Are You Looking To Build An iOS & Android App That Works With Your Website?

Transform your WordPress skills into a booming iOS & Android app development business.

With our engaging video presentation, embark on an exciting journey towards establishing a profitable iOS & Android app development venture within WordPress. Delve into practical insights on creating innovative apps that cater to diverse audiences while harnessing WordPress’s flexibility as a foundation. Elevate your entrepreneurial aspirations by learning key strategies for growth and sustainability in this ever-evolving digital landscape. Start watching today.

With Special Guest Pietro Saccomani, Founder of Mobiloud.

#1 – Pietro, can you outline how you got into tech and app development?

#2 – What was the foundation story behind MobiLoud, and what particular problem does it help solve?

#3—Pietro, you have a lot of experience in the SaaS area. Can you give us some insights on a couple of mistakes you see startup founders make on a semi-regular basis?

#4—What have been some of the biggest obstacles you have faced in getting traction with MobiLoud?

#5 – How will AI change App development in the next 18 months?

#6—If you had your time machine (H. G. Wells) and could travel back to the beginning of your career and business journey, what essential piece of advice would you give yourself?

This Week Show’s Sponsors

LifterLMS: LifterLMS

Convesio: Convesio

Omnisend: Omnisend

The Show’s Main Transcript And Links

[00:00:00.720] – Jonathan Denwood

Welcome back, folks. I got a great interview here. I’ve been looking forward to it. I’m just going to go straight into the countdown and go straight into the podcast. So three, two, one. Welcome back, folks, to the WP Tonic Show. This is episode 908. In this, we got a great guest. I say it every week, but I’ve been looking forward to this. We’ve got Pietro Saccomani. I’ve probably butchered his I did practice, but it did no good. But all our beloved long-term listeners and viewers know my unsurpassed ability to butcher my guests’ names. So don’t take it, Petro, too personally. You’re just one of many that I’ve butchered their surname. So Petro, would you like to give us a quick intro of you? A 10, 15 seconds intro?

[00:00:58.860] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, for sure. So I am the founder of a company called MobilLoud. We have been running now for more than 10 years and focused on helping business owners run an online business to turn our website into mobile apps. So, building mobile apps faster and more efficiently for businesses with a solid web presence and have built something on the web that can already be the starting point from a mobile app.

[00:01:30.760] – Jonathan Denwood

Oh, that’s great. I’ve got my co-host, Kurt. Kurt, would you like to introduce yourself quickly to your new listeners?

[00:01:39.430] – Kurt von Ahnen

Absolutely. Thanks, Jonathan. My name is Kurt von Ahnen. I own an agency called MananaNoMas. We focus largely on membership and learning-type websites. I also work directly with WP-Tonic and the great folks at Lifter LMS.

[00:01:52.150] – Jonathan Denwood

In this great episode, we’ll be covering if you’re a WordPress professional and you got a client that wants a mobile app, How can Mobile Loud help you with that? We’re also going to be talking about the business of building up this great business and what have been some of the challenges. It’s going to have two areas where we’re going to cover the most attention. But as you know, we can go anywhere for these interviews. You go with the flow. But before we go into the meat and potatoes of this great show, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks. Three, two, one.

We’re coming back, folks. I also want to point out that we’ve got some great plugins and services, WordPress plugins and services, and some great special offers from the major sponsors. You can get all these free goodies, say, a curated list of the best WordPress plugins, aimed at you, the WordPress professional. You can get all these goodies by going over to Wp-tonic. Com/deals, WP-tonic. Com/deals, and you find all the goodies there. What more could you ask for? Probably a lot more, but that’s all you’ll get from that page.

[00:03:17.450] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m sorry to disappoint. I’ve made a career of it, and I’ll continue. Petro, you gave us a quick intro. Let’s delve a little bit deeper. So, how did you get initially into the world of tech and then really start this company and get into app development?

[00:03:43.760] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah. So I guess the very, very first beginning was as a blogger back in 2006, 2007. That’s when I learned about WordPress and set up my blog. We’re talking about tech, And eventually, we’re talking about mobile technology. I remember live-streaming the iPhone announcement. And so all that excitement of those days prompted me to decide to start I started blogging specifically about that topic instead of mobile technology, mobile, the beginning of what eventually became the mobile app business. And from then, a few years passed, I worked at Apple for a few years. And then, eventually, around 2011, I made a decision to start on my own. So, with a co-founder, we started a company called 50 Pixel. So it was, at the time, like an app development studio. We built apps, we built web apps as well. And eventually, we built apps for other blogs. And I knew the space. I what it meant, a new WordPress. I was so putting the two things together. And with the first big blog, actually focused as well on iPhone. In terms of their audience, they were really the most prominent blog in Italy, addressing people who were starting to be hungry to find apps and learn more about what was happening with Apple and the iPhone.

