Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
My name is Marius, and I appreciate the opportunity to be in this interview series.
I am the founder and general manager of the WPRiders agency. We provide back-end WordPress development, white-label plugin development, maintenance, and WordPress troubleshooting.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
Our current mission is to help entrepreneurs be successful online. For tech-entrepreneurs, we build commercial WordPress plugins that they can then go and sell in mass. Or, we integrate their SaaS platforms with WordPress, and thus they get access to this vast WordPress market.
With non-tech entrepreneurs, we work on launching internet platforms: marketplaces similar to Airbnb, e-learning portals like Udemy, or recruiting platforms (job websites) like Monster.com
I started as a Freelancer, and in about one year, I reached a point where I had prepaid projects for 1-2 months in advance. Next, I hired two developers and later a Project Manager, a Business Analyst, and a Tester.
The mushroom analogy best illustrates the reason I scaled up from a freelancer. If you are like a mushroom, you have only one leg, and your stability is minimal. For example, if you are not working during a vacation or because you are, God forbid, sick, that leg gets temporarily cut, and the entire workflow stops. By hiring three more people, I converted myself from a mushroom standing on one leg into a chair with four legs. Now, even if one of the “legs” is out of activity due to various reasons, the chair is still useful even with three legs.
What is your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We work with full-time in-house employees because we need them to be predictable and engaged. This makes us very reliable in the eyes of our customers.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
We have finished more than 1150 WordPress projects during the last five years. With so many projects under our belt, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to WordPress. We can tell you if a plugin is useful or not, because most certainly we’ve worked with it and, we have reviewed its source code.
Besides that, by leveraging the WordPress ecosystem, we can launch a pretty sophisticated platform or marketplace MVP in only 60 days. When coded from scratch, the same project can take at least 12 months to build and launch.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?
We work with customers from all the industries, and more than 70% of our customers come back for more work. The top 3 verticals that we work with would be:
- E-commerce and subscriptions
- Sharing economy/marketplaces
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a web app.
Clarity is the number one factor in determining the timeframe for developing a web app. Based on my 7-year long Ph.D. research, we have developed an in-house methodology for gauging the needed effort and hence, the timeframe.
Essentially, we follow these steps:
1) We ensure the requirements of the task are clearly written and readily translate-able into the code. If they are not, we run a paid Discovery Session with the client where we interview the client, clarify the requirements, and make all the architectural decisions before writing the code.
2) If there are known unknowns (things we know are complex, and we don’t know how to estimate), we provide visibility into the challenge by creating one or several Micro Prototypes. These have the goal of revealing the technical challenge by providing more visibility into the issue at hand.
3) Once we are clear about what we should do and how are we going to approach it technically, we break down the entire project to small 6-hour byte-sized tasks and estimate them. When doing this, it is crucial to be mindful, to be present to notice all the aspects, big and small requirements, explicit or implicit.
4) In the end, we adjust the estimate using our average estimate error coefficient for the last six months.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a web app?
This hugely depends on the nature of the project and its requirements. Since we focus mostly on backend development, in our case, it’s probably 80% backend and 20% frontend.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a web application?
Before the platform, I would ensure you have tested your business idea.
Once you know there is traction/interest in your idea, you need to see:
1) What your development budget for the next 12 months is. Your budget greatly influences the choice of a platform because some of the platforms have a steeper initial curve, and the developers are more expensive, but later down the road, the initial effort will pay off.
2) Your familiarity with a platform. If you are already familiar with a platform, that would be an essential factor in choosing it for your new project.
3) How many users and (or products if you are an eCommerce) will there be on your platform within the next 12 months? If you plan to start with 100,000 users, then you need a completely different approach than if you start with 500 users.
4) What is the list of the top features that you need to have during the next 12 months?
Which platform and technologies do you prefer to use in the development of your web apps?
Do you offer website design templates or customized website design, and do you have a responsive website design?
Since our focus is more on building back-end features, we do not have a full-time designer on our team. However, if you already have a design, we know how to code a super speedy, responsive and mobile-optimized website out of your design.
Which Content Management System do you prefer to use (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc)?
Our current focus is on WordPress.
Do you provide website maintenance services?
Yes, some of the best working relationships are with the recurring clients on a retainer because we can allocate more resources, like a dedicated Customer Success Manager, Tester, or even Product Manager. Some of the best projects came up as a result of a retainer-based arrangement.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a web application?
The cost of an application is directly related to the complexity of the project. And since we are very good at estimating project efforts, we factor in our daily rate to obtain the cost.
For us, the main factors that determine the effort and cost of the web application are the technology that has to be used, the size/scale of the web app, the number and complexity of User Stories (i.e. features), the urgency.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions, etc.)
We work based on a retainer-based arrangement, where clients buy a couple of days per month from us. But we also do fix priced projects for a particular category of projects.
Do you take in projects which meet your essential budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
We usually deal with projects ranging between $2,000 and $50,000. Not always, but a guide from the client about the budget will make it easier to get the best recommendation from us.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in2018?
Our projects ranged between $1000 for small features coming from returning customers and up to $50,000 for larger builds.