How does a Mixergy fan in India who has a MONTHLY food budget of just $12 bootstrap a profitable software company?
Vipin Sahu is the founder of WebKul, which is a company that builds open source plugins for e-commerce and CMS platforms.
Vipin Sahu, Webkul
Vipin Sahu is the founder of WebKul, which is a company that builds open source plugins for e-commerce and CMS platforms.
Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the Founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. Whoo, I’ve got a great interview for you today, an entrepreneur that I don’t think you know yet about, but I think you need to.
We’re going to find out how a Mixergy fan in India who started out with a monthly food budget, a monthly food budget of just 12 bucks, how he bootstrapped a profitable software company. Vipin Sahu is the Founder of Webkul software, a company that builds plug-ins for e-Commerce and CMS plug- ins.
This interview is sponsored by AndrewsWelcomeGate.com. What is AndrewsWelcomeGate.com? If you go there, you will see the page that gets me my highest conversions. Gets me more people to give me their email address, and trust me with their email address so that I can continue my relationship with them than any other paid ad ever created.
I’m making it available to you if you go to AndrewsWelcomeGate.com. You can use it. You can start building relationships with your audience by asking them to give you their email address, and I know it will work because it’s worked for me. But I’ll tell you more about that later, but first I want to welcome my guest.
Maybe I should stop talking so quickly as I do it. Vipin, welcome.
Vipin: Hi, Andrew.
Andrew: I wanted to make sure before we started that I didn’t exaggerate the food budget, that it was really $12. And you said, “Andrew, that is true. It really was my food budget.” I’m wondering then what kind of food would you eat for $12 a month?
Vipin: That’s quite a funny story because actually in India there’s something called Maggi. It’s pretty popular. You can call it as a junk food as well. It’s like $12 we were getting 10 rupees at a one-time meal. So it’s pretty easy to cook. So you can put it in the pot and then warm it up and it’s like a noodle. So it’s pretty easy to cook and very much popular among the bachelors and even college graduates and [??].
So we started this way before we don’t have enough money because we started technically from the college and haven’t taken any money from the venture capitalists or even from our parents.
Andrew: Wait until you guys in the audience hear how big this company got and wait until you hear in the early days when he couldn’t afford a computer what he had to do. It’s amazing, but we’ll start off with where this idea came from. In your college days you and your roommates started creating plug-ins for Facebook, right?
Andrew: What kind of plug-ins did you create for Facebook?
Vipin: Actually we started the company in the summer of 2009 and 2010 and in between the two of them in 2010. Facebook was quite new. It wasn’t that new, but Facebook basically had the API in 2010. So every person wanted to embed their Facebook profile and use the plug-in to go to their website. So we think about it.
Why are we not creating a plug-in from the data from the Facebook and just embed it to their website? So I think that was a good idea, so we created the Facebook API and then we built that for the Juno, and then Magenta, and then Joomla.
Andrew: Joomla is a publishing platform just like WordPress, and I’m looking at one of your plug-ins from back then. February 6, 2010, apparently is when you uploaded this plug-in. It was called latest Tweets, and it allows anyone who uses Joomla publisher content to also very easily embed their Tweets on their site. That’s what you created back then and you were just in college at the time.
Vipin: Yeah, just past college. It was like three to four months after the college.
Andrew: I see a lot of positive feedback for this. I also see here on the right of Joomla that it says that it’s a paid download. How much do you charge for it? I don’t see the price.
Vipin: If you just click on there and download from the website, it’s [??] and you can download it from there.
Andrew: I see. It’s 15 bucks.
Vipin: Fifteen bucks.
Andrew: And you started charging $15 for it right from the start?
Vipin: Initially it was 10 bucks. Then we increased the price to 15.
Andrew: Why Joomla? Why not WordPress?
Vipin: That’s a pretty interesting question because really the basic question was we needed to make money, and WordPress doesn’t allow paid listing into the WordPress. That’s why we started contacting Joomla. And lately I started as the Joomla Director. Of course, that was a plus point so we started contacting them.
