Category Archives: Interview

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Commerce Hero

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 28, 2017

Commerce Hero is the first developer marketplace focused exclusively on Magento developers.  The Commerce Hero team helps to connect merchants and agencies with developers for contract or full time work. If you’ve ever tried to find a good Magento developer before, you’re likely familiar with the pain point that Commerce Hero is working to solve.

Kalen Jordan, founder of Commerce Hero, has been apart of the Magento community since 2011, and have attended PreImagine pretty much every year since it started.  He sponsored a couple of years previously through MageMail, his other business in the space. But, this will be Commerce Hero’s first appearance at the event! 

Kalen took time to discuss his experience at PreImagine, what he and the Commerce Hero team is looking forward to this year
and much more:
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How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

PreImagine is always a blast – I get to see all the old friends that I’ve met over the years in a more relaxed environment, before getting into business mode for the conference proper.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagine events?

Seeing the #RoadToImagine guys roll in on their motorcycles. Also, hanging with my buddies Phil, Jenn, Ben, and Jonathan.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Unleashing our new Commerce Hero T-shirts on everyone. Also, showing everyone our custom Commerce Hero coasters that happen to have contact info on the back of them.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 11.35.32 AM

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

PreImagine is basically #realmagento IRL.  No other time or place you can see all those people in the same place.  Also, this might be the only place you can go at Imagine with a green badge without getting attacked by salespeople.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Don’t overthink it – relax and enjoy yourself.  And don’t be shy!

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PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: TurnTo

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 27, 2017

14115411277_f08372ca71_kTurnTo is the fastest growing provider of customer-generated content solutions to the Internet Retailer Top 500 and Top 100 for the second year in a row. The TurnTo platform works for both brands and retailers, and has been built to meet the needs of today’s consumers who are increasingly mobile and desire authentic content. With a suite of four solutions – Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews and Checkout Comments – TurnTo clients are able to connect more content and more types of content,
better SEO, and deeper merchandising insights. The TurnTo team works to provide their customers with a better user experience.

TurnTo has been apart of the #Magento community since it was founded in 2008. They are ecommerce platform agnostic but almost a third of our clients are using Magento. They were lucky to learn the ins and outs of the #realMagento community five years ago from greats like @kpe, @benmarks, @magentogirl, and @WebShopApps Karen Baker, which is how they knew they had to sponsor #PreImagine.

This will be TurnTo’s first time attending and sponsoring the event. But, we were lucky enough to gain some insight from Justin Poole, Head of Partnerships at TurnTo, as this will be his fourth time joining us at PreImagine:

Why did TurnTo decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

TurnTo solutions rest their hat on the value of sharing of authentic user feedback, so sponsoring an event put on by the #realMagento community just makes sense. It’s what we’re about. I also have a deep respect for the founders and promoters of the event.

9919912786_c153c4d3fa_kHow would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

It may be the hottest, most crowded, hardest time to get a drink at Imagine, but it’s always been my favorite part. It feels how the Magento community should feel, which is great because even when it doesn’t feel that way, you know that it can. It’s flexible and scalable like that.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

My first time at PreImagine was also my first big Magento event with my employer at the time. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a patio full of competing Magento agencies. When I came face to face with two members from one of our biggest competitors, I was so happy to discover that they couldn’t have been nicer. While swaying at a respectably consistent pace, they told me, “Listen, you’re gonna win some deals that we want, and we’re gonna win some deals that you want. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. The good news is that there’s plenty of deals to go around.” They were right.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Magento kicks off on my birthday this year, so I’m hoping for the gift of a hangover-free PreImagine, followed by three more glorious nights of celebration. Was that answer too selfish?

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

Getting to spend some real time with the #realMagento community. This isn’t a merchant-heavy event, and that’s what makes it so great. You get to spend your first few hours at Imagine focusing on your colleagues, partners, and competitors that make the space so great.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Arrive early. Stay late. Wear your badge, but not your blazer. If you need sunglasses, bring those too.

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PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Classy Llama

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 23, 2017

Imagine Classy LlamaClassy Llama focuses on understanding the challenges their ecommerce clients face and work with them to design and implement solutions to those challenges. They work with companies who prefer a consulting and implementation partner that acts as an integral part of their team. The Classy Llama team works to create value for their clients that positively impacts their business, pivoting from a tight relationship with each of them.

The team joined the Magento community in early 2008, and have loved every minute of it. They have referred hundreds of clients to the platform and only build on Magento. Classy Llama provides wise counsel and excellence in implementation that sustainably drives their business to new levels of performance and their team members have depth of character that drives genuine interest in each of their client’s success.

In addition to their involvement in the community, they have attended PreImagine every year since it started in 2012. And, we are delighted to have them as first time sponsors this year!

