Since its Beta release in 2007, the Magento ecommerce platform has brought together people from every walk of life and every corner of the world. Over the years, it’s fostered friendships and relationships that transcend business and borders. While we’ve all forged our own paths, the shared bonds have made the journey as fun to share as the destination.
Our part of the story begins four years ago when Brendan Falkowski (founder of Gravity Department) and Bret Rasmussen (founder of KURU Footwear) met at the second Magento Imagine conference. A year later, Steve Deckert (co-founder of Sweet Tooth Rewards) reached out to Bret to find out how Sweet Tooth was helping KURU connect with its customers. Meanwhile Kuba Zwoliński (founder of SNOW.DOG) was organizing the Meet Magento Poland event and trying to convince Brendan to come meet the large eastern European Magento community.
Fast forward to the 2015 Imagine conference, and as happens after hours of shoptalk, our conversation landed on our mutual passion for motorcycling. With each of us fired up about the idea, we started brainstorming an epic trip.
We imagined a motorcycle trip that would challenge our endurance and riding skills while rewarding us with stronger friendships and breathtaking vistas of some of the most beautiful parts of the United States.
While we must give a shout out to Creatuity CEO @JoshuaSWarren for the hashtag, our epic #RoadToImagine motorcycle ride is the best way we could think to kick off our Imagine 2016 experience.
As we get rolling, we wanted to share how each of us arrived at the common starting point of our journey, Magento:
When KURU first launched its shopping site, we didn’t know a lot about e-commerce. We started with a non-Magento e-commerce platform, but after only a few months it was clear that this platform was not providing an ideal customer experience so we went looking for alternatives. That’s when Bret discovered Magento.
Magento appealed to Bret because it was an open-source platform that offered pretty much everything KURU needed for their e-commerce site right out of the box. Not to mention the vast support of extensions and plugins that provide even more enhanced functionality. When Bret looks back at how things worked (or didn’t work) with the other platform, it’s hard to imagine how KURU ever managed without Magento.
Back in 2008 SNOW.DOG was a small web agency working on various web projects and just starting to understand the power of open source software. Our first Magento project was not easy, version 0.8 had a lot of glitches but still it was the most amazing piece of software that just did the job.
What impressed Kuba the most, was the amazing community around Magento that gave possibility to build unique business model based on fair relationships and a combination of cooperation and competition. Very soon after the first project, SNOW.DOG decided to specialize on Magento.
Year after year SNOW.DOG mastered skills to finally become Magento Silver Solution Partner and organizer of the biggest annual Magento conference in CEE region: Meet Magento Poland. Kuba’s passion and dedication to the Magento community was awarded in 2016 with the title “Magento Master, the Maker”.
I graduated from university in 2009 as America slid into the worst recession in 80 years. To me, it seemed like the perfect time to start a company, and Gravity Department was forged. It was just me (still is) and one client (a ladies-only a cappella group). Times were tough that first summer until a beach decor boutique run by my friend’s aunt decided, “We should sell online.”
Hello Magento 188.8.131.52. Ah! Those were the days… and nights… and weekends. That’s where I sharpened my axe. That’s when Magento grew strong, the community found common ground, and we learned how to wield it. By 2011, Magento was holding its first conference and issued a challenge for free tickets: show us your passion.
Look at that hair. I placed third, and bought my ticket anyway. The Magento motorcycle went into hibernation. The next year I came back to Imagine to speak about the ground-breaking growth that Gravity Department delivered for Skinny Ties with responsive design. Orbiting right on cue, I’m returning for my fifth consecutive session about designing for eCommerce at Imagine — this time on two-wheels with three friends to the best eCommerce community on the planet.
I first encountered Magento in 2007; I was a university student that wanted to be involved in starting a new business. Along with two friends, we co-founded an online store that ran on – you guessed it – Magento. We sold toner cartridges for laser printers.
While this business didn’t work out, it helped us gain experience with Magento and online retail. We saw that Magento retailers needed help running their stores. So we started a Magento agency to do just that.
While running this Magento agency, we found one common trait among online retailers; they were all focused on getting new customers, and not on keeping their existing customers. So we released a loyalty extension. We called this loyalty extension Sweet Tooth, because you want your customers to crave your products as much as someone who loves sweets.
Sweet Tooth was so successful that we dropped the consulting agency business and focused solely on it. Fast forward a few years later, and we’ve helped over 5,000 retailers in over 40 countries keep their customers happy, coming back, and referring their friends. We’ve raised venture capital, have employees around the world, and are growing faster than ever.
We wouldn’t be where we are without Magento and the amazing community surrounding it. My road to Imagine had a few speed bumps, and a few unexpected turns, but I’d do it all over again.
We come from four parts of the world. Four different cultures. But one common connection, Magento. Join us on our journey and use #RoadToImagine to share your journey to this year’s Magento Imagine 2016.