Magento Q&A: Brent Peterson
February 16, 2018
How do you describe your role in the Magento community?
My job is helping to bridge the technical gap between the merchant and the developer. I help both sides understand what the other side is thinking or feeling.
Who came up with the name Wagento?
Well, I guess that could have been me. I just started by changing some letters around, and Pagento just didn’t sound as good.
Was it inspired by Mario, and his nemesis Wario?
[laughs] Yes, and there’s Wag-neto as well.
What’s your greatest Magento achievement?
We built the Magento Marketplace in 2016. We had eight weeks to do it, and we accomplished it with three people from Wagento and five people from Magento in Ukraine. It was a really good experience, everybody clicked, we launched it just in time for Imagine. If there’s anything we can point to that was a good experience in working with multiple teams, that would be it.
Describe life working at Wagento.
Well, our US office is in Minneapolis but we have a unique situation, we’re split across three offices, North America, Bolivia, and India, but we don’t necessarily split up teams by office. So, we are multicultural, in the sense that we have four distinct cultural regions.
What are the benefits of working so globally?
We embrace the different cultures. What does it mean to be a developer in Bolivia? And how can we embrace and learn from these different cultures? How can we take that team’s strengths and use it to a greater advantage for everybody?
And what have you learned?
I just spent three weeks in our office in Ahmedabad, India. I think that what India offers is enthusiasm. They are relentless in pursuing a vision. From a sales perspective, they never let a deal go until the deal is dead. That might be a generalization but that is a trait that’s very strong in the Indian culture. I think it’s a great trait.
How do you keep up with your running hobby when you’re in foreign countries?
Well, I ran the Mumbai marathon.
How did you do?
I was very slow. My time was 4:45. It was 93 degrees and I trained in minus 10 and minus 20 conditions here in Minnesota. Wherever I go, I get up early and go for a run. I went to training in Barcelona last year for MOM (Magento Order Management), and I was able to see a good chunk of the city by running 20k or 21k every day. I took some snaps. I go to Mexico City quite often, and I get out and about and see things you don’t see from a car.
What are the strangest sights you’ve seen on your runs?
In India I was running down a street and dogs were standing on top of cars barking and howling. Then I came across a herd of cattle with a guy prodding them along with a stick. Then suddenly the cows start taking off and I got worried, ‘oh my gosh is this guy going to get mad at me because I’m chasing his cows down the road?’
And what foreign delicacies have you discovered on your travels?
Today I had a long conversation with Magento people about Marmite sandwiches. I’m a huge Marmite fan. I was coming through Heathrow once and we were in the British Airways lounge when I noticed a jar of Marmite. I made myself a big Marmite sandwich and my wife had to get up and move.
How do you describe the ideology at Wagento?
We encourage everybody to think a little bit out of the box. In Minnesota, it’s not a strict office environment. It’s only 15 people here, so it’s not huge. But our staff can bring their animals to work.
When you say animals, you mean dogs?
Yes, we don’t have cows here!
What’s the last thing you purchased online?
I bought the book Rest. It’s about making sure that you’re not working all the time. I started reading it on the plane back from India.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
That's one thing that has really been weighing on me. Just having some downtime when you’re not working is so important. I think you can be a lot more productive when you’re not doing work all the time. Having said that my work bleeds into my real life which drives my wife crazy!
What extra-curricular activities do you find in Minnesota?
Wagento is sponsoring a pond hockey team. Minnesota hosts a pond hockey tournament with all kinds of teams. They plough out the lakes and play pond hockey. I’m not playing.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Oh. Gosh, it’s probably my stupid phone.
How did you decide to start the Big Dam Run?
We’ve been doing it for seven years now. The first time we did it was a labor of love – a 10k half marathon. My wife Susan [President & CEO at Wagento] found this race in Las Vegas and then we got other people to do it. About 25 people came along, we rented a bus and jumped into the race. In 2016 Mark Lavelle ran with us. Last year we actually rented the top deck of the Hoover Dam and started there. We had 135 runners. It’s grown exponentially every year. If you’re a runner – or just want to tour the dam – and you’re going to Imagine, you shouldn’t miss the Big Dam Run.