Category Archives: Interview

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Gene Commerce

IMG_1832Gene Commerce was built with the intention of not being “just another digital agency.” Gene is an SI that helps brands achieve online success using the Magento Enterprise Platform. They place great emphasis on the importance of putting their hearts and souls into everything they do and have built a team consisting of people who are passionate and ambitious about what they do. This extends over to their clients and has helped them to develop a number of software products for Magento.

Gene has been apart of the Magento community since the company was formed in 2013 and is a UK-based Magento Professional Solutions Partner. Gene is the team behind the Braintree extension and subsequently the Apple Pay extension which is launching on Magento 2 this week. Their team proudly created and developed BlueFootCMS which was acquired by Magento late last year to help power the CMS capability on Magento 2.

Although The Gene Team is joining us for the first time as a PreImagine sponsor this year, they are not new to the scene. They have attended PreImagine the last two years and have had some great experiences along the way.

We interviewed Matt Parkinson, Managing Direct of Gene Commerce, to get insight on the Gene experience at PreImagine and what they look forward to most this year:IMG_1834

Why did Gene decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

As we’ve attended for the last 2 years we felt it was only right we contributed – there are also 8 of us attending so we wanted to pay our way and ensure as many as possible could also attend.

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

As a guest it is one of the highlights of the week, catching up with everyone before the busy 3 days start, a great venue and everyone seems to be there.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

Convincing my wife on FaceTime that the Magento tattoo I was having done was permanent.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

The key note speeches [at Magento Imagine] have to be up there plus winning back all the money I lost last year on the tables.

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

Apart from catching up with many friends it is a great opportunity to meet and talk to new community members.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Get there early and talk to as many people as you can.

Under the Hood of Bret Williams

Bret Williams PhotoBret Williams is COO at Praxis IS (@praxisis), a development agency that delivers innovative solutions, tailored systems integrations, and best-in-class design to their clients. Bret has many years of experience in both the eCommerce space and with Magento. He has used his expertise to publish Mastering Magento, a book that guides readers through the set up and management of their Magento stores.

Within our interview with Bret, we got a sense of what it takes to be COO of a revolutionary development agency. Bret continues the interview by sharing his thoughts on the future of eCommerce, how he is planning to release not one, but two books on Magento 2, and how he spends his time outside of the office.

Can you describe what you really do at work?

My role at Praxis Information Science is to make sure that our work is being done efficiently and with the highest quality of delivery possible. At the same time, we’re all trying to change the paradigm of client expectations when it comes to Magento-related development work through complete transparency and accountability. It’s challenging, but in a really fun way.

If money was no object, what would you spend your days doing?

I’m a history buff, particularly Texas and US presidential history. I would most likely enjoy traveling the state and country taking photos and video, while researching and writing books.

In you spare time what do you get upto, and how do you balance this with your workload?

What spare time? I’m in the middle of writing two books on Magento 2 for Packt Publishing, as well. But, when I do get some time to myself, I enjoy riding my motorcycle and trying new restaurants. I am about to start a class on improvisation soon. I was an actor in my early years, so it will be fun to see if I still have my “chops.”

How do you see the future evolving for Magento and the eCommerce space in general?

With Magento 2, I think we’ll see a huge demand from companies who want to continue leveraging the cost advantage of Magento, especially when compared to platforms like DemandWare and Hybris. The new features will also make using Magento somewhat less risky for store owners, which will be a welcomed improvement. As much as hosted platforms will try to encroach in the enterprise space, I think their limitations for customization will still keep them at bay. E-commerce will continue to be an important aspect of any business type. The key for companies like ours is to help remove the mystique and complexity so companies can more readily embrace e-commerce. E-commerce is very complicated, but better integration of the entire workflow process will help, and I’m seeing more and more of that maturing.

What is usually your last thought before falling asleep?

Did I buy a lottery ticket today? I also thank God for today and tomorrow.

Who is your role model, and why?

While it may sound convenient to say Steve Jobs, I was a fan of his decades ago. His singular passion to bring computing to the masses cannot be understated. Microsoft had a vision of conquering business, but Jobs was after the public and, as we’ve certainly seen, that dedication to the mission was ultimately rewarded. While I don’t condone some of his personal choices (e.g. family), I do try to focus on my passion in e-commerce and, like with Jobs, I’d very much like to make it more accessible to a certain audience, namely emerging businesses, in a way they can make the choices that will make e-commerce work for them.

Whats the worst thing you have to do as part of your job role?

Drive to work on cold days. On warmer days, I bike in, but on colder days I have to drive in using a car and I miss the views, smells and experiences of riding a motorcycle to work.

What motivates you?

Knowing that I have a great margarita waiting for me at home at the end of a day. Or a good cabernet. Seriously, it’s having a client or colleague find that something I’ve done has made their life easier or more productive. I enjoy teaching younger folks coming into this industry and it’s very rewarding to see them achieve success in our field. I like making a difference.

What is the most played song on your MP3 player or phone?

I’m more of an Apple radio guy, usually listening to the Americana, Classic Country or Sinatra stations. I am wearing out a download of Adele’s new album, too. To me, she’s similar as a balladeer to Patsy Cline, Janice Joplin and Carole King. Great story tellers with songs full of emotion.

Would you like to plug anything?

Mastering Magento 2 is now on pre-order from Packt Publishing. The Magento 2 Administrator’s Guide is soon to follow. I’m writing the first one with Jon Bownds, also of Praxis, and the second with Cyndi, my wife and CEO of novusweb, llc.