[00:05:30.280] – Pietro Saccomani

So that blog was extremely successful, and the app that we built for them was extremely successful. And from that beginning, we decided to essentially build a platform that could allow other blogs, potentially any blog, to build a mobile app. And so the beginning of MobyDout was around turning a blog, news site, or magazine built on WordPress into apps. And we evolved that platform over the years. We work with some large publishers, and we still do. Around 2016, we started to expand things beyond the world of publishing and media and open up to more use cases.


[00:06:16.690] – Jonathan Denwood

Right. So it’s a fascinating story, and it’s a fascinating product. I’m just going to throw it over to Kurt for the next question, and we see and delve into the nitty-gritty.


[00:06:29.880] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah, it’s as soon as I saw that we were doing this interview, I got a little bit excited because, not going to lie, my email is full of spam all the time. For 40 bucks, I can build any website into a mobile app, right? So you see that hole, and then you try them and they never work. And then I looked at the reviews for your company for MobileLoud, and you got a lot of positive five-star reviews in there, man. It’s obvious that you’re working at a much higher level And that people are… You mentioned use case in your answer. So I imagine it’s more than just blogs. It’s multifaceted type websites with different functions and stuff. When I talk like that, and then we compare it to your foundation story behind mobile out. What problems do you think you solve now as you move forward?


[00:07:21.340] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, I think the problems that we solve are very similar across different use cases. Apps are really mostly about retention. They’re mostly about giving your most loyal customers or users a better user experience, a better experience on mobile devices. And with that also getting the ability to reach them on their devices with push notifications. So the two things combined, the fact that you have an icon on the home screen for your thing and the customer or user can find it easily, you gain that real estate on their And on top of that, you have this incredible channel for reengagement, which is push notifications. And depending on the use case, things change slightly. But the essence is often the same. The Use cases that work best for a mobile app are those where you see potential for repeated use. So media was an obvious one at the time, and it’s still a strong one. So of course, people want to be up to date with the latest, whatever, whether it’s news from a regional newspaper or a magazine or situations like that. But beyond that, we’ve expanded over the years to do a lot of community sites, some eLearning sites, and e-commerce.


[00:08:48.880] – Pietro Saccomani

E-commerce is probably today the biggest of all the use cases that we serve. And we see, especially the latter, the almost the most obvious opportunity for people that have built a brand and have a loyal customer base to have an extremely powerful channel that essentially just helps them serve that portion of their customer base that expects to find a mobile app and shops using apps and uses apps all the time. And if they didn’t have an app, then it would essentially mostly be missing out on that segment of their customer base. And with everything that I mentioned, what we see, and we’ve done work with some pretty large brands and retail brands, consistently, the behavior that people have inside of apps is such that allows them to express that loyalty and that interest they have for the brand and what’s an offer. So that almost all the metrics show an important improvement compared to mobile site performance, even And especially the way that we build apps, oftentimes there’s close to no difference between the mobile site experience and the app experience. So it’s really about the medium, about the fact that people, first of all, self-select as a loyal customer by downloading the app in the first place and identify themselves as such, and then have an opportunity to come back to that experience as often as they want.


[00:10:28.470] – Pietro Saccomani

But the And from the perspective of the brand, you get an opportunity to be considered in that subset of, icons, we might say brands that get to take some of that person’s time on their device. And when you think about both our media consumption habits and our shopping habits, really, most of these experiences these days happen on a smartphone. And if you don’t have that presence, then you don’t have that opportunity.


[00:11:00.520] – Kurt von Ahnen

Awesome. So if I were to dissect your answer, what I’m picking up is the push notifications is a big thing because we’re assuming they already have a website, right? So they have a site, now they want a mobile example. So push notifications and just that boost or that customer loyalty boost, that extra community feel that you’ve got the real estate on the phone. Is that the two main things?


