Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. But most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs, or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means – shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The co-founder of Elegant Marketplace Andrew Palmer is leaving us after one year selling to Web Ventures. Andrew has been a tremendous resource and guiding light form day one and I am thankful to call him a friend.
I first met Andrew at WordCamp Europe 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia. Being able to work alongside him this past year has been wonderful and one I will soon not forget. Andrew in going off on new adventures with his new Waahi virtual venue SAAS offering as well as opening up new restaurants. You can follow Andrew on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and his website.
With this being Andrew’s last day we recorded a special episode of the Tools are tools podcast:
Andrew Palmer: Hello, and welcome to Tools Are Tools podcast, brought to you by elegantmarketplace.com, the de facto place for Divi themed, child themed layouts, modules, plugins, that sort of thing, and some Element ones, and absolutely going to progress into the whole WordPress world, down the line. Now normally, on a Tools Are Tools podcast, I do all the interviewing, but today’s a little bit different because we’ve got a tiny, tiny kind of surprise, kind of not.
Anyway, today it’s all about me, so I’m going to be interviewed by Mike Demo, who is actually the producer, and going to be taking over this little podcast. Hi Mike, how you doing today?
Mike Demo: Great, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, I’m good. I’m a little bit tired, we’re in lockdown four or tier four in the UK at the moment, most of the UK, and that’s caused me to be just sat at my desk for a little bit too long. You know how it goes, you’ve got nothing else to do, so you might as well do some work or play guitar or eat far too much. I took the easy route, which was sitting at my desk. I’m here at my desk, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. What about you?
Mike Demo: Doing well, I’m hanging out, we’ve been doing lots of the drive-through Christmas light displays because we’re also in lockdown, but they allow drive-through things to be open as long as you wear masks and stuff. That’s what we’ve been doing to try to pass the time, to have something to go do.
Andrew Palmer: Sure. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Wearing a mask, wear a mask, it’s so easy, I don’t know why people are just like, “I don’t want to wear a mask,” but wear a mask, it’s so much easier and saves lives, so there you go.
Mike Demo: Exactly. This is going to be a little bit of a different episode, as you alluded to at the top of the show. Before we get into that, do you want to just give people a rundown of the history of Elegant Marketplace?
Andrew Palmer: Yeah. It’s been said many times before, but yeah, absolutely. Elegant Marketplace was started or incepted by a lovely guy called [Gino Queiroz], who is a Divi developer and designer. He came to about half a dozen of us, maybe eight of us actually in the beginning, and said, “Guys, the Divi themed users Facebook group that Eileen and [Lonegan] started has blown up. We could monetize this, we could help people make some money, and we can make some money as well. What do you reckon?”
He wanted me for my SEO prowess and other stuff as well. He approached another guy, [David Blackman], who now owns Divi Space and Aspen Grove Studios, and a couple of other guys, one guy that will remain nameless because he was working for Elegant Teams at the time and said, “Yeah, I want to do that,” and then 24 hours later, decided that that may not be such a good idea. There was another guy, Scottish guy, Dan, who has an outstanding plugin, he decided after a couple of weeks that, “Actually, I want to concentrate on my plugin.”
It ended up with, in the end by the time we launched, we kind of launched the company February 15th, 2015, it ended up just about three of us, because one guy said he was going to do a load of work and he didn’t, so he went. Then David left and carried on with Aspen Grove Studios, and eventually bought a company called Divi.Space, which is now doing really, really well, and is also a vendor on the Elegant Themes Marketplace, which they’ve just started five years after we started.
They took their time, it seems to be doing pretty well, and it’s great for vendors all around. Gino got ill unfortunately, so he left pretty soon, so it’s just the three of us, and then it was just Eileen and I. She sadly passed away in October 2018, and that meant that the Divi team users group went to Elegant Themes, so I was no longer running that, but I built that up to 30,000, and now I think they’re at about 60,000. It’s a very popular theme, the Divi theme and various things going on there, so they’ve grown massively.
Elegant Marketplace hasn’t done so bad for a bootstrapped business, and then you guys, a company called Web Ventures, which is headed up by you on the handshaking side and intro side, approached me about, I don’t know, three years ago and said, “Do you want to buy?” I said, “Nope, that’s all right. Thanks a lot, see ya,” and then you approached me again, and I went, “Yeah, all right, let’s have a chat.” We had a little chat, and then we did a deal for Web Ventures to acquire Elegant Marketplace via In Motion, which is the holding company of all that, so In Motion Hosting.
