As you may know if you have been following ManageWP for any length of time, we like to do things a little differently.
We’re not based out of Silicon Valley. We’re not backed by venture capital funds. But in spite of that, we are a fast-growing startup with a loyal user base and (even if we do say so ourselves) a great product. We’re passionate about serving you in the best way possible by building the best tool possible, and work every day with that goal in mind.
Although ManageWP is now well known in the WordPress community, its beginnings were humble, unexpected, and perhaps even a little accidental. And if life has taught me anything to date, it is that honest endeavor coupled with the passing of time can take you to exciting places.
With that in mind, today we are publishing the first in a series of posts that intends to tell the ManageWP story in full – from the very beginning. How the product came to be, the trials and tribulations we have faced, and the progress we have made.
The story starts back in 1985…
It Began with a Commodore 64
I got my first computer when I was about 9 years old. For those of a certain age, the Commodore 64 will bring back fond memories:
I loved that machine. And once I had gotten my first taste of computing, at such a tender age, I never looked back. From that moment on, I knew that I would make a living with computers. I certainly didn’t know how, but I just knew.
The first program I ever created was text-based adventure game for the Commodore 64. The code was 2,000 lines long, and since there was no way of saving it, I had to type it all out from scratch every time I wanted to play it. Thinking back to that certainly puts today’s impatient computing age in perspective!
Education (from an Unlikely Source)
I learnt to code in high school and college (where I studied programming and mathematics). As you might expect, it was at college that I really began to develop as a programmer, but perhaps not for the reasons you would expect.
In reality, the classes I attended at College were outdated. I already knew most of what was being taught before it was taught. Consider this – I was at college in the late 1990s, and yet the Internet was not even a topic for discussion.
I soon lost interest and before long was dedicating myself to far more interesting endeavors – most notably, a Multi User Dungeon (MUD) game that I personally developed. My friends and I would spend hours and hours playing my game – doing so was certainly far more interesting than work!
But more importantly, creating and playing this game was teaching me an enormous amount about programming. There is no doubt in my mind that the thousands of hours spent developing and playing my MUD game contributing enormously to my education as a programmer.
Ultimately, my frustration with the curriculum at my college led to me dropping out in my third and final year. Although completing my degree at that stage would be considered by most to be the sensible move, I was extremely concerned that I was missing out on exciting possibilities by staying at college for even a moment longer.
Building a Career
In summer 2000, I reached a pivotal point in my life – join the army, or find a career.
I received an invitation to work for a large German company, and jumped at the chance. They were opening a branch in Serbia, and it was a fantastic opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and establish myself.
I worked at the company for around two years. The job was fairly enjoyable and well paid. Unfortunately, the company started making some business decisions that I considered far from wise, so I decided that it would be best for me to move on.
I joined the Serbian branch of an Austrian gambling company in 2003. We developed code for casino games. The job was challenging, and exciting as we were making games, and before long I was a project manager.
I was well paid, got to travel a lot, and worked with great people. Learned a ton too. However, I did not particularly like the notion of working for the gambling industry. Despite having worked myself into a great position, with a good wage, fantastic team, responsibility and autonomy, I knew that it wasn’t enough.
Taking the Plunge
So in 2007, I quit my lucrative job.
I was essentially unemployable at that stage. I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I didn’t know how, but the desire was motivation enough.
My thought process was this simple – I didn’t want to wake up, aged 50, having worked for the same guy, doing the same thing for 25 years. I knew if I didn’t take action then, I never would.
Of course, the Internet was already well-established by that time. We had already gone through one boom and bust cycle, but after the dot com frenzy of the late 1990s, things had settled back down. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Internet was the future for me. I saw it (and in fact still see it) as the Wild West of our age – there are huge opportunities for anyone to grab, should they have the necessary skill and determination.
I had six months worth of savings, and set myself the goal of establishing a profitable business within those six months.
My first port of call was to establish a blog. It was only then, in 2007, that I discovered WordPress. At the time I had no bias – after some deliberation, I choose WordPress as I considered it to be the best platform.
Little did I know at the time how influential that decision would be. It is absolutely no exaggeration to say that literally all of my progress from that point onwards stemmed directly from choosing to start a blog, and choosing to work with WordPress. From the most humble of beginnings can grow much bigger things.