Andrew: I see. You knew Joomla better. You also knew that you could charge for Joomla apps in their App Store. So, it was a good decision. How much money did you make when you were selling this app for ten dollars, this plugin for ten dollars?
Vipin: Actually in the start, in one month or two months, it was like month three we were generating around 500 bucks.
Andrew: 500 bucks in month three?
Andrew: That buys you a lot of, what did you call those things that I think of as Ramen? Maji? Maggi?
Vipin: It’s M-A, double-G, I. It’s a Maggi.
Andrew: Maggi. That buys you a lot of Maggis.
Vipin: So actually, we need to pay the rent as well, where we were doing. That’s why I and my business partner were in a single room flat.
Andrew: I see.
Vipin: We were looking to have some interns and to manage some computers and some [??].
Vipin: So we were just saving some tiny, tiny bucks into our pocket. We were just trying to build something big.
Andrew: You did it yourself. Was there any app in the early days around the time that you created Latestweets plugin? Were there any other plugins that didn’t work for you, that failed?
Vipin: Well, we had a lot more than twelve plugins.
Vipin: I guess due to the social media boom, there was Facebook Wall Feeds and, another one, that Latestweets. Those were the most successful plugins. The rest of them weren’t that good. The rest of the plugins were around, in a month, it was just one or two sales. It’s not that good. So, it happens, it happens.
Andrew: I see something called Slide Tweet, which is a Twitter search module.
Andrew: Lets you show your tweets in a Twitter-style sliding effect. That one didn’t seem to do that great, right?
Vipin: Yup, it wasn’t that great.
Andrew: The Stock Ticker didn’t seem to do that great.
Vipin: Yeah, it wasn’t.
Andrew: Facebook News Feeds, that one did well, you said?
Vipin: Facebook, there were two plugins. One is Facebook New Feeds, and the other one is Facebook Wall Feeds. News Feed means it will display the news feed of the Facebook profile, and Wall Feeds supposed that if you had some business page. The content of your business page would display right there.
Andrew: Okay, which one did well, and which one didn’t do well? Oh no, Facebook Wall Feeds did do well.
Vipin: It’s a [??], that means it’s like the best in the world.
Andrew: That one’s doing really well. I can see that here. It’s actually one of the most popular plugins in the Joomla marketplace.
Vipin: It’s the most popular in the world, in the Facebook category, this Facebook Module category, social media.
Andrew: How long did it take you to create each of these plugins?
Vipin: Just in the night. I just took from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. in the morning and I just created it.
Andrew: Just overnight? One night is how long it takes you to create one of these plugins?
Vipin: Yes, I did that.
Andrew: You don’t seem impressed by that. I’m impressed by it, but I’m looking at your face and it seems like, “Eh, it’s nothing”. I’m worried about being too excited about it, because maybe I’m excited about nothing. Why aren’t you more impressed by the fact that you were able to create this so quickly and have it produce revenue?
Vipin: Yeah, actually what happened was, there were two kinds of things. An open source market, which is our target base. We are selling plugins which are open source. So, people are just purchasing the module, and they have all the source code there. So, they can customize it and they can use it. So, most of the time what is happening is that the customer who purchases the product, it’s a one-time purchase.
At that time we were not charging for the support. So, it’s like if someone has purchased one time, support was for a lifetime. We were not generating any revenue after that. So, we need to find something, a bigger thing, because we were hiring more and more people, more experienced people. We would have to take care of the office. The [??], bigger office, generator, internet, everything.
Andrew: I see.
Vipin: We need a great product and having a good price-tag on that so we can keep moving. Because profit is [??], if we don’t make it, we will die soon.
Andrew: Before we get into how you kept growing and growing the business, I’m curious about the time that you spent 14 days at a job. Why did you get a job, and why 14 days?
Vipin: Okay, that’s pretty interesting. Right now it’s a very interesting story, but at that time it was quite scary.
Andrew: I bet.
Vipin: It was very scary, because I used to weep a lot. I was crying.
Andrew: You were crying?
Vipin: Yeah, because I was…
Andrew: On the job?
