TeslaThemes Celebrates One Year Of Being In Business

When I discovered TeslaThemes last year, their unique looking designs really impressed me. Since so many other theme shops have tried the theme club model and failed, I didn’t have much hope for them. However, the company is celebrating their first year of being in business.

TeslaThemes Birthday Featured ImageThe theme club model typically fails because it over promises and under delivers. The model is especially difficult for small 1-3 person businesses. While time is devoted to churning out new products, there also needs to be support in place for previously released items.

TeslaThemes co-founder, Marcel Sobieski, told me they have released two new themes per month since launching the business while maintaining a customer satisfaction rating of 98% based on their monthly surveys. Sobieski says one of the greatest challenges the company faced is their rapid growth. “The greatest challenge TeslaThemes overcame in the first year is the fact that we are one of the fastest growing and healthy Premium WP Theme Clubs with a very strong community and stable workflow.”

The company is part of the Red Sky group, a Polish investment firm. “The financial perspective wasn’t the most important concern. This gave us the opportunity to focus purely on quality and roll out. At the moment, we are financially independent and have great plans ahead” Sobieski said. This is a luxury not many theme shops get to take advantage of.

When asked what pivotal lessons were learned during the first year of business, Sobieski replied:

Quality. This is the essence of this business. There are thousands of WP themes on the market, many of them are free, many are ripped, many are stolen, but what a simple user or advanced design studio needs is actual quality. Before going live, every developer or designer must be sure they provide what the market needs plus something special, and not just duplicate existing and successful WP themes.

With some WordPress commercial theme business owners discussing whether WordPress themes have become a commodity, there is also the advice of concentrating on a specific niche. TeslaThemes plans on creating more themes to expand their catalog to cover more niches. If Chris Lema is right about theme purchasing patterns, it will end up being a good strategy.

For year number two, Sobieski says they’ll focus on co-operation with their customers while creating a 24/7 dedicated support channel. They’re also working on a new project called TeslaLab. TeslaLab is a dedicated paid customization center where customers can receive professional help with customizing their theme.

So far, the company has proven that the club model can work but is it a sustainable model for long-term success? Only time will tell.

Have you done business with TeslaThemes? If so, please share your experience in the comments.


21 responses to “TeslaThemes Celebrates One Year Of Being In Business”

  1. So on the same day this gets published, TeslaThemes (who I’ve never heard of) also gets a free theme that hasn’t been updated in 6-months promoted to be a featured theme on WordPress.org. Hmm.

    Oh look, a Sarah Gooding theme has also now been featured.

    What exactly is going on here?

      • I just find it odd man.

        The theme review contest was ended because supposedly the higher ups didn’t like the fact that commercial theme shops were winning the contest. Now the featured themes list is nothing but commercial theme shops or developers who have close personal relationships with Automattic and/or Audrey Capital then I saw this blog post. I’m curious what the interest or connection is?

        I’ve been following WPTavern closely and I love what your doing, but sometimes I’m confused why you guys choose to cover some companies and developers over others.

        CyberChimps was the first to get a theme to hit a million downloads on WordPress.org, and has had a top 15 theme on WordPress.org for 3-years now but we get no love. I e-mail you guys every time we have a new product release or announcement and never hear back. Yet here you are celebrating a random theme shops 1st year when most people have probably never heard of them until now.

        Just trying to understand why some stories are covered over others?

        • Did you create any fancy infographics and a big giveaway to accompany your story?

          Not saying that is what swayed the decision to cover this story, but it helps when you are writing a post and you have some material to accompany the story and something to give to the audience.


        • I’ve sometimes wondered why certain companies or people get more (favorable) coverage than others but I think it’s down to the kinds of connections that are made around the ecosystem and also some measure of goodwill, reputation, notability, notoriety and timing playing a role. Total parity doesn’t really happen, probably can’t expect that either. Personally I like hearing about small teams or individuals that are doing interesting things, but I realize that’s a bias too.

          However, on your blog you say you are ‘dominating WP.org’, I don’t understand why the lack of coverage would even bother you. I’d happily trade actual customer/users over press coverage any day of the week. In fact I can’t think of anything more ideal than to be a massive success without having people notice too much.

