WPfounders
Parvez Akhter of ThriveDesk

Parvez Akhter – Founder and CEO of ThriveDesk, ThemeXpert, & WPSmartPay

July 11, 2023 / Plugins / 0 comments

My name is Parvez Akhter, the Founder, and CEO of a consortium of WordPress and Joomla-based companies: ThemeXpert, ThriveDesk, and WPSmartPay. I currently reside in Turkey with my family.

My journey in entrepreneurship began during my college years when I founded my first company with three friends. Although that venture did not succeed, it sparked my passion for programming and business.

I became a self-taught programmer while working part-time and exploring the CMS market. After freelancing for a few years, I launched ThemeXpert, a company that creates premium responsive Joomla templates and extensions.

We achieved significant growth with the introduction of Quix, a popular Joomla page builder. Currently, I am focused on building ThriveDesk, an all-in-one customer support management platform.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have gained valuable insights into business management and the keys to success. I am excited to share my story and hope the readers will find inspiration and insights from my journey.

The Journey Began

Before WordPress, my digital life revolved around web development, which I delved into during my part-time work at a company in 2006.

Although I hadn’t started university yet, my curiosity led me to explore the CMS market, including platforms like WordPress and Joomla, during the early days of technology and web development in Dhaka.

I gained decent experience working with a few friends and starting a few companies and working for a few high-profile clients in Bangladesh mainly Diamond Word and Silicon Properties.

I was also freelancing on the side and all this eventually led to the formation of ThemeXpert. Initially, we just launched Joomla templates but as our expertise developed we took up bigger projects.

Quix was our first proper stand-alone product. It was a drag-and-drop site builder aimed at empowering entrepreneurs to build their own websites without programming experience.

All this brings us to the present with ThriveDesk, my latest venture. We aim to become one of the biggest customer support platforms to come out of Bangladesh and rub shoulders with companies such as Zendesk and Intercom on a global scale someday and with the grace of the Almighty we are well on our way.

I discovered WordPress during my journey in the CMS market, which emerged after the era of Adobe DreamWeaver and Flash for HTML websites.

While working for my senior, he introduced me to Mambo, a CMS software preceding Joomla.

Initially, it was a tough grind, I received limited instructions, often struggling to understand tasks like installing Joomla and WordPress on my local computer without access to platforms like YouTube for guidance.

But I eventually learned and during this time, WordPress stood out to me as a versatile and user-friendly CMS. Its growing popularity and the vast community support behind it made it an attractive choice.

I chose WordPress because of its ease of use, extensive plugin ecosystem, and ability to customize and scale websites to meet diverse client needs.

The continuous updates, security measures, and frequent releases also contributed to my decision to stick with WordPress as my preferred CMS.

The Need for ThriveDesk

ThriveDesk Logo

 

ThriveDesk Logo

ThriveDesk was born out of a need rather than any sort of specific planning. When ThemeXpert took off, our client base grew exponentially. To tackle this massive influx of customers, we looked to some of the customer service software that was big at the time.

After much deliberation, we landed on a renowned helpdesk software. Initially, it seemed that it had all functionality and features we needed to handle our customer support adequately.

At the time, The helpdesk in question had good reviews, and the cost seemed reasonable so we didn’t have much cause for concern.

However, the more we used it we discovered issues with their customer support software tools. Their live chat was not intuitive enough, so most of the tickets even small issues had to be handled by a customer support rep.

For a small start-up like ours, it was not ideal at the time. The tickets were piling up, and our support was struggling to resolve all issues. This was hurting the business. 

Another point of contention was their rapidly shifting price points. They would very regularly increase prices and hide important features behind paywalls, which were only accessible upon upgrade of the package.

They would charge prices that clearly did not favor small to mid-businesses or startups.

More issues began to pile up, and eventually, a light bulb went off!

We had a very capable team and we thought why not just make our own customer support software? We knew what small to mid-sized businesses needed.

From our personal experiences, we knew what features would be appreciated, and what kind of prices would be welcomed.

In short, we were confident that we could make a good support software and the rest. At the risk of sounding cliqued…..was history! Haha!

ThriveDesks USP is the sheer volume of functionality we offer at the most affordable price possible. ThriveDesk is there for the little guys.

We are here so that small to mid-sized businesses can reap all the benefits of top-notch customer service software without having to worry about drowning in operational costs.