Vipin: On the job means, it’s not like you say. It was a pretty decent job. In India, everyone wants to join a company. It’s a dream to join some [??], a multinational company. So, I was selecting a multinational company with my 30 other colleagues. But what happened is it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was the double-up man, and coding programming and some research [??]. And me and my business partners are very good friends, we are still very good friends. But because of the job, family pressure and everything I needed to stop the job.
I realized, no way, for me it is not the right job because they are interested in the enterprise sense and I was not interested in the enterprise. I don’t care about the enterprise. I was very much focused on [development] and plug-in department.
I thought if I joined the company I can enhance my skills but it wasn’t like that. As soon a possible, if you don’t like it, just quit it. So I just cut it out. I called my parents and my father was retired at that time, he told me, ‘if you can handle your budget, if you can handle your expenditure, then there is no issue. Just quit your job and follow your dreams.’
Andrew: Wow! And so that’s what you did. But in order to make money in the early days I heard that you did some SEO work and you did some consulting work. Right?
Vipin: Yeah. What happens is when you are starting, you have to generate money because quitting a job is hard enough. It’s not that simple. It’s a first step, when people quit their job or people quit college but it’s not that finalistic. It’s only the first step. We were looking for some development work so we could generate money from other sides and we can keep generating plug-ins and other products on the other side.
So, we didn’t have a salesperson because we didn’t have any money. And we both knew how to code but we didn’t know how to sell. When we jumped into the market there was lots and lots of middlemen. And that’s how the development started. The end party was changing $5,000 and everyone is asking, “Is that just for the commission?”
So at one time there was seven million of them, so, you can imagine what it would cost. We thought if we had the right business model and we should just focus on the internet sales. So we kept looking into the SEO’s, SEM’s and we started consulting and we generated . . .
Andrew: How did you get SEO clients and Search Engine Marketing clients?
Vipin: We didn’t get the Search Engine Marketing clients, we did it ourselves.
Andrew: Oh, I see, you started doing some search engine optimization for yourself so that you can get more customers for your plug-ins.
Vipin: Just for an example, last week I created a blog, ‘The Top Five Best Modules’ kind of thing.
Andrew: Were they all your modules? Modules that you were a part of?
Vipin: Three of them referred and two of them was us. So, you know?
Andrew: I see. Content Marketing was one thing you did to get customers, buying ads was another thing. It seems to me just being in the marketplace, being in the Joomla Marketplace, in the Magento Marketplace seems so help you get a lot of customers. Right?
Vipin: Yes, truly, truly. Every time someone purchases a product and they ask for support? I was there. Many times in the night, in the day, every day. If someone sends an email, he gets a reply within seconds because I was there. I was the double-upper. I was the support person. I was everything. People were very happy and after solving their problem, I always asked them to post a good review.
Andrew: That’s how you end up with so many reviews. I see you in the Joomla Marketplace with tons of good reviews, whereas I wouldn’t expect plug-ins to get that kind of feedback. When it comes to getting customers, when I comes to getting traffic, as far as I can see here, by just checking out Similarweb, juma.org and magentocommerce.com are by far, combined, your biggest sources of traffic.
Vipin: Yeah, they’re still they.
Andrew: They still are. It’s the marketplace, by picking to be in those marketplaces as opposed to WordPress, you allowed yourself to get more customers. Here’s another thing that I noticed. You also make some plug-ins free as a way of marketing your business and getting people in the door for your paid plug-ins. Right?
Vipin: Yeah. Like when generating the traffic, those plug-ins are not just junk plug-ins, they are useful but if you cannot [catch it in the [??] like the paid plug-ins, they are getting more [??] as compared to the free. But that doesn’t mean the free ones are junk. We weren’t involved in the administrative but we [definitely ??].
Andrew: Give me an example of good, free plug-in that brings in traffic to your paid business.
Vipin: Actually, my business partner was creating business application. At that time, Facebook Apps was really popular. A lot of people were developing applications, like [??] application, [??] application. There were a lot of applications. So, that was our [??] customer. So, it was a project, and contacted us to develop a [??] for his customer. So, we built it out on the Facebook application. And then, he is our [??] customer until now, and we are just doing something. We are doing many times, we are also – the app we build, [??]. We are building [??] . . . if you will visit in our Magento [SP] Marketplace site, you will see there is a Magento [??] bridge. So, a lot of people are using that bridge as a connection . . .