[00:11:26.170] – Pietro Saccomani

Yes. I think it’s about convenience, essentially. So the icon It’s not on a home screen, it’s about convenience. It’s about being found again. And at push notifications, obviously, it’s more of a push strategy. It’s coming from the brand. But people are full in control of what they receive. It’s easy for them to opt out from categories of notifications that they don’t want to receive. It’s easier, I think, on the consumer side of things to gain control of what they receive compared to a medium like email, where we get inundated. There’s the newsletters you send up to, but there’s also all the spam that you actually don’t want to have, which is making essentially email as a channel harder and harder Because of all the noise and because the platforms like Google and Gmail try and clean up that mess that our inbox have become, which makes push notifications actually an incredible channel just because there’s less competition in a way, and there’s more control for the consumer for what they actually receive. So if they choose to receive your notifications, then it’s an incredibly impactful and powerful channel for the brand.


[00:12:45.460] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah. And in my mind, I’m thinking, how many people mismanage their bookmarks? They might even love your website, but the chances of them getting back to it are pretty slim, really, in the grand scheme of things. But if it’s an icon on the phone and it’s visible, then it’s more likely to be clicked on time and time again.


[00:13:02.590] – Pietro Saccomani

Absolutely. I think that’s the essence of it.


[00:13:04.800] – Kurt von Ahnen

Cool. Jonathan, over to you.


[00:13:06.450] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. So before we go into the other main question, I think I like to know a little bit about the nitty-gritty Because obviously, I can’t actually remember how you came on my radar, actually. But obviously at WP Tonic, we specialize in membership and community websites. And obviously, buddy Buddy Boss have their own mobile solution. But you offer it for LearnDash, you offer it for other learning management systems, you offer a solution for Buddy Boss, and then You got this e-commerce, and you’ve got this two-tier solutions. You got the set monthly price solution, and then you have the full custom price. But obviously, we’re dealing with WordPress, and this… Can you give some insight, if a WordPress professional came to you, some of the things they’ve got to have in the back of their minds? Because I would imagine for the set price solution, the monthly solution, you have maybe a list of… I’m only surmising this, that you have a list of plugins that you recommend that people have? Because I just don’t know how you deal with somebody that might have a real jumbal of different plugins that might conflict with how your platform works.


[00:14:45.490] – Pietro Saccomani

Yes. So the beauty of our solution, especially the general solution that we built for this problem, which is a platform that we call Canvas internally, is that it works with any plugin, technically. So we actually do very, very well with very complex situations. So site with tens of plugins, no problem. Because essentially, anything that you’ve built on the web will work in this platform. What we do is we take what you’ve built on the web and we add just what’s missing so that you can actually publish it as a mobile app. Of course, it has to be a great mobile experience already. But these days it’s hard to think of building without considering mobile first. And so once you have built something solid on the web, there’s almost, and especially in a complex situation with lots of moving parts, lots of plugins, lots of elements, lots of custom code. It’s almost unthinkable to build apps any other way than this, meaning the complexity of replicating or potentially integrating with all these different elements is such. They would make it absolutely not viable and very, very hard to see any return from doing things the custom way.


[00:16:05.140] – Pietro Saccomani

And of course, there’s no out of the box solution or template-based solution that will tickle the boxes once you have such a complex setup. So So it’s a basic blog, yes, there’s probably some alternative for that. But as soon as you have all that complexity, things don’t work. Things don’t work out of the box. And a template will never be a good solution. So the idea here is don’t Don’t rebuild the wheel. Don’t rebuild what you already have. Just add what you’re missing and just gain an extra channel, essentially with no extra work, no work to maintain, no work to build an app. We convert We don’t build apps. We don’t actually build custom apps. The apps are custom because the customer comes with a custom setup, custom website, and gets an app that is as unique as their website at the other end of the process.


[00:16:59.160] – Jonathan Denwood

So are you So basically it’s a fully hosted solution. So basically you take data points from the WordPress website and you display that in a… Which you can customize the design so it matches up with the feel of the website. So are you utilizing… I’m only surmising this. Are you utilizing the WordPress headless API system to take the data and put it in to your fully hosted solution?


