In today’s #ChampLifeSeries, I’m glad to have Michael Makijenko, CEO of visual composer. He is super passionate about all things technology, including the production process and communications. This honestly does not come as a surprise as he has a master’s degree and is a great entrepreneur running multiple ventures to help out the WordPress community. He loves creative ideas and interactive designs.
Today, I’m glad to invite him for an interview about his company, Visual Composer, and how to ace telecommunications like a Champ!
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
Ashmal: Hi Michael, it’s lovely to have you with us! It would be great to start by telling our readers about your background?
Michael: I’m Michael Makijenko, the founder and CEO of Visual Composer. I am from Riga, Latvia, and together with my team, we serve users worldwide to get their business online.
I started programming in fifth grade. Solving puzzles is a lot of fun, and the sensation of an “Aha!” moment for a kid can’t be underestimated.
But it wasn’t until 2008 when I founded my first startup. Before that, I had a chance to work in a local design agency, where I learned web design and the importance of a good user experience.
I’m a big believer in making things easy for users, so Visual Composer was born out of my own needs as a web developer.
Ashmal: How was your first interaction with WordPress, and what were the reasons for choosing WordPress as your career?
Michael: My first interaction wasn’t an instant match with WordPress. Not sure why, but for some reason, I thought that WordPress is just a “blog.” The first time I used it was just a blog until I learned how powerful it can be and what WordPress can do.
There are many reasons for choosing WordPress as my career, but the number one reason was the admin dashboard. To my taste, it looked better than alternatives, which made me look better as a web creator.
Ashmal: As a CEO at Visual Composer, how do you differentiate your services from others?
Michael: There are a few things that make us different. Our philosophy is to produce a clean and easy product, focusing on what users want and need. We work a lot with real users to gain insights, which solves their challenges and problems.
The second thing is years of experience in the WordPress business. We were the first company to release a WordPress drag and drop builder back in 2011 and have constantly been developing and improving our products since then.
And finally, we provide an excellent level of customer support, which our users appreciate.
Ashmal: Visual Composer is one of the trusted page builders; our readers would like to know about the thought process and your plan to make it more innovative?
Michael: When designing Visual Composer, we always put our clients’ needs first.
We know that our users appreciate this, and we also get good feedback regarding usability and ease of use, which helps us improve even further.
While we plan each release, we think about what value we add to the customers.
We want to make sure that they can create even better websites with our builder. For example, our latest release has a new “Layout Builder” feature. This practically illuminates the need for a WordPress theme because you can build the whole website (from header to footer and in between with Visual Composer.
I’m really excited about this feature.
Ashmal: How’s your journey with Visual Composer so far? What were the significant challenges initially, and how did you overcome them?
Michael: Focus is always the most critical challenge. It is so tempting to fill your backlog with exciting ideas. But grooming them and taking the most important ones is challenging. To make the process easier, we have a process developed where every team member can impact the shaping of the product.
Even though we are a long time in the market, we still have challenges — for example, the decision to rewrite Visual Composer entirely from scratch. But, as a result, we deliver an even better product improved from every angle. I encourage everyone to try the new Visual Composer (even if you think you know it, I’m betting you don’t 🙂
Ashmal: What strategies do you and your team ensure to market a new feature or release?
Michael: We are using various online channels to spread the word about new products.
On top of that, we have a great community where customers share their experiences and help each other. As a bonus, we collect users’ input while spreading the word about the new feature release. This closes the feedback loop, and we know how to improve the product again.
Ashmal: What’s the biggest motivation of your life? It would be great if you could also share success stories and awards?
Michael: I’m always competing with myself. It is the best source of motivation to see that you are doing something better than yesterday or a month ago. I love experiments, and as a result, I break things. Which provides me with the new data for the next experiment 🙂
Another thing that motivates me is the people that I work with. I am so grateful to have such a great team. I love hearing from members who just joined and were blown away by the climate at our company, nothing like what they had seen before. In an environment like this, people flourish and bring their ‘A-game, sharing the knowledge and seeing how they grow such a privilege.
Ashmal: You are the source of inspiration for many of us, Including me. 🙂 Who’s your most favorite inspiring personality?
Michael: Thank you. I’m a very shy person, but it is still lovely to hear. As for me, my source of inspiration is L. David Marquet and Simon Sinek. I’m a big fan. I had a chance to meet David Marquet personally and hope to chat with Simon Sinek one day.
Ashmal: Please share your pro-tips with our readers?
Michael: Be curious, persistently inquiring. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. Be skeptical and challenge conventional wisdom, but do so politely and with an open mind. Be prepared to be wrong, and be willing to change your mind when the evidence warrants it. Be a lifelong learner.
Ashmal: It’s time for rapid-fire!
Rapid Fire Round
|Speaker or Consultant?
|Tea or Coffee?
|Twitter or LinkedIn?
|Traveling or Watching a Movie?
Ashmal: Please share an image of your workstation with our readers.
Here you go! 🙂
Thank you, Michael, for your time and for being a part of our champ interview series. 🙂