We did that deal on the 30th of December 2019, and the year anniversary is up, so that kind of means that I’m leaving, because I agreed to stay on for about a year. It just means that I am no longer, as of today, invested in elegantmarketplace.com, which is a bit weird because it’s been my life, 16 hours a day running the Facebook group, getting into little spats with people, competitors and maybe not competitors, and all that kind of stuff.
It’s been a bit of a journey and a bit of an adventure. During that time, I developed with a guy called [Shawn Barton] a Page Builder Cloud and Layouts Cloud, which was separate businesses. I’ve recently sold those, or sold my shareholding of it, which was 50% because I gave Shawn 50% about, I don’t know, 18 months ago in an effort to really reward him for his work, and make sure that he was fully invested in it as well. Then I got so busy with Elegant Marketplace and other things that I’m doing, I thought, “Do you know what? I don’t want to do this anymore, and it’s getting a bit complex and hard work.”
I sold my share to [Melissa Love], because she and Shawn developed a beautiful plugin called sitepresser.io, and it’s a way to make child themes basically out of every theme you can build, with Elements or in Divi, you can even use it for if you build a site in Gutenberg, use sitepresser.io and it will make it into a child theme. It’s great for people selling themes either on their own websites or via marketplaces.
That’s this year, 2020 was quite active, getting introduced to the transition team of Elegant Marketplace, which you’re one of them, working with you daily, having a few standup meetings, which I’m not used to. We used to meet probably once a week when we were a partnership in Elegant Marketplace or colleagues, and I think we increased our meetings to maybe two or three a week with different people, just making sure that everything’s there or thereabouts. Today it’s all over, for me anyway.
Mike Demo: Yeah, it’s actually interesting, this podcast is going to be published on December 30th, so it’s going to be exactly one year from the time that the deal closed. That’s kind of ironic, that twist.
Andrew Palmer: I call that good planning, Demo, don’t you?
Mike Demo: Yes.
Andrew Palmer: You’re the guy that runs the podcast, you could plan it. We’ve had some fun, we started the podcast, what great fun this has been. Down the line, you’re going to be taking this over, or it might stop, who knows? Depending on your workload, because I know that you’re a busy, busy guy, but that’s as far as Elegant Marketplace, that’s the real snapshot history. A lot of successful people were connected with Elegant Marketplace and they’ve gone on to have great success as well, maybe some of them not so much success, but the guys that I’ve mentioned, pretty successful people, pretty sensible business people, they know exactly what they’re doing.
Divi has changed a lot over the years. The original install file was like two megabytes and it was a backend page builder, now it’s a visual builder and there’s some great things happening with that, but also some issues. What we noticed over the last three years is that Divi were kind of putting a lot of the modules and plugin functions that were out there in the wild, they’re putting them into Divi itself. Like the theme builder for instance, that was covered by a thing called the Divi Lounge, actually headers and footers and posts and pages.
That’s been integrated now into the Divi theme, and very much I think that was rushed a little bit, because it doesn’t work brilliantly. It is good, don’t get me wrong, but I think Element came along and did their theme builder, and I think actually Beaver Builder had a theme builder before Element, but I could be wrong on that. The page builder marketplace is, let’s not say “overcrowded”, but it’s pretty full with Breezy, Poodle Press do a little page builder as well, and I think as I say, Beaver Builder, Divi, and [crosstalk] the biggest one-
Mike Demo: Bold Grid, yeah.
Andrew Palmer: Bold Grid, I had never heard of Bold Grid before you guys, I actually love Bold Grid. I’ve built a few sites with Bold Grid, it’s really quick and easy. What I like about it is you guys were really ahead of the curve with Bold Grid, because if you go into Bold Grid and sign up to Bold Grid and have a premium version, you can actually choose from loads of premium themes. If you want to do a florist, you’ve got a florist one there, if you want to do a pet store or a pet related thing, you’ve got a pet theme there, and it’s the whole theme.
