Interview with Adii Pienar, future speaker at How to Web

If you’ve heard of WordPress, then you’ve definitely heard of WooThemes, the leading WordPress theme and plugin provider with tons of free and commercial products available to jump-start website creation. Adii Pienaar, the ex-CEO & Founder of WooThemes, will be joining us this November and he’ll talk about leveraging the local context to build a great startup.

Adii’s passion for helping other entrepreneurs is very visible in the articles he writes on his blog, and he’s never stopped making new mistakes (of his own). Now he is working on his new startup, PublicBeta, but he is also a wannabe angel investor.

We asked Adii for a short interview, so we can all get to know him better and get our own questions ready for his keynote at How to Web. Here it is:

1. Given your experience with monetization, what are the 3 main pieces of advice you’d give startups to convince their customers to pay for their product or services?

I really love revenue, so this is one of my favourite questions. 🙂 I think it mostly comes down to these 3 things:
Charge on Day 1 (or as soon as possible). This sounds stupid to say this, but by charging from Day 1, you’re ensuring that you send your customers the right message: “Our products or services are valuable and you should pay us for this.”
You need to do something that is different to what is out there. This could sometimes just be your branding and the way you execute on the same ideas as competitors, but something needs to set you apart. Give customers a reason to pick you instead of someone else.
Back up any sale with amazing customer experiences. Do everything in your power to help your customers and add value to their experiences. This is the kind of thing that will make customers talk about your products and services.

2. What has helped you, in your evolution, to surpass you fear of failure related to your startup?

I’ve found over the years that the fear of failing is actually a great motivator to work incredibly hard and do whatever it takes to avoid failure. To get this done, I mostly rely on two mindsets:
The world rewards courageous decisions and fortune favors the brave.
I try figure out what the absolute worst case scenario is for any risky decision. If I believe I can live with that worst case scenario, then I go all-in.

3. How did the environment of a developing country help you reach your startups’s goals?

I think to a large extent being away from a tech or startup hub, helped me to avoid any superficial trends or a group thinking mentality. One of the best examples with WooThemes is the fact that we had to bootstrap the business, because outside funding wasn’t readily available. This has made perfect sense for WooThemes and has installed a mindset of “we need to figure things out ourselves and do that in a way that fits into our budget / growth”.

I hate being labeled and put into a box. Instead I believe that I have the power and freedom to always design my own box. Because we weren’t based in San Francisco, New York, London or Berlin, I had no choice but to design and create my own box. This meant making loads of mistakes over the years, but it helped me carve out my own entrepreneurial DNA without trying to live up to any kind of mainstream hype.

We must say that Adii is really a gold mine of good advice for any startup in the CEE region, so do your best to meet him in November. Until then, he highly recommend you follow his blog, because his insights are valuable for any business.

Remember that there are many more interviews with our future speakers and Startup Spotlight mentors to come!

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