Andrew: What you created for them became a plugin that now you are selling to other people, do I understand you right?
Vipin: No, no. We don’t sell people’s product or people’s project into our site. That’s not [??]. We don’t go like that. So, we are getting service project from him. Not nowadays, but one or two [??] back. And we were just developing [??]. Because he was our first customer, so we just [??].
Andrew: OK. I did look you up in stack overflow. I see, you got a lot of help from stack overflow in the early days. You’re asking questions like, “I want to use Keep Alive feature of Apache, how can I use it with my host.ht access and what should be the best values for the parameters like KeepAlive timeout? Thanks.”
And you got a response from someone, this was back from February 2010, saying you can’t control KeepAlive behavior in .ht access, etc. So even though you’re disconnected, I feel, from part of the world, you’re fully connected and immersed in the world because of sites like Stack Overflow.
Vipin: Yeah, and some of that I’m just in [??] link. So, that may be . . .
Andrew: Yeah, let me see. Send the link over. While you send the link over, I’m going to do a quick plug here for what I said at the top of the interview, which is AndrewsWelcomeGate.com. What is AndrewsWelcomeGate.com, and why should you care? Well, here’s why you should care.
All of us online want more people to participate in what we’re doing, more qualified people. The problem is, too many people are obsessed with hits. How do I get more hits, how many hits do you have, how many unique hits do you have a month? Hits are no way, I don’t think, to build a real business. What you want is relationships. How do you turn a hit into a relationship? You give people the opportunity to give you their email address so you can start building that relationship with them via email.
All right. But getting people to give up their email address is pretty tough, especially if you don’t know how to create a page that’s convincing, especially if you don’t have the tools . . . the persuasion tools, or the software tools to do it right. Well, it took me a couple of years to get a page that gets it so right that over 20% of people who come to it give me their email address, trust me to build a relationship with them via email. That’s the page that I want to make available to you right now. And you can get it at Andrew’s Welcome Gate.com.
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[??] were you going over to that URL right now?
Andrew: That’s cool. This is how I know that these ads are working. Every single guest, except for one, has gone over. And the one who didn’t go stuck around because I asked him for feedback on my promotion, so I’m getting better and better. All right. Here, and I see and you sent me a link, stackoverflow. That is you responding and giving somebody else help. And you said the answer came from, and you linked over to your site where people can see it.
Vipin: Yeah. It’s a lot like the 404 before making some issue with that.
Andrew: I see that it is 404 . . .[??] . . .
Vipin: It’s really upgrading the site. I believe it’s an issue with the URL. But you can see that people are just copying the code from our website and they are just putting the link into the stack work mode. So even just the developer blog, we are the developers. But still we are creating the plug-ins for the developers so that’s why we started.
Even if you’re in the manufacturing industry, language is an issue but I don’t answer that. That’s hard to log, but still you can just start with that. You see, you don’t need to be partaking every day. You can learn things step by step.
Andrew: So that’s impressive that you are able to do that and bring traffic from it. I see now where your customers are coming from. One of your challenges though is, now that you’re starting to get customers, hiring other developers so that you’re not up in the middle of the night answering customer service e-mail, and coding, and trying to figure out the business, and doing everything else. And so you hired, at first, an intern for free. Right?
Vipin: We were paying very little money and we had intern.
Andrew: Okay. Very little money. You also didn’t have enough money to buy a computer for the person. So how did you work that out? You’re a computer- based business, how do you get your intern on a computer if you can’t afford a second computer for her, or for him.
Vipin: So what happened, like, there was a fellow we had as an intern. So what happened is me and my business partner bought our PC. Back then we don’t have a laptop or a Mac book kind of thing. So we both have a PC. So what was happening at that time, I was to sleep in daytime so that interns can come into the day and he can work on my PC. And I work on the night. So we need to work things out and we need to move on. That’s how we . . .
