Vishal Kothari

Founder of Tyche Softwares

Vishal started Tyche Softwares in early 2012. In the last 10 years, he has grown it to a 15-member team, gone from working remotely to having our own office space and now again remote.

In 2009, he tried to build an ERP solution on the lines of WordPress – modular, based on plugins, etc. He wishes he had entered WordPress in 2009. But this failed attempt of building an ERP solution ended in 2011. And he started 2012 looking at building something for WordPress.

2012 was spent learning about WordPress & WooCommerce. He also built Tyche’s first plugin for WooCommerce, Order Delivery Date and was working on side projects. 2 such gigs resulted in creation of the Booking & Appointment Plugin & the Abandoned Cart Plugin. Working on those plugins as a side gig was intentional, not a coincidence.

After having served as the Chief Technology Officer of a US company from 2012 until January 2017, he is now working to scaling Tyche Softwares to new heights via various modes such as acquisitions and also by focussing on non-development areas such as marketing, content, and SEO.

As Founder and Chief Navigator of Tyche, he feels proud of the team, not just for the work they do, but also for the workplace we have built.

Where did the idea for Tyche Softwares come from?

I was coming on the back of a failed venture & was actually applying for jobs in companies here in India. I got rejected from a couple of them too. That’s when reality struck me. Once that happened, I started looking for freelancing jobs. In that process, I landed across a client with whom I would be working for the next 5 years.

Once I saw some steady work from the freelancing jobs, I didn’t want to stay dependent on one source of income only. That’s when the idea of building a WordPress plugin came along. I knew a couple of friends who were already creating WordPress plugins & selling them.

Apart from that, the barrier to entry in WordPress was low. I started with the thought that if a plugin doesn’t work, I would most likely know it in 3-4 months. So I decided to give it a shot & created our first plugin, Order Delivery Date.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical work day starts around 10am India time. The initial time I try to spend in reading a couple of articles. Then checking up on any emails. Once that’s done, I take to Slack to ask the team about their tasks for the day. If it’s a Monday, then we have our Weekly meeting on Slack where we list out the tasks for the week & also the deliverables for the week. Anything that is to go public, becomes a deliverable. It includes things like releasing a new plugin update, publishing a blog post, sending out a newsletter, publishing a product documentation article & similar items.

Rest of the day is usually about reviewing things that come my way. They are things like Business Requirements Document for future plugin updates, test cases sheet prepared by our Tester, email newsletters, any important blog post.

Recently, I have been spending more time towards the Content & Marketing efforts. So things like reviewing the SEO strategy, reviewing content written for a paid Facebook ad, or it could be anything that is required by the Content & Marketing team.

As for how I make my day productive – that’s always an interesting question! I have tried few things here, but one of them that has worked is I turn off my mobile’s Internet & ignore any notifications that come on the laptop for 30 minutes duration. This ensures a distraction free environment for the task that I want to accomplish. That has helped.

I also write down my tasks in a notepad with pen & paper. That acts as a reminder of what’s to be done during the day. One interesting thing that I had tried recently is to write down a task in the notepad only after it’s completed. The idea was that it might motivate me to work on that task & get it done with, so as to be able to write it in the notepad. However, this approach had 1 limitation. What I observed was that since I wasn’t writing my tasks in the notepad until they were completed, it would result in not having my todo list for the day in front of me. I would end up missing out on things that would be the most important to complete.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Honestly, I am not great at this. The last time we released a new plugin was in 2015. We did acquire 7 new plugins in 2018 & 2019, but those were plugins that already had an audience.

We do frequently release new features in our existing plugins though. And that is where we bring all the ideas to life. In this case, the idea usually stems from our customers. So they suggest a new feature or enhancement in one of our plugins, we would then analyse the feature as to how it would benefit the customers & why they want it. Once that’s done, we chalk out the implementation details & document them in what we call as a BRD – Business Requirements Document. This one is passed along to our development team, where they add the implementation details. Once that is done, we begin developing the feature. At the end of development, the Tester comes in, where they would test the feature & give a go-ahead for the release based on the results of testing.

That’s the usual cycle when it comes to adding new features in our plugins.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I have always admired discovering new trends that help small merchants scale their businesses. It’s fascinating to see how each trend can help small e-commerce businesses so much – whether it’s as simple as an effective cart abandonment strategy, or automating their delivery process or something about optimising their conversion funnel.

