How Brad built Delicious Brains

Brad Touesnard

brad touesnard

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Jan Koch  01:11

Welcome, everybody. Thanks for joining me again on the WP Agency Summit. I’m here with Brad Touesnard who runs Delicious Brains and SpinupWP, both are resources that I use quite often in my day to day when I’m stuck at a difficult problem. So Brad, first of all, thank you for building these platforms. And thanks for coming on to the summit.

Brad Touesnard  01:30

Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Jan Koch  01:33

Absolutely. Can you give us a little intro about who you are and what you’re doing in the WordPress space?

Brad Touesnard  01:39

Yeah, so I’ve got a team of I to think we’re up to 13 people now. And most developers. We work on a couple of plugins, our oldest plugin is WP Migrate DB Pro. Allows you to move your database around originally it was just a database, then we moved to media files. And now you can move your theme and plugin files as well. And so you can just push everything from one WordPress install to another and pull things back into an install. So it’s about moving your WordPress sites around. We also work on WP offload media, which allows you to offload your media library to Amazon S3, Digitalocean spaces, and Google Cloud Storage. And then, recently, we added the ability to serve all your assets through CloudFront. And it also supports like private files, so you can actually do a restricted content site and serve things privately. So those are our two biggest plugins. Last year, we launched offload SCS, so offload your email sending to Amazon SCS. And we also have another plugin that’s kind of littler known that well, it’s not well known that we do it because we don’t promote it very much. But it’s actually a fairly popular plugin. And it is better to search to replace pro.

Jan Koch  03:23

That is a lifesaver for me. 

Brad Touesnard  03:26

Yes, well the funny thing is about better search-replace is that it’s almost identical. The features. Like migrate DB Pro has all the features that BSR has. So it’s the main reason we don’t promote is that we already have all those features in our flagship product. And then the other product we do is also launched last year, it’s called SpinupWP and it’s more of an app, it’s not just a plugin. It’s an app to allow you to spin up servers on Digitalocean Linode, any cloud server platform AWS, obviously, and it kind of just sets the whole thing up to work really well for WordPress. So you’re able to host WordPress sites really well, with just a few clicks is the idea. And you know, you bring your own server, you bring your own storage for backups, that’s kind of the difference of this platform versus other platforms is that you kind of brings your own accounts to this one. And so you can log into your own Digitalocean plat account and you can see your droplet in there. You can log into your Amazon account and see look into S3 and you can see your backups setting there. So it’s I think that’s the big difference from most platforms.

Jan Koch  04:59

So that’s in full control with SpinupWP.

Brad Touesnard  05:04

Yes, exactly really puts you in full control, you’ve got root access to the server. You can do whatever you want it. I guess the big thing is right now, we don’t offer hardly any support at all. So you can definitely get yourself into trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing or you try to do something that’s not very typical. So I think that’s something that we’re going to try to rectify in the future. We’re going to have a support plan for people that really want that safety net, to kind of catch them when they fall off, right?

Jan Koch  05:43

That’s really interesting. And when I first came across delicious brains a couple of years ago, I, first of all, didn’t even notice that you were selling these plugins, because the content on your page was so good, that I was just using it as a reference page. When I was having some problems with some weird code issue or something. I was more drawn into the blog. And then afterward, I saw that all the plugins you are selling and how well they were doing. So I would really love to dive into the story behind delicious brains. Specifically, what’s exciting for this session is usually the sessions on the summit are more about growing your agency and selling projects rather than selling software. But I thought it would be fun to have you on to talk about the other part of the business model too, which is when you’re working with WordPress, you can obviously always create your own solution and start selling that as a product rather than just focusing on the project and selling websites itself. So how did delicious brains get started?

