Creating a Marketplace for Bootstrap Themes, with Heru Susanto, Founder of Indonesia based BootstrapMade

Heru, please introduce yourself…

My name is Heru Susanto. I live in Tangerang, a small city near Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta.

My background is web design and programming. Since 2007 I have worked at several local tech companies. With this experience, it was during 2010 I started to work independently as freelance web designer, work from my small home office.

Beside freelance work, I also started creating premium WordPress themes and HTML templates, selling them on several big theme marketplaces.

During 2013 I started using the Bootstrap framework for my themes and projects. Popular theme marketplaces started adding a special category for Bootstrap and this inspired me to build something related with Bootstrap.

In September 2013 I created; a specialized marketplace for premium Bootstrap themes.

As a premium theme author on other marketplaces I’m able to use my experiences and insights to running my own marketplace – i.e. how authors/publishers contributed for marketplace growth and also how a marketplace provide rules and treatment for both authors and customers.

What’s the story behind creating Bootstrap Made and can you explain what you do?

The premium theme niche are already owned by some giants like Envato, Mojo etc., so it’s very difficult for a new marketplace to compete with them, but of course there is always a gap in the market for specific themes. Hence, I created a marketplace specifically for website themes and templates built with the Bootstrap framework only.

Creating your own theme marketplace is not easy. When I started, I handled everything to reduce costs. I was also assisted by some incredible friends who have joined for non technical & marketing purposes.

In your opinion, what makes the Bootstrap framework great?

There are always pros and cons, some web designers may not tolerate any technically deficient like the use non-supported HTML attributes and messy loaded DOM with huge bootstrap classes, but for me, Bootstrap offers something different than other frameworks out there.

Bootstrap has many components and grid features that help a web developer save a lot of time when creating a new website. Their documentation is excellent and they also provide several examples to get you up and running fast.

How’s traction working out so far?

Bootstrapmade is about 7-8 months old and we currently have 200+ members and 50+ published themes. While this is not a big number, I am optimistic about the future.

What have you learned so far building a marketplace?

Although I already have experience as an author on other premium theme marketplaces, I’ve come to learn it’s really hard to build and manage a premium theme marketplace. For me, not too difficult to handle technical things but once running, many unpredictable things need to be faced.

You need the right partnerships, a competent team and stable financial resources to create a sustainable and long lasting marketplace.

If you were to start over again, what would you do differently, and why?

Nothing at this time. My passion is in this field and I am happy to have launched Bootstrapmade. Deciding on a niche that is narrower, means I don’t need to compete with large competitors that already exist and are more popular.

What is the biggest mistake (in terms of time) do you see first time entrepreneurs make?

How are you going to ask people to use it when you never use it? The important point here is when you are enthusiastic about an industry, you will have a well-connected network, which will help you thrive. The more you understand the industry, the higher your chances of success.

What’s next for you and Bootstrap Made?

There are many things that I would still do on Bootstrapmade. The main priority of course is to attract more premium theme authors to join especially those who have great successes on other marketplaces. This brings the quality and attracts more loyal customers to come and buy through Bootstrapmade.

From the technical side we are also working on system improvements and more enhanced features for both authors and buyers

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