[00:17:30.210] – Pietro Saccomani

Well, since we’re getting technical, technically, we have two platforms. One platform that is designed for media is built with APIs, the way that you mentioned, and then provides easy web-based customization for the front-end side of things within WordPress. That’s the platform that we built for publishing and media, and that is integrated with the WordPress API, and it’s integrated with Gutenberg for customization. We have a second platform that is actually much more agnostic about what’s happening in the back-end. It works with potentially any platform also outside of WordPress. We started in the WordPress space, but today, WordPress is probably 60 to 70 % of our customer base. And the second platform works with potentially any plugin. We do have, of course, a WordPress plugin ourselves. And it will actually literally add all the native elements in terms of navigation, push notifications, analytics, user experience elements that blur the lines between what is a mobile site experience and an app experience, but essentially allows you to build something on the web for the web, mobile first, and then just add what’s missing so that you can actually publish that app as the mobile app so that your mobile site doubles as the front-end for your mobile app too.


[00:19:07.490] – Pietro Saccomani

And for a WordPress plugin, you can potentially use a separate theme for the app from the site. You could have custom code that is injected just in the app and not on the site. So you have all that flexibility of potentially making it to experience it slightly different. But the essence of the idea here is that you’ve already built something on the web that’s as good as a mobile app. It’s just that you’re missing the few elements that we add effectively to be able to have that presence on people’s home screens as the icon that we’re talking about, to get that presence on the app stores and to get push notifications, which really are the reasons to build a mobile app.


[00:19:47.630] – Jonathan Denwood

All right. Thanks. Back over to you, Kurt.


[00:19:51.030] – Kurt von Ahnen

I’m going to get back to soft skills and less about tech, if that’s all right. With your experience in the SaaS area, do you have any insights on what you personally see as mistakes that founders have with startups or stuff that you see on a regular basis as you help others with companies?


[00:20:11.870] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, well, many. I can think I’m not sure about my own mistakes. That’s probably a good source. I think as founders, we often have a temptation. We build horizontal solutions. And like ours, for example. You can turn any website into a mobile app, right? And we approach the market, quote unquote, with an offer built that way. And I think that’s often a mistake. That’s often the hard way. It’s advice that’s been repeated a lot, but it’s a hard lesson to learn where you really see the potential to serve a lot of different groups of people. But finding that niche down group of people that specifically a specific ideal customer that actually really needs, really has a burning pain to solve, that I think is not finding that early enough. It was a mistake on our end, and it’s a mistake that I often see repeated by others. And the struggle then is that if you have a more… If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then of course, you want to appeal to anyone. Your Your messaging would be weak. Your choice of channels would be too spread out. You don’t know exactly how to talk to your customers because you’re trying to talk to five people at the same time, at different types of people.


[00:21:43.270] – Pietro Saccomani

So that’s And that’s a struggle, right? And a mistake that we’re still trying to work on to fix.


[00:21:51.310] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah, I was just going to say in my personal journey, and I don’t want to give too much mojo away, but in my personal journey owning my own agency, I I found that in my earlier walk as an agency, I was entertaining way too many people ahead of market, people that wanted membership and learning websites that just, quite honestly, weren’t in the business space yet to need a membership or a learning site. They had these aspirations, and that’s awesome, but they hadn’t built community yet. You know what I mean? They weren’t really ready for the product. And then if we just be blunt, starting with you, rates start at a month, 540 a month, $1,000 a month. That has to translate into some business model with the return on investment. And so there has to be some level of revenue coming from the project before they launch or deep pockets to deal with that growth period to get to revenue. How many people do you think dive in too early?


[00:22:53.470] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, but that’s been a lesson for us. When we began, we were charging something like $69 a month, I think was our cheapest. And we’ve seen it over time as we’ve grown, as we increased prices, we just got them better and better customers, less and less problems. I would say for us, 90 % of our churn is people shutting down their website. And that was much more of an issue when we were charging $69 a month than where we are today. So for us to essentially, in a way, build up the ability to serve bigger and better customers internally as we grow and as the team grows. But also simply making that choice has helped massively in being able to focus working with companies that actually have the resources to make this project a success, and companies that, frankly, are just not going to shut down in a year’s time. So there’s something about making a choice about the segment of the market that you want to help. That certainly has been helpful for us.


[00:24:05.330] – Kurt von Ahnen

That’s nice. Insightful. Thanks. Jonathan?


[00:24:07.810] – Jonathan Denwood

So what in the WordPress space, because I know you commented that it’s not solely WordPress, but your roots are there. In the people that approach you, is it agencies and freelancers that initially approach you, or is it mostly the actual end customer that approach you, or is it a really 50/50 split? And what time, realistic timeline, do freelancers or agencies who are approaching you need to consider to end up with a really work? And I know that these are very broad questions because it depends on the nitty-gritty, doesn’t it? Totally. But I thought, because of our audience, I Should I ask you that question.


