I attended my first CaboPress last month. On the same US-Mexico trip, I also attended and spoke at two WordCamps – Ann Arbor and New York City. I covered my WordCamp Ann Arbor and New York City experience in another post here.
Now over to CaboPress! ?
To start with, calling CaboPress a “conference” is unfair to it! It is more like a crash course in business management and strategy. In the short span of 5 days, I learned so much that would otherwise take years.
One of the favorite parts about CaboPress is the structure of the sessions. You might already know that all the CaboPress sessions happen in a swimming pool. But there is more to it! CaboPress sessions are more like group discussions led by a speaker.
Below are my few key takeaways from CaboPress 2017.
The first session was on setting product roadmaps and was lead by Chris Lema himself.
Rapid growth opportunity and amount of control that a product can provide are sometimes hard to resist. But Chris spoke about is the viability of products, and how we sometimes need to set aside our emotions and have an objective perspective on situations.
My takeaway – If a product is not growing, it’s a failure!
As always, he brought the session to life with his natural story-telling ability. Others in the pool added valuable lessons from their own experiences with products.
Another session that I attended was about generating Recurring Revenue for Services, lead by Karim Marucchi. I found the part where he spoke about how he runs and manages CrowdFavorite’s different verticals particularly helpful.
In fact, I have already implemented some KPIs based on things I learned through this session at rtCamp. The new reports helped me understand profitability across departments and business units much better.
Learning During Meals
The learning opportunities didn’t end with the sessions in the pool.
Every day started with breakfast with an open networking opportunity. Unlike lunch and dinner, breakfast has no set topic or groups.
The group was a great mix of people across products and services. I found out that some of these product folks initially started their journey as services agencies. I could relate to a lot of what was discussed and also learned a lot from their transitions.
For dinner, groups were formed based on criteria such as product versus services people, first-time attendees versus CaboPress veterans and so on. Each day, we were given a topic to talk about. Topics included our origin stories, our plans to double revenues in the coming year and the one thing we will implement on getting back home.
You can see my first evening dinner group in the picture below. I just realized that have very few pics from CaboPress. Thanks Mendel for this one though!
Even after dinner, people bonded over coffee & cigars, at beach or poolside. For me atleast, the learning only stopped at the time of sleeping!
The thoughtful organization of meals helped me make the most out of my time at CaboPress, and come back pumped and refreshed.
A masterclass by Chris
This post is just an excerpt from what I learned at CaboPress. I haven’t even mentioned the great sessions in Business Automation by Jennifer Bourne, eCommerce Hacks by Syed Balkhi and an epic session on Selling Your Company by Tony Perez.
For various reasons, Sujay Pawar and I were the last to send our arrival details to Chris for CaboPress. Looks like I am the last to write about CaboPress!
It has been more than two weeks since I attended it but I still occasionally remember something from a session or a random conversation and the bulb lights up! ?
I am glad that I went, and look forward to CaboPress 2018! ✈️
From the moment I left my home to the moment I checked into my hotel in Ann Arbor, it took 36 hours. The long journey had three flights and two road travels. But it turned out to be worth all the hassle!
WordCamp Ann Arbor was quite lively and very well-managed. I met many people I already knew or worked with before so it felt like home!
I was on a panel on Day-1 and had a speaker session on Day-2. The audience was very good and I received tons of feedback about my session on Day-2.
One thing that makes WordCamps stand out is that each of them is different! After having attended more than 20 of them across 7 countries, I thought I have seen it all! But the WordCamp Ann Arbor turned out to be a completely new experience.
On Day-1 there were no sessions after lunch. It was only outdoor group activities.
On both days, there was a concept of lunch group. There were almost 10 lunch groups for each day with different topics. Each lunch group had almost 15-20 people. You could join any of them and discuss your favorite topic with other WordCamp attendees over lunch!
Apart from this, every evening there was an event or the other. On Eve-0, there was a warm-up event for new attendees and people new to Ann Arbor city. On Eve-1, there was a speaker & sponsor dinner. On Eve-2, there was an afterparty for all attendees.
Overall, the WordCamp Ann Arbor was full of action and plenty of networking thanks to Kyle Maurer, Ross Johnson, and entire organizing team.
In between WordCamps!
From WordCamp Ann Arbor, I flew to Portland to meet my colleague Daniel Bachhuber. If you missed it, rtCamp now has a US subsidiary, and Daniel is leading it.
After five days in Cabo, I flew back to the USA to attend WordCamp NYC.
If there is one thing that set this WordCamp apart, then it’s the venue! The venue layout and facilities were top notch.
I missed speaker dinner as it was on the Friday evening when I was flying from Cabo to NYC. But I had enough time to interact with people during WordCamp.
On the first day, I reached rather late. Checking in at 3 AM previous night, I decided to catch an hour of extra sleep, counting on NYC subway to take me on time from my Brooklyn Airbnb to the NYC venue in Manhattan. When I went to the nearest station, it turned out that the station and the train line were closed for the entire weekend for maintenance! I will never count on NYC subway again!
On the second day, I had my speaker session on Selling WordPress to Enterprises in the morning. It was very well received!
Here are slides from the session in case you want to check.
Unlike our countries, we got along very well and decided to roam around post-WordCamp. Imtiaz being a student had exams next morning, so he had to leave. So Sujay, Asim, and I went for a long walk, talk and dinner together.
I wish we can have similar dialogues with our neighbors! While I have met many people from Pakistan and Bangladesh before, our discussion usually focused on WordPress. It was the first time; there was no WordPress involved in a lengthy conversation that went on for hours. We talked about many sensitive issues and the common perception of each other’s country.
Now, this is the kind of WordPress “feature” which will make WordPress live much longer than other software projects.
The real power of WordPress lies in its community! ❤️
Extra Days in NYC
I could take a flight back to India on Sunday night after WordCamp itself. But I decided to keep two extra days in NYC for possible client meetings and some rest.
It was also Sujay’s first US trip so I thought these extra days would help him explore NYC.
As I had few meetings on Monday afternoon, Sujay explored NYC with his friend Kevin. Kevin flew all the way from Minnesota to meet Sujay. He also helped us with our bank account opening earlier in the day. I joined them in the evening for dinner together.
