Blog

2015 Year in Review

TL;DR — The Delicious Brains team more than doubled in size, revenue nearly doubled, and we started selling a second product. I had a great year personally playing ultimate, tennis, and traveling to Mexico.

Wow, look at that, I only published one lonely article here in 2015 and it was my year in review. But hey, I did write 13 posts on the Delicious Brains blog and recorded 20 episodes of Apply Filters. That’s more than I’ve ever published in a year for sure.

This is only my second year doing a year in review post. I really enjoyed doing one last year and found it valuable not only to look back but to set goals going forward.

Professionally

2015-revenueDelicious Brains Inc. was the focus of my work again. The year started out a little shaky revenue-wise. The holiday dip that started in November continued through February.

I was hoping it would bounce back in January and it stressed me out a bit when it didn’t. We had just hired two full-time developers and had two others on trial to go full-time. Fortunately things bounced back in March and we had our best month ever. Things kept growing from there and by year’s end revenue was up 81% over the previous year.

The growth of WP Migrate DB Pro was the bulk of this. In August we launched a new product, WP Offload S3 and it exceeded expectations, giving our bottom line a nice boost as well.

One of the main drivers of our growth has been the rise in quality traffic to our site. It tripled from February to December!

2014-2015-traffic

This is largely due to publishing quality content on our blog every week. We made a commitment to this at the start of the year and following through on it really paid off. We ended up writing 44 articles. A huge change from the 3 articles published the year before.

One of the reasons we were able to publish every week was our team. We added three full-time developers in the first half of the year: Ashley, Jeff, and Gilbert. That brings the team up to 6 (including myself) and with everyone on the team writing, each team member only had to write an article every 6 weeks or so.

Our team in MiamiThe entire team met in-real-life for the first time in May. We rented a villa in Miami Beach, attended WordCamp Miami, and although there were some hiccups with the accommodation, we had a great time overall.

WP Migrate DB saw 4 major releases this year. 2 addons had a major revamp, a new addon was released, and a massive release of WP Migrate DB Pro was released:

In 2016 I hope to do a better job limiting the scope of our releases so that we can push out smaller releases more often.

Our new plugin, WP Offload S3 saw 2 major releases: the launch release followed by a batch of minor releases that amounted to a major release:

There’s also plenty of stuff we’ve been working on that hasn’t seen the light of day yet, the big one being Data HawkMergebot, our solution to the database merging problem.

I’m really proud of the team we’ve built, our culture, and what we’ve accomplished in 2015. Really looking forward to pushing ourselves in 2016 and adding some new faces to the team.

Conferences

I attended 5 conferences in 2015, compared to 2 the year before.

It started with PressNomics in Phoenix and Big Snow Tiny Conf in Vermont. They were back-to-back events, so while I had a great time reconnecting with friends in Phoenix, I was pretty burnt out by the time I arrived in Vermont.

Lesson learned: go home after a conference.

I find conferences exhausting. Late nights, early mornings, drinking, eating junk, and no exercise over several days takes its toll. But late night drinks is where the magic happens. Relationships level up and the best ideas come out. You have to dig deep, give 110%, etc.

Big Snow Tiny Conf 2015Fortunately the snowboarding, sauna, and home cooking at Big Snow Tiny Conf helped rejuvenate me and I had an awesome time. The mountain conditions were perfect. The temperature was just right and we had a little fresh powder fall both days. The house was great, just as advertised. All the attendees (most I hadn’t met before) were awesome people and we had some really productive discussions over scotch and beers.

MicroConf Las Vegas was a blast again in 2015. It’s the conference I get the most value out of by far. I also recommended it a ton in 2015. I can see myself going back year-after-year, though not in 2016 due to a scheduling conflict.

In December I flew to Philadelphia to attend the WordPress Community Summit for the first time. It was great to meet the people I knew from Trac and WordPress Slack, sit in on discussions with very smart people, and contribute in some small ways. I also attended WordCamp US right after the summit. Apparently it was the biggest WordCamp ever, which isn’t hard to believe if you were in attendance. It was huge. I met a ton more people, went from one late night web hosting company party to the next. Exhausting, but excellent. I plan to attend the next one.

Personally

Another great year personally. The family was happy and healthy again, which is the main thing. I’m grateful for having so much time to spend with my sons and watch them grow, but admittedly I often wish I could be doing something else. I didn’t truly appreciate how much I value me-time until I had kids. My wife and I are both career-driven people so it’s been challenging for us.

