I was excited to head to Athens for the fifth Meet Magento Greece. Steficon is new to the Meet Magento organizer community, taking over from the previous event host, Converge. MM19GR hosted attendants from the USA, Latvia, India, Albania, North Macedonia, and Poland.

    The opulent Zappeion Megaron was the venue of choice. It was built for the 1st modern Olympic games in Athens. It did host the games...only 9 years later! It is apparently the first building to have been built to serve modern Olympic needs, worldwide. The architecture was remarkable, but of course, there was more in store with respect to architectural masterpieces like the crowning glory - the Acropolis.

    MM19GR was hosted at the same venue as the ECDM Expo 2019 and we had access to the marketplace and content of both events. The marketplace was extensive and we were glad we had 2 days to navigate through it all. Our phones were ablaze with social media support of the event as well as email and text messages asking at what time we would arrive. Yes, I was running late :) The view on the walk over was impressive and required many stops for photography and of course to wear down the battery on what would be a really active phone that day! 

    We were very warmly received by Michail Sarantinos of Steficon, as well as others in the community we had encouraged to attend - Alex Tse of Scandiweb and Ami Verma of Techies India to name a few. We were eager to meet the Steficon team as well. Michail sported orange pants so he would be easy to find indeed!

    I was honored to have the opening talk of the day and I hoped it would be as motivating as I planned - a little Magento history, background on the Meet Magento Association and of course the Magento Association as well as multiple opportunities to contribute to and grow our community. My collection of hilarious pictures collected across various events was sure to help. I was scheduled to speak again later that day at the ECDM expo as well and I was glad to be able to attend a number of great talks in between. It was not clear what percentage of the audience at the ECDM expo was familiar with or using Magento so I had some research to do as well as use some on-stage interaction to determine what adjustments were necessary.

    Alex Tse of Scandiweb was an energetic speaker and of course, PWA was a hot topic. His talk inspired lots of interest and he was certainly a tough act to follow!

    Ami Verma was new to speaking at a Meet Magento event and did a great job. I enjoy spreading the word about community events and encouraging new speakers. He was grateful for the introduction and I am always pleased to see new speakers at community events. MM19GR hosted many great talks. The presentation decks are available here

    The day ended with a formal three-course dinner with conference attendees and dignitaries including the Vice Minister of eCommerce. It was interesting to interact with a broader audience of eCommerce professionals including diamond traders, as well as many just starting up with Magento. It was also amazing to be a part of Greek traditions, festivities, and of course wine!

    Day 2 of the event left time for networking and covering the extensive marketplace. It was a great opportunity to meet with the broader eCommerce community. The ECDM Expo, according to their press release, welcomed around 3,500 visitors and more than 100 companies as exhibitors and sponsors. It was an incredible experience to speak at a general eCommerce event and later chat with folks who were only just starting up with or developing an interest in the platform. I look forward to further discussions with them.

    Michail was an amazing culture and site guide and we loved chatting with him about recent trends, the economic situation, and life in Greece. It is amazing how many similarities we found across the various cultures at our table alone. It is indeed a small world and we hopefully did a great job of expanding our community.

    - Marsha Naidoo

  • Meet Magento Spain Recap

    It was an absolute delight to arrive in Madrid on 10/26 with the weather in the upper 60s. We were ready for a contribution day on 10/27, followed by MM19ES on 10/28.

    The contribution day had lots in store with many familiar faces, including at least four of our friends from the community engineering group. There was also the promise of an amazing lunch personally prepared by Nacio (Ignacio Riesco). What we did not realize at first, was that we had to adjust our body clocks somewhat. Lunchtime in Spain is apparently at 2 pm!  It was certainly worth the wait! The suspense built up with the smell of spices and paella preparation wafting in from the kitchen, as well as frequent appearances by Enrique from behind a closed kitchen door. He emerged many times, bearing utensils and the like. Finally, he appeared bearing Spanish tortilla, something that looked like bitterballen and the largest empanada I have ever seen! Rioja and beer were welcome beverages indeed and we were beckoned into the kitchen for large servings of paella.

