On this episode of the Rogue Startups Podcast we welcome fellow WordPress guru Brad Touesnard to the show.  Brad is founder of the custom web application firm Delicious Brains, co-host of the Apply Filters Podcast, and owner of WP Migrate DB Pro.  As Brad discusses he has always leaned towards entrepreneurship as a path in life, and this was quickly the path after his college days.

Brad’s first product within the WordPress ecosystem was WP Migrate DB, which was initially released into the repo without much fanfair.  In 2012 Brad decided to turn this one product into a real venture, first with a shot at a premium plugin repo within WordPress.  While this didn’t quite work out for a few implementation reasons, it did give Brad the framework for what types of products would perform well in the market.  

As WordPress products currently rely heavily on the open source repo as a source of traffic and exposure to the premium products, the threat of a dominant WP marketplace is something that all product owners are aware of.  While this likely will never happen within the .org community, it may come from another 3rd party provider.  Brad and Dave notice that this business risk may be the reason that some products are moving from a strictly WordPress based model to more of a SAAS model.  OptinMonster and EventEspresso have recently made this transition, and many more are likely to follow.

Over the last year Brad has hired 5 full time employees, and quickly realized that hiring a remote team is tougher than it sounds.  Because most of the good work out there is on hiring in-office employees, a remote worker is completely different.  Changing the mental thought process is necessary when hiring a remote employee, and employers need to embrace that too.  

Specifically, Brad has learned this about how to hire a virtual team.  This all revolves around a Trial Period:  This is paid well, and is flexible within the confines of their current work situation.  They key factors to look at during this trial include:

Brad’s one piece of advice for people just starting out in the WordPress space is to focus on plugins, not themes.  Within plugins, start with several ideas and build out free versions of them.  If any of those get traction then survey the users of that product to gauge its commercial viability.

Brad’s new product did just this, and is about to launch.  WP Offload S3 is a plugin that offloads your WordPress database to Amazon S3, speeding up the delivery of your site.  The free version of the plugin has been available for some time now, and has seen great performance for the site.  

When it comes to new ideas for plugins, both Brad and Dave are big fans of adopting existing plugins.  You can either email plugins@wordpress.org and they’ll help you with the conversion process, or contact the previous owner directly.  This has been done successfully in the past, and is a great way to start a new project, instead of completely starting from scratch.

As the competition in the WordPress space is increasing Brad and the team at Delicious Brains is moving into the SAAS space.  The team will be addressing a major pain point in syncing databases between live and local/development sites.  With the lessons of The Lean Startup in mind the team will be doing a lot of rapid development, testing, and iterating.  

To learn more about Brad and what he and the team at Delicious Brains are up to head over to deliciousbrains.com, read his blog where he writes about entrepreneurship and WordPress development, or connect with him on Twitter @bradt.

Lastly, if you’re a snowboarder or skier (and happen to be an entrepreneur too!) check out Big Snow, Tiny Conf.  This is a fantastic mastermind-like conference each year on Sugarbush Mountain, VT. Brad and fellow entrepreneur Brian Casel have been putting the conference on together for years, and it’s always a favorite with founders.  Big Snow Tiny Conf West is going to be coming this coming February at Beaver Creek, CO.  Stay tuned for details!

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