Our good friend, Andrew Warner from Mixergy.com interviewed Roy Rubin, Varien CEO to learn more about the Magento Story. The 40 minute interview reveals how Magento got off the ground and some of the ambitious plans for the future.
Doing consulting work revealed problems in the market
We worked in the space for a long time and understood very well what the platforms and the market could do and couldn’t do. We had clients calling us all day long and we had a name in the market and the clients called and said “you know what, here’s what I want to do and can OS Commerce do it?: and we said “well it can, but its just going to be very difficult to do that.”
Varien decided to create a solution, Magento
I had a couple developers that were basically saying “we’re bored of what we’re doing and we want to do something different,” and I had to occupy them because they were great and they’re a tremendous asset to the company
I said, “you know what? Why don’t I give you this little side project. Spend a couple months, and see where you are after that.”
They kind of sold this opportunity and this project to me and then I ended-up buying it. So I Ended-up saying “You know, let’s really go all-in. Let’s put everything we’ve got into this.”
Blogging helped establish their reputation
We blogged to establish Varien as a strong player in the market that developed an expertise and educates the market about the best practices we saw as important and trends we saw happening in the market.
We sometimes promoted our work, but it wasn’t the focus. I can tell you it was probably the minority of the posts on the blog if that even. It was rare that we wrote about our own work, initially at least. But we did work very, very hard to get posts up and to get them daily to make sure that people saw Varien at the top of their RSS feed and thoguht about what Varien was doing. And thinking.
Their community grew — and grew loud
You really have to disseminate between different types of stakeholders in the market and what they really want and what they can contribute back.
I don’t have some checklist formula to that. I listen to a lot of people and I’m very receptive to feedback and learning from their experiences. But I think at the end of the day, deep-down I have a strategy and I have a vision and I know that it takes a collective effort from our team to execute. I know what we can do and I know what we can’t do. Within those constraints and within the vision of the family that I have moving forward, I’m pretty confident that I’m making the right decisions.
The feedback that we get obviously helps kind of build that vision and the strategy. So it’s not like this is the direction we’re going to go and we’re going to just put our head down and go through the wall until it happens, it’s a vision that evolves and it’s a strategy that continuously changes based on the market opportunities.
The hours were (and still are) “nuts”
It’s monumental. The amount of hours that we put into the company today is just… it’s nuts.
At some point we hope that’s going to slow down. But I can tell you that in the eighteen to twenty-four months since we started the project, it’s been the exact opposite. I’ve always thought that, hey with the next release I think we’re going to be okay and maybe I can, you know, let go of the foot on the gas but no. It’s the exact opposite.
The mission is big
It changes as the opportunities change and as we start to make headway in various areas. But, I think the mission for us is really to, first and foremost, disrupt the market in a way that democratizes ecommerce.