Pull Quote: For me, WordPress means freedom, self expression, and adaptability.

Life Stacks Up – From A Small Town Boy To A Geek Entrepreneur

A six year old is in deep thought. His gaze stuck on an intricate structure made with wooden sticks – a large rectangular box in the centre, a tall stick, some knitting threads running up and down. All this is arranged in a shelf in a common terrace wall of two middle class Indian homes.

The boy is holding what seems like a paper cup telephone – two paper cups with a thread running between. Soon, he smiles and throws one paper cup over the wall to the other side. His counterpart on the other side picks up his side of the “telephone” and they start talking.

“I made a TV using the sticks. I’m now going to set up a power line…”

“Awesome, I’ll be there after my homework!”

Aha! Now it makes sense. The kids are pretend-playing, and this one in particular is into science and model making. He has made an elaborate television model with limited resources.

Fast forward six years, and the boy is writing programs on a school computer. Couple years later he’s making model rockets and planes.

Fast forward another six years, and the boy is sitting with Bill Gates, being one of the eight national winners in a competition.

He goes on to launch India’s first electronic magazine, a web solutions business, local language versions of Linux and OpenOffice, a content management system, few books and a string of businesses that have made millions of dollars.

And he fondly remembers meeting Matt Mullenweg and Chris Lema at WordCamp San Francisco in 2014. His web agency business had gone bust around 2011, and his WordPress plugins business was picking up. Those meetings strengthened his conviction for WordPress and he doubled down on his plugins. Today his team takes care of 200,000+ active users across two dozen of their plugins – both free and premium.

That small town boy is me.

Who I Am

My name is Nirav Mehta. I live in Mumbai, and I’m super passionate content, commerce and contribution. I run three businesses – two in WordPress (StoreApps.org – where we solve problems for growing WooCommerce stores, Icegram.com – where creators find tools to inspire, engage and convert their audiences), and one SaaS business (Putler – meaningful analytics for e-commerce).

I have done some or other form of writing for over two decades. I’ve done open source for my whole life and used Drupal and Joomla earlier. As a matter of fact, I created a content management system using PHP back in 2000. But I liked the simplicity and community of WordPress. So when I wanted to start two blogs in 2006, I jumped on to WordPress.

And it was amazing. WordPress simplified a whole lot of things, allowed customization and had extensive plugin ecosystem.

I continued blogging and tinkering with WordPress. WordPress kept growing, and when I was looking for “the next big thing” around 2011, I figured I can bet on e-commerce with WordPress.

There was no WooCommerce back then, and we built an extension to WPeC – an e-commerce plugin that was popular at that time. Smart Manager – the plugin we built – allowed managing products, orders and customers using an easy spreadsheet like interface. It quickly became popular. When WooCommerce came along, we ported our WPeC plugins to WooCommerce, and also became an official third-party developers with our Smart Coupons plugin. StoreApps – our WooCommerce plugins business continues to be our top business today.

WordPress has changed my life. For me, WordPress means freedom, self expression and adaptability.

Where I Came From

I’m from a small town, I am not an engineer, I didn’t do an MBA. I don’t have a godfather. But I’ve always wanted to contribute to a larger community, I’m a stickler for elegant solutions that solve practical problems and I’m ready to delay gratification. I believe grit and humility are essential. I’m a curious lifetime learner. I’ve realized that money is important, it’s a great resource. But I’ve also learnt that the joy of seeing someone benefit from your work far surpasses anything else.

WordPress fits perfectly here. It gives me a platform to reach out to the whole world. It’s built on community and greater good. There are lots of opportunities and entry barriers are low.

What WordPress Has Given Me

WordPress allowed me to exercise my creative skills and easily build solutions on top of the core platform. I am not a great marketer, and WordPress and WooCommerce enabled me to build strong businesses by tapping into their distribution prowess. WordPress was easy to learn, so when we found people with the right mindset, they became productive soon.

Icegram – our onsite and email marketing plugins business – is a clear example of the power of WordPress. Icegram Engage shows popups, header-footer bars and many other types of visitor engagement and call to action messages. Maintaining such a solution on a large scale would require huge server costs and sys-op efforts. We could avoid all that because we could keep most of the functionality in WordPress. It also provided a cleaner and much better user experience than typical SaaS solutions. When I wrote the initial code for it, I wanted to keep the frontend logic in JavaScript – and of course, WordPress allowed doing that. Eventually, it was also easy to migrate to a hybrid model – where complex functions are performed on our servers and rest remains in WordPress.

WordPress has given me great friends. I’ve met so many talented people online and at WordCamps! Me and my WordPress friends have done amazing adventures together! And the circle keeps expanding. You will find amazing people in WordPress!

When you look at my life, and if important events were plotted as a chart, you won’t see a straight curve. It’s a bundle of long lull-times with gyrating ups and downs in between. I studied behavior patterns, data modelling and visualization for Putler – our multi-system analytics solution for online businesses. I also get to see numbers from many other businesses. I wanted to analyze how businesses work. What causes success.

And one big, common takeaway – in both business and life – is that results are non-linear. There is no single cause to any result.

Back To You

It all starts simple. What you do today, is shaped by something you did earlier, and will shape something else you’ll do in the future.

Every little act of courage, every little getting out of your comfort zone, every new thing you learn, every setback, every little success… It all keeps building who you are.

You see, life stacks up!

Do not despair, do not lose faith. Series of actions produce a result, and you have the ability to act.

So stay on!

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.