Plus, it’s integrated with loads of hosts as well, so it’s quite easy to sign up. Then you’ve go the the super theme, [Creo], which is incredible. We haven’t done our best as Elegant Marketplace, to be honest, to promote Bold Grid as much as we should, so apologies for that, but I’m sure you’ll get there in the coming weeks, months, and years. We’ve got the big one, haven’t we? We’ve got the big G, [Mr. Matt Mullenweg] is really aiming for the dizzy heights that the page builders are experiencing at the moment.
Element has had massive investment, Divi doesn’t need investment because Nick has been building websites and themes since he was 15, so he’s accumulated quite a lot of, let’s say, wealth, so that he can invest in whatever he wants, basically. They don’t need any venture capital, Divi, I think that gives them their strength, that they don’t actually need any cash, on the face of it anyway. It does take a while to develop these new things, and Gutenberg is probably, I’d say, three to four years away from really competing well with the current page builders.
Mike Demo: Yeah, and I do want to get to what you’re doing next in a second, but before that, something that I always thought was interesting is, how did we get to where we are with page builders being the thing? Because beforehand, I remember when themed frameworks, not necessarily child themes, but themed frameworks were all the rage, you had like Genesis and T3 and Rocket Themes [crosstalk]-
Andrew Palmer: I used to use Rocket Themes, that was Joomla really, wasn’t it, Rocket Themes?
Mike Demo: Andy, the co-founder of Rocket Themes, was at Joomla, the founder of Rocket Themes were the co-founder of Joomla, but all of his stuff works … Gantry, that’s his framework.
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, Gantry, which I’ve found a bit complex and heavy when I first started using it, but once you get used to it, it was great. That’s actually one of the reasons I went to Elegant Themes, because the 87 themes that they had, which are now redundant because of the Divi theme, I used to use almost exclusively the sky theme because it was so adaptable, and it had great portfolio management as well.
One of the things that Divi lacks really is portfolio management and custom post type management and stuff like that, which has been a bug bear with people. That’s why things like the filterable blog module on Elegant Marketplace exists, because there’s not really a great way to do that in Divi. I mean yes, they now do custom post type hooks and stuff like that, but it’s still not as it really should be.
I remember the old Elegant Themes themes, they had that built in because it was more WordPress, and they had a very basic page builder as well in the old Elegant Themes. Using Gantry was … God, you brought back some memories there. I used to use Gantry, I used to build websites in Joomla and use Gantry all the time, it was crazy. We used to [crosstalk] build some really quite brilliant websites, even though I say so myself.
Mike Demo: I remember when Gantry four came out, Gantry four or Gantry five, anyway, whatever the most recent version of Gantry came out, and it has like a pseudo-page builder where you had Gantry atoms, I think they were called. I hated it at first, like our agency actually made the newest version of … What we did is we merged together Gantry four and Gantry five. Yeah, Gantry five was the most recent one, and we took the SaaS compiler from Gantry five and put it into Gantry four, because my devs were like, “I don’t want to mess with this new user friendly stuff.”
It is one of those things that once you get it, once you understand it, you can build cool stuff quickly, which I guess that’s the appeal of page builder, is it allows anyone, even if they don’t have the coding side, to still get similar results, but you still have to know your tool.
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, but for want of being at-ed, I don’t want people to at me on this, but I call page builders the lazy web, I have done from the very beginning. I think I’ve been quoted in many a podcast and many a blog post saying it’s the lazy web, because with Divi and Element and all these page builders, you can literally build a website. If you have the content, say a 10-page website, you can get that done in four to five hours and have a decent static website, if you like, if you start adding [Woot Commerce] and different carts or Thrive Cart or something to it, you’ve got to build out those funnels.
I’ve built a five-page website a couple of months ago for a mate of mine who was desperate because COVID came along, and he needed a quick website, I think I built it in 45 minutes using templates-
Mike Demo: Oh, definitely. I’ve built-
Andrew Palmer: Just crazy, isn’t it? It’s taken the difficulty and the complexity out of it. Then we had some web developers per se, proper developers who’d spent years coding, the WordPress people as well, WordPress coders who understand what a hook and an API is, rebelled a little bit against page builders. Now look what they’ve got, they’ve got Gutenberg, they’ve got to live with it because it’s going to become the de facto.