Kevin stayed with us and our Airbnb host Allen happily accommodated him. I would highly recommend Allen’s place for your next stay in Brooklyn!
On the final day, it started raining so that messed up our few plans. After spending almost 2-3 hours in a pizzeria we headed straight to the airport even we had an evening flight!
I have attended the big WordCamp in the US before – the first two WordCamp USA took place in Philly and it’s predecessor WordCamp San Francisco 2014. But on this trip, I attended the first time, what could be considered as a local WordCamp in the US!
The most amazing part was to attend two WordCamps in a country, a week apart and have completely different interactions and experience.
Disclaimer: I am no lawyer, no CA. So use this at your own risk! ⚠️
Taxation is a hard, complicated and boring topic!
But it comes back every time there is a WordCamp in India.
I need to deal it as a WordCamp Pune organizer, as a sponsor and a friend of other WordCamp organizers.
So here is a guide based on my own experience. If you have any suggestions, please pass. I will be happy to correct this.
As organizing a WordCamp includes a lot many entities, let’s list down entities commonly involved:
Organizer – There can be many organizers, but for the sake of this article, we will consider organizer is an entity who handles finances. It can be a person or a company or both. Yes, a WordCamp team can have multiple entities taking care of some part of finances such as one entity collecting payments for ticket sale, another one receiving sponsorship payments.
Sponsor – This one is straightforward. Likewise an organizer, a sponsor can be a person or a company. Some WordCamp offers micro-sponsorship options for individuals. From the taxation point of view, who is sponsoring is more important than which sponsorship slab is used.
Vendors – These are suppliers for different things required for a WordCamp such as a venue, food, swag, after-party to name a few. Indian WordCamps procure a lot of stuff from the small vendors. Most of them accept payment in cash and do not give proper tax invoice. It makes sometimes applying tax rules very hard.
Attendees – Don’t be surprised. After GST, you may need to collect GST on WordCamp ticket sales. In any case, this likely be taken care by payment gateway and easier to handle. You can make ticket price tax inclusive so that attendees won’t feel the pinch of it.
Speakers – They get free tickets. WordCamp speakers are not supposed to get any reimbursement for travel or any incidental expenses. So as speakers do not have financial transactions with WordCamp, let’s ignore them from the tax-related discussion.
Volunteers – From tax perspective, if volunteers get a free ticket, they can be treated like speakers, or if they discount, then they can be treated like attendees. Both cases, are already discussed above.
Based on above, let’s focus on organizers, sponsors, and vendors.
All of these can take two forms such as individuals or businesses. Some rules also have different ways when dealing with foreign entities.
I will highlight differences wherever applicable. ?
Type of taxes
Broadly classifying – we need to deal with two kinds of taxes – direct taxes and indirect taxes.
Direct Taxes (TDS)
Income tax is an example of direct tax. I think it is the only direct tax we pay, if liable.
In the case of direct taxation, TDS (Tax Deducted at Source), need to be handled. TDS is equivalent of tax withholding in the United States.
Between Organiser and Sponsors
Before you jump out of chair screaming that you, as a WordCamp organizer, are not making any income from organizing a WordCamp, please understand every time you accept a payment of more than Rs. 30,000 in a financial year from a single source, the source (sponsor) in this case, must deduct your income tax in the form of TDS.
The only exemption is when Sponsor is an entity without TIN (Tax Identification) number. Individuals do not have TIN.
Let’s understand the entire flow of event with an example. Example
rtCamp, a company with TIN, wants to Sponsor a WordCamp in India for slab Rs. 50,000.
rtCamp will deduct 10% TDS i.e. Rs. 5000 if the organizer has PAN. The deduction will be higher if the organizer doesn’t have PAN. But an organizer without PAN is unlikely to happen.
rtCamp will pay organizer Rs. 45000.
rtCamp will pay Rs. 5000 to tax authorities.
The organizer can verify if rtCamp has paid Rs. 5000 to the Govt. of India by checking own 26AS statement. Reflecting payment in 26AS can take up to a quarter.
rtCamp will also issue a Form 16 to the organizer by the end of the financial quarter.
Some companies might deduct lesser percentage amount. It depends on their interpretation of the WordCamp event.
Since WordCamp has no legal presence in India, rtCamp treats WordCamp organizer as a professional service provider.
Things to check/remember
The organizer can ask for a TIN number if they are not sure if the sponsor is based in India or eligible to deduct DS. Every entity who can deduct TDS needs to have a TIN number.
The sponsor must ask for PAN number. Because TDS deducted need to be linked to PAN number. Also if PAN number is not present, the deduction is very high.
Between Organiser and Vendors
If an organizer is an entity with a TIN number, they can deduct vendors’ TDS the same way sponsor deducts TDS of the supplier.
Limit of Rs. 30,000 still applies with a caveat. This limit needs to be considered for the overall transaction between organizing entity and the vendor.
So even if a vendor supplies things worth Rs. 5000 to WordCamp, but if they have the previous relationship with organizer where the limit of Rs. 30,000 is already exceeded, then organizer must deduct TDS for the vendor.
Form vendor perspective, the organizer is a client, and WordCamp related order is one of order in the overall relationship!
What happens to TDS – deducted money?
Sponsor deposits deducted amount with organizer’s linked PAN number.
The entity holding that PAN can use deducted amount to offset its tax liability.
If you have negative tax liability after applying for TDS credit, you can get a refund from the govt for excess payment. Depending on your tax returns, you can get 100% of tax refunded from the govt. The return process is easy. Your CA will help you.
The only issue you need to think about is – do you want to wait for refund/returns before you count that tax liability towards your WordCamp revenue?
Based on above example, Rs. 5000 is yours. So even when you get Rs. 45000 in your account, you should consider Rs. 50000 as payment received from the sponsor for the sake of WordCamp accounting.
Indirect Taxes (GST)
From July 1, 2017, there is only one indirect tax in India i.e. GST.
Although the intention of GST is to make our life easy, it is one of the biggest tax reforms in the history of India. Such a significant change always have its share of transitional issues. There are many things unclear about GST so that this section will evolve.
GST currently have two forms such as “IGST” and “CGST + SGST.” In both cases, the tax amount is same. I will not get into details to keep the article from getting lengthier. So collectively I will refer it as GST.
Likewise TIN, GST has GSTIN (GST Identifier).
