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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Committing Startup Suicide?

I'm typing this as WooThemes prepares to roll out on of our biggest projects to date and I can't help to remind myself of all of the articles that suggests rewriting one's code is like committing startup suicide (more here, here & here).

So we're rolling out a completely revamped and re-written user dashboard, which includes a new payment processor, new checkout-related features, major UI / UX overhauls and a brand new user admin backend. That's amongst other things. This is literally the foundation on which WooThemes has been built for about 3 years now, so we're changing a lot of history and a shitload of code.

I know this overhaul isn't product-related (which is what Steve Blank's article suggests would be suicide), but it still feels massively stressful rewriting the core of our business. As I sit here typing this, I'm both thrilled to finally launch a project that has been in the works for 18 months and that will greatly propel WooThemes forward. But along with this excitement, I'm stressed, anxious and I've never doubted any project this much.

Why?

At this stage you might be wondering why we decided to go through this re-write... When we eventually set up WooThemes, we used a proprietary platform (to get set up in the most agile, cost-efficient way possible), which we've been hacking and hacking as our needs & user base has continued to grow. This has meant that we now have a very workable platform (we wouldn't have grown this far if we hadn't), but without further hacking we've become very limited on a load of fronts.

We've also been absorbing a lot of recurring support requests, because there just hasn't been a way to fix those within our existing system. Yep, 18 months of 10 - 20 e-mails a day that could've been solved by a fix. (This another reminder of how "boring" it can be running a company.)

It's not been an easy road getting here; partly due to outsourcing problems, bad project management and feature-creep. I'm just so glad that the day (feels like judgement day) has finally come and that we can unveil all of the hard work that has gone into this. If you're reading this, the roll-out has been a success (albeit not bug-free), which means our attention is now fully focused on powering our way to the next 3 years.

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