Kestrel WooCommerce experts

Our WCEU 2024 recap (and our first Kestrel team meetup recap, too) 

The small (but mighty) Kestrel team went to WordCamp Europe in Torino this year as attendees. Despite being seasoned WooCommerce professionals, there are some projects in Woo and WordPress we haven’t used day-to-day as of late (like Product blocks). We wanted to swoop back in with both feet, and there’s no better way to completely immerse yourself than going to a major WordCamp. 

This event was a great opportunity to bring the newly-formed Kestrel team together for the first time, too. Since launching in February with a bunch of plugin acquisitions (bringing eggs to the nest, if you will 😉), we’ve gradually added to our team to support our already-pretty-large plugin suite. 

Arrival and our first team dinner

Despite our best planning efforts, we arrived at staggered times throughout the day on Thursday. Even Simon, who was joining us from England, had a few travel mishaps that made his trip within the continent take longer than anyone would expect. (Although, through our conversations at the event, it sounds like this was a pretty common experience!) 

Upon landing in Turin, some of us met up with some former colleagues for lunch, while others checked out Contributor Day. Some of us joined the Freemius Maker Meetup later in the day, too. 

You’d be hard-pressed to prove any of these details, though, as none of us took any normal pictures on day one. You can find Beka in about 3 seconds of the Freemius video, and this is every picture I took on day one: 

While everyone on the team has known each other for years, we haven’t all been together in the same place since 2019. We brought the Kestrel team together on Thursday night for a wonderful team dinner at Scannabue to celebrate. 

The conference itself

The event had a ton of great sessions that were relevant to our ongoing discussions around what we should do with our newly acquired suite of 35 plugins. Implementing Blocks where relevant and appropriate has been top of mind, and there were quite a few sessions that touched on exactly that. Damián Suárez and Lourens Schep from the WooCommerce team did an amazing job with their workshop around the new WooCommerce Product Editing experience, as just one example. 

We also made a point of seeing Katie Keith’s talk on Day 2, where she and Matt Cromwell shared insights they’ve gained through their podcast where they talk to plugin business owners. While WCEU was our first opportunity to meet Katie in person, we are familiar with her work with the Barn2 team – especially after acquiring a few of Barn2’s plugins earlier this year. 

While there were a ton of great scheduled talks, many of us spent even more time having discussions out in the hallway with other plugin devs and some agencies. We were even lucky enough to have been invited to provide some feedback to the WooCommerce team on day three of the event. 

We provided some specific feedback on our experience as a team that works on extensions for the WooCommerce marketplace, but more importantly, it was amazing to have the opportunity to learn more about how the WooCommerce team is ramping up their efforts to talk directly to the developers and agencies that make WooCommerce great for all of us. 

We also all sat down to watch Matt Mullenweg’s Summer Update where he covered 11 things we can all remember to make sure WordPress continues to grow. 

Core should be opinionated and quirky

He also shared that WordPress is back to growth after a few years of apparent stagnation, which is super exciting for those of us who just started a new plugin company!

Bringing together the old and the new

In addition to our team dinner when we first arrived on Thursday, we also hosted a small group later in the week. We did a get-together at Insomnia for our team, former colleagues, and partners. Many of the people invited were former SkyVerge team members or people we’ve collaborated with over the 12+ years our team has worked in WooCommerce.

As much as the conference itself is invaluable, it’s amazing to have the opportunity to travel to Italy and enjoy a meal and some drinks with people you’ve worked with for many years. Many of us were meeting face-to-face for the first time, as we’ve been subject to the same travel restrictions as everyone else in the last few years. 

(Not pictured: all the former team members who wouldn’t fly to Italy for a few free drinks and a buffet-style meal.)

But can you make the shirts pinker

If we learned anything from this experience, it was: 

  1. Take a picture as a team in your team shirts so you have a picture of your team in your team shirts (we did not do this)
  2. WordCamps are still an incredible way to get to know who is actively working on making WordPress and WooCommerce better
  3. Very-pink-shirts help you find your team in a large event (try Where’s Kestrel in the WordCamp Europe family picture)

When we chose the team colors, we didn’t do it with large-scale events in mind, but it definitely came in handy. We could walk into the major halls at either end of the event and immediately find the rest of the team, no matter how many people were in the room.

We were kinda just going for this vibe
We were kinda just going for this vibe

You can even catch them in the little box next to the slide deck in the Summer Update video: 

What’s next

There’s been some great discussion around the importance of WordCamps to the WordPress and WooCommerce communities since we all returned home. Since we just formed Kestrel so recently (in February 2024) we didn’t really have an opportunity to properly consider sponsoring this time around. You need a bit of a lead time to sponsor a big event like WCEU and make the most of it, after all. 

We are looking forward to doing our own small part to help ensure these events remain sustainable for the whole community to get together for years to come. In the meantime, we’re getting ready for WordCamp Canada 2024. Will we see you there? Let us know, we’d love to meet up!

Ian Misner Avatar

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