Between Organiser and Sponsors
First, if the sponsor is not Indian, you shouldn’t charge them GST.
You can treat any sponsorship received from abroad as export. Exports don’t have indirect tax.
But if the foreign sponsor decides to pay from Indian entity, then treat them as Indian sponsor. The sponsorship invoice should be in INR. Indian/Local Sponsor
If the organizer has GSTIN number, they can charge GST upfront.
I believe GST rate applicable would be 18%.
If the organizer doesn’t have GSTIN number, then do not add GST number.
Sponsor may still need to pay GST (likely 18%) under reverse charge mechanism.
Either way, GST amount on sponsorship is additional cost sponsor should bear. Sponsors must not treat it like TDS. Hence sponsors are not supposed to deduct it from sponsorship amount paid to organizers.
Unfortunately, this will increase the cost of sponsoring WordCamps in India for some local sponsors!
If the sponsor has the enough domestic (Indian) sale and collects GST from their customers, they won’t feel a pinch. But for companies whose maximum customers are abroad, GST will directly cost extra to them.
This is the case with rtCamp, and our CA firm is analyzing GST to check if excess GST can be refunded. If refund provision is there, then there won’t be an additional cost to sponsors!
Between Organiser and Vendors
If a vendor has GSTIN, they may charge GST to organizers.
If the organizer is an entity with GSTIN itself, then the organizer can ask vendors to put customer’s (in this case organizer) GSTIN on the invoice.
From WordCamp accounting perspective, GST amount should be considered as part of the expense.
If organizers with GSTIN are getting input credits for GST, they should pass GST amount to WordCamp account.
How to give such GST amount in a tax-friendly manner is another complicated question! I will try to write about it some other day.
As I said, taxation is a hard and tedious topic. But I hope this article can help few WordCamp organizers in India.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.
Always remember – your CA will be the always better person to deal with questions!
I attended my second Pressnomics a few days ago. It was overall fifth Pressnomics till date. Coincidentally, this was my fifth US trip too! ?
Before I write more about the “meta” part, I will write about my Pressnomics experience first.
With so many amazing people around, Pressnomics offers a lot to learn! There are tons of memories to preserve. This time only good ones! ?
Below are some of the memorable interactions. Pippin Williamson shared his reasons to close public forum for his EasyDigitalDownloads product and move all support to the private 1-on-1 helpdesk. Pippin also shared how his decision worked for them, and how they handled the transition. At rtCamp, we are also planning to close public support forum for some of our products. So thanks Pippin for awesome guidance. ? Daniel Bachhuber answered my questions about few design decisions they made on WP-CLI project. As we are moving EasyEngine to PHP, his knowledge means a lot to me. I am hoping to catch him again at VIP Workshop for the sequel. ?
With Joe Guilmette, we discussed one of the most dreaded topics – “when to use or not use WordPress for a project?”! Of course, there are many more things we keep discussing all year around as I meet him more often than I meet my local friends! ?
As rtCamp is growing fast, I am facing new challenges on the management side. I used this opportunity to talk about my pain points to John Eckman and Karim Marucchi. It was a privilege to learn directly from CEOs of top agencies! They were very helpful. ?
From Joshua Strebel, it was great to hear why & how he focuses on the enterprise business. At rtCamp, we shifted our focus to the enterprise segment a few years ago. So it’s good to see how other people doing it and learn from it! ?
On another hand, it was interesting to see Syed Balki focus on small & medium businesses. Another aspect I liked about Syed is the way he handles partnerships and builds an ecosystem. ?
I can’t thank enough to Chris Lema. Chris answered many questions on different topics. My second favorite part was his way of building a high-performance team that I would like to work on immediately. The first favorite part was of course cigars! ?
Then as always, I learned a lot from my friends Karthik Magapu and Nirav Mehta. A reason, I always reach out to peers to travel/stay together is to maximize interaction points.
Once we are back to work, we rarely get time to call each other. So traveling together certainly helps! ?
I spent total 72 hours traveling for 88 hours at the conference. Here is the breakdown:
From India at 3:30 pm on April 4 to Tempe (USA) Hotel check-in at 12:30 pm on April 5. 33.5 hours travel ✈️
In Tempe Hotel from 12:30 pm on April 5 to 4:30 am on April 9. 88 hours stay ?
Tempe Hotel check-out at 4:30 am on April 9 to India around 7:30 am on April 11. 38.5 hours travel ✈️
This includes 5 hours delay caused by missed connection on way back. Thing got worse for me as I did not sleep the night before I left the US, and by the time I reach home in India, it was morning time. I went to the office without any sleep. I literally crashed in the second half of the day. ?
I traveled by Cathay Pacific second time in my life and both time they missed my connection at HongKong. 100% failure rate for tight connections!
If Cathay is not efficient, they should stop selling such long journey tickets with tight connections.
Nonetheless, this is nothing compared to the recent United Airlines incident! ?
I am still grateful to Cathay for limiting delay to 5 hours. Last time, in 2014, I was stranded for 18 hours.
I know some people who make quick long-distance trips frequently. But they don’t have health issues like me.
I missed Pressnomics’ second half on day-2 and also the second half on the activity day.
I am carefully evaluating following aspects of my life:
Food – what I eat, when I eat, how do I eat (fast/slow)
Activity – exercise, sports, walk, standing-desk, ways to burn more calories
Others’ success rarely made me envious but I am feeling jealous these days when I come across healthy people.
Maybe that’s why they say, health is (real) wealth! ? =?
Traveling with a group
Apart from shortest, this might be my biggest group trip to the USA.
We were a group of six people from India. 3 of them – Karthik, Vishal, and Karan – were attending Pressnomics first time.
I persuaded Karthik and Vishal to attend. I hope they found Pressnomics worth and will attend again! ?
I hope we will have an even bigger group next year. Let me know if you would like to join us next year! ?
This is the first time I stayed in the conference hotel. It worked very well.
I could go up and take rest whenever I was feeling unwell. Come back down again whenever I was feeling better. Of course, this is not the only reason.
Toughest part when traveling in the group is to move people from point A to B.
Bank of America
Nirav and I went to Bank of America to understand account opening process. The process turned out to be much easier than I thought. The bank staff told us that it was even easier in old days!