          • Sarah and I try to limit our coverage of specific companies so it doesn’t appear that we write about them all the time. You can imagine how many emails we receive both as individuals and through the WPTavern contact form of folks wanting their plugin, theme, or service reviewed. Most even offer us 70% affiliate commissions lol. Most also go in the trash.

            Sarah and I are pretty selective in what we write about and it has nothing to do with deals under the table or some sort of allegiance. Some companies are much better with PR and marketing than others. While Sarah and I do the dirty work of trying to discover plugins, products, and services that help or solve problems for people, it’s nice to hear from an actual company of a new product they are releasing whether we write about it or not.

        • There is no connection between Audrey, employees, and what is going on with featured themes and plugins. I don’t even know what criteria has to be met for a theme to show up in the featured area. Ex Astris is a free theme created by Sarah Gooding in her free time and she decided to make it available to everyone by submitting it to the repository. Maybe it’s just a good theme and that’s why it’s featured, I don’t know.

          With regards to what I write about, 95% of the time, the stories I write are about things that interest me. One of the hardest things to do as a writer is write about something you could care less about. Have I seen CyberChimps products and emails in my inbox? Yep. But nothing I’ve read or seen makes me stop what I’m doing and go “wow, this sounds cool”. Thus, I haven’t written about CyberChimps. It’s that simple really.

          Feel free to continue emailing us new products and solutions to customer problems. Eventually, we’ll see something that catches our eye and write about it.

          As for TeslaThemes, I specifically wrote about their 1 year anniversary because I interviewed them when they launched 1 year ago. They had some pretty cool looking themes that utilized post formats in a cool way. They use the theme club model and I’ve heard so many bad things about the model and have also seen a few companies fail because of it. So it was interesting to me to see a company be successful using the model while being able to push out 2 themes per month throughout the year. People want to read and hear about products and companies they’ve never heard of. The established players can get sort of boring if they’re not innovating all the time.

          The random theme shop, plugin company, product, or service are always on my radar. Those are almost always more interesting than what a 3-6 year old company is doing.

      • Maybe it’d be a good news story to write about. Just be sure to include the other side of it. Like, for example, how I’ve released over 40 free themes and plugins on WordPress.org, written 200+ posts on WordPress on my blog, never asked for favorable treatment, and never complained that my themes weren’t featured. Yet, the day I get a theme featured, a couple of folks are making a big hub-bub about it. It would’ve been nice to wake up this morning and see a few “congrats” for being on the featured list.

        I’m going to try and be happy that someone thought my theme was good enough to be added to the featured themes list. Maybe all this mess won’t ruin the day for me.

        Also, just to be clear, the Theme Review Incentive program was not ended because commercial shops’ themes were getting featured. It ended for the following reasons:

        * Folks were just choosing their own themes to feature.
        * The same themes were featured month after month.
        * Theme authors were trying to game the system to get featured.

        Essentially, we had inadvertently created a pay-for-play system. That was not the original intent of the program. When I agreed to this program, I incorrectly assumed that the winners each month would choose a theme to feature that they had reviewed and found interesting. That was not the case.

          • What story would be good to write about?

            The entire featured themes / incentive program story with that special Jeff Chandler spin. :)

            Also, I’m not giving any hub bub about whatever themes are featured.

            I said, “a couple of folks” were. I thought it was obvious I wasn’t referring to you.

        • * Folks were just choosing their own themes to feature.

          So the solution is to allow whoever is picking the themes now to pick themes with close ties to Automattic, Audrey Capital, and the WordPress foundation instead?

          Whoever selected this months featured themes clearly had a bias towards the people and companies selected.

          Keep in mind WordPress.org is a non-profit organization, and is now recommending commercial products with people and companies that is has direct ties with (several of which are on payroll). I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure we’re entering some questionable ethical territory here. Conflict of interest comes to mind.

          * The same themes were featured month after month.

          CyberChimps was actually told by WordPress.org admins that the only way to be featured was to win the contest every month and select our own theme. This was actively encouraged by the admins for months.

          I personally questioned this as well, and I warned the admins that this would lead to trouble, and well it did.

