Magecredit was just Acquired!

The popular eCommerce store credit system I built that worked for the Magento eCommerce platform called Magecredit was just acquired by a German consulting company.

I’d rather not disclose the acquisition amount but I can say that I am very happy with the result.

The acquirer does have technical expertise so I’m confident they will continue work for the current Magecredit clients to improve and grow the product with new features. I will remain available for the next 6 months on an “on-call” basis.

It’s more than a Magento store credit extension…

Last week I announced my latest obsession: Magecredit. Magecredit is a store credit extension for Magento. It all started a few months ago when I decided to tackle the problem that eCommerce stores experience a large amount of refunds in their lifetime. For some stores, this kills their performance. In fact, analysts have seen eCommerce store return rates of up to 25%¹, especially in the clothing industry.  That’s a 1/4 of all sales!

So what are merchants doing right now to combat this issue? Well, they’re basically giving customers back their money and hoping that the customer decides to chose another product… In my calculations I’d consider this a lost customer unless you can find a way to keep the money in your store. From an accounting stance, returns look ugly as well (especially with the credit memo system native to Magento).

Magecredit helps solve these issues. If you can create credit memos and returns that go directly to store credit, you can incentivize customers not only to continue to shop at your store, but to also potentially increase their purchase size (as suggested by Tony Hsieh of Zappos in Delivering Happiness).

The first step of this journey to retaining customer value is to build the store credit extension for Magento. I’m focusing on Magento store owners simply because I know the Magento ecosystem very well and I can keep close to the merchants using store credit in their store so I can learn and adapt the system to be the best that it can be for merchants. Later I’m going to look at implementing the system for Shopify and BigCommerce, and even some of the larger platforms like Demandware.

So you see see, it’s much more than a Magento module to me. Magecredit is about increasing customer happiness and loyalty. I’m excited to see merchants succeed with it on their side.


¹ Old school vs shiny new technology

Stepping Down as CEO of Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth was my first company to make a significant impact in the world: used by 4,000 businesses across 15 different countries, rewarded millions of people, oversaw billions $$ in transactions, raised 2.3m in venture financing, built an all-star team and much more – all in less than 4 years. This made it an extremely difficult decision to step down as CEO of the company, but I believe it was the right one.

I will remain on the board of directors of the company and shareholder, and I will always be happy to connect to any merchants and partners any time to help. I will be spending my time in Toronto for the time being, but I’ll be in Waterloo every so often. None of my contact info has changed.

Sweet Tooth is Still Growing and Doing Well

The first thing you should know is that Sweet Tooth is still growing profitably. The #1 priority is still helping Sweet Tooth merchants succeed. Sweet Tooth will continue to grow and innovate, improve and adapt. Not much will change in the short term.

Sweet Tooth Logo

Why I Stepped Down

I love bringing in the energy, launching new products, helping people succeed and leading a team to the top. I’m a risk-taker, anyone who has worked with me will know that, but at this stage of growth Sweet Tooth needs someone who will carefully observe the fine details and build insightful conclusions out of the data over time. Mike is better suited to take over those responsibilities.

When I recruited Mike it was because I knew he was extremely intelligent, would/could learn any new skill in any field, he loved solving problems and was a fantastic leader. We were classmates and he was the first friend I made in the Engineering program I attended at UW. I’m glad I’ve been able to leave the company in the hands of someone so capable.

What’s Next for Me?

I’m still working with Sweet Tooth and I may continue doing so, but I recently launched websites for my two new projects: Coincart and Share To Give.

Coincart is an anonymous bitcoin eCommerce platform.

Coincart Logo

Share To Give is a social rewards app that helps merchants gain social referrals and sales by giving to charity. 

Share To Give logo

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat! I can usually be found at the new Google office building at 111 Richmond St West in Toronto.

How to give requirements to a designer without pissing them off

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Getting a website designed is pretty important for your business-everyone knows that, but if you can’t provide a proper specification for your designers then you’re going to get a shitty design.

It doesn’t matter what designer you’re working with. Even if your designer is an all-star they are going to have a hard time making something awesome for you when your requirements are tucked away in your brain. Here’s how to do it the right way:

1. Outline your goals.

For every page you want designed, state your goals. What is the purpose of this page? Are you trying to attract customers with a value proposition or are you trying to showcase functionality? Are you trying to direct new traffic to your pricing page or are you trying to inform your existing customers?

