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Networking Opportunities at SpreeConf DC

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule to allow you to connect with the Spree community and build lasting relationships to improve and grow your business. You’ll have a chance to meet face-to-face with the creators of Spree, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn, to learn more about Spree 2.0 and discuss and debate the future direction of the Spree platform. SpreeConf is also a great opportunity to compare notes with other Spree Developers about projects you are working on and implementation techniques. And of course, SpreeConf isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from. There’s something for everyone at SpreeConf.

Check out our full lineup of social events.

Inaugural Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala – Sunday, May 19th

We’d like to welcome those of you arriving Sunday evening to our Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala. Brian Quinn and Chris Mar are your Game Night hosts and are committed to delivering an evening of unforgettable fun and intense competition. They’re turning in their consoles and are returning to their gaming roots with some old school board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. The evening will include lots of board gaming fun with plenty of beverages and snacks and an opportunity to meet your fellow conference attendees and the Spree team before the serious tech talking starts on Monday.

Lightning Talks – Monday, May 20th

At the end of our first day of presentations all SpreeConf attendees are invited to join us for a few cocktails and a series of five minute lightning talks on the subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to publicly share interesting projects you are working on as well as to suggest your ideas for the future direction of the Spree project. We’ll begin taking lightning talk registrations two weeks before SpreeConf starts.

Happy Hour – Monday, May 20th

Enjoy a few happy hour drinks with your fellow attendees courtesy of Braintree. Share what you learned during the training day and find out what interesting projects your colleagues are working on. Get a chance to check out Policy, one of DC’s hottest restaurant and lounges located in the vibrant U Street neighborhood. Join the SpreeConf Turntable.fm room and help us DJ the evening with some of your favorite tunes.

After Party – Tuesday, May 21st

Join us after the conference for a few hours of drinking and lively debate courtesy of Rails Dog. The Spree team will be in attendance along with most of our speakers. The after party will take place on the rooftop of Lost Society, a boutique restaurant and lounge located in the U Street corridor. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Lost Society has a great view of the Washington, DC skyline.

There’s less than a month until SpreeConf and tickets are selling fast. Get your ticket now before we sell out. See you there!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Ryan Bigg

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Adil Wali who will be talking about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our own, Ryan Bigg. Ryan is the Community Manager at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about open source war stories.

Ryan Bigg

Ryan Bigg

Community Manager at Spree Commerce
Ryan is a Ruby and Rails technical writer based in Australia. He co-authored the book Rails 3 in Action with Yehuda Katz. He was granted the Ruby Hero award recognizing his documentation for Rails. Ryan joined the Spree team in 2011 as Community Manager. His job is to make your life with Spree an amazing experience by triaging issues, replying to user questions, and contributing to the Spree project. He enjoys writing (text + code) more than most people would deem normal.

Open Source War Stories

At the end of 2011, Ryan switched from being a Ruby consultant to being one of the lead maintainers of the Spree Commerce open source project. During that time, he learned an awful lot about what it means to be responsible for something as massive as the Spree project. Refactoring the code without causing tears for loyal users has been an extremely challenging problem to have.

He has some rather interesting stories to tell, like the time he renamed most of the files deliberately on purpose, or that time he ripped out a component that people depended on, and everyone was still happy. There have even been instances where code has been moved out of the models and into new classes, which seems to be the cool thing to do.

Getting to Know Ryan

We asked Ryan to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby on Rails space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The most exciting trends to me right now are more JavaScript heavy apps that use frameworks like Backbone, Angular and Ember. There’s still quite a lot of change going on in this area. It’s in a constant state of improvement. I think having a JavaScript-based frontend on Spree would be a step in the right direction, showing off what Spree’s API can do.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

There’s this e-commerce platform I’m working on right now called Spree ;) …

Besides that, I’m working on my Multitenancy with Rails book and keeping Sharon (my girlfriend) happy. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is highly recommended.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

It’s SpreeConf. What isn’t there to look forward to? Amazing talks by amazing people at an amazing location. DC will be nice during the Spring, too.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

Maintaining a project as large as Spree and having it be open source is a huge undertaking. We deal with the incoming posts and issues for Spree in very smart ways, and I’ll go through some of those in my talk.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I don’t read blogs as Twitter is my main source of information. If there’s a good blog post out there, it’ll be on Twitter.

Regarding books: While I haven’t read it yet, I hear good things about Sandi Metz’s Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby book. Like, really good things about that book. She’s speaking at SpreeConf, so while I’m semi-obligated to cross-promote her, I honestly think that this book is good.

Another one that’s been doing the rounds is Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler, which covers some great patterns (Data repository, Active Record, Data Mapper).

