Ever looked back at your work and thought, “I could’ve done that better”?
That’s how we feel at WP Umbrella sometimes.
We take a look back every now and then and, honestly, sometimes we’re a bit embarrassed about how we were doing things six months ago – But we don’t let pride or ego get in the way. We just always give it our best shot, learn as we go, and keep moving forward.
What about you? What is the one thing you could have done better in your last job and why?
This is how I close every final stage of our job interview process. This is how I know that the person I’m about to hire in the team will fit into the small fast growing-messy company that we have been growing over the last two years.
We encourage this mindset in our team: to be honest, transparent, and to constantly seek ways to improve, not just in what we deliver, but in how we evolve as professionals and as a company.
This year marked a significant shift for us. We evolved from a duo of independent founders cherishing their independency to a unified team of five, all working towards a common goal: build the best WordPress management tool in the world for agencies and WordPress developers.
So this year, our journey has been about much more than just expanding our monthly recurring revenu. For those of you running your own businesses, you’re familiar with the challenges that come with scaling a company.
For me, however, it was an entirely new experience.
Fun Facts About 2023
- We made 2 657 364 backups.
- Updated 719 948 plugins.
- Warned you about 368 137 plugin vulnerabilities.
- 19 997 projects were created on WP Umbrella.
- We have grown by 248.19%.
Growing a Team
When I look back at what we achieved this year, I can think of of the innovative features we launched and the memorable WordCamps we attended, but also our growth in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR). However, our most significant achievement has been to start building a team capable of scaling WP Umbrella. Thomas, our CTO and fellow co-founder, and I have decided not to take any salary for ourselves yet. Instead, we are using that money to help our team grow.
In March 2023, I proudly welcomed our first team member, a talented junior full-stack developer. Sadly we had to part ways after 28 days. The issue? We hadn’t clearly defined our needs. We looked for a junior team member with potential, but this approach proved misguided and revealed a lack of clarity in my vision.
The backend of WP Umbrella is complex and unexpectedly low-level, posing a challenge in writing code scalable across thousands of websites. This is a skill set beyond the reach of a junior developer.
This experience was a tough but invaluable lesson. It reshaped our hiring strategy, leading to three subsequent hires who significantly accelerated our development pace while maintaining excellent customer service.
These new guys (Florian, Adel & Boris 👋) are the reasons why our product update pace is so crazy at the moment.
But team growth isn’t just about recruitment. It involves building a strong knowledge base, establishing rituals, and refining processes. Throughout the year, we frequently updated our project management approach, transitioning from Linear to Trello to Notion.
Finally, we consolidated everything on GitHub, organizing our work in two-week sprints, a common practice in the industry. What sets us apart is that our entire company, not just the tech team, uses GitHub. This transparency ensures everyone is aware of each other’s work.
We are still learning about HR, but we’re dedicated to keeping things fair and simple. I think this approach is key to why our team seems to enjoy working at WP Umbrella, which is something I’m really proud of.
At the end of the day, a company is about people working together and trusting each other. I trust my team completely, and I’m grateful that they trust me just as much.
We will hold our first start-up retreat in June for the WordCamp Europe, and I’m so excited about it..!
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From 80k to 300K+ ARR in 12 Months
2023 began with WP Umbrella’s Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) at $7,062, roughly an $80,000+ Annual Run Rate. We wrapped up the fiscal year surpassing $25,000 in MRR, which equates to about a $300,000 Annual Run Rate.
Our user base also saw impressive growth, expanding from 479 paying customers (plus those from AppSumo deals) to over 1,300. Meanwhile, our average revenue per user increased from $14 to $18 per month, and we anticipate this figure will rise even further next year with the release of our team member, safe update and public API feature.
Additionally, our monthly churn rate has significantly dropped and now stabilizes around more or less 3%. This is a testament to the efforts we’ve put into making WP Umbrella a more robust and reliable platform.
These business metrics are outstanding for a bootstrapped startup, and we’re optimistic about maintaining this upward trajectory in the coming year as we continue to enhance WP Umbrella, and probably start to do some real marketing. I’ll delve more into these future plans later in this post.
Building WP Umbrella: A Community-Driven Approach
As the CEO and Chief Product Officer at WP Umbrella, my approach to product development is anchored in two fundamental beliefs:
- User-Centric Development: Our users are essential to the evolution of WP Umbrella. Their feedback, needs, and experiences are the driving force behind every feature we develop and every improvement we make. It’s not just about building a product; it’s about fostering a community where each member contributes to the product’s growth. We mean it and we try to reflect this in every thing that we do.
- We’re crafting a tool for developers that shouldn’t feel like a typical developer’s tool: We aim to create a tool for developers that breaks away from the norm in WordPress. It should be user-friendly, easy-to-use and not intimidating. Our goal is to bridge the gap between advanced functionality and intuitive design, ensuring that WP Umbrella is both a robust and accessible tool for developers of all skill levels – and trust me, this is not a piece of cake when you build an all-in-one solution.