     It made for a happy crowd indeed. Plates were empty in no time and a drenched, pleased Ignacio emerged from the kitchen to join us. He had worked hard and looked rather proud!

    The venue for Meet Magento Spain, Goya Theatre, was a cinema with multiple theatres. Ignacio was there to meet me at registration and I was lucky enough to get the royal tour. It was impressive indeed! Not only were there massive screens, but also inset video for those sitting at a distance from the front row. The front row was almost too close!

    This was the 5th Meet Magento Spain in Madrid, hosted by Interactiv4. Madrid is the business hub of Spain and the marketplace was buzzing with both sponsors and guests. Interactiv4 had a large team assisting with the event and it was great to meet them all. 

    I received a warm welcome as a speaker at the event and was handed a thoughtful gift. I made my way to the room I would be speaking in, to review the layout and stage setup. I was delighted that there would be fourconsecutive talks in English, all of which I wanted to attend. My talk was preceded by Victoria Yashchuk of Atwix. I was sure this would draw a crowd who I hoped would be interested in my talk as well. Victoria’s talk was excellent and entertaining and she was assisted by raccoons...guess you will have to watch the videos! It was a wonderful environment and I felt confident. The audience was incredibly interactive and I found myself feeding off it. Next up was Antonija Tadic and Valentin Radu. These were great talks as was Max Yekaterynenko's talk earlier that day with respect to Magento Community Engineering. I was especially interested in the rise in pull requests and community code contributions. The best part of the afternoon of talks was all 4 of us supporting each other. This was one of the most rewarding speaking sessions ever due to the support of other speakers in the room and the audience interaction. I was relieved that they appreciated my sense of humor!

    At Meet Magento Romania just a month before I met someone brand new to our community. It was great to talk with her and share experiences. I was really glad to meet her and help with her orientation. I filled her in on various industry events and responded to questions. It was really rewarding that she attended both MLEU19 and MM19ES after hearing about it from me. She was grateful and it was amazing to hear about her experience as a first time attendee. It is always great to see new industries join the community and to attempt to be helpful.

    The closing session of the day included an Interactiv4 team picture which gave us a chance to thank the team who had worked so hard. 

    Our reward after two amazing days was kart racing at the afterparty! We impatiently sat through the mandatory safety presentation and could not wait to get out on the race track. I was delighted to not finish last in my group :) but it would have been fun regardless!

    We ended the evening with of course, the after-after party and great conversation. I look forward to MM20ES and perhaps doin g a little better than "not last" at karting! :D

    -Marsha Naidoo

  • Recapping Meet Magento Baltics

    Two firsts in one trip! I had never been to the first edition of a Meet Magento event or to the Baltics, so I was really excited about the opportunity to speak at Meet Magento Baltics in Riga.

    Riga, the capital of Latvia, is also the biggest city in the Baltic states, which include Estonia and Lithuania. Riga’s historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so I chose to stay in the heart of Old Town which was simply breathtaking.

    This city made us glad we no longer have to rely on camera film!
    A more modern experience for sure, but one of the most unique libraries I have seen was in this city. Sadly, we did not have time to explore it, but perhaps we will be back next year. Of course I explored it online. It will have to remain a forthcoming attraction for now.

    MM Baltics was hosted by Scandiweb, an international agency with headquarters in Riga. Scandiweb has their own PWA solution which has certainly been a hot topic at various Magento events I have attended recently.
    The event started with an elegant speaker dinner on the banks of the Daugava river. It was an amazing dinner and a great opportunity for focussed conversations and getting to know people, many for the first time. I was delighted to have 2 team members from Scandiweb at my table so I could learn more about the city and Scandiweb's approach to a Meet Magento event. Speakers were greeted the next day by a makeup artist! Males and females alike were prepped and powdered much to the delight of this familiar face, Sander Mangel - love that shine! :)

    In true event fashion, the event MCs flight was delayed. Maris Skujins stepped in and did a wonderful job getting to know speakers and running the day-long agenda. It was my first opportunity to meet Maris and Glebs Vrevskis, as well as Evija Riduze-Skujina after communicating with them by email for some time. Their work has expanded into the US and we look forward to working with them in future. We met lots of community members for the first time which made this particular event especially interesting, not that meeting old friends is not!