Be careful, guys and girls, it’s the way forward. Because, and let’s not denigrate anybody here, but page builders go for the lowest common denominator, they go for the DIY-er, the person that can kind of use Word and kind of use PowerPoint, that can click a mouse and understand structure. That’s why I call it the lazy web, because as I say, you can lazily go ahead and build a website of your choice, and why not? It’s not going to cost you a lot of money.
Divi I think is less than $280 or something for a lifetime license for the Divi theme, and you can build unlimited websites with that, and sell those websites to an unlimited amount of customers. If you were really desperate for a … Well, not desperate, I mean one of my coaching clients, Rosie, who’s built a phenomenal business called Ready Steady Woof, and it’s basically templated websites for a certain price, you get what you get, but she’s built a business on that during COVID, crazy.
Mike Demo: No, exactly, I’ve coached so many people when I was doing Bold Grid full time and traveling around that, “Oh, well I’m trying to get into web development and things,” like, “Great, sell $500 websites.” They think I’m crazy, but I’m like, “Listen, like think about it. You use Bold Grid, you use those verticals, make it clear what they’re buying, limit it to like three to five pages, because there’s a huge swath of people that they’re fine with that. They don’t need anything more complicated.”
One of In Motion Hosting’s most popular products right now is something called Website Quick Starter, which is 99 bucks, you get a one-page custom website or a three-page custom website, something like that. It’s flying off the shelves like hotcakes, and they use Bold Grid for that, and here’s the cool part. If you sold one $500 website every business day, that’s $125,000 in your first year. The magic of this is if you’re on a hosting affiliate, every time that they renew, and not all hosting affiliates pay out renewals, but a lot of them do, find one that works for you, it’s going to compound.
I think I’ve calculated it, like I’d give a host example, after like six years, if you keep up with that volume, sure some will cancel or whatever, but you’ll have a decent $90,000 a year passive income just on the affiliates of the hosting alone. It’s not hard to find that many clients for $500. The thing is, people try to sell their full sites, and they’re like, “Well, it takes me five weeks to get a client.” Yeah, because you’re going after a different market, you’re just-
Andrew Palmer: You’re going five grand and 10 grand, yeah, which is ridiculous.
Mike Demo: Yeah. You make it clear what they’re buying, you make clear the limitations, you can even just have it on your website, “These are the options, here’s the colors, this is the form we need to fill out so I have the information.” Go to your local chamber of commerce or business association, there’s loads of small businesses that would be happy to pay $500 for just a basic site.
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, and also you’ve got another opportunity there, because you say, “Look, it’s $500, but it’s $50 a month for me to help you look after it, and that includes hosting,” so then they’re tied in to you forever. That includes hosting, so you’ve got about 600 quid a year or 700 quid a year, whatever it works out, whatever five twelves are, 600 quid, $600 a year from one customer. You’ve got 10 customers, that’s 6,000, you get 20, you get 100, the numbers don’t take long to stack up.
We’ve got my own personal business, and we’re changing it to Grizzly Bear Hosting as well, which is one of the things that I’m doing in the new year, we’ve got 500 websites on there. It doesn’t take a lot to think, “Okay, if it’s 125 quid a year for some, a grand a year for some, that’s a lot of money coming in.” You’ve got that, but you have to give the service, but that finances the support, you can outsource the support in a heartbeat.
There’s companies out there that even allow you to outsource the web building or the page building and the design, so for a couple of grand a month, you can say to people, “We’re a full-on web development company,” give it to one of these companies that build out for stuff and acts as you, you’re just a project manager. It’s great, isn’t it? It’s a great life.
Mike Demo: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew Palmer: I don’t understand why some people don’t get on it, and certainly during COVID times, the main coaching that I’ve done is to restaurants, building websites and making sure that they’ve got delivery options on there and takeaway options, and to people that have been made redundant. I built a website the other day for a guy that’s starting doing fogging, in January he’ll launch his fogging business, which is cleaning hotels with this machine that just fogs disinfectant all around.
That’s a daily job or a weekly job, isn’t if, if people are staying at a hotel for a week. There are many, many business opportunities out there, so that’s what I’m focusing on next year is the hosting side, and a lovely little thing called waahi.io, which is really exciting, W-A-A-H-I, .io.
Mike Demo: Gesundheit.
