Expert Speaks: In Conversation with Nando Pappalardo, Founder of YITH

Last updated - September 21, 2020

Today at ‘Expert Speaks’, we have Nando Pappalardo, the Founder of YITH(Your Inspiration Web) World’s leading Independent Company in the development of WooCommerce Plugins.

In this Interview, Nando talks briefly about his Journey towards Success, his passion towards WordPress and much more inspiring advice for those who want to follow his path.

We thank Nando for inspiring us with his words of wisdom. We hope you guys enjoy going through his informative answers.

Hello Nando, Welcome to Learnwoo. Tell us something about your background and how exactly did you get involved with WordPress?

Thanks and greetings to all Learnwoo readers. Regarding my background, I can say that up to the age of 28 I worked in a fish shop that I started together with my father. It was a well-run and very profitable business, but I was not what I really wanted to do. My passion was for information technology and programming for which I worked in the fish shop during the day and I studied computer science at night. When I was behind the PC, the time flew by for me as it was like playing. For this reason one day I communicated the “crazy” decision to my father the desire to leave the fish market and to devote myself to the digital world. It was the year 2001 and that was the moment when it all began. My meeting with WordPress took place a few years later in 2006 when I wanted to create my own blog to share everything I learned daily. In 2009 I created another blog “Your Inspiration Web” which in a few months became the reference point for Web Design in Italy. Also in the same year, out of pure chance, I came across ThemeForest, the largest marketplace in the world for the sale of templates for WordPress. I realized that there was a great business potential on the horizon that was developing, I began to study, almost like a hobby, on how to create a theme for WordPress and within a few weeks, we had our first theme for sale. What happened then is history, our themes have been liked right away and within a few years, we had made over $ 3,000,000 in sales. We ranked the fourth author in the world on ThemeForest for the highest sales and turnover.

Tell us the idea behind YITH?

YITH was founded in November 2012, initially as a collection of the oldest themes that gradually lost visibility on ThemeForest. We removed the themes with much less visibility on ThemeForest and put them on sale on YITH. When I started to realize that the WordPress Themes market was starting to be inflated and too competitive, I tried to find a new market within the WP niche but with less competition. A little bit as suggested in the Blue Ocean Strategy book by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne which was a great inspiration to me. So I identified a new emerging niche within the WordPress ecosystem that in practice was almost zero competition: WooCommerce. Since the end of 2014, we have stopped creating WordPress Themes and have completely dedicated ourselves to the creation of plugins for WooCommerce. On January 23, 2015, we sold our first plugin for WooCommerce. A few months later, in May 2015, Automattic acquires WooCommerce, this was a further signal and confirms that we were on the right track again. More than five years have passed since that time, and today we can say that we have established ourselves as the first independent agency in the world for the development and sale of plugins for WooCommerce. We have 34 employees located in different countries, two very large offices, one in Italy in Acireale and the other in Tenerife (in Santa Cruz), although most of our employees prefer to work remotely.

As the CEO of YITH, you must have a lot of responsibilities and pressure. Which aspect of your work do you like the most?

The aspect of my work that I like the most is the strategic part. Knowing that even a small change in the applied business model and often almost invisible to the human eye can cause incredible results, is a great incentive to do better every day. Since childhood, I have always loved strategy games, such as chess or the board game Risk. So as CEO of YITH, I seem to continue to “play” in this great strategy game which is the business world. And there is nothing more beautiful and rewarding than being able to see your work as a great game. Another aspect that I really like about my job is to have the opportunity to give value to other people’s lives, creating jobs where respect for human dignity comes first, which is increasingly difficult to find in today’s world… Perhaps because coming from a very poor and humble family, I have always given great importance to these values ​​and today in my own small way I have the opportunity to make a real contribution to this cause.

What does your normal day look like?