I think the thing that has changed my personal life the most in 2015 has been yoga. I had a hard time getting into it but eventually found a flavour of yoga that worked. I wrote about it in a piece for the Delicious Brains blog:

Six months ago I decided to give yoga a try. Most of the yoga for beginners videos I found on YouTube were very….I’ll say silly. I don’t dig the narrative or tone of most yoga instructors. For example, an instructor saying “Feel the energy flowing to your fingertips” in a soft voice just seems so phony to me. Anyways, I ended up searching “yoga for men beginner” on YouTube and found a series of videos by Sean Vigue. He’s a little goofy and does some upselling, but no soft voice phoniness.

After weeks of doing his videos, I ended up buying his book, Power Yoga for Athletes. I’ve been using that exclusively as I prefer setting my own pace rather than going at the video’s pace. It’s also nice to not have a screen on. Overall it’s been great. I’ve been progressing fast, doing more difficult poses, and greatly improving flexibility. It feels really good after doing a session, so much so that I get annoyed when there’s a day I can’t do one.

In a typical week I’ll have 3 days where I do 20 mins of yoga and 2 days where I’ll do 20 mins of HIIT. I’ll play 2 matches of tennis and a hockey game. In the summer, I’ll head to the nearby soccer field and do some ultimate (frisbee) running drills before lunch a couple of days.

In February, my wife and I took our 5 month old son to Mexico to escape the harsh Canadian winter for a week. This was my first trip to Mexico and given my love of fine tequila and Mexican food I had high expectations, but even those were exceeded. I loved it.

View from the porch of the hotel roomWe booked a boutique hotel in the center of Playa del Carmen, which I highly recommend. Although we mostly hung around Playa, we did take a day trip to Tulum and had lunch at a tiny beachfront restaurant which I also highly recommend. We also went to Cenote Azul for a half day where the fish nibble at your toes.

Snowed InOn the day we were supposed to fly back home our flights were cancelled due to a snow storm, so we got an extra day in Playa! The shoveling I had to do when I got home was ridiculous. The trip would have been perfect except for the fact that we had to deal with a crying baby during the nights and getting up early.

In the summer I captained/coached/played Borderline, the Atlantic mens 33+ ultimate frisbee team. Unfortunately we came up short of our goal of getting a medal at nationals, losing a game we should have won and missing the quarters by a +/- differential. Very disappointing, but I learned some lessons.

I also continued to play tennis, playing stronger opponents, losing and learning, and improving my game. I played in my first tournament since I was a teenager and got knocked out in the first round. I still have a long way to go to reach my potential, so I’m really looking forward to continuing to study the game and improve this year.

It feels a little aristocratic to say, but we hired a cleaner to clean the whole house once a week. It has taken a huge weight off our shoulders. The house is always pretty clean and even as it gets dirty we know it will be cleaned soon. One less thing on our plates and well worth the cost.

For books, I didn’t consume much non-fiction in 2015, but I do highly recommend the audiobook The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. The author narrates his own story really well which is why I recommend the audiobook. Reading probably works too. I also listened to The Inner Game of Tennis again when I was in a tennis slump. Highly recommend that book too.

The Tim Ferriss podcast has been hugely influential for me this year, here’s a few of those episodes and things that really stuck out for me:

2015 Goal Checkup

Looking at the goals I had set a the beginning of 2015, I’ve mostly met them. I failed to free up more of my time for creativity by offloading project management tasks. I am making that a top priority this year.

I had planned to launch an Amazon SES plugin but I changed my mind on the business model and shelved it for now. I was also hoping to launch Mergebot, but the project ended up as more of a prototype and not really fit for release yet. We ended up spending a lot more developer time on WP Offload S3 than I had anticipated, which took away from the other projects.

On the personal side I think I did continue an informed, healthy lifestyle and diet and continued to learn, adjust, and adapt.

Professional Goals for 2016

  1. Get project management tasks off my plate
  2. Launch Mergebot
  3. Launch WP Offload SES plugin
  4. Grow revenue (hopefully double)
  5. Hire for a non-developer role
  6. Grow team (hopefully 3 more)

Personal Goals for 2016

  1. Keep a daily private journal
  2. Hell Yea! or No
  3. Travel for fun, exploration, adventure, experiencing new cultures
  4. Continue to improve at yoga
  5. Travel to play a tennis tournament
  6. Continue an informed healthy lifestyle and diet
  7. Continue to learn, adjust, and adapt