Tibi and Ana started Clever++ in 2020 and since then, the company has gone from strength to strength. Although the company is young, their experience managing complex eCommerce projects stretches for more than 10 years. With a cup of coffee in hand, they were excited to reminisce over fond memories about their Magento beginnings and more.

We always love to talk about eCommerce so if you need information about our products and services, we are here to help.

Tibi, when did you meet Magento and how did it become a big part of your career?

The year is 2009. This was the time when I accidentally discovered Magento. Although it was a promising platform, it wasn’t very well known back then. In fact, Joomla was more famous.

The story is a funny one, because it happened on April Fool’s Day, when I was fired from a big web agency. Being a 21 years old, of course I was only thinking about parties, and this did not bond well with my working schedule. The situation was all the more amusing as almost no one believed that I had been fired: colleagues, friends and family. They all thought I was making a bad joke. 

Going for a beer to drown my sorrows in the pub opposite the company’s headquarters, I received a phone call from a former colleague who had left the same company a few months before. When he heard the news, he invited me to come for an interview with the web agency where he was employed.

So, there I was, one week later, joining a small team made of two employees and the owner, and trying to install Magento 1.3 for one of their new eCommerce projects. This was my first contact with Magento, a platform that was going to leave a strong mark on my life over the next decade.

After less than a year, I moved to Cluj-Napoca, where I ended up working for a company offering Magento development services, and to this day, Magento has been a big part of my professional activity.

What was your biggest Magento challenge?

At first, it was all too difficult, and nothing looked like anything I’d worked on before. The documentation was almost missing or incomplete, and the community around it was far too small. There were no dedicated forums to get information from, so everything I learned was by studying the core and the default themes. It was a job of immense wear and tear, for a task that otherwise should have been relatively simple and quick to complete.

Over the years, Magento has changed a lot and these changes brought other challenges. Like the transition from 1.x to 2.x when I had to learn almost everything from scratch again. But this new platform was much more advanced, which made me fall even more in love with it.

What outcome is worth shouting about as a result of this challenge?

Working with Magento since its early days helped me encounter some complex programming models, like OOP for example. It was a much more elaborate model than what I had worked on before on any website. After a lot of hard work, I managed to have extensive knowledge about the platform. With time, by developing many modules and themes to order, I acquired a large volume of reusable code, so as my experience increased, the speed of implementation and the quality of my code increased exponentially.

I know you have taken part in some important Magento events. Tell us a few words about the community around this fascinating platform.

Besides the beauty of the platform, another very important aspect is the massive community around it. Indeed, I have countless lovely memories and experiences from various Magento conferences, where I met many interesting people with whom I still keep in touch.

You are now the CEO/CTO at Clever++. Is Magento still a big part of your work?

Since we started Clever++ my duties have changed. I have to deal with executive decisions, but also technical ones, such as choosing a new technology, managing internal tools, or the validation of a new product idea to build in the future. I also take part in sales processes.

But when not busy with my daily tasks, I often find myself enjoying sharing my expertise with the team when creating advanced modules, complex third party integrations with various ERP systems, Magento architecture, or when developing a custom theme. These were my favourite interests in the past and they still have a special place in my heart.

To conclude, for me Magento is not just an ordinary eCommerce platform. Until now, it has been a way of life. It brought me satisfaction both intellectually and financially, but the most important thing is that it has put me in touch with many fascinating and talented people.

We always love to talk about eCommerce so if you need information about our products and services, we are here to help.

Ana, when and how did you start your career and at what point did Magento become a big part of it?

In 2011, after having worked for 4 years as a system engineer at a large company, I finally decided to follow my faculty and master’s degree and become a programmer. My career in programming started with a Magento project. 

At that time, the platform was already very advanced and required deep knowledge in both PHP and MySql, Javascript, and I can fairly say that it was very difficult at first. But I managed to learn, I evolved constantly and I ended up working on very large projects for important clients. In a few years I became a Magento architect, I started to lead teams and began to offer technical solutions to advanced functionalities of third party integrations and more.

Your superpower is…?

Finding the “needle in the haystack”. There were many times when I had to fix bugs hidden both in the code and in the database, which required a lot of attention and patience.

When Magento 2 appeared I had the opportunity to work on many version migrations from 1.x to 2.x, so I gained a vast experience in this. I encountered many problems working on various old projects that needed to be renewed and I’ve come to be able to prevent many migration issues and predict what might go wrong.

Nowadays, my responsibilities have changed. I deal with business processes, product development, and support for the team, so unfortunately I have relatively little time for Magento development. When my schedule gets a bit freer, I gladly fill it with the development of a Magento module or fixing a bug hidden deep in the database.

In conclusion, I can say that Magento has definitely marked my career as a programmer and even after so many years, I find it exciting to work on a new module.

Magento is facing some strong contenders now. Do you still see it as the right choice for complex online shops?

Magento has been around for the last 13 years and thanks to the open-source status and the extensive community around it, which I see as the premier source of innovation, it has gone from strength to strength.

Of course, as online shopping evolved and reached the impressive numbers which we are seeing today, eCommerce platforms increased in numbers too. We have Shopify, WooCommerce and many other platforms serving the small business market but we also see Shopware making its way towards covering the mid-to-large eCommerce business market too. 

So, if you want my opinion on the subject, I think that if you are a small online merchant, there are plenty of options to choose from, but if you want to play in the major league, there are only 2 options on the market right now: Shopware, or Adobe Commerce (powered by Magento). For those who want to have complete control over their eCommerce platform, they can choose Magento Open-Source customized by an experienced development team, instead of Adobe Commerce. 

Shopware has seen a lot of traction in the last few months and it is a viable option for those who want a reliable platform, without the big price tag that Magento has, but… it isn’t there yet. There are a lot of integrations and extensions missing, and the community around it is far behind the Magento one.

On the other hand, Magento evolved into being the engine behind one of the most comprehensive platforms in terms of eCommerce Software – Adobe Commerce. It is fast and reliable, it can manage huge stocks, and what is most important, it is flexible and adaptable with thousands of integrations and extensions. 

The fact that it is now fully integrated with the AI from Adobe Sensei and all the other tools from Adobe Experience Cloud makes Magento part of the ultimate package in eCommerce software. The downside here is of course the hefty price.

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