Even though our team was more than capable in ability, it was still a risk to start a completely new venture from the ground up.

When we decided to make ThriveDesk, ThemeXpert was just maturing into a proper business. We were bringing in good revenue, but now we had reached our “leap of faith” moment.

To divide and allocate resources toward the development of ThriveDesk while ThemeXpert was nearing its peak was the most formidable challenge we had to face, but we knew we had to do it.

Team ThriveDesk

Team ThriveDesk

For ourselves and other businesses and also from an entrepreneurial perspective, I saw the need for software to bridge that gap between small to mid-businesses and enterprise-level businesses.

It was a niche that had a competitive market but not to the point of over-saturation so we jumped in feet first!

I was invited as a speaker for Joomla Day Malaysia and after I delivered my speech lots of people from the audience came forward and said, we didn’t know you are the founder of Quix(our Joomla page builder), we use Quix every day and we love it. That memory is still fresh to me.

When my best developer and business partner left due to his sickness, I had anxiety and panic attacks several times.

I was in a bad financial situation several times. As an entrepreneur, the worst moments are always your best friend. You’ve to learn from your mistakes and move forward.

I own three WordPress-related companies that offer a range of products and resources.

ThriveDesk: ThriveDesk focuses on providing customer support and help desk solutions for WordPress users. It offers a robust ticketing system and tools to streamline customer communication and improve support efficiency.

Themesgrove: Themesgrove specializes in developing and offering premium WordPress themes and templates. Their collection includes a variety of beautifully designed themes tailored for different industries and purposes, helping WordPress users create visually stunning and functional websites.

WPSmartPay: WPSmartPay offers a comprehensive payment solution for WordPress websites. It provides secure and seamless integration with various payment gateways, allowing businesses to accept online payments, manage subscriptions, and handle e-commerce transactions with ease.

These three companies, alongside ThemeXpert, which primarily deals with Joomla, contribute to my portfolio of WordPress-related products and resources.

Each company addresses different aspects of the WordPress ecosystem, catering to the needs of website owners, businesses, and developers seeking support, themes, and payment solutions.

Myself with my Brilliant Team

Parvez Akhter With Team

Parvez Akhter With Team

Parvez in Meeting

Parvez in Meeting

Advice for Business Owners

I have been a business owner in the SaaS and E-commerce industry for over a decade at this point.

There are many important lessons I have learned along the way, and It’s a damn near impossible task to distill the essence of everything I’ve learned into a few lines of advice, but I will try my best! 😅

Here are the things that helped me achieve success:

  • Focus on your customers. The most important thing you can do is to focus on your customers and their needs. What are they looking for in a SaaS product? What problems are they trying to solve? Once you understand your customers, you can create a product that meets their needs and solves their problems.
  • Build a great product. Your product is the foundation of your business. It needs to be well-designed, easy to use, and reliable. If your product is not great, you will have difficulty attracting and retaining customers.
  • Provide excellent customer service. Customer service is essential for any business, but it is especially important for SaaS businesses. Your customers will need help and support at some point. Make sure you are available to help them when they need it.
  • Market your product effectively. Once you have a great product, you need to get the word out. There are many ways to market your product, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.
  • Be patient and persistent. Building a successful e-commerce SaaS business takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Keep working hard and you will eventually achieve your goals.

Here are some additional tips for all my budding entrepreneurs:

Do your research. Before you start any business, it is essential to do your research. This includes researching the industry you want to enter, the competition, and the target market.

Create a business plan. A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It should include your goals, strategies, and financial projections.

Get funding. Unless you are lucky enough to have the money to start your business yourself, you will need to get funding. There are many ways to get funding, such as loans, grants, and crowdfunding. Explore all your options thoroughly.

Build a team. It will be your job to put together a team that will work harmoniously and work to the best of their abilities to serve your customers.

Keep at it. Starting a business is hard work. There will be times when you want to give up. There will be rough days I’m not gonna lie but if you can make it out the other end of the tunnel, you’ll never have to look back.

As for which niche to focus on, it really depends on your interests and skills. If you are interested in coding, you could start a business developing plugins or themes for WordPress.

If you are interested in marketing, you could start an agency that helps businesses with their online marketing.

If you want to write, you could start a blog or a newsletter about WordPress. The possibilities are endless.

