I am Michael Makijenko, the founder and CEO of Visual Composer. I’m from Riga, Latvia, and together with my team we are proudly serving and helping users worldwide to get their business online.
I have a master’s degree in Telecommunications, but programming was always my passion, and as a result, IT became the obsession of my life. I started programming in the fifth grade and it was always my hobby since then. Solving puzzles is a lot of fun and the sensation of “Aha!” moment for a kid can’t be underestimated.
Later on, during my final years at the school, I was doing a lot of freelance work and my strengths were ActionScript (Macromedia Flash) and animation. This exact skill secured me a very nice spot in one of the best local design agency. That was the moment I realized that every hour I put in repaid (with dividends!).
The Journey Began
I was working in a design agency with large corporate clients and polishing my ActionScript and design skills. I had a chance to work with Joomla and Drupal, but not WordPress. Not sure why, but for some reason, I thought that WordPress is just a “blog”.
I played with it periodically, but for actual projects, alternative solutions were used. It all changed when I decided to create a WordPress theme and put it on the market. I couldn’t do it with a first try – got rejected. And that ignited competitiveness and motivated me a lot. Since then, WordPress has been always around for all types of projects – BIG and small.
The Need for Visual Composer
Visual Composer Logo
I had quite a few WordPress themes on the market. Back then, most of the developers provided an extensive list of shortcodes that users could use as a “simple” markup language and enrich content on the page.
I noticed that for a lot of users it wasn’t that easy, to wrap paragraphs in [column] shortcodes, as developers initially thought. So I decided to write a drag and drop builder that will take that hassle away from the users and will do the magic in the background.
The first version of my page builder was really welcomed by users, and they started to ask other developers to include that builder in their themes – at the same time, I was wrapping drag and drop functionality as a WordPress plugin instead of the theme. And it took off. I was amazed by all the feedback it got. I was lucky to spot that opportunity. 🙂
The hardest part of building my company was always finding the right people to work with. We at Visual Composer are a true family and look one after another. Also, it so satisfying to hear from members who just joined that we have “a different” climate in the company nothing as they have seen before.
In the past, we had many products available, and it was hard to phase them out (all our premium themes, couple of plugins). However, we knew that focus is what we truly need, so we continued working on Visual Composer to get it where it is now.
The hardest part of Visual Composers‘ life turned out to launch it as a completely rewritten plugin. We brought to the market, absolutely new product, rewritten from scratch, powered by the innovative technology (we adopted react.js when it was just in its early days).
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Team Visual Composer
Advice for Business Owners
A cliche… But, if you want to start something, do it now. “Now” is the best time. Adopt experimentation habits early on. Always draw a line in the sand, benchmark, experiment. Learn from the outcomes of your actions – and from others (there is so much great knowledge online).
Stay in Touch
WordPress & Beyond
I see that the WordPress scene becomes more mature. “Kids” who pioneered it now are seasoned professionals and others who join also know their game. And it applies to all domains, development, automation, testing, tools, marketing, you name it. Rockstars everywhere.
In the next five years, I would love to see a faster WordPress and push core towards the headless version.
My Love for the WordPress Community
WordPress community is a very unique place, I love to participate in WordCamps and WP meetups. One of our team members (Hi, Linda) was part of the WordCamp EU 2020 organizing team. Also, together with my team, we attended WordCamp EU and WordCamp US, and other smaller WordCamps close to us. And of course, we helped to organize WordCamp Riga. It is incredible to have a chance and talk to real people behind WordPress products and business.
How I Keep Myself Updated
For me, it’s Twitter, and some WordPress related blogs, as well as WordPress slack channel.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
Traveling is on top of my list. Before the COVID-19 era, there was always a trip ahead on my calendar. When I need to reset, I do sports – motorsport, skiing, hiking, tennis. And to think, I switch modes and work “with hands” outside (tinkering with things in my house) and even do gardening 🙂 And finally – reading together with my Maine Coon cat and a glass of red.
Connect With Me
- Twitter – let’s talk.