One of the leading causes of concern with most WordPress users is security. Any WordPress freelancer can tell you stories about hacked sites, vulnerable plugins and more that have caused problems for their clients.
Akshat Choudhary saw the same problems as well so he decided to build a product to help address these issues. He was willing to answer my questions about MalCare, his WordPress security solution, including the hardest parts of its development, how he decided on his pricing structure and more.
Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself and how you became involved in building WordPress products?
Eight years ago, when I was working as an engineer with a large software company, I religiously followed Jeff Atwood’s blog. He is the founder of Stack Overflow and his blog was extremely popular. The blog went down one day and it made me think of the significance of a good backup service. Soon after, I started developing BlogVault – a WordPress backup plugin, as a side project that was supposed to last only a few weeks.
Fast-forward to 2018, we have built two more plugins for the WordPress community. Apart from BlogVault, there is Migrate Guru and MalCare. Migrate Guru is a completely free one-click WordPress Migration plugin. It is our biggest contribution to the community yet. And we recently launched MalCare – an easy-to-use WordPress website security solution to an overwhelming success.
What feature of MalCare was the hardest to design and build and why was it difficult?
Our scanner was the toughest to create. It took 3 years and lots of false starts. It is a very difficult problem to solve as there are infinite number of hacks and each hack is different to the other. Hackers are very smart and come up with many new and complex hacks. Building a scanner powerful enough to identify and locate all these hacks was challenging.
Before creating MalCare, we had built BlogVault – a WordPress backup and security solution. Over the course of the last 8 years, we have repeatedly found complex hacks that others couldn’t find. Using a combination of our experience, knowledge, and after analyzing over 240,000 websites, we were able to create a deep scanner that uses over 100 signals to accurately identify new and the most complex malware.
This makes MalCare scanner stand out in the crowd. However it’s very difficult to convey this to customers because they feel all the scanners are the same when in reality, they vary widely.
How do you market MalCare to potential customers? Security is a constant concern with most businesses so how do you convince people you are the best solution?
WordPress security is a very noisy market. It has some very well established products but, as I explained earlier, there is a great need for a product which can stay two steps ahead of hackers. We have seen our customers being our biggest advocates. When they find a hack, which other products are unable to find, they tell the world.
You have interesting pricing with monthly and yearly options depending on the plan. How much time have you spent finding the right price points for MalCare and was there any interesting insights that make you come to the current pricing structure?
Pricing is very difficult. We want to make quality security available to all customers. We have segmented different customer types and tried to price our product accordingly. For customers with small number of sites, a monthly pricing is cumbersome. Once you have a large number of sites like a developer or an agency, economies of scale kick in and our pricing becomes much more nominal on a per-site basis. Actually our pricing is lower than any other premium product out there, in spite of its quality.
Do you have any advice for aspiring WordPress developers who are looking to start making and selling their own plugins?
While WordPress has long been associated with being ‘free’, we see enough evidence that customers are willing to pay for quality products. There is a real fear as an entrepreneur to compete with free alternatives but we recommend identifying your niche and charging your customers.
What’s coming in future releases of MalCare for customers to be looking forward to?
We keep focusing on our scanner, which we think is the most important part. Apart from this we are working on improvements to our scanner such as Geoblocking and more. Also we are working on insightful monthly security reports of your site. This will give you a good overview of the health of your site and the risks it faces.