Far away (or not so far , depending on where you live) in Transylvania, in the picturesque town of Alba Iulia, Radu Oprea joined forces with Marius Padureanu, started tagDiv, and began to walk the road less travelled.
It may not have been easy, but having ascended to the awesome ranks of the Power Elite, their story has quite a few pearls of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Marius and Radu and both hail from Alba Iulia, a small, yet very historical city in the Transylvania region. Their city is a zone administrative and education centre. It has multiple universities, a theatre, two cathedrals, dozens of old buildings with beautiful architecture including the largest citadel in Eastern Europe.
“It’s a place where it’s easy to be inspired by the great structures built to last, and where each of these structures was crafted with precise attention to the smallest of details.” – Radu said.
Before tagDiv, Radu ran an uptime monitoring service and his co-founder Marius was working away in design and 3d modelling. When the two joined forces in 2012 it was far from smooth financial sailing. Radu and Marius struggled for almost a year until they managed to build the business to the point where it could feasibly sustain them.
Much of the challenge stemmed from fact that the partners opted to build almost everything from scratch by themselves, a road significantly less travelled by teams who produce themes. It took a great deal of time until their framework was ready, but the independence of the approach afforded them an enormous amount of freedom and flexibility with the shape of their projects.
It’s this independent approach that, whilst challenging, has ultimately become a cornerstone of tagDiv’s work. Radu and Marius’ partnership is built upon a fusion of complimentary skills and experiences and the principle has served them well in growing the team. Self-sufficiency is the name of the game.
“We have a multidisciplinary team and all work under the same roof. This means the programmers, designers and support team are all working together.” Radu said.
User-centric product development
Perhaps tagDiv’s greatest achievement is their Newspaper WordPress theme. It’s a highly regarded product with over 13,000 sales on the marketplace. Like many of the best products, the theme was developed by first identifying a strong market need.
Both Radu and Marius had previously owned and maintained a number of news sites and had experienced first-hand the enormous difficulty in finding a theme to suite their needs. Seeing this as the opportunity it was, the two quickly set about creating a theme that would become a universal solution. The result was an enormous success.
According to Radu, “(the) focus was never on making sales, it was always on creating the best products, products that (they) would use.”
Whilst the days of maintaining and building their own sites are behind them, there’s a sense of ownership and satisfaction when the tagDiv team are fortunate enough to stumble upon their theme, looking beautiful on a third party site.
The user-focus has continued and grown into yet another cornerstone of the company. Much like Envato, tagDiv cultivates it’s own community of users, the feedback of which constantly work to inform development direction. However as Radu notes, it’s an approach equally ripe with challenges and benefits.
“We have a lot of good ideas and hundreds of feature requests but we always have to take into account that each feature adds complexity to the system. We want the themes to be flexible and as user friendly as possible, without compromising on performance.”
One of the major advantages however is the feedback and assistance that the community provides for it’s members. To this point, Radu was quick to include a shoutout to one of his favourite community members, Christopher.
“He replies each day to a lot of questions trying to help our community members as much as possible. Over the time he wrote more than 5000 posts and many new customers think he’s part of our team. He’s really great!”
Radu cites two amazing figures as having inspired his work. He also noted the Envato community and one author in particular.
“Paul Graham, Y combinator co founder inspired me to search for a co founder. His essays about startups and founders are the reason we end up forming tagDiv as partners instead of going on our separate roads. Steve Jobs, Cofounder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. was a remarkable personality for the visionary way to build a business and create a brand, to inspire others and even change the world.” He said.
“On this marketplace we found many gifted and brilliant authors. We follow their work and evolution with respect. One of them is the ‘wpbakery’ team, the makers of Visual Composer. We feel we have a special connection with them because we started to use Visual Composer in our products before it was very popular. We found that the plugin was written very good and the author was very helpful to us.”
Radu’s advice to others?
Do not take the easy road, the easy road is always overcrowded! Be sure that in your journey you will find out that the small river that you saw on the map is actually one kilometer wide but if you manage to cross it you will be one of the few who has done it.
A big thanks to Radu for sharing his story with us, be sure to congratulate them next time you see them on the forums!