Nothing comes as close to SaaS though. What we are seeing in SaaS is an explosion of services. So whatever we are building next, it will be SaaS!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Making quick decisions. I believe that one should keep moving forward rather than thinking for too long over something. I apply this in all aspects of my entrepreneurial journey – like when hiring new team members, deciding on implementation of product features, or deciding if a particular feature is worth to be part of the core product or not.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To my younger self, I would say: “Vishal, let’s focus on Marketing & connecting with more entrepreneurs. That new feature you’ve been dying to add in your product can wait.”

I am not saying we didn’t do any marketing for our plugins & our business. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate that at 4. There were so many things I wished I had done earlier when it comes to the marketing part. We didn’t have a dedicated marketing team until 2021. That explains it all I guess.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

This question has had me thinking for quite some time now. 🙂 There are many things that I believe are true, and some people disagree with it. One of them is that we have a plugin named Order Delivery Date Pro for WooCommerce. Some people say that it serves a very small niche for the e-commerce industry. But I see it as something that can increase the overall market size, thereby allowing more people to establish an online business because our plugin will make it really simple for them to schedule deliveries.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

My recommendations would be about how you take care of & how you deal with your team.

Be nice to your team. I strongly believe in focussing on results & not efforts. However, one can still be nice to their team. They are the most important part of the company. Ofcourse we need to have products, customers, tools to work, etc. But the people who are creating, talking to customers, using those tools – they are at the core of the company. It’s the team who is running the show for the company.

I would add one more thing too. Always assume positive intent. At times, we pre-judge a situation or a person and that prejudice comes in the way of our response. Avoid that. Assume positive intent when it comes to your team, or if it’s your customer. Believe what they say & respond appropriately.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

There is never one strategy. In terms of revenue, one thing that truly helped us is implementing automatic renewals. We didn’t have that until 2017. And I realised that we should have done it way back in 2014 itself. Recurring income gives a business so much strength to take on more risks!

Apart from that, listening to our customers. Our product development is fully driven by our customers. That has helped us to take things to the next level.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There are many failures. One of the biggest one would be to not have a marketing team early on in our business. I would put that on the top of the list. It’s only as late as in 2021 that we realised that feature development can only take you to a certain extent. But a business needs to have the right marketing, and right distribution to scale.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

That’s a tricky one. I have many ideas which I think would be a good fit to solve some problems globally. One of them is teaching English. In India (and across the world too), having good written & verbal skills in English can take you places. A big majority of the Indian population falls short there. It’s an issue that doesn’t really matter to many people because they are still able to carry on with their daily work & life without learning good English. But what I believe is that learning good English can lift many people out of poverty because of the sheer amount of job opportunities it can open up for a person.

I firmly believe this idea, if implemented on a large scale (thinking of 1 billion people), will help people in a way that has compounding effects for them & for their generations to come.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

That’s an interesting question. In December 2021, I spent close to $50 in repairing my 6-year old bicycle. Since then, I have cycled for over 600 km with it. I would say that’s been the best $50 I have spent. The decision to repair the old bicycle as opposed to purchasing a brand new one was a conscious one. I wanted to make sure that I first start riding the bicycle consistently instead of just getting a new one & then letting it stay idle.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We recently switched to Slack Pro for our company. That has helped us to cut down our communication time. The audio feature in Slack Pro where you can immediately send recorded voice messages or get on a call from within Slack is what is helping us the most.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I am the wrong person for this question! I have a collection of books.. all of them waiting to be read. 🙂 So I will come back & ask you to update this answer once I have read a few books.

What is your favorite quote?

It isn’t a quote actually. I heard Tom Hanks say somewhere in a video & these are words that very frequently get told to us in our day to day life problems: “This too shall pass.”. I like this quote because it keeps me grounded. If I am at the peak of success & wealth, I can say “This too shall pass” and it will remind me not to be arrogant & remember where I came from. If I am sad, I can utter these 4 words to myself and it will provide me comfort to look forward to a new day tomorrow.

Key Learnings:

  • Make quick decisions
  • Have an equal focus on marketing
  • Be nice to your team
  • Always be curious like a kid 🙂