I didn’t open a bank account there. But it’s glad to know the process! ✅
Because of health issues, I avoided alcohol for the most part. I did not touch alcohol at PostStatus after party and also at Pressnomics after party.
It worked well for me. Maybe I should go alcohol-free for some time!
I had an amazing time, despite my health issues, and learned a lot from a lot of many people. I wish I could write about every interaction and every person I met but that will be too much to write. This itself took more than one-week!
So thank you all amazing people out there for helping me. Especially, thanks, Joshua, Sally and entire Pagely team for organizing Pressnomics. ?
I hope there will be many more Pressnomics, may be all over the world! ⛳️
On the weekend, I was honored to be a judge at the grand finale of Smart India Hackathon 2017 world’s biggest hackathon organized by Government of India. ??
In the final, more than 10,000 students in 1,266 team worked on 598 problems identified by 29 ministries and government departments for 36-hours non-stop at 26 different locations.
My duty was at College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) – the same college from where I have complete my masters! ?
COEP center had more than 50 teams. I could see work of almost 25 teams closely, and I was thrilled to see passion, innovation and desire to change the society among students.
Many people and organizations deserve credit for executing such a grand scale event successfully, but needless to say, the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a significant role! ?
I wish I could write a lot more about the event! But it’s a busy day today as I am packing for Pressnomics (USA) trip for which I will be leaving tomorrow.
You can see more about the event using these hashtags – #SmartIndiaHackathon2017 and #sih2017 or just google for Smart India Hackathon.
Below is a picture of memento I have received and some tweets for my personal archives! ?
Last month, I made a long and multi-city multi-county multi-agenda trip which included a WordCamp, cousin’s wedding, a client meeting and a non-WordPress conference! ?
WordCamp Bangkok 2017
My journey started with Bangkok first. I reached there on Feb 15. The extreme workload made me spend most of the time working on Feb 15 and 16. ?
It was the first time I worked a whole day on a trip. So to say start was quite bad!
Feb 17 (A day before WordCamp Bangkok)
On Feb 17, I met WordCamp Bangkok organizers, speakers, and sponsors over WC lunch. Finally, WordCamp started for me! (Thanks Isabella for the Picture)
From there, I went to WordCamp Bangkok venue along with the organizing team. We worked on few details for the next day (WordCamp Bangkok).
I also got my registration badge early. ?
In the evening, we had a get together at a nearby place. My friend Jon Ang shared the good news of him joining Human Made! ?
As always, Joe ordered for me. I don’t remember the names of food/drink I had, but they were all good! Thanks Joe for always finding something right for me! ?
Feb 18 (WordCamp Bangkok Day)
I had a late night flight back home, so I checked out of my hotel and went to the WordCamp venue with my luggage. The organizers were kind enough to give me some space to put my luggage into staff-room allocated to them! ?
I attended few sessions. There were only 4-5 English sessions so not many options for me.
The opening session by Petya had mention of WordCamp Asia – a topic very close to my heart! ❤️
During lunch, I coordinated between WC organizers and some attendees from India over “vegetarian food.” Having traveled so much, I understand now that “vegetarian” dishes in some countries can contain fish and egg. But in India vegetarian means strictly no fish or no egg or meat of any kind! This lead to some confusion! ?
After WordCamp, and before after-party, we visited a place for burgers and beer cocktails. It was almost an hour long drive, and I spent all time working on a client project.
Mayo and Dreb had a fun time seeing 30pt font size on my terminal! That’s what happens when you have poor eye sights! ?
From there, we went to WordCamp Bangkok afterparty! I was exhausted by now so did not drink or eat. I had a great time interacting with folks there. Noel Tock from HumanMade has captured few moments.
Great time at WordCamp Bangkok 2017, congratulations to the organisers for throwing an almost 400 person event in the heart of the city…
As it was a long day followed by previous night’s parties, most of my friends started leaving earlier. So I also left a bit earlier to catch my flight back to India.
Overall, it was a very well organized and sold-out in real sense event!
On way back, I reached Delhi via Kolkata flight with a 3-hours layover in Kolkata. I took this flight instead of direct one so that I can reach 2-3 hours earlier for my cousin’s wedding.
My wife and brother would be arriving at the same airport after 1 hour. I started working on airport waiting for them! ??
Once they arrived, we went together to Gharaunda (Near Panipat in Haryana) for my cousin Sumeet’s wedding.
I was tired by now, but it’s hard to catch some sleep, in a wedding house, especially when you are reaching few hours before the main wedding event!
I spend next two days with my family and relatives and from their came back to the Delhi. I stayed in Delhi for a client meeting and WAN-INFRA digital media conference.
I reached Delhi on Feb 21. I dropped my wife at the airport first and then brother & his family at the railway station.
From there I went to my Buwaji’s (father’s sister)home. I spent the remaining day working again! ??
Next day, Feb 22, I spent the entire day at a client’s office interacting with their team.
WAN-IFRA Digital Media India 2017 Conference
After attending so many WordCamps, I decided to explore a different kind of conference. So on Feb 23 and Feb 24, I attended a Digital Media conference. WAN-IFRA Digital Media India 2017 Conference‘s primary attendee were editorial teams from top newspapers and magazines.
There did not know much about WordPress. In fact, on two occasions I met people using WordPress but referring it as just CMS/news-portal. They were not aware that they were already using WordPress.
But their session, discussions, and interactions gave so much valuable information as it was more of enterprise user perspective.
If I have to summarize my learnings, below it is, grouped by topic:
I saw less inclination for display advertisements. But the other way of monetizing, which is a paid subscription model, is not realistic for most! I am personally unlikely to pay a subscription fee for mainstream news.
Display advertising revenue is shrinking. I don’t remember numbers everyone was eager to explore alternatives. I did not see “how to grow display advertising revenue” kind of topic.
Apart from display advertisements and paid subscriptions, some of them are exploring branded content. Those who are familiar with product placement in movies or videos, branded content is more direct in a sense that the brand sponsors whole content creation with direct marketing goals.
Some newspapers are only selling premium ads. It’s like curated ads from the top, well-known brands. No Google Adsense or Ad Exchange.
Another revenue stream is those ugly “related news” boxes by sites like Taboola and Outbrain you see on single news pages. One leading newspaper struck a 100cr deal for 5-years, for putting Taboola widget on their sites. I must say, I underestimated Taboola big time! ?
