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Elementor Raises $15M: Will They Move into SaaS Services Next? (And Why You Should Too)

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Yesterday the Elementor team announced that they’ve raised a 15 million series A funding round. It goes without saying that this is unprecedented news for the WordPress ecosystem.

Elementor is just a page builder plugin and it raised 15 Million? How many versions of Elementor Pro do they expect to sell?!

The answer: Maybe a couple more, but I honestly believe their plugin sales will soon become just a blip on the radar for them. 

To explain the massive success of Elementor we need to not only look at it’s history but also look at the big clues of where Elementor is headed.

Spoiler alert: That future is in selling turnkey Cloud Services, and it will arrive much sooner than you’ll expect.

Before we get there let’s quickly bring up a few things that made Elementor so successful so quickly.

The Success of Elementor Explained

How did Elementor go from 0 installs to 4 Million installs in less than 4 years? I started using Elementor when it had under 10k installs, and saw the product and community take shape over time. It’s not just having a good product or spending money on advertising, although those things always help.

They were the first to convince WordPress businesses and freelancers to deliver and build their solutions with their Page Builder.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were other page builders before Elementor and I’m sure some of them worked out great for your needs. But I’m going to make the argument that until Elementor entered the scene they were generally not accepted by the WordPress Developer community.

Before I became the head of Product here at Dollie, I’ve built WordPress sites for over a decade for countless clients. Until Elementor presented itself I was quite simply firmly against using WordPress Page Builders. Confusing UI/UX, messy code, poorly formatted html, bloat, the usual stuff you read from WordPress developers. You still hear it a lot these days, and they are right to a degree. It’ll never be as clear and optimised as a website coded from scratch.

Elementor convinced me thanks to excellent usability, code quality, documentation and extensibility. They allowed me to build a client website using my existing development workflows whilst at the same time letting my clients easily take care of small edits and design changes. I could deliver a project in half the time, spent more time developing true custom functionality which resulted in happier clients and more money for me. Everyone wins. I’ve never looked back and Elementor has become an essential solution that myself and my clients love.

They have built incredible brand loyalty

I joined the Elementor Facebook Group on October the 16th of 2016. Back then the community was tiny. It was the 2nd WordPress related Facebook group I joined (shout out to the Advanced WordPress group). I started helping out some fellow users that were learning. Ben Pines the CEO would jump in daily and talk to the community.

They rolled out Elementor Pro and it had all the features the community asked for, and much more. They had videos where they explained things and you could see the people behind the product. They added a YouTube channel with tutorials. They taught newbies how to build sites with Elementor and were always listening. This is incredibly hard to do for any company, especially if you’re growing fast. We have 15 people in our team and we’re still working hard to collect, organise and prioritise incoming feedback from our partners. It’s not trivial.

All of the above stuff is now completely normal and absolutely required for each WordPress product or service that wants to be grow. Whilst Divi might have started this (do you remember the first time you saw the Divi ad on Facebook?) but Elementor perfected it, and their customer loyalty for a large part also explains their value to investors.

They have built a huge Ecosystem

 

Every author on ThemeForest that wants to sell premium themes adds Elementor support first. The ecosystem for Elementor add-ons, extensions, pre-made designs and more has exploded. In turn agencies and freelancers using Elementor to sell Websites as a Service have exploded. Here at Dollie we see that the large majority of our partners have Elementor pre-installed with all the blueprints they sell.

There is excellent developer documentation available and building Elementor extensions is easy, standardised and most importantly lucrative. There is good money to be made here, whether you’re someone just getting started selling Elementor powered websites and maintenance services or you’re in the business of selling your premium products to Elementor users, everyone is making money.

The Future of Elementor is in offering Cloud Hosting Services / Software as a Service

When this post goes up there might have already been an official announcement from the Elementor team, but as I am writing this, we can only guess where the 15 Million investment is going towards. We can make a very educated guess simply by looking at the state of the WordPress ecosystem itself, some of the confirmed investors and what’s happening at Elementor HQ.

Obviously they will not change course regarding their massive success building their WordPress solution and fostering the community and rich ecosystem surrounding it. But raising 15 Million is a crystal clear sign of something bigger and more ambitious.

So what is it?

Elementor will launch a hosted platform supported by Envato that at some point will include a marketplace for vendors to sell their designs & extensions. The service will not brand itself as a WordPress powered product, it will be a full featured Software-as-a-Service platform for Web Creatives.