Andrew Palmer: Waahi! You know when you’re looking for a Silicon Valley name, one-word name? It’s difficult, isn’t it, when you have a one-word, and we basically looked at what translation of space was. The Maoris in New Zealand have this word waahi, which is only spelt with one A, but it means space, and we couldn’t get that one because it was a four-letter domain, and they’re almost impossible to get ahold of, even with all the TLDs that are out there.
We basically take an online venue .live from a concierge service into like a [Saas/WAAS] product. That’s launching at the end of January as well, and that’ll be a very interesting journey as well, because we’re pricing it so that basically anybody can afford it, and that’s the key.
Mike Demo: What’s the domain? Because I think people can sign up for launch information, right?
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, they can. It’s waahi.io, so it’s W-A-A-H-I .io.
Mike Demo: Excellent.
Andrew Palmer: That’s really exciting.
Mike Demo: Will online venues still exist for the bespoke, or is it all just being rolled up into Waahi?
Andrew Palmer: Waahi is part of online venue, so Waahi is, if you like, the smaller version, so go from one to 1,000, whereas online venue will be bespoke, and that will be like 100,000-plus or 20,000-plus, that sort of thing.
Mike Demo: Excellent. You’ve got that, you’re agency is evolving into offering hosting. Are you still doing the standards builds and stuff then next year for clients that are looking that, or what are [crosstalk]?
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, because you know I’ve got a web development company in India as well, which has been helping out IMH as well, so that’s been a good relationship. With the crew there, we’ve got half a dozen people there currently, I think going down to five at the end of Christmas because one guy’s got himself an uber special job in the US earning silly money, which is great for him and not so good for us, because we lose a top developer, but there you go.
We can develop websites, we can do support, we can develop plugins, we’ve got React guys, View.js, J-Query, all that kind of stuff, we’ve got PHP, and that’s run by my support guy on Elegant Marketplace, who’s been with me since pretty much the beginning. [Mahesh] runs web based tech in India, I own it but he runs it, so that’s the way it goes, so that’s our development company. I’ll still do other stuff, but I’ve basically built thisisandrewpalmer.com because I’ve learned through my sort of transition period with IMH that I’ve got something to say about digital products and about helping people promote them.
Basically, I’m going to be a digital advocate and just really advocate products that I use, so Bold Grid will be among that, In Motion as well, so I’ll be signing up to the affiliate programs as well, why not? I’m also opening up a restaurant, which is crazy in COVID times, but we’ll be opening a restaurant probably around about March now, because we’re all in tier four in this area, so it won’t be going ahead until about March.
I’ve got the heads of agreement, we’re going to have a little word with the landlords and say, “Look, we’re all in tier four, this deal is not going ahead until March, take it or leave it.” I expect they’ll take it rather than leave it, because nobody else is going to take a building on in tier four, that’s for sure. That’s quite entertaining, that’ll be a 2,900-square-foot restaurant, a Mediterranean canteen plus a little bit of an ala-carte and some pizzas as well, which I’ve got experience with because of a little pizza restaurant I started with a mate of mine five years ago. There’s lots going on, Michael.
Mike Demo: Just a quick diversion, I have a restaurant question. You read all these articles about how Uber Eats and DoorDash and Grub Hub and all of these apps are just abusing the restaurants and taking all their money, and blah blah blah, so here’s my thoughts. I feel the same way as I do about florists. If you’re going to send flowers, call the local florist because the wire services take a huge cut, but I guess I get both sides of the coin, but nobody’s forcing these businesses to be on these wire services.
I understand that they have a lot of eyeballs at like Uber Eats, which might be why they would want to sign up for that, but nobody’s forcing them to do so. You as a restaurateur, what are your thoughts? Because I’m sure you’ve heard grumblings by colleagues that you know that also are in the field on both sides of the coin. I don’t think it’s fair to villainize the tech companies.
Andrew Palmer: No, I don’t. I think it’s naïve to villainize the tech companies, just as much as, why should someone come to me for hosting? I don’t own a hosting company, I’m a reseller and I’m obviously going to put a margin on it, and whatever that margin is, I choose. You remember Groupon, right? There was always this argument about Groupon, and people viewed it in a way that it shouldn’t have been viewed, it was a discount voucher.
