#301 - Jason Cohen, Founder WPEngine - on building profitable businesses.

A story about the critical lessons learned from +20 years of tech-entrepreneurship.

This podcast interview focuses on the entrepreneurial journey to build a business that lasts and creates funding freedom. My guest is Jason Cohen, Founder of WPEngine.

Jason CohenJason built four technology startups, both bootstrapped and funded, both alone and with co-founders. He grew all of them to more than $1M in annual revenue and has sold two.

Beyond that, he’s been an angel investor and a founding member of Capital Factory, an Austin-based incubator and co-working space since 2009.

Since 2007 he’s been documenting his experiences and thoughts about early-stage startups on his blog: A Smart Bear.

Based on his experiences and the challenges he faced as the blog grew, he founded WPEngine in 2010. It’s a platform that provides brands with the solutions they need to create remarkable sites and apps on WordPress that drive their business forward faster.

Their mission: To help customers win online.

And this inspired me, and hence I invited Jason to my podcast. We explore his lessons in building successful companies. He elaborates on the importance of getting the problem definition right and understanding what moves potential customers to buy. He shares his views on how to select your market and betting a super-specific niche. He talks in detail about his rules for attracting funding (or not) – and what WPEngine did during COVID-19 to keep growing.

Here’s one of his quotes

The question is, what can you learn from customer interviews? I don’t think you can use customer reviews to know, ‘Can I build this? Would you buy this feature?’ 

But I do think you can use customer interviews for stuff like: What is their life like? What do they care about already, or not? What do they do? What are their workflows? Do they see this problem? Or don’t they? Are these compelling? 

These are things where if you build the product, you don’t learn those things. Ask the customer, they actually can tell you because they’re not solving the problem for you. They’re not building the product for you. They’re just telling you about themselves. That they can do.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. What questions to ask to start your business with a solid foundation for long-term success
  2. What makes hyper-specific SaaS companies grow faster
  3. His first principle for thinking about raising funds that helps you to stay in control.
  4. What he’s looking for when making big bets when it comes to profitability.

For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.