Andrew: So the intern’s working during the day on the computer. Intern leaves. You wake up. You use the computer during the night. Intern comes in. You go to sleep during the day so the intern can use the computer. That is unbelievable.
Vipin: And many things started happening, like interns coming into our room because we don’t have an office there. So I used to teach them because I used to explain consult so that he can work like I need to go out on assignment then. Like things work out, you need to bungee cord [sounds like]. You need to buy STML. And wanting this [??] . . .
Andrew: The intern would wake you up, come to your bed and say, I have this problem. Can you help me out? And you would teach them and then go back to sleep?
Vipin: Many times it happened.
Vipin: Many times it happened. And I asked them strictly that if you are stuck anything, anywhere, anytime, just see me. Anytime. Just bring me out and I will help you out.
Andrew: What year is this?
Vipin: It was 2009.
Vipin: August, 2009 to, like, February, 2010.
Andrew: I wonder if there is developer out there in my audience right now who has this problem, who has one computer and has someone else working and needs this shared computer? If you do, please ping me. I would like to help you out. This cannot be an issue for you. In 2009, computers were still about $500 bucks. Right?
Andrew: And you were bringing in some revenue, so you had something going on for you. You just needed, you know, a little bit more so you can hire people. Then you started building more plug-ins, more revenue is starting to come in. You started to develop this inbound marketing strategy that we talked about. And so more customers were coming in. Terrific. It’s time to hire more people. Is it easier or hard to hire people when you’re just starting out as a bootstrapper in India?
Vipin: It was very hard. It’s still very hard. I guess hiring is the biggest challenge if you’re a development company. I don’t know if I have to, if I’m not in this industry, in the support industry, so I can’t think doing that. But if you’re a development company, then hiring is the biggest challenge.
So when did we look into our ecosystem when our friend [sounds like] cycle and in our callers [sounds like]. And [??], we just [??], but I maintained maybe a hundred interviews and then we started out one person because person needs to be very good in development.
Andrew: Why is it so hard? We in the U.S. seem like, all we hear is that the Indian developers are going to take our jobs because they’re so many of them and because they don’t charge much. Why is it so hard if you’re living in India to access all these people that we’re told about in the U.S. that are out there?
Vipin: Okay, so maybe like funding or you can say it’s a complex answer. So the thing is in our industry, in my industry we are creating plug-ins and somehow we’re creating duplicate plug-ins. So we need to do various [??] because we are not creating a skilled plug-ins, like we are not creating in the performance and [??]. If not good then I suppose that someone is using [??] plug-in. A hundred user or a thousand user comes in [??] then it’s very dangerous for [??]. We really do take care of that code and its scalability on the market and the plug-in.
So hiring the right person is very hard because somehow the culture is very much responsible for that. And somehow I’m not blaming them the Indian culture, but somehow people are moving towards the sales thing for the MB part and they’re not much focusing [??]. And that’s why I guess things are getting worse.
In India people are getting more and more worse [??] but they are really hard to hire, not in India, even in the U.S. They’re very hard to find good technical people. That’s why people are hiring from me even the developers. [??] That’s why it’s really hard to hire skilled people.
Andrew: Even today.
Vipin: At the start we don’t have money to pay someone a thousand or three thousand in a month. So that was a great, great challenge too to find someone to pay less and hire [??].
Andrew: And when you were starting to hire, were you still living in a flat and working from the same place?
Vipin: Yeah, we were living in the same place 1.5 years, one and a half years because what happened there was two of us, and me and my business partner, [??] bathroom and in the front room there was everything out and there was a full computer and people were [??] because what was happening was the bootstrap company, we were looking into the profit of things. We were not [??] the business. We needed to convey traffic because the money will come [??]. We need to generate profit. We need to get the traffic and build [??]. That was our plans. We built the content.
Andrew: So you kept building the content. You kept increasing your sales, slowing hiring as much as you could under the circumstances. What about the problem you mentioned at the top which is when someone buys one of your plug-ins they just buy it and go away. But they could keep hitting you up for customer service and tech support for years. Did you start charging for ongoing support?
