wp-engine-logo-304Jason Cohen founded WPEngine because his A Smart Bear blog kept crashing whenever he wrote a popular post.
He looked around for a reliable hosting site, but he couldn’t find one.
So he thought why not create one?
Voilà! WP Engine was born.
Cohen, who has founded four startups and sold two, founded the specialized WordPress hosting site in July of 2010 at Capital Factory, the downtown Austin coworking site.
But now Cohen said the startup, which has 50 employees and is hiring five to six new employees every month, has outgrown the space and is moving to 15,000 square feet of space in August. WP Engine also has four employees at a satellite office in San Francisco.
The new office is at 504 Lavaca, Cohen said during a recent interview at WordPress Camp 2013.
WP Engine now has more than 30,000 customers including Wells Fargo, Williams-Sonoma, Constant Contact and Pottery Barn.
In late 2011, WP Engine raised $1.2 million led by Silverton Partners and angel investors including Eric Ries, Bill Boebel, and others. The parent company of WordPress also invested in the company.
Money has not limited the company’s growth, Cohen said. The company’s ability to grow and provide good customer support has been the biggest challenge, he said.
“Our support is everything,” he said.
While web hosting sites like DreamHost, BlueHost and Go Daddy are cheaper than WP Engine, the site distinguishes itself by offering superior customer service, Cohen said. WP Engine is also four times faster than regular Websites, he said.
A few months ago, WP Engine had some trouble with fulfilling its customer service promises. A customer’s ticket for service usually took less than a day to resolve and soon it was stretching to two or three days. Customers were not happy. WP Engine had to retool to solve the problem. Simply hiring more people was not the answer, Cohen said. The company had to hire for fit and not comprise its culture to growth, he said. They worked crazy hours and eventually solved the problem. They’ve since scaled back some of their marketing initiatives to deal with the growth, Cohen said.
“The goal is BBNW – Bigger But Not Worse,” Cohen said. He said he borrowed the mantra from Chuck Gordon, co-founder of SpareFoot, another fast growing Austin startup.