I am Sonal Sinha, the founder of SKT Themes, a WordPress themes, and plugins store. I prefer being called Shri as clients find the later name easier, and my initial company was named Shri Krishna Technologies, so naturally, people used to think my real name is Shri.
I live in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. It is the center of India and is the logistics hub of India and the headquarters of India’s Rail network. I did my engineering at Nagpur University in Electronics and Telecommunication. After that, I moved to New Delhi to complete my MBA in Marketing.
Being an only child to my parents, I had many expectations from my family to perform better in life. I was a very studious student and excelled in my grades in school as well as college days.
The Journey Began
A consulting company recruited me in Noida near New Delhi after I passed my MBA. Within a year, I was promoted from Management Trainee to Assistant Management Marketing. I used to handle clients’ requirements, sales, proposals, and initial pre-sales.
It was a consulting company, so the scope of work was limited.
My next company was a website designing and digital marketing company based in New Delhi. It was recession time of 2008-2009, so our project manager had left the job due to nonpayment of dues. The company owner asked me if I can manage the web and SEO projects for the company. Even though I was hesitant, initially, I did agree.
This is where I learned the skills of managing teams and how to deliver the result to the clients. So from sales, I had moved to project management in my second job.
Salaries were often delayed during my time in the company since the recession period was challenging as new projects were concerned. This was when I decided it’s time I started my own company.
I came back to Nagpur and started Shri Krishna Technologies in January 2010. At that time, WordPress as a CMS was very new, and people used it only for blogs. We used to get a lot of projects designing and developing corporate blogs for existing websites. We were also one of the top developers on Elance for WordPress in 2011.
As WordPress grew from a blog site CMS to a complete website CMS and Joomla wasn’t moving faster, we developed our skills more into WordPress, and with more projects under us, we were very comfortable using WordPress for all our projects.
It was easier to manage for clients, and the learning curve was significantly less, so a simple manual was used to do the trick, whereas Joomla took a lot of time for the customer to understand and get under the skin.
The Need for SKT Themes
SKT Themes Logo
While we were doing many WordPress websites, we were continually getting emails from several prospects who wanted us to modify themes into websites for them.
In 2013, the theme marketplace wasn’t that saturated, and there were many scopes.
At that time, there were four significant competitors: ThemeForest, Woo Themes, Elegant Themes, and Thesis.
The options were fundamental for the customers, and the charges were too high. Also, the support they got from the theme authors was pathetic most of the time.
Even though we started the theme business in 2013, we started getting recognized from 2014 as we started getting our themes listed in WordPress.org and other places.
Our WordPress themes have all the desired options, but the support we can say is amongst the best. We cater to every client’s requests and guide them through.
Even though we were doing a lot of WordPress websites; however, while developing WordPress themes, we were completely new to what a customer can expect from an article. We then checked all the major competitors and their offerings and then understood the bare minimum options.
After that, we added many theme options, thinking about what the customer can ask of apart from what is being offered.
My worst experience to date has to be the 2016 experience when 3 of my employees copied our themes and started their own 2 companies. To date, they continue to copy our old 2016 theme framework and sell their WordPress themes online.
Since then, we have continuously evolved our WordPress themes every year. During 2020 our WordPress themes now entirely page builder friendly and have different theme option customizers than most of our competitors.
Besides SKT Themes (our main website), I own WP Themes India, which is targeted for Indians only, Themes21, which is a free WordPress theme website.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
SKT Themes Workplace
Team SKT Themes at Office
Advice for Business Owners
If you start your own business in WordPress, you should focus more on customer service as the market is quite saturated. Also, many plugins and themes are already free and do an excellent job, so you need to check them and build better tools that attract more clients.
For a start, you should focus on something in your native language and country since the competition will be lower. Then expand to other countries and worldwide.
Since I am into theme development, I would say the shelf life of a theme is only two years until people start finding other themes for a website’s fresh design. Hence, if you jump into theme development, you need to continually evolve and add more designs to the latest WordPress trends.
WordPress & Beyond
Currently, we are focussing on adding more themes to make the user a more comprehensive selection. We are currently working on a better theme, which I hope will be groundbreaking. We have also started working on plugins, which wasn’t our cup of tea until a year ago.
I want WordPress to be both front end and back end editor in the next FIVE years. But the future, as they say, is unpredictable. I am sure the WordPress team has a map laid out in front of them. But you never know if some better CMS pops up in the market, and suddenly WordPress feels the pressure to add those features as well into their CMS.
Currently, I don’t see any competition with WordPress holding above 60% CMS market share and over 38% of all websites done in WordPress.
My Love for the WordPress Community
Yes, I do attend WordCamps. I have been WordCamp organizer for Nagpur in 2017, 18, and 19. WordCamps are beneficial because you get to know the real person behind the businesses and can share knowledge. Sometimes you get collaboration offers, too, and you can invest in an interesting upcoming WordPress business.
Sonal Sinha Speaking at WordCamp 2017
SKT Themes at WordCamp 2018
Sonal Sinha Speaking at WordCamp 2019
You also get to learn many things as to how other businesses are managing and growing themselves.
I know a lot of people and have been on good terms with them. I’ve friends in my local WordPress community members like Ankit Jaiswal of Buzo.in and Abhishek Deshpande of Peenak Solutions.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I always follow the WordPress blog websites like WPTavern, TorqueMag, and TechCrunch, among others. I am also active on social media, so keep interacting with young WordPress developers to understand what new tools or plugins, or themes they are using.
I do use Blinkist to keep myself motivated by reading summaries of motivational and business-related books.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I am a family loving person. So I share my time with my kids (daughter and son). I also like to drive and take out my cars for a long drive.
Sonal Sinha Family
We mostly travel to exciting places with my family (parents, wife, and kids) during each Christmas and New Year. This year will be an exception due to Covid-19. Last year we were in Egypt. A year before, we spent New Year’s Eve in Thailand. A year earlier in Dubai.
I liked Switzerland the most. Skiing in the Swiss Alps was something I had never experienced before. I would like to go there again.
I Reward Myself by
I love to travel to other countries and have been doing it since 2007. I have been to 23 countries. Learning different languages and cultures is something I like the most.
Sonal Sinha at Abu Simbel Temple
Moreover, I do like to take out my employees for lunch and dinner. We have a monthly outside party and a monthly small tea party discussion in the office.
Team SKT Themes
I spend my weekends watching movies on OTT platforms.