Adding slideshows without the snags
START-UP NATION: Riva Slider:A Dublin student has made it easier to put slideshows on the web – and earned €30,000 in the process
The Leaving Certificate is a busy and stressful time for students as it is, without having the added worry of 180,000 customers to deal with. But such a thing didn’t distract Dublin student and web entrepreneur Matthew Ruddy from getting good results, and making €30,000 in the process.
The 19-year-old launched Easing Slider, a wordpress plug-in that lets users easily add slideshows to their websites last year.
“It used to be quite difficult to put slideshows on websites as you had to know how to code, so I made it easier.”
He launched a premium version, Riva Slider, in January after discovering there was a demand for additional features.
“I submitted the original Easing Slider plug-in to wordpress and they accepted it, so it was offered to users of their site. Wordpress provided me with a feedback forum so from that I found out people were looking for extra features.
“With the premium version you can have multiple slideshows, videos and captions. With the free version, you can only have one slideshow.”
The premium version starts at €20 and goes up to €100. Each slideshow can have unlimited images, and the images can be linked to YouTube and Vimeo videos.
The €100 version gives the user developer rights and unlimited commercial use.
“People who aren’t computer savvy tend to buy the €20 license as they want something better than the free version but they can’t spend €1,000 on getting a professional to do slideshows for them.
The €20 version of the premium plug-in sold really well, as did the €100 version. The €30 version didn’t sell so well, so I had to adjust it. Sales are improving now.”
Within months, more than 180,000 users had downloaded the plug-ins.
“It was scary as I was catering for a lot of people so there was a lot of pressure. I would be awake at night wondering what if I hadn’t built the plug-in properly and it crashed causing lots of problems for people.
“I didn’t think it would be so popular. I thought I would make a few hundred euro at most, but I surpassed the €30,000 mark.
“The plug-in has been used for so many things. One guy used it as an advert rotator on his car sales website. Other people have used to showcase outfits in their clothes shops.”
The free version of the plug-in is available for download on the wordpress website, whereas the premium version has to be downloaded from Ruddy’s rivaslider.comsite.
“People tend to find the free version through reviews on websites, ads or on wordpress. I advertise the premium version on the free version.”
The business came about while Ruddy was designing a website for his aunt, a photographer who wanted to build a site with a slideshow showcasing her work.
“We used wordpress to build her site but she couldn’t do the slideshow herself as it was too technical. You had to be able to know how to code.
“So while I was able to build the slideshow for her, I would also have had to update it each time she wanted to add new things. She could have got a professional to do this but that would have been very expensive.”
The teenager has now deferred his college place to concentrate on the project, and design further wordpress plug-ins.
“You don’t need to go to college to gain skills in this sector. College can help, but I’m not just a web guy. I’m very entrepreneurial.
“My parents think it’s great. They didn’t think it was so great when I said I wasn’t going to college. They’re happy they don’t have to support me financially though.”
His next aim is to combine both the free Easing Slider plug-in, and the premium Riva Slider plug-in.
“I neglected unifying them last year because I was in school. I’m working on unifying them now and turning them into a complete entity called Riva Slider.
“I hope to have the new website for Riva Slider completed by the end of December. The current website was built just months before my exams, so I didn’t have much time for it. I’m completely re-developing it now.”
As for the future, Ruddy wants to build a big business around wordpress. “The slideshow plug-in is just one project. I’m currently developing more,” he says.