Vipin: In our previous start we weren’t charging because they were the [??] and we don’t have like a good [??] with five, six, one year. We were not great going so at the start for a year, two years, that kind of thing, bu nowadays we have free three month support. After that we were charging.
Andrew: For all of your plug-ins? Three months of free support and then you charge.
Vipin: Then we charge it.
Andrew: And then do you charge when people buy or do you charge after the fact or after the three months are over?
Vipin: We go the opposite side which is during the purchase for support and even they can extend the license after that.
Andrew: And so now do you have ongoing, predictable revenue because of that?
Vipin: Yeah, we have. [??] Mainly due because of the [??].
Andrew: Let me see. I’m going into the WordPress. You’ve got WordPress. I see the WordPress.
Vipin: But we [??] because we were not very much focused on the WordPress as I told you that really doesn’t provide the bid listing. So we just started, takes out our only store, and that the store that could not come. And now we work a lot on the single part and the various structures and the richest secret part and that’s why we get good “traffic”. If anyone types Magentomarketplace into the Google, he will see how it is struggling on the top.
Andrew: If I go to the Magento Marketplace, you’re saying?
Vipin: Google to the Google.com, and type in Magento Marketplace.
Andrew: Oh, okay. Google.com, of course, oh, here, magentomarketplace.
Vipin: And you will see there’s a link maybe on the bottom. . . .[??] . . .
Andrew: Yeah, I see it. Yeah, it’s magentomarketplace’s website. And then there are couple of Utube videos and then right underneath that I see you with your add-ons for Magento. That’s how popular you are. And this is because of your SEL?
Vipin: It’s because the fact here and the prickle of the finger website in today’s stock or friend. I suppose understanding really didn’t and this type of flow. He cannot just discussing anymore either. It wouldn’t be distilling [sounds like]. I think you will link on those type of flow.
Andrew: Yeah. Let’s take a look at another stock overflow link that you sent me via Skype chat. Developing a Magento module for marketplace multi- vendor. That’s the question, and actually, it seems like that’s the question and the answer.
Vipin: And they are just putting, like, a link for the marketplace. So we’re quite fortunate in the marketplace area. And then what happens? Then the sales increase. We get, like, the same plug-in into the [??] and from the Junebug and to the whole pink card. And now we are developing into part of Moocommerce and pink card. You already interview for the Moocommerce, I know. I not already watch it.
Andrew: Yes, commerce has been doing really well. You saw that interview with founder of Moocommerce with Adie [SP]?
Vipin: Yeah, I know a little about it. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. I did see that Opencart is another big place for you. Where was that? I have all these tabs open now with everything that I’m doing to cyberstalk you. But now I have too many tabs.
Vipin: Even if you are obsessed with pin card marketplace in the Google, you wouldn’t find out about it.
Andrew: What’s catchmyfame.com?
Andrew: Oh, you don’t know catchmyfame.com. I saw that you guys send traffic to catchmyfame.com and I can’t figure it out.
Andrew: Maybe it’s just some random thing. Sometimes I just hunt around to see what I can find. And sometimes I come across something great. Other times nothing. What I do see here looking at Similarweb is your top three sources of traffic are Joomla, Magento Commerce and number three is Opencart. All right. So where are the revenues today?
Vipin: It’s . . .
Andrew: How much revenue?
Vipin: It’s great every day because we are building our content every day, means we are incorporating more and more platforms, like, we are including Soffeefight [SP], and we are including X-Cart and then the Moocommerce, so we are including. Because, underneath, like, we are not a single focus company, like, Singreto, this single product big company.
So our history is to build and to build more content, and that’s probably, like, expanded in different districts. So we always keep innovating. We always create in colors. And, some of you knock the idea of start-up. We are very dedicated to start-up.
Andrew: Where do you get your ideas then? How do you know which plug-ins to create?
Vipin: Okay, actually what is happening exactly is that, so we didn’t, like, you lost me. But what is happening is people are getting smarter by practice what I believe is. And people get great potential by the practice.