2. Show examples of sites you like.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and don’t expect your designer to do that either. Instead, your designer is going to look for inspiration from other designs. If you provide several examples of pages that you like and explain why you like their design and what about it you like, then it guides your designer to choose the right inspiration for your own design.

3. Provide minor details

Every page has its own caveats. You’re going to want a particular image somewhere, or some text to be more emphasized. Here’s where you write all that out. Do it in bullet form-don’t write your designer an essay. Also, don’t be too specific.

Following this process lets your designer stay creative and use their own judgement for everything around the content and still meet your goals and expectations. It’s a win-win – nobody gets pissed off you get a much better design 🙂

The hardest part of about starting a start-up is starting-up

People always ask me what they should do to make their ideas about start-ups a reality. The pitch me on this awesome idea and I tell them my thoughts and they get all giddy, then they ask “what should I do now?” Are you kidding? That’s like training for a marithon, getting to the start-line and saying “what do I do now?” Start running.

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 Let’s address some commong phrases:

“I’m in the ideas phase right now.”: Great ideas are nothing without execution. Until you have a website, a line of code written, an internal system, or anything else (not necessarily all, just one would be OK) it is nothing. How about a website landing page? Use launchrock.com to make a landing page and register a domain in 15 minutes. There, now you’ve got something. Now when you tell other people about your awesome idea they will appreciate that you intend on moving forward and you’re not just throwing around ideas.

“But I’m not 100% sure it will work yet, still need to work out details.”: This mentality is OK, but don’t think like this for months. Take a few days. Also, take your best guess. You will never be at 100%. Do you think Steve Jobs was 100% sure his idea for the mac was going to work? Nobody is every 100% sure.

“But what if I fail?”: An idea that gets executed and fails is infinitely better than an idea that never gets executed. Create an minimal viable product (MVP, coined from the book The Lean Start-up by Eric Reiss) and you will learn SO MUCH more than what you knew through research. Do you think you’ll be better off fighting a war after you’ve sat in the trenches for a week or read a book about it? Exactly. Do you research, but don’t be afraid to fail. I heard once someone say “fail early, fail often”. Though success is obviously the goal, the sooner you fail the sooner you know if you’re headed in the wrong direction.

“I think I still have a lot to learn before I can start”: You’ll always be learning. You’re not going to stop learning when you start-up. It will be ongoing. If you want to fast-track your learning, read a book or two maybe. Here are some of my personal favourites: How To Win Friends And Influence People, The Lean Start-up, Rework, Venture Deals, Start Small Stay Small, Chrossing The Chasm

I recognize that starting up is easier for engineers/developers, but you can still find a way to get things done and start-up.

Hope this helps people out there!

J-out.

 

I’d rather have good talent than money to find good talent.

I feel like good talent is going to start getting harder to find than sufficient investment capital for new companies. 

The top talent that we’ve attracted has been the result of those people seeing us from an outside view and seeing our team grow and succeed. We don’t poach employees ever our of principle, but the ideal employees I’ve been finding are the ones don’t need the job but are always thinking “man that seems like an awesome place to work”.

Sweet Tooth HR is all about culture. We push the fact that you’re joining an all-star team of Canada’s smartest and enlisting to change an industry. It’s just like recruiting a sports team or an elite squad set out to fight terrorists in a foreign nation. Totally badass.

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The amount of money in your offer could have nothing to do with quality of the talent you attract. For start-ups, this is great to know but you still need to understand what the person really wants:

  • What will make you happy?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
  • What kind of company/culture do you want to be a part of?

 

Then, before even pitching an offer, accommodate to these requests and provide a reasonable pay or sufficient stock options on the side. If you’re looking for engineers, have them try some coding and see if they like it (and see if you like their code).

 

 

Respond promptly, respond always.

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Quick responses say you care. They move the business along faster. They show you are serious and they can mean the difference between winning or losing. 

Bob Schwartz, President of Magento (recently acquired by PayPal), Dave Fedy from McCarter Grespan and John Jessup at Cloud Conversion are all awesome leaders that were partially my inspiration to think this way. 

If you can’t give an answer back to the person who messaged you, just reply “I’m sorry, I can’t give you the answer you’re looking for” or direct them to the right person, but at least you responded promptly and you are not ignoring them. We are always connected to the internet and it takes no commitment to say that you received someone’s e-mail. 

I go through about 100+ quick-question e-mails per day (+ many more other emails) and it only takes 1-5 min of my time to answer most of them. And if you ever get to a point whereyou’re too busy to answer everything, just get an assistant to help out.