Technology + company wise: Tesla, Deep Space Industries and SpaceX. These guys are the future. Look at all the cool stuff they’re doing.

Come meet Ryan and hear his talk about open source war stories at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than one month to go!

Rails Dog Announced as SpreeConf Sponsor

Posted on April 22, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’re delighted to announce that RailsDog, which specializes in Ruby on Rails web development, Spree e-commerce development, and UI/UX design, will be sponsoring the SpreeConf after party. SpreeConf is a two-day event taking place May 20th – 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby communities including Sandi Metz, Adil Wali, and Eric Koester. The Rails Dog sponsored after party takes place the second evening of the conference on May 21st on the rooftop bar of Lost Society. The Spree and Rails Dog teams will be in attendance as well as most of our speakers.

Get To Know Your Fellow SpreeConf Attendees

SpreeConf is a great opportunity to get to know the Spree core team and to meet your fellow Spree community members. This year’s SpreeConf attendee list includes folks from all areas of our community – developers, marketing managers, design agencies, store owners, founders, and investors. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the schedule so you’ll have a chance to meet each other, have some fun, and chat further about your Spree projects.

Conference tickets are selling fast so make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Adil Wali

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Gregor MacDougall who will be talking about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to our keynote speaker, Adil Wali. Adil is the CEO at Kemists and will be speaking at SpreeConf about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses.

Adil Wali

Adil Wali

CEO at Kemists
Adil is a passionate entrepreneur and product visionary who loves the startup and high growth environment. He first connected with Spree through Crowd Interactive, a web 2.0 development company he founded that specializes in Ruby on Rails. Adil gets bored easily and likes to have fun, so he starts companies. He’s never had a ‘real job.’ He’s been a founder or investor in a bunch of stuff that’s failed. The stuff that hasn’t: ClearGears, ModCloth, Crowd Interactive, and Kemists where he is currently CEO. Some of you might remember Adil from SpreeConf Dublin. Adil was one of our most popular speakers and we are really excited to have him back at SpreeConf this year in DC.

Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business

eCommerce is one of the hottest and highest-growth spaces driving the world economy right now and while most companies attempting this space have quality products and a solid target customer, many of them will fail because they cannot execute quickly enough to beat their competition.

At SpreeConf, Adil will discuss lessons he learned scaling multiple e-commerce business, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of fashion. The topics covered will be driven significantly by the audience, with the goal of providing tangible-lessons-learned with real ideas that you can try tomorrow whether you are on the technical side or business side of things.

Some of the topics Adil will cover include:

  • Data: why it’s important and how it breaks
  • Building and scaling a brand
  • Community, authenticity, and how to scale without losing your voice
  • Curation, product-mix, and how to not bore your customers
  • Premature scaling and how to avoid it
  • Scaling teams: ensuring structure and decision-making still work
  • Process: how to keep it minimalistic, but functional
  • Content strategy: taking SEO, SEM, and content seriously
  • Capital strategy: when and why money is important (and when it’s not)
  • Fulfillment and customer service: does it REALLY matter?

Getting to Know Adil

We asked Adil to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the e-commerce space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

Marketplaces of all shapes and sizes have come a long way since the early days of eBay. I think the future of e-commerce is being defined by some of the innovators in marketplace experiences. In particular, the use of location-based commerce and latent-inventory models is super interesting.

I think ‘the way we work’ is changing. The distribution of teams is no longer a setback, and for some pioneers, it is a distinct advantage. Furthermore, collaboration technology and global bandwidth have come a long way. This is changing the landscape of company creation and growth, not to mention fighting worldwide poverty in a serious way.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

Yes! We’ve been thinking a lot about ‘the future of work’ and have been heads-down working on a way for worldwide freelancing to be merit-based and frictionless. That project is called Hiiro (pronounced ‘Hero’). It’s currently in private alpha, but we hope to release it just as soon as we feel like we’ve nailed the user experience.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and I’ve found the overall level of talent and scrappiness to be the highest among the SpreeConf crowd. That’s not to mention that the Spree platform has come a very long way in the last 24 months, and there are still a lot of new things for me to learn from the great tech talks.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I hope that folks will remember at least one interesting ‘company-building’ pattern that they can go home and USE within 60 days.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I know it’s a classic and that most people have read it, but Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the kind of book you need read once every couple years. I also think that Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink deserves a lot more attention, even though it was one of his earlier works.

There are tons of new companies that are worth looking at: TaskRabbit and SilverCar are some of the folks that are really innovating with marketplace technology. Blank-Label is probably my favorite supply chain innovator right now.

Come meet Adil and hear his talk about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st.