[00:25:01.940] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, sure. I would say it’s probably a 50/50, especially in the WordPress space. We do see a lot of agencies and freelances coming our way. The timelines are actually We are typically affected by the complexity of the project because we don’t do customer development. So it’s not like we’re not getting into a different project every time. For us, the product is actually very similar. For every client client of ours. As we said, all the complexity, in a way, stays in the back-end. Once you have a solid front-end to convert that works and looks good, we just assist. We help with all the technical mobile app side of things, as well as we help tweak the user experience inside of the apps so that it’s as close as possible to what you’d expect from a mobile app. So typically what we see as what might delay a project is situations regarding the type of business that we’re talking about. There are certain types of businesses that just don’t play well with the app store ecosystem. So situations where you can go from gambling to selling certain types of products where you have to comply with certain regulations.


[00:26:30.060] – Pietro Saccomani

Those are the biggest hold-ups. And we mostly learned to not work with that type of situation. Otherwise, it’s generally smooth sailing for us in terms of easily converting what has already been built on the web and being able to publish that as a mobile app. That’s typically for us a project that’s less than a month. We quote on a website, we say less than two weeks. If everything goes super smooth on the customer end as well, then We make that time available. We publish an app for a pretty big retail group, Ru21, and we publish it, I think, in a week. So certainly it’s possible to be that fast if everything is ready to move on the customer end as well. So there’s a few elements like getting an App Store account, getting a Google Play account. Those things are on the customer side for us, and those might take time. For us, it’s a simple farm to fill in for us to get the information that we need to be able to publish the app on App Store and Google Play. Then it’s essentially hands-off for the customer. We take care of essentially all that app publishing process for the customer, so they don’t have to worry about those elements.


[00:27:47.980] – Jonathan Denwood

Just before, I just got a quick follow for your question before we go for our break. I know with Buddy Boss’s solution that there can be a little bit of problem from the website and the hosting and the performance of the website, and that can cause some problems for the mobile side. Is that similar in your platform that the website that you’re basing the app solution has to have really good hosting and be set up in a quasiment professional way?


[00:28:26.040] – Pietro Saccomani

Yes, for either of our platforms, whether it’s the media one or a more general solution, it always matters because effectively the app is pulling from the site in the same way that a browser is pulling from that server. So if the hosting is poor, if the performance is poor, if the pages that are actually loading inside of the app are not built so that they’re performing, then that’s going to be an issue in the app just as much.


[00:28:58.220] – Jonathan Denwood

And with the amplification of you got Alimator, you’ve got other page builders, you’ve got Native Gutenberg, has this whole scenario got a bit more complicated for you over the last couple of years, or has it always been something you’ve had to deal with?


[00:29:19.260] – Pietro Saccomani

So on the media side of things, we’re independent of what you would use as a page builder. So we pull directly from the WordPress database the contents of what posts essentially are. And we have the ability to add all the code as you would have in the front-end of your theme to be able to pull anything from from plugins or custom fields or situation like that. With the more general platform, as I mentioned, use anything you want. You can literally use any CMS, you can use any page builder, and there’s no problem with that. So maximum flexibility, I I think that’s the beauty of it is that you just have to worry about having a good use case for an app. Do you need an app? I think that’s the big question, right? Not everyone needs an app 100%, right? I think it’s about questioning whether there’s a need for something that’s… What we find is if there’s repeated use, then an app makes sense. If you imagine the end user coming back to this experience, whatever that is, multiple per week, potentially, then an app makes sense.


[00:30:33.140] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I totally agree with you there, and I think Kurt would agree, because it’s the same story about building a community element to your membership. It’s a great idea, but you’ve got to invest the time and have the people that want to have a community. And I think some of the questions that maybe people don’t ask about building a membership site and then committing to also building a community at the same time. Then they also want to out. Unless they’ve got some experience, they’re powering a lot of additional work. It’s great ideas at the right time, but it depends on the case scenario. I think we’re going to go for a halfway break. It’s been a fantastic discussion. We’ve got a couple of other messages from sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks. Three, two, one. We’re coming back, folks. It’s been a great discussion in the first half. We’ve been talking about all things mobile and WordPress and community. But before we go into the second half, I want to point out we’ve got a great newsletter aimed at the WordPress end user or professional. It covers tech, WordPress. I think it covers a lot of things that you won’t find in another newsletter.


