Kinsta Kingpin: Interview with Augustin Prot
By Brian Jackson, Updated: September 20, 2017
Q1: What is your background, & how did you first get involved with WordPress?
I have very complementary backgrounds with Rémy (co-founder and CTO of Weglot). He’s an engineer, graduated from Supéléc (French) and Columbia (US) with a background in software (financial and online ad) and a first startup experience as a co-founder and CTO. I graduated in Economics (from Dauphine) and spent 3 years in the financial services (Merger and acquisition advisory).
We first got involved with WordPress in the end of 2015/early 2016 when we were trying to find users to test Weglot. Some of the people we contacted asked us if we had a WordPress plugin. We did not know WordPress at this time. But as we heard the questions several times, we thought we should definitely try to do a plugin. Then, one month later we were at the Paris WordCamp 2016 to officially launch Weglot and meet the community, such a great time and amazing people!
That’s how we entered the WordPress world.
Q2: What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?
Weglot is born from a business frustration Rémy experienced during its first entrepreneurial journey. He was in charge of the technical side (co-founder and CTO), and when it came to making their website multilingual he did not find any solutions to do that. For payment, he used Stripe, for search had Algolia, for emails Sendgrid, but for translations, they were no solutions available. That’s how the Weglot idea came to life.
With Weglot, we are allowing websites owners and developers to make their websites multilingual easily and efficiently. We believe that translating a website and display your content in several languages should be easy. You should not spend hours and days on coding or settings to do that. But it should not be at the expense of the performance (speed, compatible with your solutions and SEO friendly).
So that’s why we’re 1000% focused and dedicated to developing and improving Weglot. After a year of growth, we already have more than 10,000 websites using Weglot and we are quickly challenging historical solutions such as WPML or Polylang. We’ve received very good feedback from the community and users (we are the best rated multilingual plugin on the WordPress plugin directory), so we’re convinced that our innovative approach, our model (SaaS) and the level of support we’re providing importance is making a difference.
Our goal is to offer the most turnkey and powerful solution to make a website available in many languages.
Q3: What challenges did you face in getting to where you are now professionally?
Shifting from a comfortable life with a guaranteed monthly paycheck to the entrepreneurial one was not easy but so satisfying. Every day you face new challenges.
For me, the biggest one was maybe to be able to quickly learn enough technical skills to be able to handle the support at Weglot. For more than a year, Rémy and I handled the support. And it was so important to us to make users happy that we put all our sweat into support. At some point, we could barely find time to do something else. So it was vital to be able to provide answers to the user on almost any Weglot-related matter.
By the way, support was maybe one the thing that helped us the most to improve Weglot and increase our brand awareness.
Q4: Has anything surprised you while coming up in the WordPress world?
There are several things that surprised us while coming up in the WordPress world.
- The importance of the community and its culture of caring: we really understood that when we met main French community members during WordCamp Paris 2016 (notably including, Jenny Beaumont, Jonathan Buttigieg (WP Rocket), Kim Gjerstad (Mailpoet), Fabrice Ducarme and all the other). It’s made of great people that supported us and helped us from the very beginning.
- SaaS model was absolutely not present in the WordPress economy (not as much as outside of WordPress). It’s even more surprising when you notice that WordPress users were the very first to start building websites by assembling different parts dedicated to specific features (one plugin for the contact form, one for payment, etc.). So, at the beginning, we had to face strong reluctance from very first potential customers.
- The size of the WordPress usage and the ongoing professionalization: we’re only a year and a half old in WordPress and we have the feeling that the level of service and the size of WordPress customers are moving up.
Q5: What does the future look like for you in the WordPress world?
I believe WordPress is currently moving up in the market in terms of the customer. WordPress services and players will need to adjust and deliver an enhanced solution to meet new requirements. So my vision is that more SaaS solutions are going to emerge within the WordPress environment. WooCommerce’s recent move to auto-renewals is a strong evidence of this trend.
Q6: What do you look for in a WordPress host?
As a consumer of SaaS tech-savvy products, I would say the 3 most important criteria are:
- Flexibility: It’s crucial to not change every 6 months because your provider is not able to scale.
- Reliability: Hosting must be plug and play. You should not ask yourself, will my hosting provider go down. It has to be reliable all the time, it’s too critical.
- Price: I’m ready to pay the price for great service, so the price needs to reflect the level of quality I’m buying.
Q7: How did you get funding in the WordPress ecosystem?
We got funding outside of the WordPress ecosystem. We raised money from a seed VC fund (SIDE capital) made of French successful Business angels. I think they’ve been convinced by the founding team, the solid metrics we generated in less than a year and our approach. We believe you need to deeply understand a technology and community to be able to offer the best service.
Q8: What are your plans for the funding in regards to the Weglot product?
Our funding helped us on 2 aspects:
- Building the core team of Weglot: it’s been our key focus since the day we agreed to raise money. We successfully recruited 2 great team members, Floran the lead developer and Maximilien the head of customer support. In addition, we also recruited Adrien for marketing. The next step is to strengthen the tech team to build and improve all the great items we have in our product roadmap.
- Online acquisition: testing new channels and improving what we’re already doing.
Q9: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?
Spending time with my family and friends. I also love cooking, kitesurfing, and skiing.
Q10: Whom should we interview next & why?
Jonathan Buttigieg from WP Rocket because he’s doing great products with a true entrepreneurial spirit. And also because he has proven you could successfully challenge markets such as cache. And also because he’s French ;)