Magento Community

What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip To Magento Imagine - 2015 Edition

Are you headed to the Magento Imagine conference in April? If so, you might want to check out what ended up being my most popular article of 2014 - What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip to Magento Imagine. A majority of that article is still relevant for #ImagineCommerce 2015, with a few tweaks and new hints:

  1. Imagine 2015 is back to its usual spot on the calendar in April instead of May. That means it won't be quite as hot, but Vegas still averages a high of 80 F and a low of about 60 F during that week of April each year. It's entirely possible it will be even warmer than that - as I write this, the forecast for the next week for Vegas has highs as high as 91 F. The evening events will be cooler this year than last year, though, from the looks of things.
  2. I just want to really emphasize what my original article says about how quickly Imagine passes by. If you see someone you've always wanted to talk to - stop, and talk to them. Even if you miss a session, do it, because before you know it Imagine will be over and we'll all be headed back home. There's several people I wanted to talk to last year that I just didn't get a chance to because I said "I'll catch up with them tomorrow"
  3. Don't assume you have to go to every single session to get the most value out of Imagine. Doing so may leave you exhausted, overwhelmed and missing out on some of the best conversations that are held in the hallways, on the casino floor and throughout the hotel.
  4. This year's event is at the Wynn. The Wynn has a great location on the Las Vegas Strip - across the street from Fashion Show Mall, and at the same intersection as Treasure Island, the Mirage and the Venetian. If you time it right, you can walk down to the Bellagio (a bit less than a mile from the Wynn) and see the fountain show there, then walk back towards the Wynn and catch the volcano at the Mirage on your way back, along with seeing a number of the great Vegas casinos on your way.
  5. The official hashtag this year is #ImagineCommerce. Also, a number of Magento community members now use the hashtag #realmagento instead of #magento due to the amount of spam that occurs on the #magento hashtag.
  6. Speaking of hashtags - some of the greatest unplanned, spontaneous happenings at Imagine are organized on Twitter. Even if you never tweet, keep an eye on the #ImagineCommerce hashtag or follow me on Twitter - @JoshuaSWarren - and stay in the loop with what's going on at Imagine.
  7. A number of community members have written their own guides to Imagine. If you've written one, send me the link on Twitter and I'll post it here. So far, I recommend starting with the 'Taking Advantage - Magento Imagine' article by Karen from WebShopApps.
  8. If you haven't already, go back and read last year's article - What I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Trip to Magento Imagine - it has even more great tips for your trip to Imagine.

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at Imagine this year. If you see me at the conference, please don't hesitate to say hi! Don't worry if it seems weird to introduce yourself to someone you follow on Twitter but have never met; I've gotten very used to people saying "Hi, Josh! I follow you on Twitter!".

Why I Built Launchpad & How It Will Create More Clients For You

Launchpad? What's That?

If you haven't heard about Launchpad yet, it's an affordable, powerful Magento-based eCommerce system that is completely different from all of the other packaged Magento installations out there. It's affordable ($4,000), has no ongoing license fees (it's a one-off purchase) and it's completely open.

Why'd You Build It?

Launchpad hasn't been a cheap project - our team has invested over 800 developer-hours into it at this point. Other agency owners are no doubt running the numbers in their head now, thinking about how much revenue those developers could've generated by working on custom Magento implementations for large customers. But I've kept investing in Launchpad to get it to where it is today for a very personal reason - I'm passionate about freedom, openness and creating a level playing field for all merchants.

I believe that a merchant should:

  • Have the same level of features on their eCommerce site, no matter what their budget is. Great products and great service should win the battle for the consumer's dollar, not just great budgets.
  • Be in complete control of their business, able to change hosting providers, agencies and platforms when they feel it's appropriate, and never be locked in.
  • Build a successful online presence on truly open technologies.

Some of the cloud-based eCommerce systems out there solve that first item, but not the other two. Systems like Magento solve the second two, but not the first one. So, I set out to build something that would combine all of the features and affordability of the cloud-based systems with the openness of Magento.

Why Should I Refer People to Launchpad?

As an active member of the Magento community, I feel like it's important that we as a community have a Magento-based option for every size merchant, but especially the smaller merchants, and those options should make it easy to move up. When smaller merchants are referred to BigCommerce or Volusion or the like, they're gone. Those cloud-based systems sink their teeth into them and do everything they can to keep them. They're generally never going to come back to Magento, no matter how large they grow.

So, if we want our ecosystem, our community, our marketshare to continue to grow and be healthy, we have to direct merchants into an option that gets them "hooked" on Magento while still allowing them to grow and move from an entry-level option to a more serious Community-based option all the way up to a fully custom Enterprise build.