Think about a tightly controlled, scalable, cloud platform that runs on a (modified) WordPress core, taking all of the best features of Elementor without any of the technical knowledge required to manage a regular old WordPress site.

Think about a Marketplace full of pre-made designs made by Envato Authors that can be purchased and applied with the click of a button.

Think about seamless migration of your Elementor Pages from your WordPress install to their Hosted Platform. Think about reseller and affiliate programs for their loyal users to rapidly grow their platform.

I need more evidence.

Brian Krogsgard from PostStatus broke the news about Elementor their investment round very early, and provided an excellent overview of some things he found when researching. One of the things he said was..

I expect to see a fully hosted version of Elementor’s site building capabilities where WordPress is (at least partially) hidden from the view of the user. They are currently hiring for their “Cloud team” which is tasked with “building, maintaining, and supporting the company ‘Cloud Hosting SaaS Solution’.”

Elementor is hiring DevOps Engineers.

You will be assisting the Cloud team on building, maintaining and supporting the company “Cloud Hosting SaaS Solution”. This job requires a good troubleshooting skill and a passion for technology, We also require 24/7 on call availability which will be given as duty from time to time.

I don’t think I need to clarify anything regarding what this means. They are building a SaaS platform, and they have been for a while, and they are expanding their team.

What is interesting is that they are building their Cloud Platform using the same technologies as we’ve built our Dollie Automation Platform, embracing next-generation Cloud Orchestration solutions like Docker and Kubernetes.

Envato is (heavily) involved in Elementor.

WordPress Theme and Plugin vendors on Envato have been struggling with sales for a long time. Envato has tried to move into hosting which did not work. They then moved into Envato Elements which is by all means doing much better, in large part due to Elementor. 

Finally Envato has been busy getting their Elite Authors to develop template kits for.. Elementor. With a launch stated for Mid March.

Elementor HQ Knows – The WordPress Ecosystem is rapidly changing.

What makes the team of Elementor such an inspiration is that they are truly forward thinking. They are riding the wave of success but it’s very clear behind the scenes they have much bigger plans than “just” a WordPress product.

“Elementor’s growth is a wonderful example of the power of community and open-source software,” said Tal Morgenstern, Partner at Lightspeed. 

“The founders set out to solve their own problems as web professionals and ended up with a global, highly-involved fan base that kept pushing and shaping the product from the very onset. Every single metric we looked at indicated an exceptionally strong market fit and we’re extremely happy to partner with this team for the next chapter of their journey.”

Elementor will use the funding to accelerate the expansion of its operation and its global community, with 500 meetups planned around the world for 2020. The company will also grow its team by 50% and is gearing up for major product launches which will change the way websites are built.

We’ve built Dollie because we’ve seen the WordPress industry move into new directions at a rapid pace. As soon as Dollie moved out of beta we’ve had over 200 partners sign up for our services. A lot of our partners are doing so because they see what the folks at Elementor have known from day one.

People want turnkey solutions, carefully crafted to solve their problems.  While the WordPress industry keeps growing, it will never surpass the web hosting services market.

Consumers are quickly moving towards managed web services, and who better to support those services than the agencies, developers, and vendors who actually create WordPress products and websites? No more installing of zip files, setting up license keys, finding hosting and maintaining a WordPress installation.

That is the future Elementor is building for their massive audience and I’m incredibly excited to see it take shape.

As a WordPress Business Your Should Start Thinking about Turnkey Cloud Services

If you are running a WordPress business there are many things you can learn from the story of Elementor and it’s massive round of funding.

The future is not in selling one-off services and giving away your recurring revenue to hosting companies. The future is selling cloud based turnkey solutions. WordPress will still have a huge part to play in all of this, because it allows you to build these services, just like Elementor using the WordPress foundation you know best.

With Dollie we provide you everything you need to offer recurring revenue WordPress services directly to your customers without having to invest in building out scalable cloud infrastructure, all under your own brand and domain.

If you’re a Product Vendor you can turn each of your WordPress products into a click-to-launch solution akin to SquareSpace or WIX.

If you’re a WordPress Agency we’ll allow to you provide exceptional value to your clients by offering them a full service digital experience under your own brand. Charge your clients per site, per service or anything that fits your business model. 

Use the success of Elementor as the starting point to make important changes to how you’ll run your WordPress business today. Our team will be here to help you every step of the way.

Dollie will change Your WordPress business

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