For some publishers, affiliate revenue is working nicely. They have gadgets section where all links to shopping sites such as Amazon are affiliate links. Now, this is common for tech-blogger but what extra some big guys are doing here is, adding additional information from shopping sites and integrating it with their content seamlessly, in an automated way. It is giving them a lot more conversions compared to natural sites. Some are even started their white-labelled online stores to increase their margins from e-commerce sale.
For WordPress folks, I see some opportunist in the last point. There are already affiliate integration plugins in WordPress space, mainly for Amazon. But you add support for Indian shopping site to them!
Registered Users/Paid Subscribers
May not work for big mainstream newspapers are content that is not exclusive. But already working for some niche portals. In any case, everybody wants more loyal user base, hence registered users is an increasing trend.
Most big brands are facing loyalty crunch in online space. I, as a user, haven’t subscribed to any particular newspaper feed or email newsletter. I use news.google.com to get online news. Sometimes I use Google News mobile app. Sometimes I get them via Facebook trending box. The point is, most online users don’t open a news site when they want to consume news.
Some newspapers are trying to get users registered to they can “stay in touch” with them. Some want to customize the experience based on usage history and preferences.
India’s small credit-card holder is limiting paid subscribers growth. But payment wallet growth is helping overcome this issue. In fact PayTm was mentioned so many times in different talks and Q&A that I wondered whether they had sponsored the event!
From WordPress perspective – this poses a scaling challenge. The traditional way of caching full-page in WordPress doesn’t work for logged in users. A user – free or paid – once logs in, bypasses the traditional full-page cache.
Of course, there were workarounds for this in the past, and new REST API and JS-based themes offers many new possibilities.
I feel that an entirely JS-base theme using REST API will make an excellent product! Especially if it gets SEO, social media, membership and caching right.
A side-effect of Jio is that India has more Internet users and faster Internet before. This trend is increasing video consumptions.
Some big players are focusing on video content to stand out, and generate advertising revenue. Video revenue mostly includes those pre-roll/post-roll video ads as well as branded content.
India has a lot more users than desktop users connected to the Internet. The Facebook presentation had nice points. Almost 90% of Facebook users/usage in happens via Mobile Internet.
The growth of mobile is making Facebook Instant Article and Google AMP a lot more valuable. Luckily WordPress users have free plugins for both. I come across few newspapers who are struggling because of their proprietary CMSes not able to keep up with the speed at which technology is changing.
Based my interactions with all these stakeholders, I sense a need for a complete CMS solutions.
By complete, I mean a CMS which not only take care of content but also Analytics, Advertising, Social Media Integration, User log-in and their behavior tracking, Video, Paid Subscribers, Mobile apps and everything else you can imagine a news agency may need!
Of course, WordPress has solutions in every area. Maybe we need to integrate them better and sell them as a bundle. ?
My trip to Udaipur started earlier, on January 25th, from Mumbai to Jaipur. I started with my better half and little half! ?
Jaipur & Temples (Jan 25 and Jan 26)
Jaipur was used only for landing. The only thing we did in Jaipur was to have Rawat’s Kachori on the way ahead and dinner again at Rawat’s Restaurant on the way back.
From Jaipur, we went to Khatushyam Temple, Rani Sati Temple, and Salasar Temple. ?
Sounds too many temples? Well, I am still an atheist. But my wife is a devotee of these places, so we make a trip containing these temples once in a while. It was our third trip in last four years.
On way back, we took a train from Jaipur to Udaipur. At Jaipur railway station, I saw Railwire Google Wifi for the first time. It had incredible speed!
Reaching Udaipur (Jan 27)
I arrived early in the morning. But the hotel, Gangaur Palace (TripAdvisor link) we booked, was very accommodating and gave us fee early check-in.
As soon as we did unpacking, we went to the hotel’s restaurant which served delicious breakfast.
Coincidentally, I met Bigul and his family at breakfast. They were staying in a different hotel but came to our hotel restaurant for breakfast.
We were joined by two rtCampers Chandra and Sanket and also Chandra’s cousin. These three were staying in the same hotel as we were from a day before.
After breakfast, I went back to our hotel room and started working on my WordCamp Udaipur presentation as part of talk which was on the next day.
It was my fourth trip to Udaipur. As I have many friends in Udaipur, Rajshree and I had seen most the city already on our previous trips.
Still, towards evening my family & I went for a boat ride along with Vivek and my local friend Ashwin.
Later in the evening, we went for speaker-sponsor dinner. It was organized at a gorgeous venue called Raas Leela. It was a great experience by all mean – food, venue and of course networking.
We rushed back to our hotel on time so we could wake up early next morning for WordCamp Udaipur.
WordCamp Udaipur (Jan 28)
WordCamp Udaipur venue was outside the city, but WordCamp organizers booked some buses to ferry people from the city to the venue! ?
One of pickup point was just a kilometer away from our hotel, so we did not have any issue reaching the venue.
Even though we had breakfast at our hotel, I had a small breakfast again at the WordCamp! Foodies don’t need a reason (or hunger) to eat! ?
The WordCamp started nicely. I did the speed test as part of my habit. I was blown away by the result! ?
Some people whom I met said I did a good job. But I think otherwise.
It was the first time; I couldn’t finish the presentation part in time. There was no time left for Q&A which I wanted to be a bigger part. ?
On way back, my colleague Joel Abreo and I discussed what I could have done differently.
If you attended my session and had any critical feedback, please share. I need it to improve!
If you were not there, you might check my slides.
Again, WordCamp Udaipur organizer arranged for buses to drop inside city or afterparty venue.
As there was more than an hour left to after party, I choose to go the hotel with my family. I had dinner with them at our hotel. Our hotel’s restaurant guy was very nice and during discussion at dinner, he offered to organise “mutton-bati” party for our group during next day at lunch.
As dinner and next day’s party discussion took some time, I reached after party little late. I spent like 2-3 hours talking to meeting with other WordCamp folks there.
Farewell Lunch (Jan 29)
Today was our last day. Almost 20-25 of us gathered in our hotel for what was originally planned a lunch together for 12-15 people.
There were 8 rtCampers that were already staying in same hotel and Vivek the 9th one was local.