          * Theme authors were trying to game the system to get featured.

          I’m aware, no one was policing the contest even though it was clear people were cheating (ticket hogging, reviewing only themes from Automattic, etc).

          I’m not sure what you guys expected, being featured means your theme is the first thing people see in their WordPress dashboards when a user goes to select their first theme.

          Being featured increases downloads by at least 1/3 to whoever is featured and pretty much guarantees them a spot in the top 15 as well for 1-3 months depending on how long they were featured. This makes the top 15 basically just a mirror of the featured themes list and prevents not featured themes from ever reaching the top 15.

          Before the theme review contest we regularly had 2-3 themes in the top 15 because actual people decided those were themes they liked, rather then a contest, or a curator selecting featured themes for them.

          If you watch what happens next you will see that by the end of next week all the previously featured themes will fall out of the top 15, and the new featured themes will dominate until they’re phased out. There is no way for the best themes to rise to the top anymore, the entire system is being “gamed” by the admins now, so we just traded theme authors gaming the system for admins gaming the system.

          Meanwhile why the default themes are even allowed ranking in the top 15 is also beyond me.

  2. We’re working a lot to turn our service into a sustainable and great WordPress Theme Shop. We’ve been building Premium WordPress Themes since 2012 and invested a lot of work and passion into our products and we keep our promises. Our customers and our results give us the confidence to move forward and we don’t quite understand the frustration (of some commenters) that comes out of groundless assumptions. There were a lot of voices stating that our theme shop will not succeed (Ex. http://torquemag.io/teslathemes/), but we kept on going and still are doing our best. $14.99 is a price for a limited period of time, to celebrate our 1st year anniversary, so we invite everyone to benefit from it and discover better our products and service. Regards! Igor Pisov from http://teslathemes.com/

  3. I understand Jeff, and like I said I really enjoy what you guys are doing. I just dont understand how this is news, when the first theme to ever hit 1 million downloads on WordPress.org isn’t.

    We also just released probably one of our coolest themes which from what I’ve seen no one else has done anything else like it yet: http://demos.cyberchimps.com/vertical/

    We’ve got a lot of other cool stuff in the works as so I will just keep e-mailing you guys I suppose and hope you consider something from us in the future.

    If you’d like to know more about what is happening with the theme repo on WordPress.org please contact me trent at cyberchimps.com. As you can see from the other comments there is possibly a story there.

    • Trent – We mentioned the Responsive theme and how it was acquired in an interview we did last year, in case you missed it: https://wptavern.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-wordpress-theme-reviewer. I also wrote about it on another site 2 years ago: http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-responsive-became-the-most-popular-free-wordpress-theme-in-just-3-months/ . I rely heavily on my instinct when choosing what to write about and don’t really have any hard and fast rules, though I tend to write more about free tools that I think are useful. A commercial product usually needs to have the potential for broad appeal before it makes the news. As far as Ex Astris being featured – I had no idea until somebody told me about it. It has no connection to my employer. I don’t care if it’s featured or not or if it gets 5 downloads or 5,000. I’m just a girl who likes to make free WordPress themes and plugins in my free time because it’s fun. No conspiracy here.

      • I hear you Sarah, I use to run a blog I know how hard it is to cover everyone and I didn’t mean anything personal against anyone who was featured.

        It was just disappointing to see that all the new featured themes are people or companies with close ties to Audrey Capital, and Automattic. Doesn’t exactly send the right message to the rest of the community especially when you consider all the controversy that ended the theme review contest.

        My main concern is what exactly is the criteria to be featured now?

        Last month I was told commercial themes would no longer be featured, yet this month several commercial theme shops who are new to WordPress.org have been featured.

        It is confusing to say the least, and this months collection of themes has a clear bias.

    • @JeffMatson: It’s quiet obviously you missed the entire premise behind the discussion in this thread. Let me fill you in. From what I read; when I actually read it, the MAIN concern was about the Featured Themes on WordPress.org, not Sarah’s or Jeff’s judgment on what they cover. And I’d have to agree that this whole featured theme stuff is a bit odd, especially with the recent funding WordPress.com received.


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