Lobbster is a Magento agency that was founded back in 2021. The agency started off with a team of 4 friends and has now grown into a mid-sized business with 25+ happy clients.
The team here specializes in developing high-converting Magento stores and has successfully delivered 30+ projects so far. Lobbster also helps B2B businesses take their activities online.
The agency has grown because of Milos’s dedication to doing something in the Magento world. The guy is a co-founder and currently serves as the CEO. Down below is the journey of Lobbster in the words of Milos.
Let’s explore some of the wins of the agencies and some of the challenges they faced on the way.
On to the interview now!
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: Your journey started as a Freelance Magento developer, and you are now running your own Magento agency known as Lobbster. Could you please briefly share your career highlights from a Freelancer to an agency owner?
Milos Petrovic: I started my career in 2015 in a small company while Magento 1 was still in full glory. At that point, I was someone who knew PHP but not Magento. The focus was on the US market and clients who were mainly involved in the production and sale of furniture. I soon acquired the first knowledge of Magento, but even more importantly, I developed a sincere love for this platform.
In the summer of 2016, I transferred to a domestic company that did not deal with ecommerce but offered custom solutions using other platforms. This allowed me to work and develop my knowledge with Yii2, Laravel, Cake 2, etc. At the same time, I worked as a part-time developer in the aforementioned company, continuing to nurture my interest in Magento.
At the beginning of 2017, I returned to the original Magento company as a full-time Magento developer, where I continued my career, growth, and development until 2018.
In 2018, I moved to Sunzinet, a German digital agency. This step is due to the challenges and acquisition of other skills the agency offers. I believed there was not much I could learn from the previous agency, and I was right. At the beginning of 2019, I became the team lead of the Magento team, and later, I continued to build my leadership skills as the leader of the entire ecommerce unit.
In May 2020, I moved to Guidefitter to the position of senior Magento BE dev. Guidefitter is not an outsourcing company but rather a direct client. They deal with DS hunting and fishing equipment and weapons. This position was my biggest challenge until then, which I will discuss later during the interview. After a while, I decided it is time to move on and pursue bigger challenges, so my team and I found ourselves at a crossroads – should we look for a new job in one of the Magento companies and be just a cog in the whole mechanism again or should we start our own business.
In May 2022, I moved to Vaimo to the position of team lead and solution architect on the W.E.G (Wurth) project, but as the idea of Lobbster was already born, I didn’t stay too long in this company. I shifted my entire focus to Lobbster.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: How did the idea of starting a Magento agency come about, how is it different from other Magento agencies, and what are your core values? So basically, a brief about your Magento agency.
Milos Petrovic: Lobbster was created by 4 good friends who spent most of their time working together, so we are, first of all, a well-established team, a team of highly qualified Magento developers who managed to refine and improve their weaknesses and strengths through teamwork.
Having worked for over 10 years at various Magento companies, we realized that the team and the environment play a huge role in developing and supporting developers. So we decided to create a house where individual differences are nurtured, information is not suppressed, and employees are valued rather than merely used by their knowledge and experience.
In addition to strong teamwork that allows us to easily connect with other developers who see and feel our drive to increase and strengthen the Magento community, our main strength lies in the fact that we can provide our clients with high-quality shop development.
Working on various Magento projects of varying complexity and size, we have seen all the advantages and disadvantages of the Magento and ecommerce world, from how hard it is to find quality Magento developers to how hard it is to build a Magento project in a quality way.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: You have worked on many other CMS platforms like Yii2 and Laravel but decided Magento be your career path and launched a Magento agency. So why Magento, how it’s different from any other CMS, and the biggest advantage of using Magento as an ecommerce platform, and why?
Milos Petrovic: While working for a domestic agency that did not deal with ecommerce, I realized I wanted to develop my career in the Magento world. With Magento, you have no limits like other platforms, and the development is far more complex. In the ecommerce world, it represents the pinnacle, and everything is possible within it.
I see Magento as a platform for “serious players,” and it is by far the most complex platform I’ve worked on. That was exactly the turning point. I wanted to work on the most demanding platform and become the best. That development is still ongoing. I guess I am one of those people who is constantly looking for challenges. There is a saying, “If you want to be a priest, be the Pope”. So I’m looking forward to all the obstacles that await me in further developing my Magento career.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: What are some of the most common issues you have encountered when working with Magento, and how have you addressed them?