Kurt Theobald, CEO of Classy Llama, explains what you can expect while attending PreImagine in this witty interview:

Why did Classy Llama decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

We believe in building genuine relationships with our clients and partners, which helps us to create an immense amount of value for them. The very nature of Pre-Imagine is centered are building those kinds of relationships with others in the Magento ecosystem. So for us, we see Pre-Imagine as an obvious event for Classy Llama to get behind.

Classy Llama Imagine

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

Because we have been a part of the community for a while now, Pre-Imagine feels a lot like a family reunion. We have a chance to all come together with our partners and friends as we share a memorable experience together and recount the tales of Magento past.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

Kalen Jordan’s mage socks. Oh, and that time that Ben Marks fell into the pool.  Oh, and when, in a flash of passion, everyone decided to have the Magento logo tattooed on their faces permanently.  That was awesome… until we had to have them all surgically removed later…  Ah, the memories are rich and many (and mostly made up).

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Releasing our 10th anniversary Super Llama!

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

Reconnecting with some of the best people in the Magento ecosystem!

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Don’t wait in line for taxis at the airport. Ride for free in one of the Llama Limos that will take you from the airport to The Wynn on Sunday. No need to RSVP, just look for us out at Terminal 1.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask Philip Jackson about his new Winkle toupee swag!  Hint:  It goes on your head and makes you look as awesome as he does every day. Gonna get me some Phil hair!

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PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Vantage Analytics

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 21, 2017

2015-04-24 19.06.40Vantage Analytics is a powerful advertising and analytics platform for ecommerce retailers and brands of all sizes looking to analyze and grow its ecommerce business. Their team has worked with thousands of brands and retailers in over 124 countries. The Vantage platform automatically analyzes ecommerce data, generates insight and builds sophisticated ad campaigns that test hundreds of versions of ads to zero in on the most effective creative and copy.

Vantage has been apart of the Magento community for four years and has had the opportunity to attend and sponsor PreImagine for the past 3 years. Aran Hamilton, President & Co-founder of Vantage, shares his favorite PreImagine memory, great advice to newbies and much more:

Why did Vantage Analytics decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

Best place to meet some of the smartest and most fun people in ecommerce today. Plus you know – beer.

How would you describe your past PreImagine experience?

 It’s a great informal opportunity to hang out with industry experts (and old friends).

2016-04-10 18.39.28What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

The group photo – it’s such a great tradition and nice to have something to look back at.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

We are most looking forward to networking with the Magento community to hear what they have been up to over the past year and the latest innovations they’re working on.

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

You get to network and get to know some of the best and brightest members of the Magento community.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Make sure you mingle! There is so much to learn from this group, and so many interesting people to meet.

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PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Imagination Media

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 17, 2017

IMG_1169Imagination Media is an ecommerce solutions provider that focuses on delivering brilliant, intuitive and effective integrated solutions built on the Magento Platform. Imagination Media customizes ecommerce solutions to fit their customer’s business logic and allows retailers from all industries to be able to seamlessly integrate their online and in-store operations.

Imagination Media has been an active and involved part of the Magento Community since its formative days. Today they continue to contribute and create as a proud part of this bold community. The Imagination Media team is a rare blend of experience, expertise, commitment and dedication. They understand the Magento platform and never stop working to create custom solutions that are perfect for their customer’s needs.

In addition to their Magento knowledge and expertise, Imagination Media has been around the block when it comes to PreImagine. This will be their third year attending the event and second as sponsors.

Ali Ahmed, President & Founder of Imagination Media, sheds some light on what it’s like to be both a guest and sponsor at PreImagine and how to get the most out of your evening there:

IMG_1234Why did Imagination Media decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

Sometimes in the day to day grind we feel like we fail to fulfil our obligation to the Magento community and all that it has done for us. PreImagine is a way we can buy a fellow community member a beer and say thank you – we jumped at the opportunity to sponsor this amazing event again this year. It is truly an honor to be associated not only with this event, but with everyone who attends and contributes to the experience.

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

As a sponsor –We didn’t really pay much attention to being a sponsor last year. It didn’t change much for us, we enjoyed it as much we did when we were just guests.

As a guest – The event really makes you feel like one big extended family. It’s a genuine feeling of community.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

It’s Las Vegas, so excuse us, please. Memories in that city can be a bit…hazy. I think our favorite memory was the group photo at the very end.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

We’re looking forward to connecting with other passionate and creative members of the Magento community. And we’re looking forward to learning from them. We look forward to meeting new members of the Magento community we haven’t met before. We can’t wait to be there again!

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

The free drinks. And the free A/C! Some of the scenery isn’t bad, either. Oh, and seeing you guys again!

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Come in with an open mind. Come hungry to learn and ready to connect. Come prepared to work hard and play hard too – remember, this is Las Vegas, baby!

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PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: Gene Commerce

Author: Ashley Overton  |  March 15, 2017

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.

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Under the Hood of Bret Williams

Author: Ashley Overton  |  January 21, 2016

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.

 

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