When passion meets reality, it helps you scale the most momentous of tasks. The success story of Kuba Zwolinski—the Chief Executive Officer of SnowDog an ecommerce mobile app development agency—is an awe-inspiring one that reflects on his dedication, passion, and his interests.
With more than eight years of experience in ecommerce and Magento development, Kuba is one of the most well known Magento entrepreneurs of his age. Being a Magento Certified Solutions Specialist, he loves to come out with cutting edge solutions for Magento developers and end users. He is a keen follower of Magento trends and one can look up to him when it comes to organizing Meet Magento events in Poland and elsewhere.
He is a strong advocate of the role of Magento community, which has been very active in making Magento, the premier content management system for ecommerce websites.
Today we, at Cloudways, are really honored to have Kuba Zwolinski on board. During the interview, he has shared his opinions about the current trends within Magento industry, the role community, his interests, and what future holds for Magento, after the release of Magento 2.0 in beta.
Cloudways: I was amazed while going through your LinkedIn profile. Being the owner of a famous company with strong web development background, what made you to start your career in Mage World? Why did you decide to choose Magento?
Kuba: I would say that it was just the right place and time. It was “dark time” of Magento version 0.8. Even then, without documentation and experience, we were able to set up new store in few days to save our old client, who had problems with other company building for him a custom solution for months. That was our first step into ecommerce and very soon changed into full commitment.
Cloudways: Currently, you work as the Founder & CEO of SnowDog, which is a creative digital studio with specialized ecommerce and mobile solutions. What made you start this project, especially while you were working as CTO of Trail.pl? What is the story behind SnowDog?
Kuba: Trail.pl is a startup I founded with partner, while Snowdog was always my main business—and nothing changes here. SnowDog “was born” in New York in 2003 after my first sizeable web project for a photographers’ agency. That was the big step from freelance world into agency projects.
Cloudways: You are the organizer of Meet Magento Poland. What are the major advantages of these type of events in Magento Community? Recently, you were a part of Meet Magento Germany. Why don’t you share some of your most awesome moments from Meet Magento Germany with our readers?
Kuba: From the very beginning, the big part of our business comes from community efforts. I was always amazed how “co-opetition” (cooperative competition) can become a great business strategy. My role in Meet Magento events’ organization is just an attempt to give something back to community which brings us so amazing business. Sharing knowledge and experience during networking is a huge part of every Meet Magento, in my opinion even more important than actual conference content. After all, Magento community is all about real people and real connections.
Meet Magento Germany is always the most important of all MM events. It was born there and it’s still an awesome experience. The after-party is legendary!
Cloudways: We all know that there exists a fierce competition within the ecommerce industry. How do you see the future of Magento in the coming 3 years? What are your predictions, if any, regarding future developments in Magento?
Kuba: Magento already enjoys a very strong position in the market. We don’t worry about projects, as ecommerce is not an industry that could switch technology in few days. Even after introducing stable Magento 2.x, older versions of Magento will be available on the market for many years. Of course, Magento 2.0’s launch is a crucial event in the nearest future. We all need that fresh approach and some newer technologies in our day-to-day work to keep learning and growing.
In my opinion, for next year or two we will be still focused mostly on Magento 1.x but at the same time will be working on 2.x with new projects, I’m actually very excited about that.
Cloudways: As a Magento Solution Specialist, what do you think are the most important steps to take if you want to start working in Magento? Share some tips with our readers.
Kuba: Magento is quite a complex system. I can’t imagine that you can learn Magento just from books or training to be skilled Magento Solution Specialist. If you don’t work already with Magento stores and clients, the best way is to setup simple store for yourself (you can put real or fictitious products there) and try to imagine that you’re a seller, work on your promotions and strategy to learn how you can achieve that with just Magento store panel.
Discovering Magento’s “out of the box” features is a must before you dive into customizations.
Cloudways: Your Twitter profile brands you as an adventurous person. You seem to be into Kayaking and trail running. Share some adventure-filled experience with our readers. You have two kids as well. How hard it is to strike a balance between your work, adventure and family life?
Kuba: I have three kids. It’s definitely not easy to find the right balance but with my family, loving outdoors as much as I do, it’s not that difficult. Of course I travel much less than few years ago and try to avoid the most risky situations.
There is a huge benefit of international Magento community again – when traveling around the world with Meet Magento series, I always have a chance to do something interesting in new places – awesome trail running in Cluj Napoca, white-water kayaking in Leipzig, sailing in New York… Check twitter hashtag #magerunning to see how popular it is now to do something more active around every conference.
Last year, we pushed it even further, supporting business-adventure event in China, bringing together businessmen and executives from different industries to Gobi desert to hike, run and build unique relationships.
It was an awesome opportunity to meet real Chinese business and create strong links between China and western world. If you’re interested, check out http://businesstrek.org/ where we keep all information about the event.
Cloudways: We all have someone who inspire us to become great individuals. Who are your most top influencers in the Magento world. With whom did you look most forward to connecting with in Meet Magento?
Kuba: There are way too many people to mention just one here and not to harm others. I’m inspired by the general community concept, how we work together to build something great.
Cloudways: With Magento 2.0 Beta already in the market, have you noticed any significant difference in Magento’s core architecture and functionality as compared to previous versions? What are your predictions for 2015? What’s your opinion about eBay’s acquisition of Magento?
Kuba: There are big changes and discussing them is way beyond this interview. For me, the biggest and most valuable change is the new approach of keeping everything on GitHub and accepting pull requests from community. It’s real open source way. In terms of eBay’s acquisition/sale etc.
I have no opinion, it’s something interesting but not crucial to Magento community which will keep growing regardless of the company standing behind core development.
Cloudways: Magento’s ecosystem is built around extensions and modules. Name five of the most important extensions that you cannot dream to live without, while developing your own website?
Kuba: I can live with pure Magento. 🙂
To mention some modules we install very often, I’d say it’s Matrixrate module from WSA, Fooman’s Speedster Advanced and GA Plus, AOE’s Scheduler and our own awesome SOLR module (unfortunately for internal use only)
Cloudways: Coming back to the platform, what do you think is the most easiest way to improve Magento security? What is the most common reason for a slow Magento website? Does website hosting play a big part in slow Magento stores?
Kuba: Magento is secure enough to stay. We just need to understand what open source means and don’t ignore any patch and fix published by community.
The most common reason for Magento website is usually Magento 😉 That’s the price for such flexible modularity. However, with tweaks here and there it can be extremely fast as well.
Hosting is definitely a key element in Magento store development. It’s not even about hardware but about sysadmins who really know how to deal with Magento. We will not fix the core code and they need to understand that 🙂
You can follow Kuba Zwolinsk on Twitter.
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