    Leendert van Delft of DHL delivered a really entertaining talk called “Power up your potential: Generation CX.” I’d love to hear him speak at other events. This was certainly one of the more energetic talks I have been at.

    The same for Jonathan Ribas of Zadiq and Voltaire and Matthias Boulliung of Nescafe. Their talks are amongst the best merchant accounts I have heard and I look forward to learning more from them in the future. I especially loved how eager they both were to chat later and I sat in on Jonathan’s talk once again at Magento Live Europe in October 2019.

    It was surprising to hear that Latvia has a higher number of certified Magento devs per capita than France, the USA, the Netherlands, and the Baltics. What’s more, Latvia has a higher number per capita than all of those added together!

    Meet Magento Baltics also stood out as the event with the largest Magento Logo ever! :) You can imagine, lots of pictures were taken here. All of the talks at this event were in English and networking was easy for us for sure. 

    We had time to visit the large Central Market the following day. There were various outdoor as well as indoor areas with a host of merchandise including food, clothing, produce, sweet treats and amazing bread. We found one of the best suppliers of black rye bread and we could not get enough. To our surprise, the assistants at wine bars, even at the "food court" at this market were extremely knowledgeable about wines and accurate with descriptions. It certainly broadened options and altered my preferences. I had to go home with two of my new favorites. The weather was surprisingly crisp (well below 50F) closer to our departure from Riga, but I will always remember the warmth of the Scandiweb team and folks we met in the delightful city of Riga.

    -Marsha Naidoo

  • A Meet Magento Poland Recap

    I finally made it out to Meet Magento Poland, one of the oldest in our series of Meet Magento events.  I remember getting advice from one of the organizers, Marta Molinksa, many years ago before I hosted MMNY so I was excited to finally attend an event she set up!

    This was to be the 8th MMPL and I was eager to experience the result of Snowdog's many years of event experience. The first was back in 2012 and it’s exciting to see how the event has progressed. 

    One of the unique things about MMPL is that it is hosted at a new venue each year, sometimes in  a new city as well!! To not only find great spaces but to expertly manage various details of setup and logistics is a huge undertaking. I am told they prefer a new venue to offer attendees a unique experience each year. I love that it is a 2-day event, especially since we traveled quite  a distance to attend! It is always amazing to have an additional day of great content and networking.

    This year, the event was in an amazing industrial space that has been converted into a museum in Katowice. “Walcownia, is a multi award-winning antique space. Originally a mill for rolling zinc sheets, the incredible 100-year old machinery is still preserved and operational.”  Katowice was refreshing and is perhaps not a place we may have visited outside of the event, so we were grateful. The city had just recently instituted a new policy which meant almost all businesses were closed on a Sunday. This was a little traumatizing for folks in overdrive on conference mode :) but delightfully infectious to see folks relaxing.

    The Snowdog team did an amazing job with dramatic lighting and unique stage setups. Three stages of content made it tough to choose which talk to attend.

    It was no surprise that there was standing room only at Jisse Reitsma’s talk “How Magento extensions will fit into PWA”. PWA continues to be one of the hottest topics at events we attend. 

    The demo was really popular as an open-source option for pagebuilder functionality.

    Remus Lucut’s talk, “Grow and optimize your business using SaaS tools” drew a crowd as did Igor Miniailos talk, “A long way from Monolith to Service Isolated Architecture”

    Igor was also very willing to later share details on his talk which is always helpful. I was delighted to find a few members of the Magento engineering team at the event who are always willing to be helpful.