No, it wasn’t, it was an advertising medium, and for an advertising medium, you have to spend some money. Uber Eats and Let’s Eat and Just Eat or whatever they’re all called, Hungry Horse, or they’re all merging together now, those guys that deliver food for and on behalf of you via their own platform and charge you anything up to 27% of the retail price, and they charge the customer something like £2.50 in the UK, I don’t know how much they charge in the US or whatever, but you can go in there and negotiate and say, “Guys, I don’t want to pay this much.”
You can get as low as 11% for the first year, or as low as 15% for the first year, and just do a deal with them because they’re like us, they want customers, and anybody onboarded, even if it’s at smaller margins, is better than nothing, right? As a restaurateur, if you view it as an advertising medium and you restrict your menu to your most profitable items, you’re still going to make 20, 25%. You don’t have to employ a driver, you don’t have to have an online website that you’re paying anywhere between five and £600 a month for.
Even at [Pizza del Amo], we still employ five drivers, because even Uber Eats and Just Eat won’t help, and we’ve a got basic takeaway order online menu as well which goes straight through to the POS, and that costs us £300 a month to run, so there’s an on cost there, and sometimes it doesn’t work properly and customers come back to you and say, “I ordered this half an hour ago and it’s not here, do I get free pizza?”
There are issues, but if you use them as an advertising medium to get your name out there, to allow people to experience your food, they will then, if they’re local, they will use their own intelligence and they’ll go directly to your website eventually, or they’ll just make the phone call. We’re so busy in the pizza place, one person is employed to answer the phone, that’s all they do is answer the phone, take orders, process orders by telephone, and process all the internet orders.
I think they’re a great thing, and if you’re a restaurateur, don’t shy away from them, don’t think of them as they’re taking money off you, they’re actually promoting your business. That 27%, if it’s at max rate, is promoting your business, and let’s be honest, you’ve got 65% markup and margin in there anyway. This is what annoys me: we know how much an egg costs, we know how much a bunch of asparagus costs, and in a restaurant, you’ll be paying £6.50 or £5 for a portion of asparagus. I don’t really feel sorry for restaurateurs on saying, “Oh, they’re charging me too much.” Don’t use them, your choice.
Mike Demo: Excellent. Yeah, I was just always curious because you see all those articles that pop up every couple of months in COVID. For us, we didn’t have DoorDash or Uber Eats, any of those services before the lockdown. Like I got a postcard for DoorDash a month before COVID, and there was one restaurant on it, and that was KFC. I was like, “Yeah, okay,” but then when COVID hit, all of the restaurants around us, including ones that I never even knew existed were popping up on our app, and we tried stuff in even smaller towns that were still in our delivery range. It got us to discover new gems that we’ll go to once our lockdown ends and we can actually dine again, so there’s definitely positives to it.
Andrew Palmer: DoorDash is pretty new, I don’t think we’ve gotten that in the UK yet, DoorDash, we might have. There’s little opportunities as well. Somebody has used negative press against Uber Eats and said, “Well, we’ve set up our own Uber Eats.”
Mike Demo: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew Palmer: Just really, you’ve used that idea, they’ve spent millions on research, they’ve spent millions on R and D, and now you’ve gone out, you built a little app on somewhere, and you’re now the local Uber Eats. Great, and then you’ll suddenly find out that you’re going to run out of money really quick, because you don’t have the volume. They’re all volume businesses, but for us to employ drivers at £10 an hour, minimum wage sort of stuff, insurances, I think it costs 50p per pizza just for insurance, that’s how it works out, 50p per pizza.
That’s cutting into your margin, even when you’ve got a driver. A driver, if they’re on for 10 hours a day or whatever, I only said 10 hours but they work probably four or five hours, but it’s 50 quid, isn’t it? Four or five hours, 50 quid, then you’ve got [PAYE], you’ve got all your business stuff, you’ve got to pay someone to pay the wages. It’s just naïve, use Uber Eats, so much easier, you’ve got no wage issues, no staffing issues because there’s always drivers around.
Mike Demo: And they deal with the customer service issues, it’s all right.
Andrew Palmer: They do indeed. They’ll refund in a heartbeat, to be honest, but that’s life if you serve craft food.
Mike Demo: So does PayPal.
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, exactly. Actually, they won’t, with PayPal you’ve got seller’s protection on it as well.