Milos Petrovic: Of major site-impacting issues we regularly encounter, the most common are related to full-page caching. They usually happen due to bad development practices – working in a local environment with FPC disabled. On top of that, poor project planning and not accounting for future use of external caching solutions like Varnish can cause trouble.
These issues manifest in weird ways and are usually hard to pinpoint. One of the common symptoms is users being presented with unexpected data, usually stale or completely unrelated.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: How do you ensure your Magento-based projects are scalable and can handle high traffic volumes?
Milos Petrovic: Good project planning is the first step in ensuring stores can handle high traffic volumes. Developers usually focus on MVP and getting to market, disregarding performance for the sake of expediency. In our opinion, neither can be more important than the other.
Good coding practices and following recommended guidelines allow us to employ all available tools for performance enhancement, either immediately or when a need arises.
We’ve already mentioned FPC and Varnish. For delivering static content, we would use a CDN service like Cloudflare. Any time resource-intensive operation can be made asynchronous and executed by a queuing service like RabbitMQ.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: What are some of the key factors you consider when choosing extensions or plugins for a Magento project?
Milos Petrovic: I support custom implementation and avoid Magento extensions and plugins. There are a few plugins that, in my opinion, are done with quality. Also, extensions from different vendors often conflict.
If you still decide to buy an extension, “verified” sellers like Amasti and Mageplaza are considered first. The next step is checking whether they meet all the client’s needs and, of course, the implementation method itself.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: What is your approach to optimizing the performance of a Magento site? Also, define the need for a good Cloud hosting solution for optimizing a Magento store.
Milos Petrovic: When optimizing an existing Magento store, a code review coupled with profiling is the first step to pinpoint any bottlenecks that may already exist.
A reliable service provider for any part of the hosting is paramount. A store can be perfectly optimized, but if the underlying infrastructure fails, it will still go down.
Based on what I have seen with Cloudways hosting, I would like to emphasize on this occasion that it is a serious hosting company that I would highly recommend to my clients. It provides good optimization, reliability, and security with 24/7 active support, which I think are the key items for managing the Magento hosting platform.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: How do you manage security vulnerabilities in Magento and ensure that your clients’ sites are secure?
Milos Petrovic: The safest way to mitigate vulnerabilities is to keep your store up-to-date. Apart from updates, security is additionally strengthened by patches provided by the Magento community for most critical vulnerabilities.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: Can you give an example of a particularly challenging Magento project you have worked on and how you overcame the obstacles you faced?
Milos Petrovic: I would single out Guidefitter.com as an example of the most complex project I’ve worked on. It’s hosted on AWS servers and serves over a million customers and the same number of products. Magento was just one of the microservices in the whole ecosystem.
One of the most demanding implementations then was the headless switch. The entire custom logic has been migrated to GraphQL. In addition to this, an even bigger challenge was that we started developing headless at the same moment when Adobe implemented and launched GraphQL in Magento. At that moment, “Core” GraphQL had too many bugs that we solved because we didn’t have time to wait for their team to solve it in one of the next versions of Magento.
All problems were solved by good communication between the teams, and we can guarantee that GF is one of the first Magento headless projects in the world. Headless is gaining popularity only now; we put it into operation 2 years ago (March-April 2021).
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: How do you approach project management for Magento projects, and what tools and methodologies do you use?
Milos Petrovic: Lobbster uses Scrum (Agile) methodology, Jira, Sprints, etc. I think that when it comes to project management methodology, established and concise rules are set for the purpose of helping us articulate how to operate effectively. We mostly use two-week iterations and work in different ‘release cycles’.
Our main goal is client satisfaction, and for that purpose, the client is allowed to change priorities and create a new issue if needed but must inform a PM about the changes, so a PM can organize the team as well.
Through an agile way of thinking, creating processes, and making decisions, we adopt values and principles that guide and direct us toward constant improvement. Agility recognizes that it is difficult to predict the future and that things change rapidly, especially in the ecommerce world, so it is more important to learn to deal with these changes than to assume what will happen in the future.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: How do you keep up with the latest trends and updates in the Magento ecosystem? Could you also please name a few must-follow industry influencers for everyone?