For me, a typical day starts with the alarm clock to prepare and take our children to school, together with partner Sara, which is five minutes walking from our house. After leaving the children at school, I pass the office located in the center of Santa Cruz. I prefer to go to the office while also being able to work from home because I love human relations and contact with people. Also taking advantage of being able to take a walk in the center of Santa Cruz, having lunch outside, and enjoy some of the great energy that the island of Tenerife gives its inhabitants daily. In the office, the work is typical of many CEOs, physical meetings, and calls with the various teams that work remotely, planning, many readings, and much more.

What are the pros and cons of working for yourself?

The advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself are the classics that everyone talks about, among the main disadvantages that of not being able to distinguish work from your free time, because you never completely unplug yourself fully, but as the main advantage, on the other hand, you never feel that you are working for 100%, being able to manage your work commitments in complete freedom so as not to affect your private life.

In YITH current stage of growth, what are the top challenges to deal with? Any effect on Business due to Worldwide Lockdown?

For us, the cause of the restrictions worldwide has meant a growth of almost + 100% compared to the previous year. The restrictions led to many more people buying online and many small businesses to build their own e-commerce so that they could continue the business they had been forced to close. Among the main challenges we face, the biggest one is to be able to find new IT engineers to hire as developers to allow us to continue improving the support we offer to our customers who continue to grow exponentially and to carry on several new projects we want to work on. It is really difficult today to find developers with the right skills to grow the team.

Are you planning to expand on other eCommerce platforms like Shopify or thinking about building a SAAS product? What are the Future projects of YITH you are currently working on?

Yes, we are working on the creation of some products for WooCommerce to be offered in SaaS mode, which should have a higher economic return than the current business model, basing on the price of the service of the actual volumes of use. It would also be very interesting to be able to create a platform in perfect Shopify-style but made with WooCommerce. In recent months we have been talking to several major players in the sector in an attempt to be able to carry out such a project together. The fact that we have over 110 extensions for WooCommerce, all perfectly compatible and integrated with each other, supported and developed by a single author, makes us an excellent partner for achieving this ambitious goal.

What important feature would you like to see in the future versions of WordPress?

On this point, I have a very specific request that I hope will be implemented as soon as possible, the management of the native multilingual. At the moment having to manage a WordPress site or e-commerce in multiple languages is really very problematic.

Outside work, what do you enjoy the most? And how do you manage work-life balance as it is quite difficult in today’s time?

Let’s start with the fact that my job is a great passion of mine. I quit my job in the fish market years ago, for this reason, so even when I work I feel like I’m on vacation or “playing” and this is one of the things I appreciate most about my life and that makes it really easy to manage between private life and work. In my spare time, I like reading a lot, I have been a book worm since I was a teenager, I really like the novels of black humour, personal growth, marketing, spirituality. I am also a huge fan of cinema and TV series. Among my favourite directors: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Won Kar Wai.

How do you see this COVID-19 Pandemic on the online Business especially WordPress market?

As I mentioned before, we have grown 100% during this period, this means for the digital world the restrictions that have been imposed in many countries, it is speeding up the process that was already underway, that of the adoption of many online activities and technologies. On the other hand, the pandemic is also accelerating a new working culture, that of remote working that I have always supported. Many companies with the various blocks that have been imposed in the various countries have been forced to completely review their way of working by experimenting for the first time with this mode and with great pleasure listening to the very positive feedback of people who instead before trying this mode were very doubtful. I believe this pandemic has accelerated processes that were already underway.

Any advice you want to give people who want to follow your path?

One of the best tips I can give is to read a lot. If it wasn’t for the many books read, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. In addition, another very important aspect is that of giving a lot of importance to personal growth, to the constant improvement of our attitudes, our mentality, our beliefs, because they are the things that most affect the results that we manage to obtain. Many times we ask ourselves why many intelligent and prepared people are not able to obtain results of a certain level. Because some people seem to get stuck in some sort of limbo. The answer is that we often try to fill the technical gaps that we have while ignoring the most important thing: our attitude, the way we position ourselves, and with which we face the challenges.

 

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