The restaurant team made arrangements for all extra guest last minute and made it a nice party! ?
I couldn’t thank Gangaur palace team enough! ? (image source)
After dinner, we moved straight to a bus stop to Ahmedabad. From Ahmedabad, six of us had a direct train to the Pune!
Failure of Digital Economy!
I was under impression that after last few months demonetisation drive, major cities like Udaipur and Ahmedabad would have embarassed digitial economy.
But I was shocked to see many places were only accepting cash transactions! Most of these places have digital presence but they avoid electronic payments as much as possible. All the invoices they give do not bear any tax identification.
So it is not lack of infrastructure or knowledge, but simply unwillingness to pay taxes which is failing our countries digital economy mission!
Of course, before you jump to a conclusion, in USA also, in New Youk, I ate at restaurants in Chinatown which do not give tax invoices and accept payments via cash only!
So if a country like USA is not yet 100% digital or have all transactions under legal frameworks, I am loosing hope for our country! ?
I think I was overly optimistic by not carrying enough cash. Although, I did get enough ATM but just by imaging what would have happened to common traveller on November 9 send shivers down my spine!
Constant traveling is finally taking visible toll on my health. This trip was my third trip in row where I experienced health issues after returning home.
Looks like I need to take a break and focus on my health! ?
I wonder how people manage to travel so much! Or may be they are serious about fitness. I think in last month, I visited Gym only once. I already crossed 100kg line! ?
I need to do something about my health before it gets worse… ?
This year again, I had a chance to be part of organizing team for WordCamp Pune 2017.
I am almost a week late to write this as I had a lot of backlogs piled up. I ended up giving more time to the WordCamp than I initially planned. But it was totally worth it! ?
Jumbo Organising Team
We had a team of 19 organizers which might itself be a record for any city-level WordCamp.
The size of our team was helpful as we had somebody dedicated to every aspect.
As we inched closer to the WordCamp, we set up a daily standup over Slack + Google hangout. Of course, as we had a big team, not everyone was expected to attend every single day. But it helped us move things forward quickly.
Apart from my favorite department food, I got an opportunity to contribute to few more areas, especially the content on WordCamp site.
I started my journey as a blogger, so writing is always going to be close to my heart. ❤️
I think this might have been the first time after my professional blogging years when I had a streak of 12 days where I published at least one post a day. ?
I wish I could do similar writing streak for my blog here! ?
During all these writings, I interacted with many speakers and sponsors. One thing, I repeatedly asked them was to send content written as a third person!
On few occasions, I was asked to write my bio as a third person in the past, but I did not realize its importance until this WordCamp.
The reason I asked for third party content was that most people, especially sponsors, made claims which if I published as it is, would have read as an endorsement from me or the WordCamp Pune directly.
Also sometimes speakers, wrote about their past work, contributions, and achievements. They would have read as my or WordCamp Pune’s contributions and achievements.
So writing content as a third person can avoid many problem in some cases.
The WordCamp Itself
It went a lot smoother compared to the last WordCamp Pune.
I think this venue worked better for us, even with few extra restrictions it had.
The most notable restriction was not allowing us to use any kind of cooking equipment. We were denied permission for a basic electric grill too.
It affected food taste as we couldn’t serve it as hot as we would have done otherwise. It also introduced some logistics issues as the kitchen was at a remote location.
This also gave us an idea of adding an all day food counter. The idea came when we were discussing things we could do to avoid rush during lunch hour. On a positive side, the venue layout helped overall WordCamp run very smooth. We had four tracks and all of them were very close. They were also close to the common networking area, happiness bar, sponsors stall, all day food counters.
My dad always says that some people are just born talented. I think Kumar Abhirup is one such born talent! There is no other way you can train a 13-year-old to do much in his life. Kumar is using Jetpack, Yoast SEO and many top notch WordPress plugins and building his WordPresss site the same way experts do. He is already monetizing them using Google AdSense, paid reviews and affiliate marketing. All this at the age of 13! About the session – It was Kumar’s first WordCamp talk as a speaker. It was also mine first as an interviewer. We decided to meet online before WordCamp for some preparation for the Q&A session. But as we both were busy, we couldn’t.
But from my past interactions with him, I was very sure that he will do much better than me. It turned up like that only. I couldn’t get rid of nervousness till the end but Kumar appeared confident throughout the session!
If you missed Kumar Abhirup’s session, do watch it’s video when it goes live on WordPress.tv.
I have few more memoeries to share around WordCamp Pune. ?
People confusing Devin as an England cricket player
Devin Walker on his way to WordCamp Pune (from the US) took a flight from Mumbai to Pune which was also carrying England cricket team.
Some people confused Devin as an England cricketer. They even took selfies with Devin. ?
Moreover, some ground staff at the airport even asked Devin to get on the team bus! That same support staff even offered to pick Devin’s luggage to the bus.
Devin shared this and a lot more stuff over drinks and dinner!
Out with rtCampers having a good pre-WordCamp dinner in Pune.
Meeting Deepak Yadav as an old time Devils’ Workshop Reader
Though I no longer blog at my first professional blog Devils’ Workshop, it’s always a pleasure to run into old Devils’ Workshop readers.
So when Deepak talked about Devils’ Workshop, especially early days, it was a nice walk down the memory lane! (Thanks Bigul & Ratnesh for featured image)
Vivek and I left Pune quite early, around 3 PM, for a midnight flight. I just wanted to keep my record of never missing a flight, or for that matter, a train/bus/ferry/space shuttle. ?
It was my fourth US trip, but for the first time, I traveled on a direct flight between India and USA. It turned out to be a nicer experience for me.
We reached Newark early. Local time 6:30 AM.
We spent almost an hour in immigration queues.
Immigration officer tried to pull my leg by saying that he can only grant a visa for 3-days. But by now I am quite comfortable with their sense of humor, so I requested him to make dates as Dec 2-4. ?
Of course, the officer granted me a visa for full 6-months. I wish I could skip immigration queue on next trip to Pressnomics which would be happening within six months duration!
On Airport, we tried to find a good local SIM, but all offers on Airport were overpriced and useless.
We decided to take public transport for our AirBnB accommodation in Brooklyn. It involved a change at New York Penn Station. I stayed in that area during my last WCUS 2015 trip, so I was familiar with the neighborhood.