Vipin: We were in the same district for the last three years and we are always looking to help. We are not like that that we need to plug them in, then go to sleep. You’re always beginning yourself. We are the best compaigning with a thought like we’re campaigning to the Amazon. We’re campaigning to the eBay. We’re campaigning to the things to the Alibaba. And you look into how, like, oh, that is a new feature, [??]. Why you not creating something like that for the market, for the Magento?
Andrew: Ah. So do you have an example of something that you saw on eBay or Alibaba, or something else that made you say, wait. If those big guys have it, then people who are using Magento to run their e-Commerce site should have it. Or people who are using Shopify should have it. Do you have an example of something like that?
Vipin: I think this is the biggest.
Andrew: Marketplace, I see. You saw, look, why shouldn’t there be a marketplace for people that are using [Magento]? Magento is a huge platform for running online stores. I should have mentioned that at the top of the interview. And that’s how you brought it in?
Andrew: Here’s something else that I see. Uh, you created a plug-in for Shopified that allows people to create a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section for each product. So when the update their products, they can also create a Frequently Asked Question for that product itself.
Vipin: Yes. And it’s getting popular. This month we made $48. It’s a subscription-based model. So people are paying for the subscription.
Andrew: So it’s $5 a month?
Vipin: We started this one or two months ago and we have made $48. It’s not that much but it $48 . . .
Andrew: It’s a $5 if I look at it on your site. Does that mean $5 a month or $5 one time?
Vipin: No $5 a month. It’s a subscription-based [item].
Andrew: Ah there, when I click on it, I go into Shopified Store and I can see it’s $5 a month with a 3-day free trial. And there Shopified is selling it on your behalf and Shopified is collecting money from people who they’re already collecting money from anyway on a monthly basis.
Andrew: Oh gotcha, I see. So, if I understand you right, here’s what happened. You said, hey I’m kind of curious about all these different plug- ins that are now possible using Facebook API’s and Twitter API’s. I’ll put something out there. But you said, I’m not just going to put something out there for free. I will be the person who charges for the plug-ins that are based on these tools that everyone loves. You put it out. It did well for you, it was encouraging. It showed you, hey, plug-ins can be financial generators.
So you started tossing out a bunch of other plug-ins; quick stuff that took overnight and you saw what worked and what didn’t. Right?
Vipin: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: And then you hit on e-commerce. And you realized e-commerce is a place where people are willing to pay money; where they have the incentive to pay money because they’re going to earn money off your plug-ins. Then you started shifting more of your attention towards e-commerce plug-ins. Right?
Vipin: Exactly because the e-commerce customer has more money. Most of the plug-ins that we are [??] is, like, wholesale, it’s like a sales promotion. Most of our customers are small scale industries or like medium scale industries, uh, the people who don’t have any [??] and we just don’t want the Magenta and they just install the template and they can start their business. But they don’t have any [??] to create the marketplace without the plugins. So our target area is small scale and medium scale industry. And e-commerce is where the people are willing to pay.
It’s like in [??], people are also willing to pay over there but the amount of $349, no one wants to pay. And here at $349 we are selling three to four plug-ins every day.
Vipin: The marketplace is . . .
Andrew: Yeah, the marketplace is a $349 plug-in and people are willing to pay it because it’s going to be powering up their site and turning their site into a marketplace. Meaning that they don’t have to list all the products themselves. Their users can come in with products, list it on their site and sell and then the site gets a portion of that revenue. Did you say, specifically, I want to be clear, what is the annual revenue right now? What is it?
Vipin: It’s, like, we don’t have an account statement right now but it’s almost one million dollars. We are very close to one million dollars.
Andrew: Almost a million dollars, selling these plug-ins?
Vipin: Exactly, almost a million dollars.
Andrew: That’s amazing! It comes not just from the $349 that you mentioned but also from ongoing payments for support. And ongoing payments for other plug-ins, so it’s a business that produces revenue that you can count on for month-to-month?
Vipin: Yeah, it is completely for all of our plug-ins, not for the Marketplace only. It includes the support, installation, and the plug-in purchase. That is the complete revenue.
Andrew: All right. This has been an incredible success story. Why don’t I close out with two things. I’ll do a quick plug and then I want to ask you a question that Jeremy Weiss, who pre-interviewed you. He wrote a note and said, ‘You have to ask him this,’ because he said that, uh, it’s the one question that we should be asking.
