Ten long years ago, on May 29, 2013, Ken and I (Ryan) cofounded Uncanny Owl. With absolutely no experience starting or managing a business, no clear direction, and 4 children under the age of 3 between us, walking away from our stable, mid-level jobs at great companies somehow seemed like a good idea.
Here we are in our Toronto office in June 2013 (we ended up abandoning a physical office in 2018):
The first 3 years of the company largely consisted of experimenting with a lot of elearning ideas and taking on any consulting projects we could find. We had grand visions and aspirations, and we worked hard trying to build Uncanny Owl’s reputation in the elearning space.
It wasn’t until almost a year after we started the company that we began focusing on WordPress and LearnDash. That journey started when we built a website to showcase our course development expertise, but instead of asking us to build courses for them, visitors wanted us to build a copy of the website. We started showing a “Want us to build a site like this for you?” banner for visitors from LearnDash and our website, and the rest is history.
Uncanny Owl Timeline
So what happened over the first 10 years of Uncanny Owl? Here’s a timeline covering some of the highlights:
- September 2013; We sent out our first invoice to a customer for a whopping $67.80. Work was slow and losses were high for the first 2 years.
- March 2014: We took on our first LearnDash consulting project. Justin Ferriman and his LearnDash team were a huge help with landing consulting projects for our first few years.
- November 2014: We hired our first contractor so we could start taking on more development-heavy projects.
- March 2016: We hired our first 2 employees and released Uncanny Toolkit for LearnDash, our first (and still most popular) plugin.
- July 2016: We released our first premium plugin: Uncanny Toolkit Pro. It remains our most popular paid plugin and is the #1 premium add-on for LearnDash. From July 2016 through September 2017, we released 4 more LearnDash plugins: Tin Canny, then Uncanny Codes, Uncanny Continuing Education Credits, and finally Uncanny Groups.
- September 2018: We released Uncanny Automator, our first non-LearnDash plugin and our fastest-growing product. Automator was originally intended as another add-on for LearnDash that could be used to personalize learning journeys.
- November 2020: We joined the WPBeginner Growth Fund and expanded our network of partners.
- Summer 2021: We finally exited LearnDash consulting to focus exclusively on plugin development and support.
Uncanny Owl Today
Uncanny Owl in 2023 looks nothing like in did in 2013, and that’s a good thing. It’s no longer just the 2 of us; we’re now up to 16 people—Ryan, Ken, Kimberly, David, Ajay, Saad, Curt, Dani, Agus, Manal, Joseph, Huma, Brendan, Nastia, Parthavi and Muneeb. Most of the team is in Canada (many of whom are pictured below at a recent lunch), but we also have staff in the Philippines, Greece, Pakistan and India.
Ken and I are extraordinarily grateful to our team for making Uncanny Owl what it is today. We recognize how fortunate we are to have a great team and we treasure the capabilities, camaraderie and talent that everyone brings to the table every day.
Here are some cool accomplishments that were made possible thanks to our team:
- Getting over 1 million downloads of our free plugins
- Helping Automator users run over 40 million recipes
- Maintaining a 4.9/5.0 average rating of our plugins on WordPress.org
- Having over 60,000 websites trust us to help run their businesses
We appreciate the support of all of our users over the past 10 years and we hope the work we do has helped your company in some way. If you have your own Uncanny Owl experiences to share, we encourage you to post in the comments below!