So when changing trains there, we visited Perfume Valley Gift Shop to buy Lycamobile SIM. We purchased same SIM last year too.
The Mustafa uncle, the shop-owner, who hails from Pakistan, greeted us with tea. We had a chat for a long time.
From there we went to Brooklyn. We had a very pleasant experience with AirBnB. If you visit Brooklyn/Manhattan next time, you may like to stay with this AirBnB listing.
In the afternoon, I had a fever, so I stayed in bed till evening. ?
For dinner, Harshad and I visited Archie’s Bar & Pizza. As I was not feeling well, I had food only and left early to sleep.
The day started with a meeting with a friend and prospective client in Manhattan. It was raining badly, but we managed to reach client office on time. ☔️
In the afternoon, me, Harshad, Vivek, and Vishal (Vivek’s friend from New Jersey) had lunch at Spicy Village. I had no idea that time that I will end up eating a lot Chinese and Japanese food on this US tour!
From there we went to the Broad Street for another client meeting. As there were almost 2 hours left for the meeting. As it was raining badly, we couldn’t roam around. I never hated rain so much! ?
There was a Starbucks nearby, but it was almost full. And considering total 3-4 hours we were planning to spend, we instead settled in another coffee shop called Cosi. It has a bad rating on Yelp, so as expected, the was almost empty. So we got a big table, and nobody bothered us for 4-5 hours we spent there.
So pro tip is – if you want to spend a lot more time in a coffee shop, without drinking too much coffee, look for the one with the bad rating! ?
After our client meeting, Vivek went to see Charging Bull and World Trade Center nearby. Harshad and I saw it all last year, so we stayed in the coffee shop, finishing our work.
From there, three of us went to Ponche, a Mexican restaurant for dinner with Peter Wilson from HumanMade. I think this was Peter’s first trip to New York. Peter was excited about watching Hamilton – a musical show next day. You can read Peter’s experience here.
Today was the day to leave for Philly. ?
We took a bus which cost only $8 per seat. Had we booked a round-trip, it would have cost us only $6 per seat one-way. But as our plan about return was not sure, we booked a one-way ticket only.
Later on, I found that the bus company allows trip rescheduling for just $1 per passenger and as late as 2-hours before departure time!
While waiting for the bus, I quickly grabbed some Chinese food. This time it was rice. It was much better and tastier and cost only $5!
Love Chinatowns in every city for delicious and affordable food. ?
We reached our AirBnB in Philly around 2 PM. It was raining then. But our AirBnB home was nearby, so we choose to walk. Later we were pleasantly surprised to see the WordCamp US venue closer than expected!
It was raining when we reach Philly. So we stayed indoor till evening.
In the evening, Vivek and I went to dinner with Jeffrey and Arlen from XWP to Ralph’s Italian Restaurant. It was recommended in a WordCamp US blog post.
I enjoyed dinner, but as the place was bit overcrowded, it was a bit harder to have a conversation there. I saw some people wearing WordPress swags so may be the WCUS blog post made this place overcrowded! The power of WordPress you see!?
Day #4 – Post Status Publish Day
Vivek and I started the day with breakfast a Tony’s Deli. This place was near Post Status Publish.
When we were leaving Tony’s after breakfast, I run into Vladimir Prelovac from ManageWP. Vladimir was with Jeff from GoDaddy.
Vladimir introduced us to Jeff as one of the early developers of ManageWP. It’s a pleasure and honor to be part of a successful project like ManageWP.
It feels better when your client acknowledges your work! It’s very rare in India. So thanks for it Vladimir! ?
So with a good breakfast and good morning, we headed to the Post Status Publish.
Post Status Publish
The conference was first such event from Post Status club. As a member of Post Status member, I knew this was going to be awesome. It turned out to me much better than my already high expectations!
In fact, the event was so good that I forgot to tweet during from the event. ?
I attended many talks.
The first one about “Mergers & Acquisitions in WP Hosting ecosystem” between Joshua Strebel and Steve Lee was excellent. I wonder if such an M&A talk discussion can happen for agency businesses. Bryce Adams showed his new SaaS app Metorik. It impressed many attendees. I was already impressed as Bryce gave beta test it some time ago.
After the lunch, I attended a talk about Marketing by Chris Lema. It’s always amazing to see him on stage. Beside the knowledge you can gain from the talk, watching him talk gives you ideas for you own speaking gigs! ?
The final talk was a discussion about “Life at an agency” between Tom Willmot and Scott Basgaard. As somebody who leads an agency, there were many things to learn for me.
Apart from talks, I had excellent time meeting with old friends and making new friends.
Towards the end of the event, we left early to attend WCUS volunteer dinner. The location was next to WCUS venue, and it was on our way back to the AirBnB home.
Day #5 – WCUS Day 1
As we couldn’t attend the WCUS venue tour for volunteers yesterday, we had to reach venue early on. The venue was empty. Much more vacant than what you see in the picture below:
I attended few talks. The first one by Cory Miller. I attended his talk before and used his iceberg concept to fix some issues in my life. As this iceberg worked well for me, I decided to attend the same talk again! I think this was the first talk I attended twice in my life!
The next on the list was a session on blogging about Chris Lema. But I had volunteer duty to be room guard at that time. So I was outside room guarding the door and watching Chris speak from the window and “read” what he was saying on the teleprompter. I never thought teleprompter could be useful for a person like me too!
What I could have done better was to contact my room manager and take her permission to guard the door from inside! I did not know it was possible until next day. ?
As I reach the door early to take handover for my volunteer shift, I had an opportunity to talk to Chris one-on-one for good 10-15 mins. Yoast joined in between. I spoke to Yoast for the first time, even though I am using his plugins from very long time.
I think it was a perk of my volunteering duty. I can’t imagine finding Chris sitting alone at a big conference like WCUS for a fair amount of time.
I still find it hard to break into people’s conversation, so I end up not talking to many people I want to speak at many conferences. So I want to talk to someone I wait till their conversations with others gets finished.
My friend Vova encourages me to be more assertive in public interactions.
I hope to be better next year. ?
After the end of Day-1, we had options to attend one of many unofficial after-parties. We started with GoDadday party first. It was very well organized.
From there, Vivek and I went to LGBTWP meetup where rtCamp was also a sponsor. We ran into Matt Mullenweg at LGBTWP party.