[00:31:59.370] – Jonathan Denwood

You can sign Sign up by going over to Wp-tonic. Com/newsletter, Wp-tonic. Com/newsletter. Sign it up. I write it myself every week, and I love you to sign up for it. Over to you, Kurt.


[00:32:19.730] – Kurt von Ahnen

Well, I get the fun one. Ai. We talk about AI on a lot of our episodes because it just seems to infiltrate or fit into so many conversations.


[00:32:29.800] – Jonathan Denwood

I think you’ve jumped to question, actually. I’m sorry. I think we got the number four question.


[00:32:36.500] – Kurt von Ahnen

Oh, there we go. What are a couple of the biggest obstacles that you faced in getting traction with MobileLoud?


[00:32:46.410] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah. So we had many obstacles along the way. I think on the positive side of things, we were lucky to start in the WordPress ecosystem because really Maybe that’s what generated most of the initial traction that we have gotten, right? Almost, we didn’t expect it. We didn’t plan it. We didn’t plan for it. But having the presence on the WordPress directory, and this was almost a decade ago, is what has enabled the business to start, just getting that initial kick. The challenge then, the obstacle, was to grow beyond that. And over time, what has, in a way, helped us continue growing is figuring out other channels. And that has been mostly for us, content and SEO that’s driving really the growth of the business. And so we love writing content. We create a lot, and we have a lot on our site. And it’s a channel that I like that fits with the idea of building a bootstrap business as this is. And we never really cracked the paid ads side of things. And maybe we will eventually. But so far, that’s where we are. In terms of obstacles, then we had situations, I would say.


[00:34:16.090] – Pietro Saccomani

I think back in 2017, there was Apple essentially made changes to their terms so that effectively they banned from a day to the other apps that were built Using templates, quote unquote. And at the time, they were trying to crack down on copycats. I don’t know if you’d remember when you were able to buy an angry bird template, change the name, change the graphics, and publish that as another clone. But in the process, they almost killed every app builder on the market overnight. Those were some tense moments, as you can imagine. But over time, they reverted their decision, and And since then, we’ve had no issue. And I think the obstacles that we’ve found most throughout is the obstacle of every bootstrap SaaS business, is being able to find repeatable sources to essentially acquire customers, and especially, ideally, customers that fit the certain customer profile, because it’s just so hard to grow and to grow efficiently if every customer is completely different one to the other. So that’s something that we’re still working on, but hopefully we’re in the right direction.


[00:35:41.270] – Kurt von Ahnen

Nice. Jonathon?


[00:35:43.660] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, follow Good question. So obviously, you’re in the WordPress, but also the SaaS, and you have customers. How do you think the general customer base, the non-agency, the non freelance professional customer, the more business to business. How do you think they’re viewing WordPress? And is it still seen as the premier, if you’re into content using SEO, publishing, trying to build your business up in that direction? Is it still seen as the leader or are more SaaS platforms growing and encroaching? What’s your own feel about this, if you have an opinion?


[00:36:34.620] – Pietro Saccomani

I think there’s perhaps some difference. We look at different segments of the market, like the lower end of the market versus the higher end of the market. But my impression is that I mean, just looking at the numbers, WordPress hasn’t ever been as much in a leadership position as it is now, right? So it has only been growing over the last few years. And if I was to start a new business, I would certainly look at the ecosystem that’s, of course, around WordPress as the reason to make that choice, right? Just the ability to so quickly start with a solid foundation and have the potential, the option to tap into so many different elements that can complement that. I I don’t think there’s anything out there that it gets even close, right? When we’re looking at alternative SaaS-based solutions, if I think even about the Shopify ecosystem where we’re building a presence there as well, everything there is a SaaS. That gets pretty expensive pretty quickly. It’s not just about a matter of cost, but it’s just a matter of availability as well. That’s a good solid ecosystem as well. I can think of other situations like I’ve used Webflow as well.


[00:38:04.880] – Pietro Saccomani

It’s suddenly every problem that is so easy to solve with WordPress and you can expect to find a solution for, it’s as if you’re starting from nothing. There’s almost nothing out there. The app ecosystem there is just beginning at the moment. I feel like it’s hard to think of anything that would be better suited than WordPress. When you’re building something, at least where you can expect that something must have figured out this thing before. There must be some foundation out there already to build from. And oftentimes you can assume that with WordPress, that’s the case.