I'm hoping Launchpad can fill that role - it's designed so that after the site is launched, the merchant can take it to any agency, any freelancer, or even maintain it themselves. So you can send merchants to it and know that we're going to convert them into Magento users that remain active in the Magento ecosystem and will continue to have a need for a Magento developer, Magento extensions and other services for years to come.

So, next time you come across a merchant who is looking for an eCommerce site but doesn't have the budget for a custom Magento build, I hope you'll refer them to Launchpad. For $4,000 we'll get them live on a solid, open Magento-based solution in just 2 business days, and once they're live, they're free to hire you for any other work or services they need. It's truly a win for everyone in the Magento community every time we sign a new merchant up for Launchpad.

I'm anxious to hear any feedback the community has - I want this to be a solution that the community feels strongly about, so if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please post them here or reach me on Twitter at @JoshuaSWarren.

This Matters: Support Brent's Run For Research

I wanted to take a moment out from my usual banter to call attention to a really amazing member of the Magento community and a charity event they're involved in right now. Brent Peterson is running the Boston Marathon this year as part of Run for Research, an American Liver Foundation fundraiser. Before I dive into the details, please, take a moment to visit his fundraising page and contribute $25.

I'm supporting Brent's run and encouraging you to do so for two reasons - first, because of how Brent has inspired me, and second, because of the importance of the work the American Liver Association does and the impact it's had on my life.

About Brent - if you're involved in the Magento community, active on Twitter or have ever attended Magento Imagine or another Magento event, then you know Brent and he needs no introduction.

For those of you who don't know Brent, he's been involved and active in the Magento community for a number of years, he's active on Twitter and he loves to run. He's not one of these guys that every January says "Hey, I'm going to exercise now" and tweets about it non-stop. Nope, he's a die-hard, day-in-day-out, runs every chance he gets sort of guy. If there's a Magento event, chances are Brent has found the nearest race and is not only running in it, but also encouraging other event attendees to run as well.

And that's what has really inspired me. Brent is dedicated to running, and to encouraging others to run and live a healthy lifestyle. Too many people in the Magento/development community are sedentary, myself included. And too many of us lack the inspiration, the drive and the follow-through to change that, but Brent is right there encouraging us and serving as a solid example even when so few of us take action and start exercising. I've never heard Brent say a negative word about someone because they don't exercise, but instead I hear him constantly encouraging people to give it a try.

So, as a way of saying thanks and recognizing the positive impact he has in our community, I encourage you to donate to Brent's Run for Research.

The other reason I encourage you to donate is because of the cause - the American Liver Foundation. The American Liver Foundation is working to eliminate liver disease, and in the process is providing education, research, support and advocacy around liver disease.

Liver disease isn't something we hear much about, and there's a lot of misconceptions about it. For instance - did you know that six million children in the US (10% of all children in the country) have been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Among different types of cancer, liver cancer consistently has one of the worst 5-year survival rates. While other diseases and disorders get a lot of attention, as a society we just don't talk about liver disorders very often.

Personally, I'm very aware of the impact of the work the American Liver Foundation is doing because I watched a great man struggle with liver problems, and thanks to the type of work the American Liver Foundation is doing, he received a liver transplant and was given several more healthy years of life, during which he had a great impact on the people around him and his community.

So, please take a moment to donate to Brent's Run for Research - it's a quick online form, and you can enter any amount you'd like to donate. You have the option to be anonymous, and they take all major credit cards.

Please share the link to Brent's donation page with everyone you know - if we can get 150 people to donate $25, Brent will meet his fundraising goal and we'll all be supporting a great person and a great cause during the 2015 Boston Marathon.

A quick thank you to the Magento community and MageHero.com

I just wanted to take a second to say thanks to everyone out there on Twitter, on MageHero.com and to the Magento community as a whole. I've grown Creatuity very slowly over the years - we don't really have a marketing budget, or marketing department for that matter - it's all been on word of mouth and referrals and developing a reputation for solving some of the most challenging problems with Magento and taking really good care of our clients while doing it.

Because of this, every single referral means quite a bit to me and to all of us at Creatuity. That's why I wanted to say thanks - we've seen a sharp increase in the number of merchants coming to us saying they were referred to us by someone in the Magento community. A story I heard about how a client found us a couple of weeks ago is a great example of this.

This merchant first saw me on MageHero.com and reached out to a few other people on MageHero first. Almost all of them indicated they were too busy to take on the project, but that they should call Creatuity for help, because we'd take care of them.

So - to all of you who have referred merchants to me and the rest of the Creatuity team - thank you. I really appreciate it and I want you to know we will continue to do great things, so you can always trust that the merchants you send to us will be taken care of.