Mike Demo: That’s true, but-
Andrew Palmer: Things have got to go into dispute, and if you can be bothered to dispute stuff, unless you’re really on micropayments, it’ll cost you more to dispute a $10 payment than it will to actually just give a refund. You’ve got to be set. One of the things that distresses me is there doesn’t seem to be any, we all talk about, in this world, common sense. Even with these businesses, a restaurant, let me tell you, is a massive investment, massive, personal risk, all the kinds of stuff, long hours, [inaudible] out of it now, but anyway, I’ve been involved in the restaurant business most of my life, and my dad had a hotel and all that kind of stuff, so I know the pitfalls as well as the rewards.
If you get a successful restaurant, you are talking serious financial rewards, and that’s why we work, isn’t it, to get serious financial rewards. We don’t work for peanuts, we work to get some nice rewards so we can go and live in a nice house, drive a nice car, do all the material things. If you didn’t or you don’t want to do that, then you work for a charity or another business, you work for somebody else, don’t you?
Mike Demo: There’s one last thing I want to touch on, and then we’ll wrap up because this episode has been way longer than our normal 20-minute standard.
Andrew Palmer: It’s mad, it’s almost double the time, what’s going on? What sort of producer are you?
Mike Demo: The producer has himself as a guest, he’s a fool for it, something like that. Anyway, I wanted to point out that we met in Serbia at Word Camp Europe, is when I first approached you. Through that and through me hounding you, we’ve developed a friendship.
Andrew Palmer: We certainly have, yep, definitely.
Mike Demo: I wanted to hear your thoughts on what I think, especially in open source like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, that people are really what drives this business and this community forward, it’s not necessarily the technology, because we’ve both seen brilliant plugins that have failed, and we’ve seen awful plugins that have been successful. A lot of it goes back to the people behind it, so I just wanted you to touch on that, because as you said, my job is lead handshaker. My job is community, and I think a lot of people value it, but I don’t think people understand how much of a driving force it is for business and for WordPress in general.
Andrew Palmer: The only reason really, the only reason that I sold Elegant Marketplace, because as you know, I wasn’t up for selling it, I was just like, “Ugh, why? It’s running all right, it’s fine, it’s nice, it’s a lifestyle business, it’s rewarding vendors for doing good products.” I shan’t be sorry to say goodbye to support, to be honest, that’s really hard, doing support. Anyway, you know Tim Evans, who was head of Web Ventures at the time, and you had a good story, and it’s a genuine story.
It was completely authentic, the way that In Motion was started, it was bootstrapped, we were definitely a bootstrapped business. We had some issues with various people involved in the business, but that’s life, it’s just what you have to go through. The vendors that are with us now have been with us basically from the beginning. Shawn Barton, it took me about 18 months to get him in, but he’s got 23 plugins on Elegant Marketplace, [Manir Khamal], who’s experienced some great success with Gutenberg, Melissa Love, who I said I sold Page Builder Cloud and Layouts Cloud share to her, her help was beyond measure, absolutely beyond measure, Gino, talented fellow, really talented and really into Divi.
The people involved in the business of Elegant Marketplace, the people involved in the business of Emotion, the people involved in iconic WP for instance, [Barn Two] plugins, [Freemius], all these people, Vito from [WP Feedback], Vito and I are together on waahi.io. If we hadn’t had meetings at Lee Jackson’s thing, we wouldn’t have done a deal with Elegant Marketplace and helped massively in WP Feedback’s growth in this wonderful business.
I don’t care what anybody says, it is 100% people driven. You meet people, you get on with them, you help each other. I’ve helped Melissa with some SEO stuff, I did a little SEO course for her, she’s upgraded that with somebody else who’s frankly better, and she’s got the marketing fix going on, design space lounge, you’ve got Vito with WP Feedback, an online venue, you’ve got phenomenally talented people who have that thing in common which is WordPress, and trying to build something.
In fact, Shawn, when I took him to Berlin, because I think we did the deal in Berlin, didn’t we, and I [crosstalk] took him to Berlin and I was involved in a private meeting with you and Tim, and Shawn was blown away. He said, “Do you know what? I’m going to go to every bloody Word Camp I can go to. I can’t believe …” He met the guy that did [Mailster], the guy that did Mail Poet and all this kind of stuff, and just thought, “These guys are so lovely,” we met and chatted with Chris Lima for a little while in Berlin, there’s some names out there.
