I look back and remember FrontPage, Macromedia & wonderful Geocities – I think it’ll be safe to call it WordPress of 90’s! I was a young kid and was really fascinated with the web and more so in how it was built and Geocities left a positive mark which gave initial kick start to my quest.
Growing up in India amongst dozens of cousins passing out as Computer engineers, it’s sort of easy to become technologically obsessed. Being a tech geek kept be away from old school text books, this led me to get bad grades in my school and universities only cared about grades and not the brains. Without a good college to guide me, I began to look for a job and I joined a call centre as “Technical support executive” at the age of 19, where I realized that my co-workers were all engineers and masters in computer science coming from decent colleges and were still getting paid just as me or even less. And that’s when I decided that it makes sense to invest more on my own skills and get hands on experience rather than just running after getting a degree which didn’t come with a guarantee of suitable career.
Meanwhile, my job took the most of my time, but my home and social hours were spent on the web. I bought my first domain (mayankgupta.com) in 2004 and that’s when Blogger.com happened for me. I wasn’t able to make changes on WordPress themes easily as it was quite new and didn’t have much tutorials as much for me to learn from. Hence, I stuck to blogger.com for a bit.
Office politics (or as I thought then, the other guy truly deserved a promotion) made me quit call centre and I thought of pursuing my studies further. I studied the web, religiously. I went back to my initial plan of investing in my skills – only this time, I took professional blogging as my career and chose to start reviewsaurus.com, a technology news/software review blog. This time around, I hosted my blog on WordPress, because of the giant leap the software took with thousands of tutorials available.
Blogging helped me learn marketing (SEM/SMM), content development and with those skills in hand, I launched Blog Design Studio (http://blogdesignstudio.com) along with 2 more partners where we provided WordPress blog & website development services. We took the team size to 10, organized India’s first WordCamp (Matt Mullengweg & Om Malik were chief guests), gave 2 guest lectures in colleges, worked on a lot of big & small projects where my WordPress skills got better and I became more of a power user but never got a chance to learn development. My role was to market the services and be the technical architect of the projects. Things were smooth until 2011 when the other partners decided to focus on mobile apps rather than WordPress. At that time, I decided to stick to WordPress and went solo as a freelancer.
With no experience to sell and no team management skills, it was a tough road. However, my personal branding as WordPress expert helped me get regular work. With time my sales & project management skills got better and one fine day I had a chance to mentor a guy who had passed out with a degree and zero skills. I turned his mentor, taught him PHP, WordPress, and even English. Eventually, I turned a mentor for aspiring geeks in my city. Being a mentor didn’t bring in any money. I was left coaching the boys but didn’t get any time to grow myself financially.
All of this changed when a friend referred her friend Hiral Bhatt to me for a custom blog design project. I spoke to Hiral over skype. She was apprehensive about WordPress, but I convinced her and made the sale and took up the challenge to develop the blog for her with the help of my budding apprentice. Little did we know that this little project will graduate to become a life altering moment for us. We instantly connected over technology. She fell in love with my mentoring skills and WordPress, and I admired her entrepreneurial attitude and management. And after about a year we decided to tie the knot on 13th Nov., 2013. Even though she was already an entrepreneur, I turned her mentor for WordPress, and this combination worked so well for us, that we couldn’t thank WordPress enough for playing cupid and connecting us of personal and professional levels.
Last year, we both decided to work together and started Monks Bistro LLC (http://monksbistro.com) and today at the time of writing this post – it’s been exactly two years since our marriage and WordPress continues to be more than integral part of not just mine but my life partner’s too!
Open source has changed my life forever and WordPress has played the biggest part in it. Not only it has made me a better professional, it has helped meet my life partner too.
What have I learned after all this? Well, if I were to say it in short – “Invest time, energy, and love your passion – in return it’ll give love to you! In many more ways than you can imagine (in my case, just literally!)”.