How did you get into module development for MIVA Merchant?
Susan: We did our first MIVA Merchant-enabled site in 2000, and it was a bear to get all of the shipping figured out. The customer drop-shipped some items, shipped others from their own warehouse, and also had a category of items that had to be delivered frozen, adding to the complexity. We ended up writing a custom shipping module to meet their needs. When we did that, we realized that we could add a lot of value to the after-market.
What is your favorite module you've developed for MIVA Merchant?
Pete: Zip Based Sales Tax
Susan: Ultimate Feed Generator (I’m usually most excited by the most recent one I’ve done!)
When coming up with a new module concept, where do you draw inspiration? How do you recognize a need?
Pete: Module ideas come from a variety of places. Sometimes we're approached by a customer with an identified need or sometimes a good idea comes about while working on a services engagement for a client. Since we do both product development and services work, we have a great core of loyal clients who we can bounce our ideas off of to gauge potential interest in a new module.
Susan: Additionally, since we started running our own Merchant-based website, we came across needs that no modules met. Sometimes we build something quick to use in-house, but often we see a market…if we need it and can’t find it, other store owners are probably having that problem too.
Any exciting new projects you’re developing? What can we expect to see from NetBlazon in the near future?
Pete: AuctionAware is our biggest project this year and will be coming out by Q2 of this year. This one has really been a labor of love for us and we’re finally close. We should have the AuctionAware product suite available for beta testers in the next month, so if any of you MIVA Merchant storeowners are interested in finding out more about using AuctionAware for creating, managing eBay listings and conducting your transactions on your MIVA store, check our site out at www.auctionaware.com/contact/signup.php.
What hobby or activity keeps you from working?
Susan: I was always the crafty type. (In a good way…not "shifty"!!!) I like to scrapbook and cross-stitch. Sometimes, though, it does seem like sleep has become so rare that I should call it a hobby instead of a necessity! I also sing and sometimes play piano at my church. (I also play guitar, but only if no one outside of my family is listening!)
Pete: Hobbies? What are those? ;) For me, its golf, but I invariably come back with more ideas for us to work on! The other thing we’re focused on is our educational toy store, WonderBrains (www.wonderbrains.com). Yes, it’s a MIVA Merchant store. It started out as a little diversion when we wanted a break from module development or client work, but now it’s gone and become a real business. This year we’re looking to take WonderBrains to the next level and are really excited about a new school purchasing program we’ll be rolling out next month.
As a small business owner, what is the best business tip you’ve received?
Pete: Do what you love, trust in the Lord and the rest will work itself out. Also, being an entrepreneur is great; you can pick whichever 15 hours a day you want to work!
Susan: Stick to what you know, and let the experts handle the rest. I can dig all day into a website, making it do what I want, but you don’t want me touching QuickBooks with a ten-foot pole. So I don’t. We hired a professional to do our accounting and bookkeeping, and it freed me up to do what I love and excel at.
Finally, if you weren’t a MIVA Developer, what do you think you would be doing now?
Susan: Oh boy. I’d be stuck in a job! My last two jobs were opposites – one a terrible position under an unfriendly manager in a company I didn't like, and the other a great job doing ASP and intranet development and working with a good team and boss. Hopefully at least I'd be at the good one!
Pete: Parking cars? We'd still be developers and consultants; we just wouldn't be enjoying ourselves as much!