Lofty Goal Set For Tung Do

Tung Do otherwise known throughout the WordPress community as ‘Small Potato‘ is on a mission. That mission is as follows:

To create a more enjoyable and feature-packed service than WordPress.com. I’m not gunning for WP.com, but it’s the easiest way to explain what I’m going to build. And instead of re-inventing the wheel, I’ll use WP.com’s business model — freemium — as well.

In a recent blog post on DevPress.com, Tung Do outlines something akin to a business plan. While his personal project won’t be a direct WP.com competitor, he’ll use the freemimum model popularized by Automattic. The service will have one theme, not many although he mentions the possibility of child themes down the road. While the initial account will be free, there will be optional paid upgrades.

Tung Do’s follow up comment to his article is also worth reading to get a better idea about what he’ll be working on. While the hosting business is tough as nails, I think there is still room in that segment to succeed. I reached out to Tung to find out more about his project but he doesn’t want to go into details about something that doesn’t exist yet.

If you had any advice for Small Potato, what would you tell him?

5 Comments


  1. Ugh. I was hoping you wouldn’t post this haha. Here comes a whole bunch of comments about me dreaming too big.

    It’s an idea for a personal project that a publicized to put pressure on myself to see it through. I don’t believe I have the skills to complete everything, but I’ll try anyway.

    As for business model, I was initially attracted to freemium because it’s easier to promote, but I hate spam and am not sure I can reinvest in hosting fast enough to provide a reliable service so I’m actually leaning toward charging an entry fee.

    An entry fee helps server costs and prevents this project from negatively affecting my current site members who actually signed up for self hosted products, not managed hosting.

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  2. @Tung – I couldn’t resist. However, there are a ton of smart people that follow this blog and I think quite a few of them wouldn’t mind sharing whatever advice they have to give you. I don’t think it will be idea bashing. It’s a topic worthy of discussion though considering the already established niche WordPress hosting sites out there.

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  3. The details of the existing DevPress business and its clientele, and what sorts of ‘New & Improved!’ ideas they might go for … I don’t know.

    But I do know that small, specialized and local hosting is very much alive & well. As I gear up to go active/live again, it will be through/on my local ISP, who also provide hosting (physically).

    My mistake in earlier consideration of (er, dismissing) the local option was the misconception that local means podunk and gyppo’d. In fact, several hundred branded ‘smalls’ are working alongside Microsoft & Amazon, over in Seattle. They’re everywhere, in all urban centers, and in every Hicksville holler.

    Even in Silicon Valley, smalls attract a lot of business. In fact, possibly especially so.

    There are a myriad of ways to implement these services, some completely hardware-free, and others with their own backbones and rack-mount server-farms.

    People doing this gotta go with what they know. Keep the back-foot steady on the proven stepping-stone, and judiciously probe the next one with the lead-foot. ;)

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  4. Amen to that, Ted. Aim for a specific niche and grow from there. It could be local (e.g. your city or region), or targeted to a profession (Edublogs, anyone?), or some other specific category (e.g. running clubs). Mix and match and go from there…

    Tung: Freemium has the benefit of giving people a way to try out an unknown product without making an up-front commitment (aside from their time). Put a fee in the way, however minor, and you’re increasing the friction. Now they’re not just taking the time to try out your service, but they have to take the extra steps of making a payment.

    TL;DR = Embrace freemium but narrow your target market to start. :)

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  5. Thank you Ted and Andy for reminding me of the local route. While aiming to make a tool for general usage, I do agree about promoting it with a more focused message.

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