Yes, I’ve name dropped, but there’s people out there that are doing … Charlie from A-Themes, for instance, he’s phenomenally successful business, really young guy. I’m 60 now, Mike, I’ve got to think about what I want to do in my retirement, so another five years, I’m going to knock it all on the head and go and live on a beach in Barbados or something, if I can. Yeah, it is people driven, and I think your influence on the WordPress ecosphere is massive. How many podcasts and Word Camps and meetups have you been involved in, hundreds?
Mike Demo: Yeah, through the years, hundreds, and it wasn’t that hard. It takes effort, but I was a Joomla guy. In fact, they almost didn’t hire me for this role, they sent me to a Word Camp to see if I would burn up when I entered as part of my interview process, to see if I could handle the WordPress community. That’s where I started saying “tools are tools”, the namesake of this show, and I just got to know people. Help people however you can, and eventually it’ll pay back either through referrals, or … I’ve said it for years, basically at the end of the day, just help people however you can.
My good friend [John Rampton], who actually used to own host.com and owns due.com, he said, “For every 10 people I help, I make this much money. For every 100 people I help, I make this much money. For every 1,000 people I help, I make at least $1 million from that [crosstalk] …”
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, crazy, and that was-
Mike Demo: “From one of those deals,” so yeah.
Andrew Palmer: That was the original ethos behind Divi Theme Muse. Eileen had this idea that she needed help on the Divi theme, so she set up a group. Before she knew it there were 2,000 members, then I came along to be admin and we worked on it together. We grew that group, in under three years we grew it to 32,000 members, and it was all about helping and sharing. It’s changed now because it’s part of Elegant Themes, but it’s still helping and sharing, and it’s moderated quite heavily now, which is not a bad thing.
Unfortunately, there are some naysayers in the WordPress communities, and especially around page builders, and you’ve got your favorites and stuff like that, but what I see from you and from the people that I’ve worked with with In Motion is that you’ve got an open mind. That’s the key, because I wasn’t going to sell. I had offers daily coming in, “Let me buy you, let me buy you,” “No, go away, I’m not interested,” and you guys were the only ones, because of your personalities, because of your connections within the WordPress thing, because of the way that In Motion can help Elegant Marketplace grow and become what it should be, which one guy on his own with a developer can’t do, because we just didn’t have the finances to go out there.
Don’t forget, we’re giving away 70% of the revenue, so it needs some investment, it needs some more people working on there, it needs a new design. That’s going to happen, and I’m looking forward to seeing what In Motion do with Elegant Marketplace, that’s for sure, but it’s down to you. I would not have sold if I had not liked you, so you’re lucky I like you. There you go.
Mike Demo: I appreciate that, and we’ll definitely still talk on a regular basis. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the UK next year and check out one of your many pizza restaurants.
Andrew Palmer: We’ll probably have 10 by the time you get here, we’ll see you in about three years, I reckon.
Mike Demo: Before we wrap it up, can you please remind everyone of where people can find you personally for your socials, and then also any of the brands, with spellings and all that?
Andrew Palmer: Yeah, sure. You can get me @ArniePalmer, A-R-N-I-E Palmer, not the golfer, but I do play golf, on Twitter. You can find me on Facebook under Somebody’s Hero, and you can also find me on my personal website, which is thisisandrewpalmer.com, and everything leads to the other activities that I’m doing. The one thing that I’m really concentrating on in the new year, apart from the restaurant, is waahi.io, we’re really keen to get that out there and make sure that people have the online meetup and venue and learning and community building tools that they’re going to need for the next few years because of the COVID-19 situation.
Before we know it, there’ll be a COVID-20 and 21 and all that kind of stuff, so online venues are really where it’s going to be at. I think we’re going to be coming up with some deals that people … Just, it’s going to be a no-brainer.
Mike Demo: Excellent. This is the end of the first season of the Tools Are Tools podcast. Please join me, Mike Demo, for season two in the new year, we’ve got some interesting ideas planned. Until then, Andrew, for the last time, do you want to do the sign off?
Andrew Palmer: Indeed, I can. This has been Tools Are Tools podcast, presented by elegantmarketplace.com, the de facto place for the moment for Divi Theme, Element layouts, plugins and modules.