    Ignacio Riesco did an amazing job as MC and looked rather comfortable on stage! :) Hats off on pronunciation of Polish names!

    The afterparty was really fun and we spent quality time with great people. The tattoo booth added hilarity and maybe even my 3rd Magento tattoo! We were sad to leave, but we were convinced by Ignacio Riesco to leave the downtown area and split into 2 taxis only to find the only open location of... wait for it... a KFC! It was so worth it to sit down with friends and fellow Meet Magento organizers to compare notes and plans to help each other over a bucket of KFC at 2 am :)

    I look forward to MM20PL, the city and venue of choice, and our tradition of ending yet again with a gourmet KFC experience with friends, old and new!


    -Marsha Naidoo

  • Meet Magento Romania Recap

    Little did I know when I was invited to speak at MM19RO that it was the 6th Meet Magento event in Romania!  This was my first trip to the country and I was excited to visit the capital city, as well as meet with the Blugento team once again. With 5 years of experience and an extensive network in the region, I was sure this would be an event to remember.

    MMRO was previously held in Cluj-Napoca, Blugento's home base, and this was the first time the event took place in Bucharest. The Sheraton provided a lovely venue with great speaking rooms for both the tech and business tracks. 

    I have to admit, I spent more time at the technical track once I heard Anton Kril of Magento give the most entertaining, deeply technical talk I have ever heard. I am not sure anyone else can place such an amusing spin on the evolution of the Magento API.

    I’m glad I attended Jonathan Roeder’s talk as well, that demystified the role of a principal scientist at Magento. Now, my world is coded in terms of what are cats and what are not cats :) Guess you will have to find the video to understand... ;)

    Adrian Balcan's talk - “Taking VSF from Local Env to K8S Production & Operations” was certainly one not to be missed.

    Igor Miniailo, as usual, did not disappoint. His talks usually feel like opening a floodgate of great info! I heard him speak less than a week before MMRO, but he managed to give yet another amazing talk, “The long way from Monolith to Service Isolated Architecture.” I also managed to discover another of Igor’s skills and passions later that night at dinner: dancing! No, I am not joking, he is a great dancer!

    Lunch at the event was one of the best I have seen at a Meet Magento event and the Ziband (with members from the company Zitec!) concluded Day 1 with an amazing rock performance.  What’s more, we got to hear Ben Marks on drums which is a rare treat. I learned that a drummer needs to be invited to use another drummer’s sticks!

    Day 2 was well attended and the audience was extremely responsive. One of the things that stands out for me is that Blugento pulls off an amazing event, and is incredibly collaborative and helpful to other event organizers. I loved that Vlad Stanescu conducted interviews with speakers. I am looking forward to listening in once they are published!

    I hoped I’d have the chance to meet Thomas Fleck, one of the founders of the Meet Magento Association, but I guess I will just have to go back next year. 

    Bucharest was easy to navigate and accommodation and meals were fairly inexpensive. I was glad to have a day to explore the city. Even though lots of the amazing architecture had been destroyed through history, it was still exciting to find those which were not. We also found one of the most impressive bookstores around!

    The Blugento team was kind enough to host drinks with speakers which offered great one on one time with some locals whom I had not spent much time with previously...except on social media of course :) Marius Strajeru and Remus Lucut stand out in my mind and will certainly be lifelong friends. I had previously met Vlad Stanescu at Imagine and he has been really helpful to Meet Magento organizers. As a follow-up, I was touched that they all made time to come find me at the end of Magento Live Europe to say goodbye before heading home. This is why I love this community!

    -Marsha Naidoo

  • MagentoLive Australia 2019 Highlights

    Nineteen hours of flying you say? Yes please, especially when that means exchanging the polar vortex and shoveling my driveway for 25C, the beautiful Darling Harbour, and the pleasure of attending Magento Live Australia 2019! What a great chance to catch up with the movers and shakers of the Magento world in the Asia Pacific region.