Milos Petrovic: As we are Adobe Bronze partners, we focus on that, so we tend to follow their webinars, news, etc. Anyone who even remotely wants to deal with Magento should sign up for their webinars and learn all they can about B2B and commerce trends.
I also saw that Cloudways has interesting podcasts where people and developers from the Magento community can share their perspectives on Magento magic. I would like to join it someday to continue our collaboration that way.
Apart from that, we visit Meetups. We visited Digitalk E-Commerce Days in Zrenjanin, Serbia, in April 2023. It was a great opportunity to connect with people from the Serbian Magento community and talk to potential clients. Also, we follow online posts and influencers like Swift Otter and Mark Shust.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: Please share a bit about your team, organization culture, and things you like best about your team.
Milos Petrovic: I already mentioned that Lobbster was founded when a couple of friends decided to create their Magento Dream Team. We based our story on the narrative of a family business, so from this perspective, we can understand our client’s needs and provide them with safe and nurturing support for the growth of their businesses. Also, we passionately built our story from scratch, so we deeply understand the experience of struggling to get to the top. All of this allows us to connect with clients on many levels and to keep in mind that we are not in this business to sell our services but to enable clients to sell theirs. That’s why the slogan of our company is “We Build Storefronts That Convert!”
Togetherness is a very important thing when it comes to Lobbster. In our unique house, besides good coding, we must have good rakija, dry meat, and cheese. Serbs are simply a nation that creates that sense of community through food and gatherings. Probably my favorite part of the working day is when we gather in the kitchen during the break, enjoying food and exchanging ideas. Mixing business and pleasure, in this case, is highly desirable.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: You are an experienced and certified Magento developer. So any advice to the newbies who want to start their career with Magento?
Milos Petrovic: Choose a company where you can learn; developers are not afraid to share their knowledge and experience. But choose wisely and judge whether you want to learn the right way or not. It is very important to differentiate between a Magento developer and a good Magento developer.
My advice is “hard work”, curiosity, and focus on good practice and certification. When I say certification, I don’t mean “getting a paper (badge)”, but learning and filling gaps in knowledge during preparation for getting a certificate.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: Work-Life balance is compulsory for a healthy life, so how do you manage to have a balanced life? What are your hobbies and fun activities that you do to have a stress-free life?
Milos Petrovic: In the movie The Shining, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) feverishly types “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over, meaning that a lack of balance between work and leisure would make a person dull and stunted. I completely agree with this. That’s why I spend my free time as much as possible with my fiancé and our dog Ollie (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi).
Ollie is also a branch assistant at Lobbster and our mascot. She often spends time with us in the office, which was a useful practice for both her and us developers. Since we mostly sit while working, which is not recommended for a healthy life and circulation, anyone can take a free moment to walk Ollie around the neighborhood and stretch their legs simultaneously.
In addition to my love for animals, I would like to highlight my passion for exhibitions. Belgrade has a lot of art galleries and urban places with various artistic events, from photo exhibitions to cafes painted with murals and graffiti, where you can contemplate with yourself or enjoy yourself in good company.
Abdur Rahman Lakhani: Any interesting experience, learning, suggestion, or funny story that you want to share with our readers
Milos Petrovic: Here, I would focus on readers who plan to enter the entrepreneurial waters and offer them a nice metaphor for swimming. Because it’s almost summer, and we are all probably thinking about vacation destinations.
Starting an ecommerce business nowadays is nothing like a non-swimmer entering a pool with clearly defined edges, clearly defined depths, and stagnant water. And it has everything to do with a non-swimmer entering the cold infinite sea surrounded by sharks and other predators of the sea, struggling against the tide, fighting against waves. Therefore, you’ll hardly stay afloat if you don’t have a little orange life jacket (yes, the Magento orange association is clear).
So I can only tell you to breathe, put on your orange life jackets and let us get you safely across the magnificent entrepreneurial sea. I heard that lobsters are extremely good swimmers. They can walk and swim forward and backward using their swimmerets, so I can unabashedly say there is no better option than Lobbster to start your business.
Abdur Rahman is the Magento whizz at Cloudways. He is growth ambitious, and aims to learn & share information about Ecommerce & Magento Development through practice and experimentation. He loves to travel and explore new ideas whenever he finds time. Get in touch with him at [email protected]