Brad Touesnard  06:49

Well, I actually used to work at an agency. And that’s actually when I built like the very first version of migrating DB Pro. I was having the problem of moving WordPress sites around. So I built this little tool. Kind of hack something together put it on And then next thing you know, it kind of develops a following. But it wasn’t until years later that I actually decided to monetize that plugin, create the pro version and turn it into a business. In between that time I left the agency and then worked on my own as a freelancer. And I was freelancing, doing fine. And then my wife was pregnant. And I was like, Oh, no, what if I can’t work? right? Like, what if I can’t do what if I get hurt, and I can’t my hands, I can’t type or something, like I’m screwed I won’t be able to have an income. And so I started to think about how I could become how could start making money without actually trading hours for dollars, right? Kind of making money in my sleep. And I think how does that work? And of course, that’s what a product business is, right? You sell licenses in your sleep. And so I started thinking about that. And then I found that Adii Pienaar from Woo themes had a page on his personal site, where he was kind of encouraging people to reach out to him for mentorship, like entrepreneur mentorship. And so I did that. And I had this idea for basically iTunes for WordPress, so build a store into the WordPress dashboard. And so that got his attention. And then I built a prototype, he liked that he shared it with his team woo themes invested gravity forms invested. And I actually worked on that project for over a year before we decided to shut it down and it didn’t work out. There’s a post on my blog, that kind of goes into the details of that and discusses why I think that didn’t work out. And then as that business was failing, that store was failing, I started to look for other opportunities, other things to pivot to and that plugin that I had built at an agency was sitting there and it had developed a small following kind of overtime just gradually without me doing a thing right? It’s kind of just a seed that I planted at one point and it kind of grew a little bit and so I decided you know what if I added extra features to this and charge some money for it. And I put a survey in the sidebar of the free plugin that said pro version question mark, and then listed out some features and ask them to submit their email address, their name whether they would buy this or not. And just some basic questions and I ended up with 300 responses to that. So it was good enough validation that people were willing, were interested and willing to pay. So went ahead and built it took about five months. And eventually, we launched it. And it did really well right out of the gate it was doing over $10,000 per month. And so that’s kind of how it all started. And then we went from there and hired people.

Jan Koch  10:38

That’s a pretty epic story. So how big was the following of the plugin when you didn’t promote it? Like, what was the critical mass it just started with?

Brad Touesnard  10:53

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it might have been showing 10,000 plus active installations, something like that. I think that’s about right. It wasn’t a lot. I mean, back then, WordPress was smaller than it was than it is today. So this was in 2012. This would have been. So eight years ago now. So that’s all the numbers on are lower than they are today. So but that was plenty you just, you don’t need that many people to get started. And the thing is that there was no plugin like this. And so it was a novel. So it did the word of mouth kind of took off like Pippin Williamson, who I didn’t know at the time. He talked about it, he tweeted a really nice tweet to his audience. And so that helped a lot. And other people picked it up from him and retweeted it and stuff. And Chris Coyier, from CSS-tricks, I reached out to him just via email, cold email, and just said, Hey, man, like I heard, because I was listening to his podcast ShopTalk show. And he was always talking about how much of a pain in the butt it was to migrate a WordPress site. And so I just reached out to him say here, this might help. And he loved it. He talked about it on the show, on his podcast. He put a post on the CSS-tricks website. So I feel like I was lucky to get all this kind of free promotion out of the gate. So that helped a lot. Yeah.

Jan Koch  12:42

I think that’s also something that still to this day is very imminent in the community that we are in is people like to help each other, which is the same as I am experiencing right now. I mean, I just called emailed you, and invited you to give me an hour of your time, essentially, to grill you on some questions. Which there’s by no means an obligation for you to take the time out of your calendar and talk to me just because some random dude from Germany wants to talk to you. So I think it’s a very powerful principle that most of the WordPress people employ. Which is not forgetting where you’re coming from, and then giving back to the community. And I think if an agency would start a similar project today, identifying some plugin, they’ve coded for themselves to solve a pain point and then putting that up onto And just getting word of mouth going, I think that would still work to this day.

Brad Touesnard  13:45

Yeah, it’s possible. It’s definitely different today than it was eight years ago. Things have changed a lot. There’s a lot of acquisitions happening, a lot of consolidation of the WordPress space. But there are still opportunities that are there for sure. There’s still lots of opportunity in the WordPress plugins, and then kind of the greater business ecosystem at large I think so.

Jan Koch  14:12

Yeah, I agree with you. So flashback to that 10k a month starting period for WP migrate DB Pro. How did you grow the business from there like now you have a plugin that you are selling, but it’s still yourself selling the plugin I would imagine so how did you turn that into a business?