[00:38:43.000] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. Over to you, Kurt.


[00:38:45.640] – Kurt von Ahnen

I’m going to move on to my AI question.


[00:38:49.400] – Pietro Saccomani

Finally, AI.


[00:38:50.400] – Kurt von Ahnen

So how do you think AI is going to affect your app development business over the next year and a half, maybe two years?


[00:38:58.720] – Pietro Saccomani

Well, if it’s In my app development business, I would say AI, probably software development, writing code, is probably one of the best use cases for AI today in terms of what LLMs can do decently. There’s many other use cases for which LLMs have been applied, content creation situations like that. I don’t feel very strongly about. Probably situations where problems like hallucinations are just making it not viable. And for other reasons where it’s just not that much of a good idea to use the tools. But for writing code, it’s incredible. So that’s not to say that we write a lot of code with AI. That’s not the case. But it’s become, I think, an expected addition to almost every development platform these days. And that just has the potential for a developer that knows what they’re doing to go faster, to just not write and rewrite the same type of thing that has just been done before many times and go faster, be more efficient, spend time where it’s better spent. So in terms of that, I think that’s certainly, as I mentioned, a fantastic use case and situations that hopefully will be helpful for us as well.


[00:40:28.750] – Pietro Saccomani

In terms of where AI Why is taking the world of apps in general, I think there’s a potentially many years from now to have a context where for certain types of use cases, we use apps less and we have some voice-based communication with devices that are always with us and that can give us answers, can have dialog and building interfaces around that. I think that certainly is an interesting scenario to think about. I do think for the type of apps that we build, though, we’re probably in a context where I don’t see people stopping to push buttons and swipe on screens anytime soon, because when you think about content, when you think about e-commerce, I don’t think that’s where voice is interfaces and AI will really make such a difference. I think we still want to consume content, visual content, especially in that way. And the type of interface that a screen provides and touch input provides, I think that’s pretty hard to beat.


[00:41:44.460] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah, I’d have to say I agree with you. As you were talking, I was remembering listening to Gary Vee like six years ago, and he was like, watch, I’m going to tell Alexa to order a pocketbook, or I’m going to tell Alexa to order whatever. And I was sitting in my car in traffic in California thinking, who’s this crazy dude is just ordering all kinds of stuff that he can’t see? He doesn’t know if he even likes it. That whole ambient sense of experience was just missing, right? And then I’m not surprised that I don’t hear a lot about voice activated things really taking the lead. So I think we still require that tactile experience of seeing, touching, swiping. I think you’re on the mark there. Jonathan?


[00:42:26.780] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. Good question. And here, based on my own experience at WP Tonic, we get about 20 % of people that come to us for looking at Mighty Networks. And Mighty Networks, I think it’s the main competitor to maybe Buddy Boss, if you’re looking to build a community website. You got circles, but it’s mostly people that are looking around the Mighty Network, and they look at the mobile solution, which I think is branded with Mighty Networks branding, and I think it starts at 39, and then it acelerates, and then you got the full custom, which is what I’ve been told multiples of $10,000. Do you get a few inquiries from people that are looking at Mighty Networks, and then they also look at your solution? Do you get a few inquiries from there, or is that very I think we’ve had in the past, and I’m aware of similar numbers to where you shared.


[00:43:36.250] – Pietro Saccomani

I think perhaps when you’re in that ecosystem, it makes sense to stay in that. We can potentially convert any website, including those. But I think there’s certain types of functionality that wouldn’t be possible. So we have deep integration with Bodypress and peeps up for things like push notifications. And those are possible in an easy way, meaning without building integrations, because we have our own WordPress plugin. And that means that out of the box, you can We had a type of push notification experience, which especially in a community site needs to approximate what Facebook provides. And that means being notified when there’s interactions, messages, comments, replies, et et cetera. So we provide all of that, and we can provide that out of the box for the WordPress ecosystem because we have those integrations. So for us, it’s where we’re stronger. And peeps of body for us is what we see the most.