From there we went to Envato’s after party where we spent a lot more time.
Just when I thought the day was about to get over, Jon and Shinichi arranged for another group party at Fuji Mountain – a Japanese Karaoke bar.
It was my first time in a Japanese bar and Japanese Karaoke. I did not know that Joe, Bryce, and Noel are so good with Japanese Karaoke. I think it’s a plus side of nomad lifestyle these folks chose! ?
In drinks, I tried Sake – a kind of Japanese wine for the first time. I liked that drink. I can’t recall the taste, but it kept me warm. The warmth was much needed for me in the cold weather I was struggling to adjust with!
Later I found Sake has an emoji too!?
Now I am planning to have all drinks which have emojis for them! They must be good to get an emoji for them. ?
Day #6 – WCUS Day 2
It was past 2 AM by the time I hit the bed last night. But I had to wake up early as today I had early morning volunteer duty.
My volunteering assignment was of room runner. A kind of backup resource. One of volunteer for our room did not show up, so I was assigned room guard duty.
As a WordCamp organizer, I liked this idea of having backup organizers. ?
Today, I got to know from the room manager that I could guard the door from inside too. So I attended two sessions when I was guarding. But I missed my friend Sakin Shrestha‘s session as it came at the time of my volunteering duty.
The first one was by Yoast on SEO. As I am using Yoast’s SEO plugin on all our sites, and following his work for a long time, I thought it would be all familiar. But I found few things new. I liked how Yoast & team is trying to make WordPress core more SEO friendly.
The second session was about The Dark Side of Democratization by Dennis Hong. This topic was entirely new to me. I liked what we covered. But I feel the issues, the dark side, is too hard to fix practically.
After lunch, I met Ryan Markel from WordPress.com VIP team. He showed me how they manage VIP and WordPress.com platform.
Hey, I just realized, I am writing this post from new Calypso interface from WordPress.com. Writing such a blog post in wp-admin default interface, with so many media and tweet embed slows down my almost three years old MacBook Air. Calypso is doing much better job, even though it has its shares of glitches.
Next on the agenda was “State of The Word” keynote by Matt. As always it was a house-full event with many announcements and changes.
If you missed it, you can watch it here or read its coverage by Brian Krogsgard at Post Status.
After the end of Day-2, I went to Pennsylvania-6 for dinner with Jetpack team. Thanks Sam for the invite.
After the dinner, most of us went to The Academy of Natural Sciences museum. It was the venue for official WCUS afterparty.
It was the first time I saw a museum used as a party venue. It worked better than expected and people enjoyed a lot.
I started to feel a severe headache, so I left the party early. I need to get fit! ? ?
Day #7 – WCUS Contributors Day
I reached for contributors day almost on time. Maybe it was because of crashing early last night.
I contributed to the polyglot team and community team.
On polyglot team – I spent time translating some strings and moderating the one in the wait queue for Hindi/Marathi.
On community team – it was mostly discussions. One with James Tryon about Wapuu’s.
The other one with Andrea Middleton about WordCamps in India and WordPress in education. The second part is something we are working on for some time.
Matt talked about “Education in WordPress” during his “state of the word” keynote. I see this is an excellent move for the entire WP ecosystem.
For dinner – Joe, Bryce, Joey, Akshat and I went to Double Knot – a Japanese sushi bar. The place was excellent. We had a 10-course dinner. It was their chef’s menu.
In Indian perspective, it felt like eating a thali but in a serialized way! In an Indian Thali, you can jump from one item to another randomly. Here they were coming one after another. ?
It was an amazing experience. I wish I could recall names of at least some dishes.
In the end, I had Sushi for? the first time. I liked Sushi.
No Sake this time! We had some Japanese cocktails instead.
Around 11 PM, the Double Knot started to close, so we had to leave.
We tried to get something to drink on our way to AirBnB but couldn’t find any liquor shop.
I think Philly has some laws related to not allowing grocery stores to sell liquors. In some other US states, I buy it from grocery stores.
More Sake and Karaoke ? ?
From our AirBnB place, Bryce and Joey left for their hotel in some time.
Joe, Akshat, Harshad and I went to join other Jon, Shinichi and other WP friends at a Japanese Karaoke bar. It was like 300 meters from our AirBnB place. By the time we reached, the Karaoke party was finished.
So we settled in the restaurant and had few rounds of Sake with till everyone decided to leave! 🙂
Day 8 – Bye Bye
Today was the last day of our trip. I wake up bit late compared to previous days. By the time of AirBnB checkout, it was Harshad and me only.
We both had brunch at Reading Terminal Market. I had Again Chinese food!
From there we used trains to reach Newark Airport and flew back to the India with United Airline’s direct flight again!
It was a great WordCamp and a memorable trip. This time for all good reason. ? ?
I am already planning to attend a lot many WordCamps next year including Udaipur, Bangkok, Mumbai, Kathmandu, WC Europe, Singapore, Tokyo, WCUS. And of course Pressnomics.
So see you soon! ?
I started to feel that my blog is slowly becoming a “WordCamp travel” blog!
So the next trip to a WordCamp is going to be WordCamp US 2016.
The exciting part of this journey is, I will be volunteering at the WordCamp US. While I have been an organizer at local WordCamp Pune and also active in local Pune WordPress meetup group, I haven’t contributed to a foreign WordCamp as a volunteer till now.
I hope the experience I will get from volunteering activity will help me back home when we plan bigger WordCamps in India. ?
This is my smallest US tour. Maybe WordCamp US should try a new venue every year. I did not find a reason to plan for a longer trip!
28 Nov – Reach NY early morning. 6AM. Day program not decided.
05 Dec – Leaving Philly. Reach NY. Evening flight back to India.
Yep. This time I did not keep the hotel checkout on contributors day. So I hope to attend contributors day entirely.
I will be traveling with Vivek Jain (my business partner) and Harshad Mane (my friend who was one of WordCamp Nashik organizer).
Let’s Catch up!
If you are coming to WordCamp US, we can catch up in Philly!
We have plenty of free time in New York on Nov 28 and 29. So we can catch up in NY/NJ as well.?
I already have the plan to attend PressNomics 5. So if we can’t meet on this trip, may be we can catchup at PressNomics in April 2017 later.