Brad Touesnard  14:35

Well, the first thing that is to hire some people to help me out and to keep building migrate DB Pro, but also build another plugin. And we ended up launching offload media about two years after migrating DB Pro launched. So that’s probably the biggest thing that we did to grow the business, like just adding another product to a product line really levels things up, right. And that’s what we’ve continued to do. That’s one of our primary growth strategies is to kind of scale horizontally by adding more products, and therefore more revenue streams. And it’s also nice to diversify in that way, right? So if anyone of our plugins or products takes a hit because maybe a competitor comes along, that’s really great, or something, who knows, something happens. Then we have other products to lean on that are bringing in revenue. So that’s been really important, and an important strategy for us. And then, so marketing-wise, the other things that we’ve done, we’ve dabbled with remarketing ads. So if someone comes to our site, the ads that follow you around the internet. We did that in the early days. And I think it was effective, it’s kind of hard to tell sometimes. And then, what else do we do? content marketing is the biggest thing like you were talking about that earlier how you found out about us by just finding our content. I kind of joke sometimes, when I introduce our company, I say that we’re a blogging company, but we sell a few WordPress plugins on the side. Because we put so much effort into our content, that it does feel like another product that we’re building, essentially. And so that’s been a big part, we started that I think it was around 2015, 2016, we started producing an original piece of content every week, a new piece of content. And then we started putting a process around that to really formalize it. But it really just boiled down to, we’re a bunch of developers, let’s write some stuff that other developers would enjoy stuff that we would enjoy that we think that other people will also enjoy. And it’s really, it really was that simple. And it seemed to be effective. Up until the beginning of last year, where we realized our SEO was not very good. We really weren’t paying attention to kind of the latest trends in SEO, for example, if you have a piece of content that is kind of outdated. So imagine a piece of content that is very timely, it’s like talking about some kind of drama in the WordPress space right now or something like that. Like that piece of content is not going to do well. Like two years from now and you have to actually have a process in place to retire that content. Otherwise, you’re gonna get punished by Google, right? So that’s like one small thing that we weren’t doing. We just had a huge bunch of content, a lot of it wasn’t performing. So we’ve been basically since November, so the past eight months or so. Eight to ten months. We’ve been updating content, merging content together. So we’ve had content that multiple pieces of content that are very similar and Google doesn’t like that, either. They want you to put that content together, refine it, basically refactor it into one piece of content. That’s really strong, right. So we’ve been going through we kind of ramped up on the latest SEO practices. And I’ve been going through. It’s a very slow process. But we’re getting there.

Jan Koch  19:05

Yeah, I mean, with how in-depth your content is, I can only imagine how many hours go into merging just two posts.

Brad Touesnard  19:14

Yeah. Oh, it is. It’s crazy how much time we spend on our content, but we do treat it like another product. So it’s a little easier to allocate those resources because of that.

Jan Koch  19:28

So yeah, and it’s also contributing to the bottom line in the end because it brings people in and it makes people familiar with your brand. So I definitely see the point in that. I would love to talk a little bit about your hiring process and how you’re managing your team now because from what I’ve been talking to with other attendees of the summit, managing staff is a tricky thing nowadays for many people, no matter whether it’s on-site or offshore, virtual assistant stuff like that. So maybe walk us through with how you got started with working with the team. I mean back then it was very much different from what it is now. But I think there are some lessons that you’ve learned along the way that would be helpful for the people watching this session.

Brad Touesnard  20:15

Yeah, so when we started, the approach was to review the application. So the resume, basically, and say, oh, okay, yeah, they look pretty good, let’s try them out. And so we would just bring them on board. We would give them access to everything to Github, and the whole thing and just assign GitHub issues to them, and get them actually working on our product right away. And so at some points in time, we had like, three, I think we even had four people at one point on trial with us. Like committing code and working with us. And they were being paid, I believe, Automattic was doing something very similar to this at the time. They would pay them $25 now or two, to just come on board and, and try them. But I think the big difference was between what we were doing with what Automattic was doing is I would imagine that Automattic was doing a lot more vetting upfront and screening the people and we weren’t right? We were just like, yeah, they look alright. We didn’t interview them. We did do a little very. So it was very much a revolving door like people would come in, and then they would leave and then we’ve kicked them out, or they would leave because they couldn’t spend the time or they didn’t like working with us or whatever. So it was very disruptive to our team, that process, right? Because people were coming in and out. So nowadays, we’re very much still on the idea of a trial still is excellent. Like, we still do that. But we try to qualify people much more upfront, right? So we’ll ask them questions to kind of gauge how much empathy they have. If they’re an empathetic person because that’s a very important quality for us. And learning like if they’re willing to learn. Not only willing to learn but eager to learn like really want to they’re really curious about things and they want to figure things out. That’s another big quality for us. So we’re going to look for those qualities, we’re going to ask them questions where they should demonstrate those qualities. We’ll ask those upfronts before we get anywhere near it at trial. We’ll also ask them for sample code. So this well for developers, but if it’s another discipline like design or something, we would ask them for something right, some kind of something to look at that they’ve produced in the past. So that we can get an idea if they’re going to be a good fit. A lot of times people don’t have sample code or samples of things. 

