He’s accomplished a lot for only being 16 years old. Below is our recent Q&A interview with him as part of our Kinsta Kingpin series.

Q1: What age did you start getting into WordPress development, & how long have you been doing it?

I first got into WordPress development around 13 after I went to my first WordCamp and got inspired to do something more with WordPress than just use it as a blogging platform. As of right now, I’ve been developing for just under 3 years.

Q2: Are you active in the WordPress community, and if so, how?

Earlier on in my WordPress journey, I became heavily involved with core development, making patches and writing documentation, which served as a huge leap into the community for me. Also, simply attending WordCamps, WordPress Meetups, and interacting with people on Twitter are the ways that I have been involved with the community.

Q3: How do you think WordPress will change in the future?

I’m probably repeating what a lot have already said, but the REST API in core. I think that will be a massive leap for people who want to create web applications with WordPress as a backend.

But that’s not the only thing. Recently, I have seen a lot of features within WordPress start to get rewritten. A lot more focus on the importer, multisite, customizer, etc. I can definitely see those begin to mature and grow into something more awesome in the future. And more straightforward and updated.

Finally, I think Javascript is going to be (and probably already is) going to grow rapidly in popularity. Themes and Plugins will definitely start looking at alternative ways to make things work with different Javascript Libraries (eg. React.js, Ember.js, etc). I also think that there’s an opportunity to make some changes within the Admin Interface itself with Javascript to create amazing UI’s for a plugin. Themes will begin to mature and use different libraries and methods to create lightning-fast designs and interfaces. There’s a lot to look forward to on this front.

Q4: What are your favorite plugins?

Q5: What does your company TechVoltz do, and what is the endgame for the business?

TechVoltz is in a pretty unique state right now. Last Spring-ish, the business model shifted from really trying to build products and moving into agency work, which proved to be sustainable for quite some time. Recently though (October of last year), I acquired a product from Pippin Williamson. I made this move when client work was still coming in quite frequently.

The plan for this year is going to change a bit. While I maintain some projects, I’m starting to change up the type of projects I want to take, with a bigger emphasis on Front End Registration and Login Forms and perhaps other products. This will move TechVoltz into a product-based direction, which is how I originally wanted it to be, but had some troubles in the beginning.

Hard to say what the Endgame will be. Hoping to make FERALF a more sustainable source of income and really keep my focus on building awesome products. More recently, I’ve been getting more and more interested in the startup scene and would be interested to do something related to that as well in the near future.

Q6: What is your favorite type of project?

I really enjoy eCommerce projects. I’ve worked on a few membership sites, subscription business models, just a wide range. eCommerce sites tend to be really unique and it’s fun to work on projects that can scale like they can. I’m also a fan of building web-apps (which some eCommerce sites end up looking like). I’ve always been interested in how hosting platforms are built and the assortment of SaaS models that have popped up recently. I’ve already tinkered a bit with Web Applications using WordPress as a backend (with Node.js for example). It’s been really interesting to go beyond just learning JavaScript Deeply, but web app architecture as well.

Q7: What are your favorite SaaS tools for running your business?

  • Trello is probably the one I use the most. It’s proven to be a major help in getting my priorities organized and has helped me stay focused.
  • Slack. Probably a super popular one today. I find myself using it a lot to chat with people I collaborate with, get notifications about sales, returns, I’ve even tested it with a chat system. It’s proven to be a must-have for the work I do.
  • Harvest. I use this one a lot for any contract projects that I do. It’s mostly been a great way to keep my hours and send invoices to client. Project Management made very easy for all the client work that I do.

Q8: Have any mentors helped you along the way?

I wouldn’t have really gotten this far if it wasn’t from some coaxing from my mentor: Kiko Doran. I met him back at my first WordCamp (WordCamp Minneapolis 2013) where he really inspired me to think about how I could make WordPress a part of my business and how development would be the way into it.

Q9: If you could have lunch with one person in the tech industry, who would it be?

I think it would be Elon Musk. His endeavors with SpaceX and Tesla has always really fascinated me and it’d be awesome to sit down and ask some questions about how it all worked out the way it did and his plans for the future.

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Q10: What tips would you give a young gun like yourself who wants to get into WordPress development?

When I started learning how to write code, I didn’t start with learning how to code in WordPress. I was learning how to write PHP and Javascript independent of how WordPress worked.

I think learning these initial concepts is a major part of being able to problem solve in different situations, where the code has to be applied to WordPress, but the solution simply can’t be done with WordPress APIs or something of the sort. Also, like a broken record, I recommend learning Javascript.

The concepts that it teaches and just the world of opportunity that you have with the assortment of libraries are nothing short of awesome. This goes for someone interested in either WordPress themes and Plugins, as Javascript can be used in a plethora of places once you start to dig into it and understand it.

I will say, I was initially reluctant in learning the bare concepts of JavaScript, PHP, etc, as I kept my mind closed to doing something outside of the world of WordPress at that time. But (referencing question 8), having a mentor really helped me stay on track and helped me see the value of learning concepts that I could apply to more than just WordPress, which I think is crucial.

Also, if you’re getting into PHP, I think it’s really useful and educational to take a look at languages like C and C++ to understand the origins of PHP and the way things work outside the web as well.

Brian Jackson

Brian has a huge passion for WordPress, has been using it for over a decade, and even develops a couple of premium plugins. Brian enjoys blogging, movies, and hiking. Connect with Brian on Twitter.