While there are quite a few designers doing consulting services related to WordPress, very few (especially from India) have actually built a ‘product based’ business around WordPress. By product, we mean ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions that pertain to specific user base (for example, themes for setting up a job board, a hotel booking service, doctor’s appointment site etc etc) which can be used without too much of custom coding.
India based Templatic is one such theme developer company that has built its brand (one of the top wordpress theme sites globally) owing to great themes the team has developer since its existence (2009). What’s really interesting about Templatic is that the team is based out of Surat – a Tier-2 city far far away from the real customers (i.e. US).
Here is interview with R Bhavesh, Templatic founder talking about Templatic and some of the challenges they faced in building a global business from a Tier-2 city.
1. Your prior experience before starting Templatic. How did the idea came about?
Bhavesh, Templatic: We’ve been doing this custom outsourcing projects from our office in 2007. CSS, Web standards based coding were all new to us. Clients started asking for custom designs for their WordPress blog. Being non-programmers, we were really amazed by this CMS where in we could create blogs without doing programming and can still control the things via CSS!
Brian Gardner (the founder of StudioPress) started selling a WordPress theme and it got traction and became popular very quickly. We on the other hand used to struggle to find customers. So, in order to bring in awareness about our business, we created a real nice quality theme and published it for free.
It got popular and then on, we tried the idea of selling theme. And it worked for us.
2. The site has a very international look and feel – how did you decide on these elements.
Bhavesh, Templatic: Our site needs a bit upgrade but yea, it looks professional. For us, its not desi or international. But rather a good or a bad design.
I am web designer first of all and entrepreneur then after. I am aware of most of the nicely designed sites, elements, UX, usability etc. and when it comes to create our own website, we applied our knowledge there. That’s how we came up with this site design.
3. The initial sales friction – share some of your experience.
Bhavesh, Templatic: It was easy back in 2007-8 years where only 5-7 premium theme shops for WordPress existed. We focused on building products that people can actually use. To generate awareness about our business among WordPress folks, we released some quality free themes which really helped. Then after we started regular blogging, ads on relevant websites, affiliate program, giveaways etc. and it worked in our case.
4. How much of your revenues are dependent on consulting services vs. theme sales?
Bhavesh, Templatic: 100% of our revenues are coming from theme sales. Our original idea was to start a theme shop so that we can get custom work on our own without depending on anyone. But then, templatic got traction and we got so busy, we had to stop the consulting work altogether. So much so, we had to create a free job board on our site for our customers
5. How big is your team?
Bhavesh, Templatic: We are a team of 13 people, 2 of them working remotely from overseas.
6. Challenges building Templatic from a non-metro city?
Bhavesh, Templatic: Finding the right teammates has definitely been a challenge for us and it continues in the same manner. The talented ones move to metro cities like Mumbai, Bangalore etc.
Other than this, I suppose we’ve got less exposure in terms of the PR which we’d have easily got if we were based in cities like Bangalore.
But yep, we are doing good and growing. And that’s what matter for us 🙂
Question: How have you guys come up with ‘productized’ templates (like Hotel Booking, Daily Deal, Spa Salon etc). What’s the iteration behind these launches?
Bhavesh, Templatic: Almost every WordPress theme companies out there create generic templates like “Portfolio” and “Magazine”, leaving users to figure out how to use those templates for their own requirement.
Instead, we focus on creating out of the solution that someone can directly use for a particular use. We do have target client and industry in mind even before we start wireframing a theme. Since the target user is considered, we figure out how such a business person would want her online presence? This gives us accurate directions on all the must have elements in the website and we take it from there.
For example, while creating “Spa Salon” theme, we had clear idea that salon business want their contact number, place photos and timings highlighted. If possible, they would also want online appointments automated. And that’s what we did with the theme. The same is true for each theme at our site.
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