Jan Koch  23:21

It’s surprising.

Brad Touesnard  23:22

 It is surprising. We just hired a Laravel developer and a WordPress plugin developer. And it seemed that the WordPress plugin developers always had lots of code. And I’m not sure if that’s just the difference in culture between kind of the WordPress space and the Laravel space, or what. But there were so many Laravel developers that had nothing to show all their code was under NDA, and they couldn’t show it. And WordPress, of course, your codes under NDA. Well, it’s WordPress is GPL. And anything you build for it inherits that license, so it’s NDA.

Jan Koch  24:08

NDA’s difficult.

Brad Touesnard  24:10

Yeah, it’s not under NDA. So I think that might be part of it. Laravel, just much harder. So we had to develop a trial project that we could give to people and say, like, here, build this little app at Laravel and we’ll review it, and we’ll see if you’re a fit. But if you’re not a fit for us, at least you’ve built this app, and you can bring this to other employers, and they can see when they ask for sample code, you’ll have this project to show right. So we’re trying to kind of help people to do that. And obviously, we’re not going to be paying people for that project. Because it’s really something that they ought to have anyway for not just for us, but for other prospective employers. And then we also for the Laravel position, we also had a system administrator trial project. So we had them log into a server and have to like look into the logs and try to figure something out. So it’s kind of like a little challenge. And they had to record their screen and kind of talk us through it. Through their troubleshooting and stuff. So,  hiring is kind of fun, but it’s so time-consuming. So it’s not something you’re always doing necessarily. So it feels like a big distraction. But once you have the right person on the team, it definitely feels like it was worth it. Right? in the end? But it’s tough. Hiring is very difficult. We’ve been hiring since November. So but last 10 months straight, essentially, we’ve had kind of false starts here and there, like people that have come on board and then had to leave. And, man, so it is challenging. And you know, we’ve been doing it for seven, eight years now. And I still feel like we’re not very good at it. So we have so much room for improvement in this area.

Jan Koch  26:29

I’m not sure if you ever will feel that you’re good at hiring just because there’s so much competition in this space these days. Like so many freelancers competing for jobs and promising you the blue from the sky when they’re talking to you. And then you have to spend the time. And as you said, have them do these sample projects. And then even after that when you’re onboarding and you actually working with them, that gives an entirely new light on the person. I’ve had the same experience. I’ve worked. I’ve joined the company in April this year. In March, and I left at the end of April because it just wasn’t a good fit. And the CEO and I were talking back and forth for six months before that. And it still wasn’t a good fit. So its just something that I think you have to take into account.

Brad Touesnard  27:18

Yeah, it doesn’t always work out. That’s for sure. And on the flip side when it is a good fit, it’s so great, right? It’s great for both parties. We’ve had people working with us for well, seven years now, right? Which is crazy, right? Seven years for a developer? I think in Silicon Valley, like the average turnover at a Facebook or a Google is like two years or something, or it might even be less than that. So for us, we’re just thrilled to have like a really strong team with a strong bond. I think part of it is the company retreats that we’ve done. So like, once a year we get together in person somewhere interesting. Last year. So 2019. We were in Berlin, actually, for WordCamp Europe, and what WordCamp Europe was part of it, but we got there early. We were there for a full week. We did some go-cart racing. German-style, which is a serious business. These are not your little electric go-cart. These were gas-powered. I can’t remember how many horsepowers but these were serious.

Jan Koch  28:46

I think they have around 30 to 50 horsepower, which given the weight is plenty.

