I am Mario Peshev, a tech entrepreneur from Bulgaria passionate about business strategy and growth opportunities.
I was an introverted nerd as a kid and spent most of my time with books or around computers.
Currently, I run DevriX, a team of 50+ that pioneered “WordPress retainers” for SMEs, publishers, and funded startups, and Growth Stuttle – a boutique business advisory for high-end strategy and consulting.
The Journey Began
The first time I accessed a computer was back in 1994, and I was a proud owner (or better say “user”) of one in 1996. After an embarrassing number of trials and errors, including my attempt to delete anything that doesn’t fit a floppy drive to free up some disk space, I got my hands dirty with HTML first (and QBasic) in 1999.
At the time, I joined a small garage PC shop dealing with all sorts of computer maintenance activities. I was in charge of assembling computers, installing different OS flavors, and optimizing the Windows registry more often than you would imagine.
I kept learning programming languages through experimentation, extending forum and gallery systems, and trying out eccentric CMS systems. I stumbled upon WordPress in 2006, used it to built an event management classifieds site for a client in 2008, and exclusively switched to WordPress-only in 2011.
As a software engineer by trade, it took a while to fully emerge in the craftsmanship of following the WordPress life cycle and its unique paradigms. And as I got more involved in solving business problems with tech (instead of rebuilding long panels and CRUD systems all day long), I appreciated the power of the WordPress application framework.
The Need for DevriX
DevriX was initially founded as a continuation of my freelancing career launched in 2008. As a multi-disciplined engineer, I was involved with diverse projects back then: from C++ applications for gold mines through ASM for set-top boxes in hotels, a Python (Django) based web application for UNICEF to regular web and mobile projects in Java, PHP, Python. On top of that, I delivered regular technical courses to leading enterprises and organizations (including SAP, CERN, Software AG, and several banks, to name a few.)
A client of mine invited me to take the CTO seat at a new startup he was launching, aiming to build an incredibly powerful WordPress theme framework. It took me 4 months to grasp the concepts of the WordPress internals until I got confident enough to leverage the Settings API, build custom widgets, develop flexible templates on-the-fly, map custom post types interacting with one another.
Once we went live and switched to regular development and maintenance mode, I reshaped the way DevriX sells and operates and we became a WordPress-only development shop.
We built three powerful SaaS applications on top of WordPress in 2012-2013 as an ongoing technical partnership to a marketing agency in the UK. This recurring revenue model resonated with me a lot, and starting in 2014, we branded ourselves as “the WordPress retainers company”.
Our key selling point was delivering enterprise-grade development for WordPress. While the competition was still fierce back then, there was an untapped market for professional software development for WordPress.
The majority of the site builders used premium themes bundled with plugins or performed mostly light dev work, and professional dev teams used to rely on Java/C# for engineering (or at the very least Zend and Laravel). We leveraged our computer science backgrounds to grow businesses running on WordPress which overgrew their existing teams and technical capabilities.
While services represent the majority of our business and revenue, we’ve developed a number of internal products for our clients or our sales and management teams. And now, we’re launching two WordPress-based SaaS applications, SaaS BPM and Sales CRM, unlocking new management and sales opportunities for small businesses over the globe.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
We gathered for a celebratory photo after our tech lead, Bojidar Valchovski, gave a talk on scaling WordPress publishers at WordCamp Sofia:
I spend most of the time with my team, but here’s when I isolate myself for some brainstorming, strategy sessions, and webinars or podcasts (with our loyal community manager Mara).
Mario Peshev Workplace
Advice for Business Owners
As a proponent to SaaS, launching recurring revenue solutions on top of WordPress is always an exciting way to start a new business. WordPress is extremely powerful and provides a ton out of the box, and some SaaS applications may live as subsites in a Multisite environment.
Additionally, niche business problems are still available – and you can tackle them as both a freelancer (or a consultant) or through a plugin suite.
As competitive solution exists across most feature sets, consider the vast market share WordPress owns – sitting at 36% now. Don’t shy away from niching down – both functionally (like specialization in BuddyPress, Easy Digital Downloads, Gravity Forms) and industry-wise, providing unique services for specific market segments.
WordPress & Beyond
2020 has been a dynamic period for us – and we try to stay busy during times of lockdown.
We’re continuously refining our retainer packages – as we sell monthly plans at anywhere between 30h/mo to 430h/mo.
Separately, we’re designing maintenance packages that work in an optimal way without the added overhead for our high-tier clients (QA, project management, other engineers on board, AdOps, and marketing support).
We are slowly rolling out our new products and working on new features over the coming months.
My advisory business is also going strong – demand is high, and I’m building worksheets and other resources for my clients. I’ve been maintaining a weekly blogging rhythm for my own blog, mariopeshev.com, diving deep into management topics across different verticals.
I’m fairly confident in the future of WordPress over the coming 5 years. The market share speaks for itself, and more businesses trust WordPress to be a robust framework for high-end websites.
Certain verticals do see some competition – small 5-page business websites can now hop on Wix or Squarespace, eCommerce is vastly dominated by Shopify (as they handle hosting and billing operations), and the enterprise is still crowded with other platforms and custom development in different languages.
But WordPress is still the leading platform out there – and we won’t see any notable impact over the next five years.
My Love for the WordPress Community
I’ve been involved with the WordPress community for over a decade. While I don’t participate as much as I used to, I’ve had my fair share of free plugins and themes released on WordPress.org, theme reviews for the review team, multiple WordCamps co-organized, and co-founding a local meetup.
We still speak at, sponsor, and co-organize events here at DevriX and maintain our growing portfolio of free products.
The WordPress community is undoubtedly among the best groups out there. It was a key selling point while transitioning to WordPress as a platform. And WordCamps being so affordable, this presents an incredible opportunity to meet leading agencies, plugin, and theme vendors, hosting companies, and users in one place.
I’ve met many of my close friends at WordPress events (and recruited members to DevriX through WordCamps). I wouldn’t name any names but I keep in touch with them on Twitter on a regular basis. 🙂
How I Keep Myself Updated
In terms of development, the go-to book I always recommend is Professional WordPress: Design and Development. The first volume was absolutely incredible and I’ve purchased multiple copies for friends and colleagues over the years. The second edition was just released a couple of months back and it’s still brilliant.
Aside from that, I keep a diverse list of sites both within WordPress (WP Tavern, WP Mayor, WPMU Dev’s blog, Yoast, BobWP) and outside – in different communities such as marketing, UX, design, high scalability discussing WordPress every now and then.
I maintain a couple of Twitter lists with active WordPress community members for the latest insights and occasionally, I listen to podcasts by active members around.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I do spend quite some time at work, though I enjoy some quality family time in the evenings and every other weekend. If I have a spare evening, the team gathers for some chill breaks in a local shisha bar, playing Hearthstone (or regular card games) together, occasionally chess as well.
Mindlessly driving in the evening while listening to music or a podcast is a great way to recharge.
Our dog Mara is a regular both at the office and when commuting back and forth!
Aside from regular work and day-to-day activities, I enjoy studying business and management concepts and best practices, uncovering productivity hacks and expanding my knowledge on core topics on business strategy, culture, psychology, energy management.
I wrote a long-form piece on critical thinking recently and I’m currently doing some research on “mission and vision statements” and “leadership development training”. 🙂