interesting. I think free trials are probably easier to do when you’re a funded company in general, when you kind of can pay to support free customers and pay to get that funnel working well enough.

To make it a good financial model and a lot of cases, like it takes a lot of experimentation and like figuring out how to get free users to be paid users. And in some cases it just takes a lot of time and resources to do that. But I really liked what you said. Because I think people forget that there’s a benefit in both sides to free trials.

Obviously there’s all the advantages you said for your customers. Right? They get to try it out. It’s, there’s no risk because all the stuff’s on your servers, they can pay when they’re ready. Once they do, they’re going to be like great customers. Cause they’re like, wow, I had a great free trial experience, but you also mentioned like you get to like help them fix some things that aren’t quite working with.

The static build of that particular. That’s going to help you tremendously as a customer or as a, as a business, because everybody in your free trial was kind of like an experiment for you and you can make static better through like, oh, there, we saw two of this edge case today. We got to build something out for that specific thing.

Or like, how do we, how do we, uh, you know, make these headless WordPress site better for this specific. I don’t know if a PHP version thing affects it or like, maybe it just doesn’t work with like, oh, something’s off with like that theme. Like there’s something wacky. I don’t know. I’m not technical. You can probably tell, but I’m just giving you some cases.

Totally. So you can learn. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:43:04] Miriam Schwab: We learn a lot. It’s it’s great for us. Yeah, because we can learn a lot. We also, so we learned a lot on the technical level. We also, when customers ask questions about our product, if we see the same question being asked repeatedly, then we can create better documentation around it.

We will even make changes to our. In the, in, in the actual environment of the platform, we’ll, uh, maybe write some blog posts and we’ll maybe add some, you know, additional tips in Intercom. Like all of that helps it make the whole experience better for all of our, our users. So you’re exactly right. Um, and also for us, yeah.

So we’re funded so we can kind of fund free trials better, like more easily, I guess, or whatever then others, but for us, it’s also an important marketing channel. Like we have a lot of people. Who come and test it, even though they don’t yet have like something specific that they want to put on static and then they they’ve tested it.

They, they loved it. Generally. Let’s say they had a great experience. And so then they later come back with a project or they told other people. And so it’s just, we want as many people as possible using strata and experiencing it. So even if, even if it’s just to see what it means or what it’s about. Is that like later on, they can come back and use it, or.

[00:44:19] Joe Howard: It’s all that education you talked about before. It’s an educational campaign about like, what is this sounds scary. Like, what is this? Well, people will come to do a free trial. Some of them will not end up using strategy. Some of them will not end up going headless at all. Right. Yeah. Most of them, so, yeah, but a lot of those people will have had that experience and it will give them a foundation to be brave again, in the future to potentially come back to it because a lot of it is just.

It’s a new thing right now, but in five years, in five years, 80% of WordPress sites could be doing the static thing. Right. So, uh, it maybe it’ll be easier for them in the future when people are, when it’s more common place. Right. Please we’ll just do what’s. The normal thing to do is, you know, and right now it’s kind of like the bigger pieces, like the managed WordPress hosting, but that’s good.

Just because people didn’t like hosting and they just wanted somebody to do hosting for them. This is like kind of avoid all the headaches of hosting in general and like a lot of the headaches of WordPress in general and just like have a WordPress site and don’t worry about it, you know?

[00:45:23] Miriam Schwab: Yeah. That’s yeah, that’s exactly it. And I, so that’s right. So we need to get to the point where more people, it’s a comfort thing. People like, um, people like status quo. If it’s working, if they broken, don’t fix it kind of thing. Um, and. But even since I started working on this in 2016, like as an initial, like I created a landing page and I scraped this, whatever, like the initial proof of concept, very minimal.

But, um, as I progressed with the, with building the company, building the platform and I would talk to people about it, it was like, I was talking Chinese. Well, not to Chinese people. It was, I was talking a foreign language to nobody I’m like saying like static and headlights. What are you talking about?

But now it’s changed enough or it’s a certain extent that like people have heard the term had lists or static. WordPress, they’re curious, they’ve maybe read something about it. And it’s already something that has kind of taken a spot in their brain. They, it’s not like a completely foreign concept anymore.

So, so we’ve gotten there and then hopefully we’ll continue. That will continue to progress.

[00:46:33] Joe Howard: Very cool. All right. I will. Wrapping up, but there’s one more thing I would like to ask you a little bit about, uh, Doing a little bit of your you’re like all over all these news articles, too, all this kind of awesome PR that you’ve done at the startup.