Brad Touesnard  28:53

Oh, yeah, is super fun. We’ve got some car enthusiasts on the team. So they were just in their element. And then we went to the beer gardens, which are kind of sprinkled all over Berlin. So it was a great time. And I think that was our sixth company retreat. We’ve been to Jamaica, I flew in the team to Nova Scotia here at one point we did Miami. So we’ve been kind of all over.

Jan Koch  29:26

That’s really interesting. I love that you’re bringing this cultural aspect of building the team and then keeping the team motivated. So what’s the day to day in your business? Like how does the team communicate? How do you make sure things get done? Essentially?

Brad Touesnard  29:45

It’s funny how it’s evolved over time because when we started, we never use video, almost never used video. In fact, we discourage video in the hiring process because we felt that it would cloud our judgment. Like when you’re a good slick salesperson can kind of talk you into hiring them, right? So we wanted to kind of eliminate that kind of bias, right? So like a friendly person, you’d be more likely to hire like a friendly person than a person just talking like this and like, kind of in the dumps, right? And that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be a better person to hire, right? So there’s a bunch of biases that get eliminated. And, in fact, we don’t do video interviews until the very end of our hiring process at the moment, either for that reason. But yeah, so when we first started a very little video, we were mostly text-based, I think we’re just using email. And then slack came along. And we started using slack. We use Basecamp, a little bit Oh, we were using GitHub since the very beginning as well. So communicating within GitHub issues. And that’s still true today, tons of communication happens on GitHub. We use Google Docs a lot for collaboration. So whenever we’re producing content, we’re reviewing. The reviewer goes in and makes suggestions and stuff in Google Docs. And we use zoom a lot today. We have weekly meetings. We just started last week, doing daily stand-ups in each team. So a daily standup is kind of a silly term for it. Because it’s just not a video call. But basically, it’s just like a 15-minute call between the members of each team each morning, the managers stay out of it. And it’s basically the main reason that we implemented it is because we missed our company retreat this year, so we’re not getting that in-person FaceTime. And we need to fill that void somehow to keep the team kind of engaged and familiar with one another’s quirks and stuff, right? There really is no replacement for meeting up in person. But we need to do the best we can, in the circumstances to kind of try to help that along until we can meet up in person again, I guess.

Jan Koch  32:30

Interesting. Did you learn some lessons along the way with this? I mean, just using slack easily eats up your entire day if you’re not paying attention to this.

Brad Touesnard  32:42

Right, yeah we have a doc that we make everyone that joins the team read, that kind of explains how we use slack. So we very rarely @ mentioned people because when you mentioned people, they get a notification. And we don’t want to interrupt people unless it’s necessary to interrupt them, right. And we try not to use direct messages often either. So instead we’ll post on a certain channel. So like, if I need to send a message to a member of the Migrate DB pro team, and the message is fine for everyone else to see, I’ll put it into that channel to the migrate DB pro channel in slack. But I won’t mention the person I’ll just sit I’ll put there, I’ll just write their name, I’ll just say, Pete, comma, and then the message. And that way, he doesn’t get a notice. And so he’ll read that when he check slack, a few times a day that he checks slack. So we try to do that to kind of protect people from the kind of delusion that is notifications in slack. And we also adopted Basecamp to try to help with that as well. So you can post in Basecamp instead of slack but honestly, we’re still experimenting with Basecamp. We think we started that experiment this year. And I’ve noticed that when we started using Basecamp we used it quite a lot. And it’s really kind of taken a nosedive. We were not using it nearly as much as we were in the beginning anymore. We’ve kind of all gone back to using slack to send messages because it’s just I don’t know, it’s just easier, I guess Slack, it’s a little bit more. 

Jan Koch  34:41

More convenient, maybe more fun because of the automation and the slack bot and stuff like that. But it’s interesting that you are not @ mentioning people. That’s something that in my previous agency were I worked here in Germany, slack was for synchronous communication. So you would get notifications all the time because people wanted to know something. Rather than kind of using it as a variation of an email and relying on asynchronous communication via slack to actually let people do their work rather than interrupting them all the time.

Brad Touesnard  35:23

Yeah, exactly. 

Jan Koch  35:26

Nice and that actually is a very nice segue, as we are coming into land here for this conversation already. There’s one more topic that really is important to me that I would love to dive into. Our two topics really one is the product development lifecycle, how you’re managing the development of your products, and two then you’ve touched upon the previous content marketing. So can you walk us maybe through the beginning of the product development lifecycle? Like, what does it take for an idea to be turned into a product at delicious brains?