[00:44:47.440] – Jonathan Denwood

They’re people that look in it. Some of them got existing decent membership, and then to go into the community space because they also want the app. I I think they’re putting the chicken before the egg, really, because they might be better off keeping the membership. But then without the community bit, there’s no point in really having the app, really, because it’s the push notification and the community building. But they look at Mighty Networks, but they don’t like that they can’t have their own branding until they go and then they have that custom, because that’s what I like about your pricing. It’s very to get a solution going, isn’t it? So that’s why I wondered if you had a few of those people approach you. But it’s interesting that you say that it’s still mostly from the WordPress. And I also thought your insight about Shopify because I think Shopify is fantastic, but you always tend to hit as your business grows, you wanted some customization or some functionality. And I found if you’re doing a lot of customization with Shopify, it becomes very expensive and difficult very quickly. So how much is the Shopify thing growing more than the WU commerce now for you?


[00:46:17.170] – Jonathan Denwood

Or is it…


[00:46:18.610] – Pietro Saccomani

Shopify is certainly growing. We’re certainly seeing a lot more from Shopify than from WU commerce, actually, in the e-commerce space. I think perhaps just because of how Shopify is doing very well. So in terms of that complexity you’re talking about, I think it’s becoming a bit less of an issue for us, mostly because we work with bigger and bigger customers that are used to that complexity. And so they have the resources to deal with that.


[00:46:54.130] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s understandable. Back over to you, Kurt.


[00:46:58.580] – Kurt von Ahnen

Well, I get the one at the end here with the time machine, Petra, if you had your own time machine and you could travel back to the beginning of your career, your business journey, what essential piece of advice do you think you would give yourself?


[00:47:13.890] – Pietro Saccomani

Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I think there’s something about time in my response, too. So, for me, it’s the realization that everything takes so much time, but there is value in sticking to it. And I see many people starting new startups, software solutions, et cetera, and giving up too quickly, frankly, from my point of view. I would say everything we have today mostly comes from just being in the market for so long. And so much of everything that we do effectively compounds just with time. So, if you think about ICO, content, building a reputation, really understanding where to point your solution in the market, where to focus on, and finding opportunities that just come with time and talking to customers and being in the market. And when I see people giving up in a few months, and indeed, I’ve had that temptation myself multiple times throughout the journey as it happens. Sometimes, when your MRR is down or your MRR is not growing as much, To this day, I have to say I still struggle not to have my mood in a way affected and my excitement affected by where that revenue chart is going.


[00:48:44.190] – Pietro Saccomani

Not just because it’s all about the money but also about that temperature, that measurement of how well the company is doing. And we need that growth. So I understand the struggle. And over time, that happened. But sticking to it alone, I think, is really what has made us successful after all.

[00:49:07.180] – Kurt von Ahnen

That’s perfect. In my life, I can think of a couple of projects I shut down, and I shut them down just too early because then I saw other people come in and do something similar that succeeded, right? And so sometimes sticking it out is the way to go. Jonathan?


[00:49:23.970] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I think also what you said about product fit. It takes It’s time to work out what your customers see as the essential things because when you start, even if you have a history in a particular niche area, you’re making educated guesses based on prior experience but understanding the language. You have to have those discussions with actual clientele to really… Because they’re not… They’re not on purpose not telling you because, in their mind, they have what they’re looking for, but they just don’t know how to express it to you. Does that actually make any sense, or do you think I’m waffling?

[00:50:16.250] – Pietro Saccomani

No, I think it’s about talking to customers and iterating based on that, based on the input that you get, and really just developing a more profound and deeper understanding of the customer of different customer types, and then going where there is actual demand, where there is a genuine need, right? And I think that’s only possible by thinking about the customer first and being focused on that, and just over the years, then steering the boat based on that input.

[00:50:53.160] – Jonathan Denwood

All right. I think we wrap it up now. It’s been a fabulous discussion. I enjoyed it. I think we covered quite a broad landscape in our chat. What’s the best way for people to learn more about you and the company?

[00:51:09.070] – Pietro Saccomani

Yes. So mobyloud is mobyloud. Com. And for myself that They can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter as well.

[00:51:19.800] – Jonathan Denwood

Oh, thanks. And, Kirek, what’s the best way for people to learn more about you and what you’re up to?

[00:51:25.690] – Kurt von Ahnen

They can come to, or you can always find me on LinkedIn. I’m the only Kirek van Omen on LinkedIn, so I’m easy to find.

[00:51:34.330] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. And if you want to support the show, why don’t you go to the WP20 YouTube channel? We’re posting videos and podcasts. We do two podcasts per week usually, plus a load of other video content around WordPress and the membership community. Great resource. So go over there and sign up for WP-Tonic on YouTube. We will be back next week with another great interview. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye. Bye.


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