Like it’s great. I was looking just for doing some research, just like click the news tab and Google news, like, whoa, like, you know, Miriam’s everywhere, but I came across, I came across this article and I’m Jewish. And I just want to agree that, uh, the first paragraph or so, um, and this, this article says when an ultra Orthodox magazine approached Miriam Schwab for an interview about her fledgling startup, this was written years ago.

So obviously things are a little different. Now the first question she asked was whether her picture would be. Regretfully, the reporter told her the magazine’s policy was not to publish any photos of women, ostensibly on modesty grounds. Uh, and then a quote from you and your quote is I can’t. And I won’t be in a publication that has a discriminatory, discriminatory policy against women.

Uh, and I found that really empowering as a small company. This is for you to say no to something like that. Like it’s hard to say no to opportunities. Even if there’s this caveat of something you don’t really like so much. So I guess that wasn’t itself a question, but I guess my question is, um, as a, a woman, who’s a CEO of a, uh, big funded company in Israel where this kind of thing, I mean, it’s maybe common in the world, but it’s obviously so.

Common in your circles as well. Have you faced some challenges in that facet of being a founder and running a company in Israel or in the Jewish community?

[00:48:19] Miriam Schwab: So I’ll first address that actually that specific issue that came up. So, um, So I’m, I’m actually, I’m, I’m an observant religious Jew. So like an example of that is I only eat kosher food and I keep Shabbat, which means that for 25 hours from sundown on Friday to send out on Saturday, I’m like not online.

You know, we don’t, we there’s a lot of things that we don’t do. There’s all things we do. Do we have like family meals anyways, so I’m an observant Jew. Um, and so what comes with that is that I also do observe, uh, Um, I guess regulations around modesty, uh, that are, that are part of being a religious do.

There’s a lot of flexibility within that and different certifications, but, um, I try to, but I will not, I cannot tolerate when, um, certain parts of our community try to take duties into a level where their idea of modest women is like women that just don’t. That’s not, that’s not how we should be. That’s not how we are.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s and um, so I won’t, I won’t support that. Um, our faces are our identity. Right? How do you recognize someone when you see them? It’s because you’ve seen their face and you’re like, Hey, Miriam. Right? Cause you recognize me. If you never see my face, you will never know who I am.

I lose my identity. So I was, um, approached by this very popular Jewish magazine. Um, and they wanted to write an article about a female entrepreneur. So that’s, that’s kind of the, also the dichotomy within, uh, the Jewish religious world. On the one hand they wanted to celebrate that I’m a female entrepreneur and founder and the other half.

Their regulations. Wouldn’t allow them to publish a photo of me. It’s not that I want. It’s not like, I’m like, please look at my face. I want to show off my face or something like that. No, it’s like, this is who I am. This is my identity on my driver’s license. Is my picture. Like passport is my picture, because that way you, that it’s not just my name.

It’s my face. So, um, I turned them down. I said, uh, do you put pictures of men in the magazine? They said, yes. Well, it’s just my face. It’s not a modest. No, they wouldn’t put it in. So, um, I posted about it in a community group and then it got picked up and that’s why it ended up being there. And I was on like also radio show that picked the, interviewed me about it.

Um, so in a lot of, uh, like traditional communities, there’s kind of a pull between tradition, but also. Um, the modern world that we live in and, you know, all that. So, um, so that’s with regards to that and, uh, anyways, it got, it got reported on, um, with regards to being a female founder in Israel, it’s less about, um, Being like that Israeli society in general is, um, it’s traditional, but it’s also not religious.

Um, and particularly in tech. So nobody’s like, uh, you know, they’re not coming from a religious perspective, but, um, being a female founder, whether you’re in Israel or in the states or anywhere is, um, challenging. You are different than the standard founder and the place where that ends up having an impact is actually fundraising.

Um, I, you know, I’m sure there’s other places as well, but, um, by this point in my career, you know, people understand that I’m I’m WordPress expert and like, I have enough, I guess, credentials. Um, but when it comes to fundraising, So investors, when you go to fundraiser, basically fundraiser, basically asking investors to believe in your potential.

Because particularly like when we raised our seed round, we didn’t have much to show for it. At that point, we had some validation, we had customers and customers and we had my background and the market size and whatever. But in the end, you’re asking investors to believe in your potential and in your dream and in your vision.

I would walk into rooms and meet investors. And I don’t look like all the other founders they meet every day for years, who are men of a certain age from Tel Aviv? I’m from the Jerusalem area. I’m also an immigrant. I’m originally from Canada, not native Israeli. I didn’t serve in special intelligence units in the army.

