Interview with Jonatan Larsson
Jonatan is a very nice and skilled developer who has shared a lot through his blogging and now enjoys success as an entrepreneur with Openworks. When not working on Openworks projects, he's working as a consultant with Valtech in Stockholm. Here Jonatan shares his thoughts on EPiServer, consultancy life, entrepreneurship and much more!
What is most challenging in working with the Internet?
To be a part of the transition Internet is contributing to in our society and what it means being able to access Internet from almost anywhere. It's simply a challenge to see how you can solve problems and what possibilities there are to exploit.
Do you feel you've chosen a good career path?
Absolutely, it feels like I've chosen the right industry.
Is there any specific reason to why you're a consultant?
I worked at a government earlier and had the possibility to try the consultancy profession a little out of curiosity. I like that this industry is changing, that you meet a lot of people and get so many impressions.
What are your strengths within web development?
It's clearly the interface development part. I've got a lot of focus on web standards and accessibility. This is what I think is most fun too, which is why I naturally have my strengths there. It's fun to work with something that you really like!
You've been working with EPiServer for a while. When did you start to develop EPiServer websites?
My first employer, Lantmäteriet (in Swedish), had an EPiServer website. I was hired as a web developer and web master, and helped the editors to publish information. I also continued the development on this site and that is how I got to know EPiServer.
If you're in a sales meeting with a company in need of an EPiServer website – what EPiServer benefits do you highlight?
It's a well proven content management system with many reference cases. There's a security for the customers when you've got these reference cases and it's a strength for EPiServer they've got much documented and many wellknown customers.
What features do you want to see in upcoming EPiServer versions?
- I want to be able to develop EPiServer websites based on ASP.NET MVC.
- You should be able to declare more configuration settings in codebehind instead of in the interface.
- Faster loading of the edit interface.
Alongside your employment at Valtech, you're an entrepreneur and has started Openworks together with a couple of friends. Can you tell us more about Openworks and your projects?
We thought we should use Openworks to realize ideas and fun projects. We thought that if we cooperated we would push each other and work a bit more structured than alone.
Together, we have developed Kundo.se, Uttråkad.se and Radioboxen.se (all in Swedish).
We meet once a week and work with different projects. From the beginning we thought we would launch smaller projects more often, but now our main focus lies at the development of Kundo.
When did you start Openworks?
It must've been during the autumn 2008.
I understand the response on Kundo has been well positive. How come you built a website focusing at feedback?
The idea isn't entirely our own but before the the first 24 Hour Business Camp we did some brainstorming. We saw that Get Satisfaction and UserVoice were successful in the USA and we thought there would be a market for these kinds of services in Sweden too. We simply believed in the concept of developing a similar Swedish service.
What have you done to get Kundo this successful this fast?
We aren't pleased with what we've got and always try to improve Kundo. We want growth and we want to achieve our goals for this year.
I think Kundo's been successful because of your own commitment and also the buzz Kundo's received in social media. It's also a bit technical, we're pleased with our platform (which is built on Django) and the continuous development of Kundo's gone smooth.
What has been the response since you started with Kundo premium accounts?
The response's been mixed and we've received a lot of feedback on the pricing. It was quite recently we launched premium accounts and we're currently waiting to see what the effect's really been. We constantly gather feedback from our own customers. The discussion has mostly been about the price being a bit too high; otherwise the response has been very positive!
Can yo name some Kundo customers?
Linnaeus University, Vackert väder (in Swedish) and Haléns (in Swedish) uses Kundo. OmVård.se which won the IDG best website in Sweden award last year also uses Kundo.
Why use Kundo, in three sentences?
- You get an open and accessable feedback service which is transparent and the users can help each other.
- You can utilize and collect ideas and proposals from involved customers.
- Kundo is easy. The free version also gets you a long way, just go ahead and try!
What are your different roles at Openworks?
All of us are developers, but with different focus. Me and Emil works with interface development, David's good at deployment and testing and Björn's been focusing a lot on business development and marketing. By default though, we have very similar roles.
Are you focusing at any other projects right now?
Right now Kundo's got our full focus. It would be fun to continue the development of Radioboxen, but that lies in the future!
You've attended the entrepreneurial event 24 Hour Business Camp. Will you be there again?
Absolutely! The best thing is that you meet a lot of people. Both of the times I've been there the networking has been the greatest thing. There's definitely been too much programming though and too little networking so far – next time we'll make that up!
The most important thing is the contacts you make. It's also interesting to realize how you react when working under pressure with much too little sleep. It's also been fun to see you can create something during a very short time span, that's an insight I've brought with me!
Can you today look back at your career and pick a specific moment that has defined where you are today?
It must've been when I started my blog www.lillbra.se in the autumn 2006. I started to read blogs and then got inspired to blog myself and this has been very rewardning, given all the contacts you've made. I've learned a lot and this is what made me a Valtech consultant too.
I really recommend everybody to involve themselves in the blogosphere, both reading and contributing!
What do you think one should do to be successful in what one does?
I think you shouldn't be afraid of challenges and to try out new things, while having fun at the same time. That's how you become successful!
You're origin is from Dalarna. Can you tell us some about your background and what led to you being a Valtech consultant in Stockholm?
I lived in Dalarna at first, then I studied computer science at Örebro University. Before that I had been sitting a lot at home working with HTML and CSS.
After that I started working for Lantmäteriet and started to blog and that's how I got in contact with Emil Stenström who worked and Valtech. I've been working with Valtech for 2.5 years now.
Putting work and building awesome web services aside, what do you like doing in your sparetime?
I like sports and because I'm from Leksand I've got an interest in ice hockey, which means I follow the Leksand team a bit
We're also a number of Valtech employees who play floor ball once a week and I try to work out a couple of times each week.
During the winter I've been forced to do some jogging at the gym but I've recently started to run outside.
Winter sports, yes or now?
I usually go skiing in Sälen every year, but other than that it's ice hockey for me.
If you today would know that the next winter would be as filled with snow and coldness as this one, would you do anything different?
I would've gone cross-country skiing a lot more. Here in Stockholm we've had a really great winter and I would definitely have taken advantage of that.
I'm reading Piraterna (English translation: Pirates) which is about file sharing and PirateBay.
I listen a lot to hip-hop, eg Lil Jon and Lil Wayne.
Best movie of 2009?
Best jogging track in Stockholm?
Of course Hagaparken!
Someone you admire?
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I'm going to the US on vacation this summer with friends; we'll be driving on the west coast and will spend some time on the east coast too.
3 websites everybody should have in their favourites?
Swehockey with their live game tracking is also good.
Any final words?
This was fun and a nice initiative!