Envision Ecommerce Interviews Andrei Vashkevich, Amasty’s Founder & CEO
We’re back with another inspiring interview and this time it’s with the founder & CEO of Amasty, Andrei Vashkevich. Andrei started his journey as a developer. Currently he is managing the whole company as its CEO and only looks after the management and business relations. Besides his professional life, he enjoys the 20th century rock music and loves traveling. So without any further ado, let’s read more about him.
Envision Ecommerce: Andrei Vashkevich, our research shows that you are an experienced Magento Certified and Zend Certified developer and also the founder, CTO and CEO at Amasty. But by chance, if someone doesn’t know you well, could you please introduce yourself and shed some light on your career journey till date?
Andrei Vashkevich: Well, I started my journey as a developer in primary school, participated in programming competitions and created my first HTML site when I was twelve.
After that, I took interest in C++, Java, PHP, and other technologies. With time, I started to work as a developer, growing from a junior specialist to a senior developer and a department lead.
When Amasty was founded, I developed a lot of extensions myself and was managing the dev department, too. Now my focus is switched to business relations and managing the whole company as its CEO.
Envision Ecommerce: You have been working hard since your inception in the IT industry and then in Magento field, and that results in having a proficient team & company like Amasty. What kind of challenges did you face during your initial days? How did you overcome those problems and difficulties?
Andrei Vashkevich: When we started Amasty, there were only three of us – Alex Stelmakh, Val Grikian, and me. This kind of start means that nothing is easy!
We learned everything from scratch – from investigating the market needs to basic products promotion, from providing support for our first clients to hiring the very first colleagues, and we’re proud that some of them are still with us today.
We had only two steady things – our vast experience of web development and our determination to build great e-commerce products. And those helped us to overcome each and every challenge.
Envision Ecommerce: What inspired you to start using Magento as an eCommerce solution and to become a Magento Certified? What are the benefits of having such certifications in your career?
Andrei Vashkevich: Magento is a well-known, complex and innovative solution. Working with it means that your business becomes global, which, on the one hand, gives you more opportunities when it comes to company growth, and, on the other hand, it’s some serious competition and higher standards of products and services, which inevitably means you are to comply with them by expanding your knowledge and expertise.
Besides, the e-commerce domain was a very promising business field back in the days of Amasty birth, and now, after 8 years, it’s still growing.
Magento certification is another form of education. Of course, I was an experienced Magento developer when I got certified, but when you are preparing for the examination, you get to understand the structure of the system deeper. It’s more important than just a badge on your profile.
Envision Ecommerce: As we see Magento 2 is now updated with many fixes, what would you recommend to those merchants who are upgrading to Magento 2? Do you think that the time is right to adopt Magento 2 as a perfect eCommerce platform?
Andrei Vashkevich: Yes, I think that now it’s time to embrace Magento 2 fully. After a year of stabilization, it is now very usable, the market has been saturated with extensions, and there are people who started to work with M2 from its very beginning, and now they are true professionals.
In other words, now Magento 2 can provide a merchant with all the infrastructure needed for full-scale e-commerce performance.
Envision Ecommerce: You have attended many Magento-centric events. Do you remember something? The Meet Magento PL 2014! J And, you mentioned in one of your tweets – “The second #mm14pl day starts with presentation on automated dev environment. A bit nervous about my speech at 11:00”. How was your experience of speech?
Andrei Vashkevich: That was great! I don’t often speak at events, and it was somewhat a new experience for me, although I’m not a newbie when it comes to sharing ideas with the community.
Speaking at events has some magic behind the curtains. It’s not enough to possess knowledge and even to be confident at what you’re broadcasting to the audience. It’s not like presenting your company to a potential partner or talking to a client.
Taking the stage is scary for everybody, from junior specialists to CEOs. So, to perform successfully, you have to do the enormous job: to work on the topic, to prepare a presentation, to practice in front of your colleagues, and finally to have your courage and not to forget everything you worked for on that stage, in front of the crowd.
So apart from the joy of contributing to the community, it’s a great way to upgrade your social skills and to learn stress and anxiety management before important occasions.
Envision Ecommerce: Please share the importance of attending these types of Magento-centric events. What are the benefits of such events for the Magento developers, new participants and the Magento community?
Andrei Vashkevich: I might sound a bit boring here, but communication is everything when it comes to entities like the Magento family. We know it from our own experience, because we have organized two Meet Magento events in Belarus.
Our department heads and co-founders, including myself, often visit Magento events to find new business opportunities and to support relationships we have already built with companies all over the world.
For developers, it’s always helpful to listen to their skilled colleagues on technical tracks, to ask questions about new topics and to continue talking about them after the presentations – I mean, these steaming hot discussions in the hallways and on after parties are a living proof.
For merchants, conferences are a good source of new ideas, from more effective use of Magento to e-commerce marketing tips, and you can also get to know new products and services, both for Magento and for cross-platform environments.
The Sharing is caring saying wasn’t born out of nowhere. Right now we’re getting ready for visiting Magento Live UK, and we’re also a Magento Live UK Networking Breakfast Sponsor.
Envision Ecommerce: Since you have leadership, management, public speaking and blogging skills as well, what other skills you required to be the successful Founder and CEO of an extension development agency like Amasty?
Andrei Vashkevich: Well, it’s hard to point out something here, because my everyday activities require a complex combination of absolutely various hard and soft skills. But I’ll try to highlight some of the skills I’ve been working on recently.
First of all, my strong experience of web development plays an enormous role in the process of managing the company. I’m happy I can talk to Amasty developers, understand their issues, challenges and thoughts and help them on their journey of building Magento extensions. The same goes to Amasty Co-Founder Alex.
Secondly, I have some strong beliefs about the essence of quality services or products, and I hope that my own attitude and approach to delivering those is an example for my team, because it’s more efficient than just talking about how it should be done.
Thirdly, I love what I do, and our mission as a company is not only developing products, but also creating a workplace where people enjoy coming to every day. I do hope we managed to create this atmosphere at Amasty.
Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.
Andrei Vashkevich: This is one of my working places.
Envision Ecommerce: Could you please explain the role you play in Magento 2 Amasty extension development process?
Andrei Vashkevich: Some time ago, when I was an Amasty CTO, I was involved into the process even more and participated in each and every step of building an extension, from collecting feedback and investigating the market to managing the dev department and helping the team to dig into the new platform, from working with the support department to solving issues we had when the first M2 releases were not very stable and changed drastically from version to version.
Now, as the company has grown, we hired more product managers, appointed a new dev department head and implemented Agile methodologies, so there’s no need for me to manage and help the team with small or routine tasks any more. I am still with my colleagues when it comes to big decisions, and I’m proud that they are capable of self-management. The result of the whole team’s work is that we became the first Premier Magento Extension Builder Partner.
Envision Ecommerce: There is a great role of motivators and influencers in everyone’s life. So where do you get your inspirations from?
Andrei Vashkevich: My family, of course. And the team – believe it or not, but Amasty lives thanks to my colleagues, which are in love with their work and are striving to achieve the shared aims.
Envision Ecommerce: We have asked a lot about Magento. Let’s deviate a little and move to your personal interests besides your professional life. What do you do in your free time? What are your personal interests and hobbies? How do you manage your family besides your professional life?
Andrei Vashkevich: I travel a lot, and my special love is Spain, which I I’ve been discovering inside out and will never get tired of this wonderful country. Also, I enjoy the 20th century rock music. My work is a part of my life, as simple as that, so I don’t need to figure out how to separate church and state – it is deeply connected, which I enjoy very much.