I don’t check the boxes that they’re used to. And so, um, women in Israel. Um, I think in general, a much harder time raising funding. I did look at the statistics though, and it’s not in terms of the number of female founders versus male founders, et cetera. And how much funding is raised. It’s not different than in the states.

It’s the same, but we were able to raise funding in the states because just because there’s so many more funds there and there’s a lot more funding capital that, um, you know, the chances of raising their hand. Um, I do think also they’re more used to diverse founders, potentially. It’s hard to say exactly.

So that’s, that’s where it came in to play. It continues to be a challenge. Um, in some ways like every once in awhile, like it rears its head that, um, I’m being limited or there’s like a bias towards me because I’m a female founder. Um, but. We just keep pushing ahead and, you know, hopefully succeeding and hopefully one day people who underestimated me and the company will regret it because we will continue to hopefully succeed.

Um, but I know that female founders around the world face, face these issues. It’s, it’s not, um, it’s not specific to Israel. And then on the other hand, I know there’s like Israel is a country where it’s nothing’s black and white. Like it can, it can. A, and it can be, it can be heads and it can be tail. So on the one hand is the traditional perspective.

But then on the other hand, there are a lot of initiatives to support female founders and mine. And what’s like the minorities in Israel, um, in tech. And I did benefit from a lot of that. So, so on the one hand, there’s a lot of supports on the other hand, sometimes it really becomes an issue. Um, but that’s, I guess just how the world is. I think everywhere. That’s a long answer. I hope I answered it very fast.

[00:54:29] Joe Howard: Oh, very well. Uh, Miriam, thanks for being on the podcast. I appreciate you coming on. And it was really nice to talk with you to hear about your unique perspective and to learn from you. I’m always like selfish on this podcast. Like yes, people are listening and people get to listen to you, but I also get to like talk with you.

So how lucky am I? So thanks for hopping on two quick things before you go. One is, uh, I’d love for you to tell folks where they can find. online where they can find you online, social media websites, any of that jazz.

[00:54:59] Miriam Schwab: Okay. So first of all, you can find static at our website. It’s stratix.com two T’s in the middle of FCRA, double T I c.com.

Um, we are on Twitter. I’m on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn. So feel free to connect with me in any of those places. You can just search my name or Schwab. Um, if you want to email me, um, miriam@strata.com, that’s my email address. So feel free to do. Uh, DMS are open on Twitter also for me. So you can just direct message me if, if anyone wants to. And yeah, that’s where we’re, that’s where we are.

[00:55:30] Joe Howard: Very cool Miriam last but not least. I always ask our guests to ask our listeners for a little apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind just asking folks for a little review for the show.

[00:55:42] Miriam Schwab: Now that you’ve heard this episode and hopefully you’ll listen to other episodes. I am sure that you can ask you that this is a great podcast. And so please go to apple and leave a glowing review for VMR, R R and Joe, and everyone behind this.

[00:55:58] Joe Howard: Appreciate it, Miriam. Uh, if folks want to leave a review WP mrr.com forward slash review redirects you right there. If you are on a Mac or an apple device, if you are a new listener to the show, we’ve got 150 ish.

Episodes in the bank. Uh, so just go to WP, mrr.com forward slash podcast. You can look through some old episodes. We’ve also got a search bar there, so you can go and do a search for something you have a challenge with right now, Miriam talked a lot about pricing on this episode. So maybe you learn a little bit about pricing, but if you’re like, I still have questions, just head over to the search bar there and search for price or pricing.

And you’ll find a few episodes related to that topic that you can, uh, binge along with a bunch of other content. The WP MRR community, just at community dot WP, mrr.com. Um, this podcast is about listening to cool guests and a little bit about from me about some WordPress things. But if you want to interact, if you want to like build your monthly recurring revenue alongside other folks, and we can do it together.

Just go to the community and you can also search there. There’s a bunch of different conversations happening where you can take a look over the shoulder and see what other people are working on in terms of building their MRR. So cool place to be there as well. DWP, MRR, virtual summit coming up in September.

Um, it’s going to be three days. MRR tastic content sales, marketing operations. We have a website management day. Uh, so all that stuff, uh, if you register for the community, you’re automatically registered for the summit. Uh, so just community dot WP MRR. Cool. Okay, cool. That is it. For this week on the podcast, we will be in your ear buds again next Tuesday, Miriam.

Thank you again for being on. It’s been real. Bye buddy.

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