To truly integrate our users into WP Umbrella’s development, we need more than just passive users; we need active participants. This means engaging with a community of users who are not only using our product but also invested in its improvement.
In November, when we shifted our roadmap visibility from Notion to Canny, the change in user engagement was striking. It was more than just numbers; it was about the quality of the interactions. Users were not only suggesting new features but also discussing the potential impact of these features, sharing their personal experiences, and helping us prioritize what matters most.
The level of engagement we saw in November was enlightening. It reinforced the idea that WP Umbrella is not just a tool but a platform shaped by its user community. This feedback loop has become a cornerstone of our development process, providing us with invaluable insights.
This direct line of communication with our users does more than just inform our development decisions; it energizes our entire team. Knowing that real people are benefiting from our work and are eager to see it evolve gives us a sense of purpose. It’s a reminder that what we’re building has a tangible impact on our users’ professional lives.
We’re not just building a product; we’re trying to cultivate an ecosystem where every user has a stake in the success of WP Umbrella.
WordCamps: Pivotal Moments of the Year for Us
WordCamps have always been significant milestones for us, for a multitude of reasons. This year, we made the exciting decision to sponsor the first WordCamp Asia. Imagine the thrill for a founder traveling across the globe to showcase their product!
At WordCamp Asia, we had the opportunity to meet with some of the major players in the WordPress community, paving the way for strategic partnerships. It was there that I first met Oliver, the CEO of Patchstack. Our meeting set the stage for the release of our security monitoring feature a few months later. Discussions about partnerships and integrations also began with the teams at Yoast and Elementor. However, if I were to single out one encounter, it would be with Saad from Cloudways.
After demonstrating WP Umbrella to Saad, he took an immediate liking to our product. Within weeks, we were featured on the Cloudways website. This not only boosted our confidence in our product but also became a significant source of new customer acquisition.
WordCamps are where the magic happens, whether it’s in Bangkok, Athens, Paris, or Biarritz. In 2024, we plan to sponsor WCEU, WCUS, and many local WordCamps. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with our users face-to-face and support this amazing community..!
Enhancing WP Umbrella with New Features
This year has been a landmark one for WP Umbrella, as we’ve introduced a plethora of new features. For those who may have missed our monthly product updates, here’s a recap of what we’ve added to WP Umbrella over the last 12 months:
- Scheduled Maintenance Reports: These reports are designed to help you demonstrate the value of your work to your clients more effectively.
- Labels & Filters: We’ve introduced these tools to assist you in better organizing your websites and actions.
- .htaccess Protected Sites Compatibility: This feature allows you to connect your staging environments to WP Umbrella seamlessly.
- Client Management Enhancements: We’ve refined client management, enabling you to use variables in reports for more personalized communication.
- Bulk Plugin Addition Across Sites: This functionality facilitates the easy deployment of hotfixes across multiple sites.
- Security Monitoring: A key addition to help you keep your clients’ websites secure and protected.
- Automatic Database Upgrades for WooCommerce and Elementor: This feature is a real time-saver, automating updates for these popular plugins.
- Bulk Deletion of Plugins or Themes Across Sites: Another time-saving feature, allowing for more efficient management of plugins and themes.
- Custom Notes: This tool enables you to share information about websites within your team, enhancing internal communication and collaboration.
- Bulk Database Optimization: This new feature allows for efficient optimization of databases across multiple WordPress sites, ensuring smoother and faster performance.
Each of these features has been designed to make multiple WordPress websites management more efficient, secure, and user-friendly for our users. We have also started to create a real design system and a coherence between the different interfaces.
The past year at WP Umbrella wasn’t just about rolling out new features; a significant part of our focus was on stabilization. We dedicated considerable effort to enhancing the stability and scalability of all our existing features. This behind-the-scenes work, often unnoticed, kept us busy for many months.
Our ongoing challenge is ensuring WP Umbrella’s compatibility with every WordPress site, even those on shared hosting environments overloaded with plugins and backup archives.
Additionally, we transitioned our infrastructure from a self-managed OVH server to a fully managed solution at Scaleways. This move was strategic, ensuring that our infrastructure could support our anticipated growth in the upcoming months.
In the tech SaaS world, infrastructure is crucial yet often underestimated. I’m glad we anticipated this issue, ensuring that we won’t face it in the future.
Looking Ahead: Our Vision for 2024
As we step into 2024, we’re not just thankful for the journey thus far, but also brimming with excitement for what lies ahead. Your support and feedback have been the cornerstone of our growth, and for that, we are immensely grateful – So thank you for being an integral part of our WP Umbrella story.
But our journey doesn’t stop here. We’re on the cusp of introducing groundbreaking features (safe update, team member, and much more) that we believe will change in the positive manner the way you do WordPress maintenance. Stay tuned for these updates, as we’re confident they will excite you as much as they do us.
We also invite you to continue sharing your insights and suggestions. Your voice is vital in shaping the future of WP Umbrella. Together, let’s redefine what’s possible in the world of WordPress management.
Here’s to another year of innovation, growth, and community at WP Umbrella! 🚀