It is not an easy task to choose the road of leadership. They are born to lead. They are visionaries. Their creativeness and risk taking is almost boundless. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to take the leap and craft a roadmap for themselves. Only a selected few are courageous enough to make that choice.
Why such a comparison between a leader and a common person? Because I was in conversation with a self-made entrepreneur for my WordPress Interview Series, Akshat Choudhary.
Akshat Choudhary is the developer and founder of BlogVault, a very famous WordPress backup plugin. What started as a low-end project has now become a full-fledged plugin that employs 4 other people besides Akshat himself.
In this interview, Akshat shares the reasons as to why he initiated BlogVault and what the future holds for his project in the coming years. He also shares a few details about his visit to WordCamp Europe 2015.
Cloudways: Akshat, your journey of BlogVault has been instrumental. How do you feel to be a successful owner of a famous WordPress plugin? Share with us your journey of BlogVault from pre-planning to post-execution.
Akshat: I started BlogVault as a side project almost 5 years back. At that time, I was working as an engineer with a large software company. The founder of Stack Overflow, Jeff Atwood, had a very famous blog which went down because of a server crash. This made me think that if the creator of Stack Overflow can lose his blog, then there must be a need for a good service to backup blogs. That was the first time I came across WordPress.
At that time, I thought this was just a small project which would be done in a few weeks and would not be worth much. Nonetheless, since it piqued my interest, I built the first version. It has been five years since then, and we have so much still to do.
Cloudways: How challenging was it to develop BlogVault? In a community like WordPress which grows exponentially, how do you manage to keep up with plugin updates? How do you see this plugin grow in the next few years?
Akshat: Building BlogVault has been a lot of fun. WordPress was completely new to me and I did not realize how big it really was. Since then, it has grown even more rapidly. At that time, there were a lot of plugins available which would do backups. However, we realized that backups need to be a service as plugins will never be reliable and cannot provide the same experience that a service can provide. Hence, we focused a lot on building the service end of the system. We kept our plugin very lightweight at the start to put minimum strain on the WordPress site. We brought all the logic to our servers. This also meant that we could adapt to any web host or site very easily by just changing our server code.
We believe that there is a very strong need for a reliable backup service for WordPress.
Cloudways: Security has always been a major concern in the WordPress community. Plugin users need authors to update them on vulnerabilities and versions. How do you keep up with the pace? How often do your team and you work on it?
Akshat: WordPress has a very large and vibrant ecosystem. It attracts lots of theme and plugin developers from across the globe. The popularity of WordPress has a side-effect of attracting a lot of attention from hackers as well. As we have seen, any vulnerability found can be exploited to affect millions of sites. Having backups of the website in such cases is critical, as the hackers can wreck havoc on the website. A good backup system will be the only recourse in such situations.
We take security very seriously. We take a number of steps to ensure that the backups are completely safe, even if a disaster were to strike your site. We do not store any data on the WordPress sites itself. In fact, our plugin cannot modify or write to the WordPress site in any way.
Security is an ongoing effort. You need to think about security right from early design of any software to the time when you are writing even a single line of code. A small innocuous looking statement can also lead to major vulnerabilities. We are very aware of this.
Cloudways: Your life gets boring if you do not have interests other than work. I keep on expanding my food diaries by visiting different eateries. What do you do in your free-time? What are some of your most favorite activities?
Akshat: Software developers are very lucky. We make a living by doing something that we love the most. For me, programming has been my passion and hobby for 20 years. I do enjoy reading biographies. I also love traveling whenever I get a chance to travel. This July, I was lucky enough to visit New Zealand and I think it is the most beautiful place to visit.
Cloudways: WordPress groups on social media are getting popular with each day. Advanced WordPress and All About WordPress are two common communities with hundreds of active members. Problems related to code or any advanced level issue are answered by the experts within a few minutes. What do you think about these active forums?
Akshat: The WordPress community is really amazing. People are so willing to help. I am a part of Advanced WordPress and over time have seen it grow rapidly. Given how widely WordPress is used, it lets people connect across the globe. The big advantage with Facebook is that it allows you add a personal touch whenever you answer queries.
At the WordCamp in San Francisco last year, there was a small meetup of AWP members with a big group photo. That was really cool.
Cloudways: The WordPress team is working daily to bring innovation in the web industry. It is now the most used content management system in the industry. Have you ever thought of contributing to the WordPress Core?
Akshat: I attended the Contributors day at WCSF a couple of years back. I found it to be a great way to get more people involved in the process of building WordPress. Having said that, I still find it to be very intimidating and don’t know where to start or what bug to fix.
Cloudways: You are now an inspiration for every new plugin developer. Who inspired you to become one? Name 5 people who inspired you the most with their work in the WordPress community.
Akshat: I am not sure, if I can call myself being an inspiration for anyone. 🙂 Obviously like most of the community, I have found Matt Mullenweg to be a statesman in many ways. I draw inspiration from the WordPress community. I am not a very social person, but seeing the people in the community being involved in such a selfless manner does drive me to engage with them on a regular basis.
Cloudways: You were there at WordCamp Europe. How was the event and was your trip worth it? Were you able to grow your network? Can you share something distinctive about the event?
Akshat: This was my second WordCamp Europe. I was there in Bulgaria last year too. I actually volunteer at these events and I have made a few good friends from around the world. We have recently partnered with a well-known WordPress hosting company. Because of this, the WordCamp in Spain was a lot of work as we had a big release coming up.
Nonetheless, I had a chance to meet one of my earliest customers. He was most gracious to host me and show me around Alicante in southern Spain. Also, meeting Pere, the founder of Cloudways, was great too.
Cloudways: Cloudways built a platform for WordPress developers to host their websites on Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, and Google Compute Engine within few minutes in one-click. What do you think about the services and features?
Akshat: I think that Cloudways is solving a real need. I look at it as the modern day cPanel for the Cloud era. Cloud has made it possible for everyone to have powerful hosting at very reasonable prices. However, these setups are not easy-to-manage even for very technical people. Cloudways makes it possible for even normal folks to adopt Cloud without getting intimidated by the complexity.
Follow Akshat Choudhary on Twitter.
Start Creating Web Apps on Managed Cloud Servers Now
Easy Web App Deployment for Agencies, Developers and E-Commerce Industry.