Brad Touesnard  36:04

Yeah, we’ve definitely stumbled with this in the past. Our first two ideas were really to build upon three plugins, right. So Migrate DB pro, offload media, both of those plugins, were already on .org, already had some traction there. So they’re kind of already proven that they were going to do something. And then we’ve tried to build a product called merge bot, which was trying to merge, the database changes between two databases together which is often a problem. So say, you’ve got a WooCommerce site, and you’re trying to get it from development to production. While production changing developments changing, you can kind of merge those changes together. It’s a nightmare. And honestly, there’s basically failed with that project. We did a lot of great work on it. And we got to a certain point, but we couldn’t bring it to 100%. We were like 90% of the way there and couldn’t bring it home. And that wasn’t good enough for customers. So we killed it off. I think we spent two years doing that project, something like that, and then just had to kill it, ax it off, which totally sucked. But in retrospect, when we started out on that project, we really weren’t thinking of it as we probably won’t succeed. But let’s try anyway right. That’s how we started out. But then we started believing that we’re going to succeed, and then we were really disappointed, but we didn’t. But when we really look back, it’s kind of what we set out to do. So I think it was fine. My only regret there is that we let it go too long. We probably should have stopped when we hit, the first brick wall.

Jan Koch  38:07

Yeah, it’s that’s to pull the trigger on those projects after you’ve spent so much time and money on them? I totally see that. I’ve done that myself.

Brad Touesnard  38:18

Yeah, it’s this sunk cost problem. Yeah, you feel like you need you’ve already invested so much but yeah anyway eventually we did kill it off. And we were really excited about that project. So I think it was the right thing to build it. As I said, I think we should have acted a bit earlier than we did. Then the next product idea we launched is the offload SCS project, which I mentioned earlier. And that project’s been doing pretty well. But it’s not nearly as successful as our other two WordPress plugins, right? And in retrospect, I think the mistake we made there is that it’s a product that we built because we’re trying to execute on an opportunity that we saw, but that we weren’t necessarily that excited about. So, no one was excited about building an email sending plugin, right. It’s just not something we got excited about. And then you contrast that with spin up WP, which is a project that’s been doing really well for us. And it’s something we were really excited about, like when we came up with the idea. We’ve been kicking it around for a while, and then we just kind of gradually just getting more and more and more excited about it. So from now on, that has to be part of the idea, the excitement around the idea and it’s like the excitement that builds with time, right? We were kicking out the idea around for SpinupWP probably for a year before we decided to actually move forward with it. And we just kept getting more and more excited about it, like over that year. And so that has to so time is another factor here. So it’s not like, Oh, I just thought of an idea. Let’s start coding it. So yeah, you kind of have to let these ideas marinate and see if they actually turn into something, and you keep getting excited about it. It’s so funny like, I’ll have a great idea or what I think is a great idea. And one day, right and I’ll be like, oh super excited about it. I’m just like, oh, man, it’s the best idea ever right? And I’ll just let it sit for a day. The next day. I’m like, yeah, that’s all right? It’s amazing how time how important time is in the process of deciding on what you’re going to work on, right? Because ultimately, once you start working on that thing, it’s going to take a long time. So you better be damn well excited about a six-year from when you start working on it because it’s gonna be hard to keep working on it after six months in a year right? Like, SpinupWP took us, two developers, working full time 18 months before launch, right? So, that’s a long time to be working on something that has no customers. And you’re getting no feedback at all right?

Jan Koch  41:36

And then you still have to promote that after those 18 months and you still have to be excited to talk about that project. 

