Home > Notes > Adriaan "Adii" Pienaar – WooThemes

Adriaan "Adii" Pienaar – WooThemes

Adriaan “Adii” Pienaar is the co-founder of WooThemes, which makes and sells themes for WordPress and other content management systems.

Here are the notes.


  • Adii was in his final year in studies prior to launching business; Honors Degree in Business Strategy and Management
  • he always had access to a computer, so he taught himself web design
  • he started off doing contract work with random small clients, based around WordPress themes
  • he felt he was shortchanging himself due to his education and talent; he felt he should have been earning more

Business Idea

  • magazine themes started to become popular, because they looked more like a magazine site than a regular blog
  • an earlier developer was getting commercial success with magazine themes and Adii felt he could make more by improving on what that developer was doing
  • he posted a theme on his blog, and sold the first one for $100
  • his blog caught traction and he started to brand himself as the “Wordpress Rockstar”
  • in 2 months, he had over 200 purchasers each buying a $100 theme
  • in 2007, Adii launched his first Premium News Theme and things grew


  • WooThemes is a site that builds and sells themes for WordPress, a content management system; the themes display the content

Company Overview

  • WooThemes has 3 co-founders:
  • Adii, based in Cape Town South Africa with majority of team
  • Magnus Jepson, a co-founder is in Norway
  • Mark Forrester, the other co-founder is in London;
  • support team is in Portugal
  • each co-founder shares equal amount of shares and administration work


  • co-founder found him and wanted to collaborate on a new theme; found third co-founder the same way
  • partnering was a good decision; they could keep each other improving and accountable since they were all equally invested
  • they all brought quality work and professionalism to the table and made it feel like a beneficial decision

Initial Purchasers & Promotion

  • the initial purchasers were skeptical because WooThemes was something new, charging for themes while free themes were out there
  • most buyers are people who can profit from themes themselves: website designers, firms, contractors, etc.
  • for promotion they used teasers (screenshots of what’s to come), hype, and affiliate programs
  • affiliate programs were cheap marketing, created social proof, and paid for itself with interest
  • all customers had an option to become an affiliate marketer

Piracy & GPL

  • Adii doesn’t care about piracy because he feels pirates have no business sense
  • he doesn’t want people who would buy pirated material as consumers; he feels they are the kind of people who would still rip him off one way or the other
  • GPL (general public license) grants customers permission to do whatever they want with the themes they buy from WooThemes, so it’s technically not stealing


  • building a business in South Africa with 60-65% U.S. customers is difficult
  • there are many limitations; internet connection is poor out there

Business Model

  • selling different packages of monthly subscriptions based around WordPress themes
  • subscriptions is the most ideal passive income model; you can “forecost” expenses and do proper planning accordingly
  • people need subscriptions because they will continue to need support in case anything changes with WordPress

Revenue & Future

  • WooThemes is set to pass $2 million in revenue by the end of the financial year
  • their net margins are around 50-60%
  • they are now focusing on providing themes to other top sites; creating a beautiful design with generic functionality for all content management systems
  • 70% of themes are designed in-house, and 30% is collaborations with some of the best designers


  • “You don’t have to be face to face with industry big wigs to build a business.”
  • “Customers tend to trust brands and reputation, especially online.”
  • “Spend a lot of time marketing and creating a name for yourself if you are entering the WordPress theme market.”
  • “Every unique individual needs to find their own value and relate that to their own context.”
  • “Success in marketing is being innovative and attaching brand identity with your company and keeping audience interested.”

Side Notes

  • Adii loves the fact they grew their business organically and were self-funded
  • he feels he initially undervalued his work by charging so little early on
  • he says “If you haven’t been to WooThemes, you haven’t seen the very best WordPress themes available online.”

Connect With Adii

WooThemes: To learn more about the company, check out this great comic on their about them.

  1. inferneHiew
    April 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    fine topic , hunt this from blogsearch plus good luck for you.just add up the rss feed to my reader,keep bring up to date!

  1. March 23, 2010 at 7:35 am
  2. April 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm

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