February 28, 2018
Known to friends as “Slava,” the Ukrainian is the founder of the eCommerce agency, Atwix, a Magento Partner. He spoke to Magento from Indonesia, where he was working remotely for a week.
Hey Slava. What’s your earliest memory of commerce?
I was born and raised in Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine. My home town is famous for having one of the largest markets in the whole Eastern Europe. It was chaotic and unorganized, with people selling all sorts of stuff. When I was ten years old I was buying and selling leather belts for a profit, while helping my father, who sold leather jackets there.
And how did you get started with computers?
I was always interested in computers, and first got my hands on a modern one in 1996. I was eight years old and the computer – a Pentium 1 – was a gift for my older sister. But I was far more interested in it. Later I came across a little book about HTML and started to teach myself web development.
How long before you were making websites?
When I was 13 years old I started to go from door-to-door in my home town. I started asking local businesses if they needed a website. I managed to find a couple of local clients, but these were rough times in Ukraine. Not everyone was paying their bills and I didn’t look very intimidating! I needed to find work, and when I came across a freelance marketplace, I could find clients worldwide. That was the turning point. That was 2004, and I was 16.
Most teenagers are hanging around causing trouble at 16.
And I was too, but coding at night! [laughs]
Tell us about your first experience with Magento.
Soon my freelancing evolved into starting a company. I started to get more work than I could handle. In 2007 I hired the first guy to help me, and at first we were doing eCommerce with osCommerce. Then we switched to Magento around 2010. Now the business is almost 100 percent Magento.
You’re in a very unique club: You’ve attended every single Imagine conference.
Yes. I think my initial encounter with the Magento Community was attending the first Imagine conference in Los Angeles. You’ll never forget the first time. That was the most intimate experience. We were invited into the Magento office in LA, and there were food trucks in the yard, people hanging around, and a DJ playing inside the office. Lights and everything. Yes, it impressed me a lot and I’ve been at every Imagine since. It’s been a great journey.
How big is Atwix today?
Almost 30 people. We technically don’t have one main office, we have a few locations around the world. We are present in the US, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Austria. The US is our main market and we work with some great clients there like Coyuchi, Cabinets.com, EverydayMinerals… We’ve also done Magento projects for a few major companies in Europe, such as DPD in France, the well-known shipping carrier. It’s like the FedEx of Europe. Sometimes we deliver extensions for Magento technology partners like Feefo, and there are also projects we do with our partners – we work on eCommerce for SEAT, the auto manufacturer, Villeroy & Boch, the manufacturer of ceramics since 1748, and many others.
What’s your favorite life hack?
Just make sure in the evening you have a plan for the next day.
And what are you doing in Indonesia? Vacation?
I live in Slovakia for the most part, but half the year I’m not at home – conferences, meetings and working remotely while traveling. I’m in Indonesia for a week, working right now.
Are you a ‘digital nomad’?
Not quite, but I’m trying to travel the world. I started to travel for business, then I liked it, so I kept going. The big goal is to visit every country in the world. I’ve already done 41.
Wow. Where’s the strangest country you’ve visited?
East Timor. I found accommodation on booking.com, and it turned out to be a guest house inside the Mexican consulate! That’s how I met the Mexican consul. I was under Mexican protection, they told me not to worry about anything! It was a weird, but memorable experience.
What’s next on the list?
Actually, back to Ukraine, Slovakia, then Vegas for Imagine!
Finally, what’s the last thing you purchased online?
A hidden travel wallet. Always be prepared.