Uncanny Owl Turns 10

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):

Ryan & Ken at Uncanny Owl in 2013

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!

author avatar
Ryan Moore Director
Ryan Moore (MA, PMP, BCom) is the Cofounder and Director of Uncanny Owl, creators of Uncanny Automator and a suite of popular add-ons for LearnDash. Since 2013, Ryan has helped thousands of companies add elearning and automation capabilities to their WordPress websites.
6 replies
  1. Mark Copeman
    Mark Copeman says:

    Congratulations Team Uncanny Owl – that’s a brilliant story – so inspiring.
    Good things come to those who wait.
    I couldn’t run my (considerable) online business, without you!
    Continued best wishes,
    Mark

    Reply
  2. Josh Brackett
    Josh Brackett says:

    👏👏👏 Congratulations, Uncanny team! What an inspirational story. I have grown to know many of you as friends over the last 4 years. In so many ways it feels like the Uncanny team and products are like Legacy’s left and right arms. Thank you for your relentless improvement and innovation! I look forward to the next 10 years! 🥂

    Reply
  3. Amanda Evans-Lara
    Amanda Evans-Lara says:

    Congratulations Ryan and team UO! Such a fantastic achievement to hit the 10 year mark. Your plugins definitely support the success of my LMS and online training business. Even better is the customer support! Highly responsive and very much appreciated. Wishing you continued success for decades ahead.

    Reply

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