As discovered by Codeable, WordPress and WordCamps are all about the people and community. In the last couple of years, we have met so many talented people who became our friends. People who are making WordPress better every day, people who inspire us.
Akshat Choudhary from the BlogVault is surely one of them. I remember meeting Akshat in WordCamp Paris and somehow we instantly made a connection. I am happy to call him my friend and even more happy to share his story via this interview.
Akshat, thank you for your doing this interview. Let’s start with a small introduction.
Where do you come from? What is your background?
I studied Engineering. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, I was hired at a large software company. I spent the next seven years building network infrastructure products at Citrix Systems before dabbling in the world of WordPress. During my time at Citrix Systems, I filed for 19 patents.
How did you come across WordPress?
Like many of my fellow programmers, I was a big fan of Jeff Atwood’s popular blog Coding Horror. He is one of the co-creators of the well-known Q&A site Stack Overflow. Coding Horror suddenly went down one day and it made me think about the importance of a good backup service. I immediately began working on a side project which was supposed to be over within a few weeks. The goal was to build a good WordPress backup plugin. And thus in 2008, I took my first steps into the WordPress world.
How did you start with the BlogVault? What was your motivation? What about your team?
BlogVault Backup Service was a result of a side project I took up in 2008. Like I explained earlier, after Jeff Atwood’s very well-known blog Coding Horror went down, I realized the significance of a reliable backup service that can help a website get up and running in no time. I began building a WordPress backup plugin and launched it in a few weeks. As time passed, BlogVault began attracting a few paying customers. Eventually, after about a year, I was able to quit my full-time job and make BlogVault my primary focus.
I love building products, and more importantly, I love solving people’s problem. The challenge of coming up with innovative solutions keeps me motivated day in and day out. Cybersecurity is a real issue now more than ever. Taking backups is a basic website security measure. I’m happy to help secure people’s websites and making sure their business is always on.
Right now, there are 14 of us, mostly programmers and a small marketing team whom we call the Growth Team. Set up recently, the Growth Team has many exciting projects planned for the next few years. Currently, we are experimenting with various growth strategies and seeing decent results. We at BlogVault seek self-motivation and we love what we do. Occasionally the entire team goes hiking and eating out together which helps foster team spirit.
I know that BlogVault is not your only project, could you share what else do you have in store?
Besides BlogVault, we also have two more WordPress services – Migrate Guru and MalCare. Migrate Guru is a completely free one-click WordPress Migration plugin, and it’s our biggest contribution to the WordPress community yet. We recently launched MalCare – an easy-to-use WordPress website security solution to an overwhelming response. Besides improving these products, we are also working on bringing in more features.
We are going to introduce a new UI for both BlogVault and MalCare that’ll help customers get things done faster. Apart from this, we are working on improvements to our MalCare Scanner such as Geoblocking and more.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for WordPress and backup market at the moment?
There are many challenges to the WordPress ecosystem. Moving such a large ship with so much mass is a tremendous challenge. WordPress is constantly evolving but technology changes even more rapidly and thus keeping up is not easy at all.
Speaking of WordPress backups, the biggest challenge is at the user level. There are many backup solutions available on the market today, and space has become very noisy. It’s important for users to know what an ideal backup solution looks like, and choose something that will give the best value.
You visit WordCamps frequently (this is where we met), how does it help you and what’s the best part of the WordCamps? Are you heading to the WordCamp US this year?
WordCamps are wonderful events which give us a great opportunity to get involved in the community. For anyone who is a part of the WordPress ecosystem, WordCamps are a must visit. I have met so many people at WordCamps in the past few years who have become great friends over time. It has also let me meet many other business owners like you guys from Visual Composer.
As for WordCamp US, I am trying to cut down on travel, but definitely, some of my colleagues will surely be there.
We know that there is a constant improvement at the BlogVault, but what’s the next big thing we can expect from you?
Right now the entire team is really focused on overhauling the old UI and creating a swanky new one. The goal is to make the tool easy and efficient to work with. We are hoping this will help our customers save a few hours that s/he can spend on doing something else like spending time with their family or building a side project.
Akshat, what does your typical day look like?
I come in late for office. But I have a good excuse. We are a small team and I manage Support on my own which keeps me awake well after midnight. By the time I’m done with my Support duties, the birds start making their early morning calls. I keep track of the things that I need to complete every day. After reaching office in the afternoon, I brainstorm with my programming team to find solutions for certain technical problems and a chunk of my time is devoted to the growth team. Together we try to come up with unique marketing strategies that’ll help us become more visible and enable more people to use our products.
Who are the people that inspire you in WordPress and maybe outside WordPress?
I am a great admirer of WP Engine’s founder, Jason Cohen. I have been fortunate to have worked closely with him when we collaborated for their Automated Migration Plugin.
My Facebook friends list contains more WordPress people than outside it. I am just too involved in the community and have not paid attention to the world outside. Having said that, I do admire great entrepreneurs of our time.
If not the BlogVault and WordPress, what would be an alternative version of your career?
I would probably still be continuing as an engineer at my last company, Citrix Systems. It was a great place to work with some really challenging problems to solve. But there is a good chance that I could have started building a different product, completely unrelated to WordPress.