    We invited all MLAU guests to a happy hour the night before the event. Research was necessary in order to find the perfect location! After a picturesque walk around Darling Harbour scouting out locations, we found ourselves at a lovely outdoor location right next to the ICC. Of course, we needed to sample the menu and were intrigued by this location that featured a Campari bar! We had an amazing team building session at Fratelli Fresh assisted by some of the best negronis ever. Great happy hour, if you’re ever in the area!

    We returned the day after to welcome our happy hour guests. We finally got to buy Ben Marks a negroni (long story) and he was not a fan :) He politely nursed it until we rescued him with a beer.  The Paypal team was amazing and stopped by before their own team building. Always great to see them. Those amazing negronis, beer, wine, and great company made it a success and we ended happy, full and ready for MLAU!

    MageMojo Happy Hour

    Bright and early the next morning we headed over to the ICC for day one of MLAU19. Let me say it now – the food was great! Truffled eggs in a breakfast burrito and plenty of good, strong coffee – just the thing to fight off jet lag and get things started on the right foot.

    We made sure to attend Paypal’s panel on Closing the Mobile Revenue Gap – a huge issue in ecommerce and we’re certainly doing our part to make sure your site loads as fast as hell. As always, Rob Long hosted a stellar panel with experts like Zee Aganovic, James Horne, and Alana Fennessy.

    We have to admit that we mostly attended technical talks – go figure, we’re a bunch of geeks! Big standouts were Anton Kril’s talk where he managed to not accidentally deprecate anything (maybe) and Alex Paliarush’s talk on the ever-improving graphQL support in Magento. Of course, PWA was a hot topic – Magento’s PWA studio has just been released, and sites that can move to PWA promise to have many advantages over those who don’t! Blake Morgan and Carolyn Breeze (Braintree)  lit up the stage with engaging talks on customer success and the future of payments. Delighted that we had the unique opportunity of chatting with Carolyn later that evening and yes Carolyn we are waiting for your submission to Meet Magento New York 2019! :)

    After a long first day, we were ready to party! We headed down the harbor side to the official after-party. What a blast!

    Afterparty food

    Two things really stood out. There was a photo booth that took synchronized pictures from a bunch of cameras and combined them into cool hologram-like printed pictures – rotating the picture changes the angle of the photo you see. The coolest thing by far was the DJ table. It was a lighted table with a bunch of small tiles around the edge, each with a unique QR code. Placing a tile on the table would alter the music being played at that moment – add or remove a bass line, drum line, melody, etc. Moving the tile on the table would change pitch and volume and raising all the central tiles at once would stop all of the music! It was really intriguing to play with different combinations and figure out how it worked!

    This particular team seemed to hog the DJ booth :)

    PayPal DJs Rachel Campagnolo and Rob Long

    Great fun hanging out with everyone there, and of course, the end of the after party is never the end!  Next up, the after-after-party at the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel bar (aka PBH) open 24hrs! No more needs to be said!

    Next morning we were ready for day two – with a very healthy infusion of strong coffee! Thank you, Magento for professional coffee makers!

    One of the highlights on day two was the dev exchange. This was set up as round table discussions, each with a specific topic, and a moderator (usually from Magento) to help spur conversation and answer questions. We attended both the devbox and the Magento Association/event organizing discussions (two subjects near and dear to our hearts). We enjoyed this chance to freely trade ideas with attendees interested in the topic at hand.

    We arrived in Australia with some awesome Mojo Stratus branded headphones that we were dying to give away. We encouraged guests to enter the draw and as the event drew to a close it was time to pick a lucky winner. A random draw came up with Andrew Beale as the lucky winner. Luckily he was still at the event. The headphones surely served him well on his trip home. Look out for the MageMojo team at your next event, you may be lucky enough to snag one of these!

    Sadly, it was all too soon time for us to take the long, long flight back home to winter! We packed our bags with Timtams and Vegemite and headed to the airport. We had just gotten to love the expression “How ya going?” and who knew Jennifer Garcia is a DJ at heart! We look forward to our next expedition down under – and to Imagine 2019!

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