All right, but first the plug!
Andrew: [??] Vipin said that he is a Mixergy fan. You’ve heard so many other guest of mine say that they are Mixergy fans too. I was just talking to [Noam Schwartz] from Tapdog who said he sold his company to similarweb and as he was building his company and coming up with this idea for his business, he was listening to Mixergy interviews. How many entrepreneurs have done it? Countless I would say.
Well, technically you probably could count them but I can’t count them. Lots of them out there in the tech space have been around for years since before many of your favorite apps even existed. And if you want to catch up how do you do it? Well you sign up to Mixergy premium, when you do that you get access to over a thousand interviews including with the founder of Wikipedia back in the early days. The founder of [??]. The founder of Reddit back before Reddit was the site to go to. The founder of Woothemes[SP] back before even Woocommerce came about.
You get so many different entrepreneurs who talk about how they built their businesses. Teach you, break down their process, show you the time they cried, the time that things didn’t work out so that you can see that… there are patterns that you can learn from. There are tactics that you can learn from. There are big thoughts, big ideas that you can pick up from. The more you surround yourself by great ideas from people who really use them and get results the better you will become as an entrepreneur. So where do you go?
Well, if you want to sign up and I hope that you do. You get to go to Mixergy premium dot com. Mixergy premium dot com. That is where you get access to the full fault of interviews and courses that are taught by real entrepreneurs. The ones that you know and admire. Mixergy premium dot com. Alright here is the last question. Jeremy in the pre-interview always asks every guest is there any question that I should have asked you that’s important. And you said yes. You should ask about where I got the name from. I don’t know the answer to that, so where did you get the name… Not your name the company name Webkul.
Vipin: When Webkul software [??].
Andrew: I like how every time I say Webkul I shorten it and you say “no” Webkul Software.
Vipin: [??] like recreating the software that was there and the names that were there like when it started, like there was Apple computer was there so when they would like in the movie [??]. Andrew: So you’ve got to say very clearly, it’s important Andrew, you told me before you started the interview. It’s important to say Webkul Software so that people know we Pare a software based company. If we ever expand beyond that we’ll make it clear, but our focus needs to be on software not services, not content software, right?
Andrew: Okay, so about the Webkul part of it. Where did that come from?
Vipin: Webkul means it a like a gurukul. And gurukul means in India in sanskrit is old lanugauge it’s like a world most old language or the a… in the world. In sanskrit gurukul means school so the kul part. Guru means teacher and the kul part came from like, gurukul is like school or college where the people learn things out. So for like web and kul is a like a temple of web or back in the temple of web. Where we are learning things out and we are creating things out. And that’s how we came up with the Webkul.
The other strategy behind the name was like people are creating a lot of [??]. People are creating a lot of [??] like Infosoft or Info[??] or something like that. It’s quite perplexing. They can google. It’s really hard how to recognize things out and then there is a lot of [??] such kind of company. I’m not just a [??] on [??]. It may have an option. We were thinking to put something unique so that people can easily remember the name and in the search engine we make a difference. Not like an Infosoft or Info[??] or something like that.
Andrew: There is a lot of info companies in India. Companies with the name Info in them.
Vipin: Info, Techno and Web…
Andrew: Yes….All right so the company Webkul W-E-B-K-U-L software private limited. That is the full company name. Now we see where it comes from. I also think of my business as a temple. When I come into work I feel like I’m walking into a very sacred environment. I think we should all feel that way. The work we do should be sacred, should have a meaning and should continue to grow the way yours have. Congratulations so much on the success of your business.
I would love for you to come back on here in the future as you continue to build your business. I am proud that you are here today and that you have been a Mixergy fan for so long and it always makes me feel good to see Mixergy fans do well in the world. Congratulations to everyone out there. If you want to check out this business and see all the plug-ins and see how he did it. The website is, here it is just six letters. W-E-B-K-U-L, webkul, W-E-B-K-U-L dot com. Thank you very much.
Andrew: You’re welcome. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.
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