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From Zero to 4 Million Websites in Less Than 5 Years - How This Entrepreneur Built and Launched an Online Form Builder in a Crowded Market

·5 min read

The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

With the massive variety of online tools in circulation today, it can easily seem that many needs are fully met - many markets entirely saturated. Unless you have a truly cutting-edge idea or stunning new features, you might well think that many tech spheres are saturated.

That is not the case.

Even today, there are opportunities for business success in crowded tech markets.

No story illustrates that better than that of WPForms.

In less than five years, this plugin established itself as one of the most popular form builders for WordPress. Even though there were numerous competitors out there when it was launched.

Syed Balkhi, CEO of Awesome Motive and founder of WPForms, explains what inspired him, and how he navigated a market full of strong competitors on the path to success.

What is WPForms?

In its essence, WPForms is a plugin for WordPress, a content management system that 43% of the world’s websites currently use. WordPress relies on plugins for a wide range of additional functionalities - from customer communication to ecommerce.

WPForms, as its name suggests, is a form plugin. Users can create forms for subscription, payment, contact, or feedback purposes using a drag-and-drop builder.

Currently, WPForms has over 4 million active installations, and a solid 5-star rating based on over 10,000 user reviews.

When the plugin started out, though, its success was far from assured, from a purely objective point of view. Other solutions, like Contact Form 7, Formidable Forms, and Fast Secure Contact Form were well-established, dominating the niche with millions of installations.

Nevertheless, Syed Balkhi believed that he could develop a product that would address unmet needs. At the time, he had already been involved with WordPress for years. After starting out as a freelance web developer while still in school, he had launched and acquired several other plugins, such as OptinMonster, SoliloquyWP, and Envira Gallery.

But most importantly, he had started the WPBeginner blog back in 2009, a free resource of WordPress knowledge for his web design clients. Today, it’s the single biggest hub for WordPress know-how on the internet, with millions of monthly users.

“Prior to this, every WordPress tutorial was written by a developer for a developer. There were a handful of trainers outside that, but they'd charge 500-600 dollars to train on the basics of WordPress,” Balkhi recalls. “I believed that should have been free, because I was very inspired by all the free things I could learn from Google. Basic education like this should be free. So I decided to make all my tutorials free.”

His decision has been amply repaid in insights and business intelligence that allowed him to find successful ventures - such as WPForms.

Listening to Blog Readers - Gaining Insights

“I fundamentally believe that you can't solve a problem that you don't understand,” Balkhi explains. “We are really, really good at understanding the problems small businesses are having - due to the WPBeginner blog. Because people write in. They share the problems they're having with us.”

It is this close connection with actual WordPress users that inspired many of Balkhi’s most successful business ventures.

“I listen to what our customers are saying. I do annual surveys, and some of the questions I ask are: If you could ask us to build one product, what would it be? What products that you're using do you like, and what is one thing you wish they had? Then, I can see some of the things that people really love, and perhaps I can enhance them.”

“WPForms was a result of this annual survey. People said they wanted a contact form,” Balkhi recounts, recalling his initial astonishment. “I said: ‘Why? There are so many contact form solutions out there.’ Then, I started talking to them, and they told me about all the things that were missing. I was wowed - I would never have thought about this.”

Finding Growth Opportunities in Success Gaps

However, many players in the market at the time were less than enthusiastic about Balkhi’s insights.

“When I tried to approach existing companies to see whether they'd be interested in partnering up with me, or selling a portion to us, they all said no. So I went and partnered with my co-founder and built the product. And now WPForms runs on over 4 million websites. It's the fastest-growing form builder on the planet.”

Beside WPForms, Balkhi is now involved in a wide range of plugins, which collectively power over 17 million websites, unified under the brand of Awesome Motive. Many of them are based on the same approach, centered on listening to customers explain their pain points.

“Later on, I coined a term - I said I was ‘filling the success gap’,” Balkhi explains. “There's a gap that's holding my customers back from reaching success - and if I can fill that gap, they'll stay with me for a long time.”


Even tech spheres dominated by established players offer opportunities for business success.

And for that, no revolutionary offer is needed. As Balkhi’s story of building WPForms shows, paying close attention to customers’ specific needs, asking them directly, and listening in return is just as good a recipe for success.

By identifying success gaps and focusing on filling them, tech startups can find sustainable growth, and compete with existing industry behemoths.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.