My name is Arindo Duque, the founder, and CEO of a WordPress plugin shop called NextPress. I was born and raised in Brazil (which is where most of our staff is also from), but I’ve been living in Madrid, Spain for the past year and a half.
I almost finished Law School back home, but ultimately had to choose between graduating and focusing on a booming business when our plugins started to gain some traction – I think you know which way I went 😀
I love coffee (although I’ve been trying to reduce the amount I drink every day) and I play the drums.
The Journey Began
I was always a curious kid who liked to take things apart to understand how they work before trying – and most of the time failing – to put them back together.
I think we got our first computer at home when I was 10, and those habits followed me while I tried to understand how computers worked. So, while most of my friends liked to play games, I was more interested in trying to create my games.
That process led to the discovery of things like RPG Maker XP (which had its scripting language) and later on, RPGPBF (RPGs played-by-forum), which were a narration-based RPG system that you played using forums.
I ended up creating a couple of fairly successful RPGs with friends (mostly based on animes we liked at the time, like Naruto, Bleach, etc).
Customizing those forums so they look cool and had features that others didn’t require me to learn HTML, CSS, and PHP. That’s when I got hooked into programming and that’s what I have been doing ever since.
WordPress came into the picture a bit later. Now that I had these cool skills that allowed me to create websites for people, I was doing a couple of gigs here and there for friends and family.
I soon realized that there was a lot of repetition on the development work I was doing and that making small changes via directly editing HTML files on an FTP program was far from ideal.
I think it took less than a day of searching around to conclude that WordPress solved both of those problems beautifully and that it was probably the next step in my development “career” (if we could call it that at the time).
The Need for WP Ultimo
WP Ultimo Logo
A couple of years after I started to freelance using WordPress I realized that most of my low-end customers didn’t need that much customization on their websites. They just wanted to have an online presence with a contact form and their address/phone numbers.
I started to think about the idea of having a mostly DIY platform where those customers would be able to enter their info and get a website ready to be used at the end of the signup process. I had just discovered WordPress multisite and the stars just seemed to be aligned for that project, so I started to look into it.
I shopped around for a plugin/theme that did what I wanted, but I was not satisfied with the solutions available. Extending them would require a lot of work and ugly workarounds, so I decided that the best course of action would be to create something from scratch.
A couple of years later, I extracted this code into a plugin and decided to test the waters and see if there was a demand for such a solution and I was overwhelmed to discover there was!
I still remember the day I gathered the courage to push “publish” and make the WP Ultimo available for pre-sale: I was living in the US, in the middle of a university exchange program, experiencing true winter for the first time in my life (remember, I’m from Brazil and my host university was in the twin cities, Minnesota).
I had no idea if people would be willing to buy a product that wasn’t yet ready from a guy they never heard of. I ended up selling 15 licenses! It was amazing.
It was not only some reassurance that I was moving in the right direction, but it also helped me get through the final months of the exchange program as I was a bit short on cash.
We now have a range of products that are mostly related to the WaaS model (Website as a Service), as we like to call it. WP Ultimo continues to be our main product, but we also have WP-Admin Pages PRO which is a favorite of WordPress development agencies.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Team WP Ultimo
Advice for Business Owners
The WordPress space is a strange place at the moment.
Lots of consolidations going on with acquisitions, mergers, you name it. It’s also a pretty saturated market. There’s probably a plugin out there for almost everything you can think of. There are probably 2-3 free plugins and another 2 premium ones solving that problem.
That being said, I would strongly suggest not working on or releasing just “another X” plugin or theme. There are tons of form builders, page builders, etc in all shapes, colors, and sizes already. You might be able to build something truly revolutionary and find a place among the giants in those niches, but it’s unlikely.
A better way to start, in my humble opinion, would be to find a niche with a very specific pain point that is not being catered to by anyone and create a solution that solves this particular problem well.
That should get you through the door. You’ll need a strong foundation if you wish to pursue bigger projects in the future, and this first step is a way to build that.
I’m not saying it will be easy as finding these neglected pain points is something really hard to do… and you still need to make sure that the market is large enough to sustain a business. Still, I would argue it is the way to go.
WordPress & Beyond
We have a lot of cool product ideas we want to pursue, but right now, the top priority is finishing the all-new version of WP Ultimo. It brings the customizability level of the product to the roof and creates a strong foundation for creating the craziest use cases you can imagine.
Our goal is to position WP Ultimo as a framework for those wanting to create SaaS/WaaS products using WordPress as a starting point, drastically reducing the costs and time to market these new services.
The consolidation we’re seeing in the WordPress space contributes a bit to that end, as it somewhat sinalizes to the broader market the maturity of the WordPress ecosystem as a whole.
We’re finally seeing larger companies realize that WordPress is no longer a simple CMS. It has the potential to be so much more, and it can work as a development framework for pretty much everything. This process will continue in the coming years, and we’ll start to see a lot of enterprise-grade products and services being “secretly” or openly powered by WordPress in the future.
My Love for the WordPress Community
The WordPress community, for me, it’s one of the best things about it all. WordCamps are some of the most fun I had in my life and it is incredible to see a room full of people you admire and where everyone is willing to get to know you and learn more about what you do.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a lot of WordCamps in Brazil and WordCamp US in 2019 and I’m hoping we can go back to having those as soon as possible.
Arindo Duque Speaking at WordCamp Brazil
How I Keep Myself Updated
By the virtue of running a WordPress business, we end up hearing about the things going on from a variety of different sources, but if you’re looking to get a condensed overview of what’s going on, I would recommend the This week in WordPress newsletter and podcast by my good friend Nathan Wrigley.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
Keeping a good work-life balance has always been a challenge to me, to be completely honest, but I’m working to improve it. On that front, being locked inside worsened the situation a bit as options were drastically reduced.
I play the drums to let off some steam and walk my lovely dog Vily to make sure I leave the house at least a couple of times per day. Travelling is also something we (my wife and I) like to do, but we’re still a bit scared, even though restrictions are slowly being lifted.
Vily, our 5-years old dog.
I Reward Myself by
I reward myself by traveling to new places (when possible) and investing in hobbies such as music (different instruments), learning languages, and tech gadgets.