Brad Touesnard  41:44

Exactly yeah. So that’s something we learned is that we need that excitement. It’s really hard though, it’s really hard to come up with an idea. To validate it there’s a book called the mom test that’s really popular in entrepreneur circles these days and it’s about validating product ideas, by talking to people kind of casually. Just, what’re your problems, very casual talking about things. And I highly recommend that book. And as good as that book is, and I’ve heard many entrepreneurs saying, like, I still don’t know, I still don’t know if this is a good idea. If this is gonna if people are gonna buy this thing, right? You never know, 100%, you can only get, you know, 60% of the way there or something like that. And you can only gather enough data to feel like there might be something there, right? And then you’re just making the leap, taking the chance. And ideally, you do the smallest product you can to validate that idea, right? With SpinupWP, it did take us 18 months to launch, but we launched a beta, a private beta, I think six months in, right? To get people in, to get their feedback. Just what partly to shape the product going forward, we learned a bunch of things when we did that. There’s a massive, blind spot that we had. Agencies wanted to be able to put multiple sites on the same server that were isolated from each other, like separate logins and all this stuff. And we’re like, oh, of course, they would want that, right. But we were basing our model on other products that we saw in the market that didn’t and didn’t have that feature, right. And so we were thinking about it. So bringing people on board early, allowed us to discover that and allowed us to build that feature. And it took a long time that was a big to refactor in order to before launch, right, so when we launched we had that feature, and people were happy that we did have that feature.

Jan Koch  44:15

Interesting! Do you use content marketing to test those waters as well? And you’re entertaining the idea of building something, do you write like five pieces of content about that and see how that gets reciprocated by your audience?

Brad Touesnard  44:29

Yeah, so SpinupWP the idea for spin up WP actually came about partly because of content that we wrote. Ashley Rich, one of our members of our team. When it was his turn to write content for our blog, he wrote a series of articles. How to set up a WordPress server from scratch, basically right like from spinning up your virtual machine. All the way through to like configuring the security stuff, and creating the WordPress site and setting up backups and like all that stuff. So like he wrote that. And then in our Google Analytics, we’re like, wow, this gets a lot of organic traffic. So that definitely helped validate the idea because then we have a channel, right? People are coming, already finding this content via Google. So now we have this funnel, we can actually funnel those people to our app, say, like, hey, this, the series is great now, but if you want a shortcut to this  just sign up for our app. And we can, we’ll set you up. And I do like Amazon’s approach. They have this approach where they write the press release for the product, kind of the launch of the product, they write that press release before they even start.

Jan Koch  45:57


Brad Touesnard  45:58

Although they don’t publish it, right? They write the press release, mostly for their own purposes, like to kind of see if it makes sense what they’re going to build, and to get buy-in from their team, right? This is what it’s gonna look like when we launch this thing. And if people are excited about that, I think that goes a long way. But you know, you could publish it, right? Like you could write the press release. And we’ve done that in the past. We’ve written about features that we’re planning on building. And if we got crickets, we’re like, oh, okay, well, I guess no one gives a crap about this feature. So let’s not build it. Until people start asking us for it. It’s hard though because I say that. And I just saw a tweet the other day from an entrepreneur, who’s been, he’s had a software product for like, 15 years or something. And he said in the tweet, that the features that have moved the needle for his business that his customers have liked the most have almost always been stuff that they came up with, and that were not requested by their customers, right? And I think I’ve seen this as well, right? I’ve seen this where we dream up this idea for the product or feature, and we build it, and then people are like, Oh, that’s awesome. And I’m like because there’s definitely a lot of people out there that are gonna say you should listen to your customers and build the features that your customers are asking for. And you should do that. But you should also do the other thing too right? You should also be thinking about having a vision for the product to have a vision for the future and innovate? right? That’s the part that your customers are not going to help you with that much. Most likely, right? They’re not going to come up with the next killer feature.

Jan Koch  48:04

It’s not their job. It reminds me of saying, I think Henry Ford said, if I were to ask people what they want, they would have said faster horses, rather than the first car. So definitely hitting a good point here.

Brad Touesnard  48:21

 I love that. I love that. Yeah.

Jan Koch  48:24

Yeah. I’m not sure if I quoted that correctly. But from what I know, I was in German. It’s a rough translation at least.

Brad Touesnard  48:32

Yeah, no, that’s the gist of it. And it’s a great quote. I often think of that one, too, in the same context. Yeah.

Jan Koch  48:42

Yeah. I think that’s a fantastic way to wrap up this conversation. I don’t want to take out much more of your time here, Brad. Where do people get in touch with you if they have further questions?

Brad Touesnard  48:54

Twitter works. I’m @BradT on twitter. I’ve got my DM’s open so you can message me there. Anyone can message me there. I don’t have to be following you. And our websites are And if you’re interested in that. And I think that’s about it.

Jan Koch  49:22

Brilliant. Thank you so much for taking the time Brad. It was a pleasure.

Brad Touesnard  49:27

Oh, thank you. My pleasure. Cheers.

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