October 3, 2018
Magento Masters contribute a lot to the Magento Community so, naturally, people want to know what makes them tick. In this Magento Masters Spotlight, we’re chatting with Kuba Zwolinski, founder and CEO of SNOWDOG eCommerce agency.
Kuba was selected as a Magento Master for 2018 based on his 2017 contributions through organizing Meet Magento Poland and Magento #madeInPoznan, as well as various speaking engagements around cross-border and omnichannel experience with Magento 2 and both moderating and helping others on the Magento Forums.
Who Are You and What Is Your Role?
My name is Kuba Zwolinski. I'm the founder and now CEO of Snowdog, a commerce agency. And I'm ex-developer. I used to work as a full stack developer, but for years I had to stop developing, like coding, and switch to more business position. I'm also vice president of Meet Magento association. This is kind of an honorary role, so I use it to promote Magento all over the world because I'm really passionate about the ecosystem around Magento. It's very unique in enterprise software.
How and When Did You First Get Involved With Magento?
I think it was like nine years ago and I got involved by accident. At that time, my company was developing a lot of different software, not really related to eCommerce. One of my friends wanted to start an e-commerce business. He ordered some custom-built software, and it took months to create it. After all, the company who was going to provide the solution, they failed. I just tried to rescue him. I did a quick research [on] what's available on the market and I found that there was a new piece of software called Magento. It looked very cool. The interface looked very modern and it had a lot of features. So I said, "Well, why not to give it a try? You know, I'm not losing anything. The store doesn't exist. They need a store right now." I managed to set up a store with a slightly-customized front end in two, three days. So that was amazing, and it gave me a very clear sign: "Wow, that's a pretty interesting piece of software. Maybe I should start working more with that." And since that time, the company switched almost completely to Magento.
What Made You Decide to Contribute To The Magento Community?
I think I always really enjoyed the idea of open-source based business. Before Magento, I was working with Wordpress a lot. I was a contributor, I was translating Wordpress, and I was contributing some code to Wordpress. It was fun. It was not only about business but also about knowledge sharing. That's what is also was a great thing in Magento. That was one of the biggest advantages of the system at that time: people around the system and that they share knowledge. Especially at the very beginning, there was no official documentation. The system was powerful, was great, but it was alone. But we had people who discovered things in the cold and were finding solutions, sharing with others. And after years, I'm contributing to Magento and my whole company is contributing to Magento because we feel that we owe it. We grew together with Magento, started with smaller clients and moved together to enterprise level. It was possible also because of open source solutions that we had this advantage. We could start with a much better solution than other eCommerce systems. That's why we continue contribution.
How Has Becoming A Magento Master Impacted Your Life?
There is one really important thing that I learned the term "coopetition." It means cooperation and competition. That creates a completely new aspect of a business that it's very unique with other Magento agencies. We can compete and we can cooperate in the same time. Together we create some solid basic solutions. So, we all have like a much better start and then we can compete on much higher level. That's one of the most important things that I learned here, that we can grow business, we can build business, more on cooperation than competition. It's extremely important.
What Is One Piece Of Advice You Live By And Would Like To Pass On To Other Developers?
I think it will be always that sharing is a great base of every business. Especially in software development, all of what we do is not really a rocket science. Every company can do the same, but if we think about sharing knowledge, we can, together, build much better solutions. That's what attract me to Magento, to Magento community. What will always be my best advice: don't be afraid to share because even if you think that your solution is so unique and you spent so much time, it doesn't mean that someone else cannot recreate it, you know, in few weeks, few months. It's much better to be the first and share with others and then just focus on new solutions. Then all have some benefits from that. So, yeah, sharing solutions, knowledge, and experience is always a good thing to do.
Do You Have A Tip For Merchants And Developers To Maximize Partnership?
I think from my trainings it’s, it's really important to understand that even if they have the best solution provider, best developers hired with some other company, they should learn also by themselves. They should keep learning, they should know the tool they're using. Even if they have the best company in the world providing solutions for them, the other company will not replace internal knowledge, internal trainings. I think the merchants who know that they should learn, they should attend conferences, they should read whitepapers, and just educate themselves about the tool they are using, they are much more successful. They know how to control their budgets and the whole roadmap of the project. If the merchant can control their roadmap and really knows what they want, it makes life easier also for developers. I think also from other side, for developers to make their every project easier, is to think twice before they communicate something to merchants. Because it's all about communication, about the language. We have to try as developers, we have to understand that some other people may not understand what we are communicating. And what's even worse, these people may be afraid to say that they don't understand. They will just confirm, "Oh, it's okay." It may be a start of a big problem in projects because misunderstanding and communication problems are one of the most common, like, ways to failure in projects. I think this communication and education on both sides is really important to make every project easier.
What Does Being A Magento Master Mean To You?
First of all, it's really nice recognition of my contribution. I didn't really expect that, but it's nice, I have to say. It also gives a little bit more of credibility that maybe my work or my advice, my suggestions are more important to some people. Sometimes it helps me also spread the word about Magento, about open source, sharing, and all this stuff. So, it's just a great recognition that also helps in all business-related activities.
Do You Have Anything Else to Add?
My contribution in all this, you know, outside of regular work, is possible also because people around me like my family understand my passion about that. They know that all the travels and my presentations around the world they're just important parts of not only my business, but also on my life. I think that the fact that I'm a contributor to the Magento ecosystem and Magento Master, it's also part of them helping me, my wife, my kids. It's always important that contributing is a great thing and, the same time, it's important to find balance. It's not only about work, not only about traveling, but is important to find time for family and say thank you to them.