magento community

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.

Seeking the Magento Community's Center of Gravity Meet Magento New York 2014 Talk

This Meet Magento New York 2014 Talk is "Seeking the Magento Community's Center of Gravity" with Kurt Theobald. Community events help us maintain a voice as a community driven ecosystem, so events like Meet Magento are important.

Magento really took off with the small and medium business market. That’s where Magento made its claim to fame.

Magento Inc is shifting focus to serve the mid-market, creating a gap with the small/medium business market.

Today is about discussing the problem and the path towards solving the problem.

Merchants have a challenging time getting any help from the Magento ecosystem/community.

Merchants have to find, evaluate and install solutions, but with so many countless extensions in Magento Connect it's challenging to find good solutions.

Magento Gold partnership doesn't mean quality - it means a company is willing to pay $10k/year for the label. This is because Magento’s business models towards the partner programs never matured. Let’s solve the problem as a community.

It’s very difficult for excellent partners to get the attention they deserve from Magento merchants.

As a community, let’s come together and lift up the high quality agencies that don't market well.

Let’s collaborate with those that do good Magento work and compete with the ones that do crap work.

Let’s marginalize and vaporize the fakers and superficial marketing fronts in the Magento ecosystem!

Right now the Magento community is acting like a bunch of independent cats, giving up what makes Magento powerful.

Let’s have a club mentality but let’s be virtuous - repel the junk and invite the quality.

It's not about any one agency - it's about protecting the Magento community by providing many quality options for merchants.

This isn’t a fork - we want to stay in unity with Magento.

 

Discussing #MagentoDiscuss

If you don't know what #MagentoDiscuss is, check out the original blog post and GitHub repo Several of us discussed getting together at Magento Imagine to have a meeting about the Magento Discuss idea and to get something live to start the process. However, in a classic example of the "shoemaker's children" (or the mechanic's car, which I think is easier for some of us to relate to) we have yet to meet. I should've known - the people most interested in discussing #MagentoDiscuss are the people most involved in the community, who tend to be the busiest people at Magento Imagine. In other words - putting together this meeting is going to be a challenge.

What I'd like to recommend, then, is that we go ahead and setup a site and plan on hosting the discussion virtually after Imagine on that site. That'll allow people who couldn't make it to Imagine participate as well.

As I mentioned on the GitHub repo, I think that this site should not be hosted or sponsored by any partner or other company - it should be completely independent and non-commercial. So, I propose that we setup a site on a VPS (Linode comes to mind, but I'm open to suggestions), running the Discourse discussion forum software that several people have suggested. The VPS login information and the domain name registrar account information used to register the domain should be known to 3 members of the community, ideally from different backgrounds and interests.

We also need to make sure we don't use Magento's trademarked terms, so I'd like to propose a combination of the words 'Magento' and 'Community' - MageUnity, if you all don't think that's too cheesy. I think it sums up our efforts well.

If I get at least 5 community members saying "let's do this" here or on Twitter and suggestions for the 3 people who should have access to the login information to the hosting provider and domain name registrar, I'll put the ball in motion and we'll get this site setup and continue the discussion there.

And, of course, the offer to discuss in person is still open - if anyone wants to meet and discuss in person, let's do it. I'll be at the networking event this evening at 7PM.

Suggestions for an Unofficial Magento Discussion Site?

Last week, Brendan Falkowski, Piotr Kaminski and I engaged in a high-speed friendly discussion on Twitter about the recent Magento Connect purge of extensions and how the metrics used by Magento to purge 'low quality' and 'unsupported' extensions may not have been the best metrics to use (at least, that was my position). Throughout this conversation, I realized that Twitter wasn't the best platform for this - 140 characters at a time (less, if you're mentioning people to get them involved in the conversation) isn't much to state an opinion, and it's hard to refer back to a discussion on Twitter.

I've been brainstorming over the past few days the best way to hold discussions like this - something that could be mentioned on Twitter and then the discussion could continue elsewhere. I've thought about a few possibilities - Gists, IRC, the Magento sub-reddit, but I keep coming up with drawbacks for each.

So, I wanted to ask the community - what ideas do you have? Post them here,  tweet them at me @JoshuaSWarren on Twitter or email me at josh@creatuity.com.

The overall idea is for a place where all members of the Magento community - developers, partners, merchants, and any other interested individuals - can share in a discussion about Magento. This wouldn't be for technical questions (we have StackExchange for that), but for overall discussions, questions and feedback about the direction and future of Magento in a 'safe', unofficial setting. A place that we, as a community, can get organized and say "Magento, here's what the community thinks", and, if they so choose, a place that Magento employees could officially or unofficially post questions or potential changes to and easily solicit feedback from the Magento community in a safe, un-official, simple manner.

To meet these goals, I think we need a place that meets these criteria:

  1. Easy to use - shouldn't be something that only developers know about or can use.
  2. Lightweight - it would be very simple to start a new discussion quickly after a topic comes up on Twitter or in another venue, so there's little resistance to just get the discussion going.
  3. Free.
  4. Open - shouldn't require moderation for comments to appear.
  5. Keeps a public record of the discussion that's easy to refer to.

This could be a new place, that we build ourselves or use existing software for, or it could be an existing place that we all decide will be the place we go to for these discussions - let's see what sort of ideas we can come up with as a community, and then make this happen.

Also, there's some discussion on Twitter about meeting at/after PreImagine during Magento Imagine next week to discuss this - however, not everyone in the community is at Imagine. So, I'd like to suggest that people that aren't able to make it to Imagine this year post their thoughts here or on Twitter and then we can make sure they are brought up if/when we meet in person at Imagine to discuss this idea.

So, Magento community, what do you think? Let's use the hashtag #MagentoDiscuss and post your thoughts on Twitter or as a comment here!