At this point, I sound like a broken record, but the most important thing is to choose a niche that you are passionate about. If you are passionate about your niche, you will be more likely to succeed.

 

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WordPress & Beyond

ThriveDesk as a product is very close to maturing. We are slowly building a loyal customer base.

Regarding integrations and functionality, we can go toe to toe with most enterprise-level software, Live chat, shared inbox, Assistant, custom service portal, you name it, we have it, but we suffer from some common problems that small bootstrapping companies face.

Even though our product is top-notch, it still suffers from niggly bugs, which often escape our small team during testing. This is the only issue hampering our growth right now, but I’m not worried.

I have complete faith in my team, and I know in time, we will soon be the complete article. We just have to be patient and continue to improve steadily.

In the next five years, WordPress will go from strength to strength. From headless architecture to the recent boom in AI and machine learning will take WordPress to new levels of functionality.

More businesses will move to the SaaS model where they’ll use WordPress as a distribution network.

Let’s be real here, if memory serves right, over 40% of websites currently run on WordPress. There will always be competition. 10 to 20 years from now, there may be some other CMS that will topple WordPress, but right now, WordPress as an environment is unmatched.

Its user-friendly interface, extensive plugin ecosystem, and robust community support. Its flexibility, scalability, and continuous updates ensure it will remain the leading CMS for years to come, empowering businesses and individuals to create and manage dynamic websites with ease.

My Love for the WordPress Community

Oh yes, I attend as many WordCamps as possible along with my team. This year alone we’ve participated in WordCamp Asia, WordCamp Europe, Pune, Kolkata, and Sylhet.

Attending WordCamps and WordPress events benefits me as a SaaS business owner. First off, they give me a chance to network with fellow professionals, potential customers, and even competitors.

Plus, I can showcase my business and increase brand exposure, which is always a good thing.

Nizam and Tareq from weDevs are one of my closest friends within the WordPress community.

My relationship with Nizam is more than just a professional connection; We have shared countless conversations, brainstormed ideas, and supported each other’s ventures, fostering a strong bond built on mutual trust, respect, and a shared passion for WordPress.

I am grateful for his friendship, as it brings me immense joy and enriches my journey as a business owner.

Nizam is one person who I admire, and I think it would be fitting to see his story on WPfounders. His relentless drive, innovative thinking, and dedication to delivering high-quality products have motivated me to push boundaries and strive for excellence in my own entrepreneurial journey.

His success story serves as a constant reminder that with passion, determination, and a customer-centric approach, anything is possible.

How I Keep Myself Updated

I primarily stay up to date with WordPress and the industry through books, various blogs, and newsletters.

My favorite books:

  • Rich dad poor dad
  • ReWork
  • Growth Hacking

Blog & Newsletters I follow:

I Have a Life Other Than the Work

During my free time, I enjoy immersing myself in a good book, which allows me to relax and explore new worlds through the pages.

I cherish precious moments spent playing with my kids, as their laughter and joy bring immense happiness to my life. Family is the most important aspect of my life.

I also have a passion for travel and vlogging, capturing and sharing my adventures with others, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. My favorite travel destination is Saudi Arabia

During the holidays, I prioritize spending quality time with my family and relatives. Whether it’s gathering for festive meals, organizing get-togethers, or simply enjoying each other’s company, I cherish these moments of togetherness.

We engage in various activities such as exchanging gifts, playing games, sharing stories, and creating lasting memories that strengthen our bond.

Holidays provide a special opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and create cherished experiences that make the occasion truly magical.

I used to have a cat which I picked up from the streets of Istanbul where I live. My children used to love the cat, but my wife had allergies so we had to release the cat back to the streets.

Thankfully, Istanbul is one of the best cities for stray animals. People here take care of stray animals like they would their own pets. They’re always well-fed and are never short of love and cuddles from citizens and tourists alike.

I Reward Myself by 

As a way to reward myself, I have two preferred approaches.

Firstly, I find immense fulfillment in giving back to others by donating to causes that resonate with me. Whether it’s supporting charitable organizations or contributing to community initiatives, knowing that my contribution can make a positive impact brings me great joy.

I also reward myself occasionally by purchasing something from my bucket list. It could be an item or an experience that I’ve been longing for, allowing me to treat myself and celebrate personal milestones or achievements.

By fulfilling a long-held desire, I not only reward myself but also create cherished memories that enhance my overall well-being.

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