My name is David Rashty, the Founder of CMinds. I am an entrepreneur and an early-stage seed investor, started studying computer science in high school and after graduating from Computer Science at the university I have been involved in several companies part of which I co-founded.
Besides running my own small venture I am also investing in startups from various domains so I get to review many new ideas from entrepreneurs who approach me with their own ventures while looking for an investment.
The Journey Began
I was one of the WWW (World Wide Web) pioneers and also contributed to the W3C initial code back in 1992 so the idea of building websites / managing content was not new to me before using WordPress
I was approached in 2005 by a colleague who needed help in building their company website which was built on WordPress. This was an early version of WordPress and the idea of plugins and themes was at that time new to me.
Before starting my WordPress business I was looking for a small and manageable venture which can be built without external investment and at the same time grow steadily.
The WordPress-based venture was one of the venture ideas I tested and the first thing I tried was to develop a few WordPress plugins and release them in the WordPress.org repository. This was in 2011.
WordPress was still growing and evolving and it seemed to be simple initially. The few plugins I released got enough attention and a customer base and moving to a premium version of each one of them was relatively easy back then.
The next step was to find a good developer to work with and from that point, we started to grow.
The Need for CMinds
We started CMinds with the idea of creating a marketplace for premium plugins.
At that time besides Themeforest there were only a few more sites offering a collection of WordPress plugins and I thought it will also be less of a risk to go in such an approach than to put all stakes into one plugin.
Since building plugins take a lot of effort and resources the first 3 years were challenging in terms of balancing the budget. We also had to find a way to market our plugins using non-paid marketing techniques as whatever we tried with paid advertising didn’t convert well enough.
After 3 years of hard work, we managed to develop a selection of more than 99 plugins some of which are very popular and have a large base of users.
I would mention couple of them:
- CM Tooltip Glossary which is our most popular plugin is a robust tool to create glossaries and highlight terms in your content that improve user experience and the site’s SEO.
- CM Download Manager is our file manager and client portal tool which let you run a dedicated file portal on your site.
- CM Registration is a tool that improves everything related to the WordPress registration process while adding the option for invitation code support.
- CM Routes Manager and CM Locations are our plugins for mapping. They create a micro GIS system that can run on a WordPress installation.
- CM Video Lessons and CM Course Catalog are our eLearning solutions products. They offer an LMS system and a video-based learning environment.
With have many more plugins for business owners, WordPress administrators, security aspects, and more.
Our plugins are very well-maintained and documented, we always make sure they are aligned with the latest PHP and WordPress versions. On top of that, we run security checks to make sure they are not creating any security threat.
We also offer our customers the ability to purchase all our plugins as a bundle, this offer gives them the ability to own all our products which can cover many use cases.
Before Covid, we used to have two offices from which most of the work was conducted. Since then we moved each of our team members to work from home and we communicate throughout the day using Skype / Slack and Asana.
Our team is very mature and my partner Marcin Dudek who helped me fund CMinds is already on board together with me for the last 10 years.
Most of our developers are more than 3 years on board with us which makes our team very efficient in terms of work procedures and best practices we implement in our work.
We also have a face-to-face meeting which we organize in a remote destination while enjoying both nature and discussing high-level work-related issues.
Advice for Business Owners
The WordPress ecosystem is changing rapidly in the last two years mostly because of bigger names taking over smaller companies and the competition which is becoming harder.
It is also harder than before to conduct unpaid marketing leaving this plugins/theme space a bit more on the edge in terms of profitability.
I am not sure I would have been able to start the same business I started 10 years back today.
I am not sure therefore, starting a new plugin business from scratch is profitable today and as a new business, I would have sought alternative ways to market plugins in combination with other businesses which already do that.
Build partnerships with other businesses in the WordPress industry. This can help you to increase your visibility.
WordPress & Beyond
We are seeing a change in the WordPress plugins market. Many of our competitors are raising their prices. While 3 years ago the average cost for a WP plugin was around $20 – $30 USD most of the plugin makers have raised the price dramatically to almost double this amount.
I believe this is due to the increased marketing costs as the labor cost didn’t rise so much during this period of time.
We are trying to find channels to market our plugins without the need to dramatically increase our marketing costs which is a huge challenge, otherwise, we will need to increase our product costs to cover marketing expenses.
I think the WordPress platform has to dramatically evolve in terms of backend core functionality and frontend interface otherwise it will be out-bitten by competitors within a couple of years.
We have seen the same happening in the Magento ecosystem while customers started shifting to other solutions, for example to Shopify because of a lack of core functionality and outdated interface.
My Love for the WordPress Community
One of the things that I love most about the WordPress community is the way that it brings people together.
Whether you’re participating in a local meetup or WordCamp, contributing to the development of the software, or simply chatting with other users online, you always feel like you’re part of something bigger.
I am grateful for the support and resources that it has provided to me over the years which enhanced my learning from other industry experts and look forward to many more years of being a part of this wonderful community.
CMinds Team at Local Meetup
How I Keep Myself Updated
Keeping myself and my team up to date with the latest changes in the WordPress ecosystem is important in many aspects.
In the technical aspect, it is important to make sure that all our products are aligned with the latest platform changes while also looking at other competitors and their product releases.
I also get notifications of beta releases of the WordPress platform and of course of security patches and PHP-related releases.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I am very active in terms of physical training and mostly like mountain biking. I do 4-5 training sessions each week which are challenging to balance with work.
While biking I sometimes manage to solve or think more clearly about issues related to work.
I also travel/hike a lot, mostly in desert and mountain areas. Since our team is spread around Europe we also set up meetings to enjoy each other’s company and discuss work.
CMinds Team Having Fun
I just got back from a short trip in the Czech Republic where we met and combined hiking and work-related discussions.
Above all of that, my family and children are the top priority in all my doings. That is why working from home as well as keeping my business relatively small and in control is important for me.