If you’ve used WooCommerce Subscriptions to sell anything from pet food to nail polish; if you’ve automated your marketing with AutomateWoo; if you’ve tested checkout with Robot Ninja—then you’ve been served by the expertise and passion of the Prospress team.
Today we’re excited to announce that Prospress is joining Automattic to work closely with WooCommerce in creating a more unified subscriptions experience. We’ll also be supporting the continued development of Prospress’s other products.
There will be no change for existing users. Right now, we’re on-boarding, welcoming, and integrating. We will then begin collaborating on roadmaps for the future.
Keep reading below for a Q&A with Prospress Founder Brent Shepherd.
This is exciting news! Well, it sure is for all of us at WooCommerce. Is it exciting for Prospress?
Yes, for sure!
I was never building Prospress with a view to acquisition, but the more we began talking about what a future with Automattic would look like, the more it made sense and the more excitement around unique opportunities that could only come from this move took hold of my imagination.
What do you think this will mean for WooCommerce Subscriptions?
In the immediate term, little will change. The same team will be developing and supporting the same codebase.
In the longer term, I’m excited to explore how subscriptions can be integrated with unique resources at Automattic to create world-class products only possible with us all working on the same team.
In more specific terms, that could mean looking at closer relationships with how payments are handled, or integrations with other platforms such as WordPress.com. There are also a couple of things to solve both in WooCommerce and subscriptions to help them scale better. Interestingly, these challenges are almost identical for the two codebases. By working more closely to solve them than we ever could apart, I hope we can do a better job of implementing solutions and in a shorter time frame.
I’m quietly confident we can achieve every MBA’s dream of some synergy between subscriptions and existing Automattic resources to deliver more value to everyone.
As the founder of Prospress, what does the acquisition mean to you?
I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved at Prospress. I’ve had the great pleasure of having some amazing people join me over the years. Together I believe we’ve advanced a mission that matters to me — so much so that it predated Prospress and even WooCommerce.
I believe joining Automattic is the best next stage for Prospress, and I am personally excited to lead the transition and work with the Automattic team to further WooCommerce.
When did you build your first WooCommerce store?
I set up my first test WooCommerce store in 2011. It was love at first site.
What is your favorite thing about open-source software?
Just one? I love that it’s permission-less. Anyone, anywhere with the right tenacity can access freely published open-source software and do amazing things with it. In the case of a project like WooCommerce, that means anyone, anywhere can create a better future for themselves without permission of a traditional gatekeeper, like an educational institution or proprietary software vendor.
I also love the collaboration that’s possible around open source. It’s a revolutionary model to have the development of something happen in the open, where anyone can see, contribute to, or just plain-old criticize its progress. It’s easy to forget how amazing that is when you’ve been doing it for a decade.
Any words of advice for aspiring WooCommerce extension developers?
Start with a single problem that no one else is solving. Create a solution for that one problem, and you will be able to find users.
If you want to find users fast and avoid marketing, I also recommend applying to distribute your extension via WooCommerce.com. Its reach and marketing helped me tremendously in the early days when I was a solo developer.
Tell us how both AutomateWoo and Robot Ninja came about.
Robot Ninja came from two things:
- Internal need to test complex configurations around shipping on subscription products; and
- Results of a survey we conducted of the WooCommerce community that found 77% of store owners were manually testing their checkouts regularly.
Because of the first thing, we knew the second could be solved. It wasn’t easy, but we had two great people—Jason and Matt—working extremely hard to come up with something that could connect to almost any store and run a pre-built suite of simulated mouse clicks and keyboard entries to test the WooCommerce checkout.
AutomateWoo has an entirely different origin story. Dan was working at an agency and found himself creating similar code to achieve the same things for WooCommerce stores, such as sending follow-up emails on certain schedules or for events. He realized that a native tool for automating common tasks based on events, rules, and actions could help store owners both save time and increase sales. AutomateWoo and Dan joined Prospress in 2018 to help grow the team behind the product.
Y’all love telling stories — the good kind. So what is Small Woorld?
I’m so glad you asked! It’s one of the things I’m most proud of creating at Prospress.
Early on with Prospress, we explored a few different types of content for our blog. What we loved most was sharing stories of WooCommerce entrepreneurs. We eventually took some of their words and created a little book to give big inspiration to store owners. The book was called Small Woorld, and after its development, we decided to move all of our interviews to a dedicated blog with the same name.
Acquisitions take time and energy. How will you spend your next day off?
Sleeping in as late as my kids will let me!
Thanks to Brent for his time and for sharing answers to all of the above. That’s all for today, folks!