Interview by Thomas Peham
December 15, 2015
Photos by Pixelant
Robert Lindh is a real TYPO3 enthusiast.
His passion for helping companies solve their digital challenges what made him start at Pixelant nine years ago.
As the CEO of Pixelant he grew his company into one of the biggest digital agencies in Scandinavia.
Share this interview:
Thanks for your time Robert! Could you please describe yourself?
I’m the CEO of Pixelant, which I founded in 2006 and have been running for nine years now. My idea with Pixelant was to build the agency model backwards. When I say backwards, I meant that many web agencies developed from printing agencies, who suddenly realized, “Oh, wow, the web is here. Now we need to learn HTML and use it.”
They basically just converted their print workflows for the web. But when I looked at the web, it was more like, “Okay, this is becoming really technical. We need to have really good developers.”
I started hiring a lot of developers in order to build a toolbox that creative people could play with.
I didn’t want developers to be forced to build something that creative people from the print industry had come up with.
In the beginning we were working as a subcontractor for a lot of really big agencies in Sweden. Nowdays we are a fullservice agency.
How many employees do you have right now?
We’re 39 people, and 28 of them are developers. We have an office in Malmo and are opening an office in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. We also have an office in Ukraine and are opening one in Norway. We’re really growing fast, client-wise as well. Currently, I guess, we’re running about 1,000 websites.
What are your websites built on?
We do some Magento sites and we do some WordPress, but 95 percent of our websites are built with TYPO3.
What made you choose TYPO3 as your primary system?
The main reason is scalability—If you start with TYPO3 right in the beginning, you don’t need to switch systems when the site grows and becomes bigger.
And many of the clients we’ve been working with for years, they grow. Suddenly, they need another language, they launch another product that doesn’t fit their webpage right now, and suddenly they have two or three websites. This is the real strength of TYPO3—its flexibility and scalability.
You recently presented the T3kit at the T3CON15 in Amsterdam. Can you give us some insights on building this T3 kit for developers?
Sure. The idea behind the T3kit was pretty simple. We saw that we do a lot of things in different ways when we start with a new project.
The T3 kit is all about effectiveness. The first version we started out with was created six years ago. It was just a pre-configured TYPO3, so we didn’t need to do that every single time.
Today, we also use the T3Kit to deliver faster and cheaper to our clients. If you take a website as it comes from the T3Kit—it would cost 10,000 Euros for an agency to build that from scratch, and with the T3Kit you can deliver it in 8 to 16 hours. You can deliver really good stuff to the client really cheap and fast.
And it looks good. If you skin it and put your colors on it, it’s a really nice site which would take many hours to build from scratch.
Internally, we have five teams at Pixelant. Four of the teams are delivering to clients, and one team is just delivering the internal T3 Kit. When a request comes from a client, we first evaluate whether the T3 kit is a good fit for them.
What brought you into the digital agency industry?
Before I started Pixelant I was working at an agency which also worked with TYPO3. There I fell in love with TYPO3 and the community.
At the time I got offered this position at Pixelant, I was already getting tired of my boss.
My boss thought that building a website is a one hit wonder. It’s not.
It’s a long relationship with the client. You need to learn the client’s business. You need to help them with the web and you should accompany them for a long time to come.
When I got the chance to build Pixelant, together with two other guys who had started companies before, it was a really cool journey. It gave me the chance to just start out from zero.
I had no clients at that time. So, I went to the first client and said, “Hey, I'm Robert. I can build your website for free.” The client said, “Yeah, okay.”
I went to the next client and said, “Hey, I'm Robert. I built that website. Can I build yours for 1,500 Euros?” They said, “Yeah, okay.”
And I continued like that.
Today, we’re proud to have some big clients at Pixelant. We built 400 websites with TYPO3 for a big pharmaceutical company.
We’re launching a new client website every other day.
I think that our focus is on enterprise now. We deliver best for big international companies with lots of products, websites and various languages. Pixelant is really international in many ways.
Can you share some insights on how you collaborate and communicate internally? Especially since you mentioned that you’re opening up various offices, which probably makes communication a bit harder, I guess.
Yeah, absolutely. Internally, we use Podio. Podio is really bad-ass. We use it for project handling, CRM and everything else. Everybody is on Podio all the time. What’s also really important is that we mix up our teams. For example, we have Swedish product managers, Swedish developers and Ukrainian developers in mixed teams. They have daily stand-ups together.
Fun fact: We actually use Xbox Ones to communicate with our various offices because the Xbox One’s Skype functionality is amazing. It’s really good quality.
You mentioned that you have a lot of big clients, where there are probably a lot of challenges when it comes to cracking bugs. Can you share how you handle that?
I guess the most important thing, when it comes to testing and bug tracking, is our support team. Today, we have a support team of three full time employees. The support team is doing all internal and external testing.
They are also working closely with our clients, helping them solve their problems.
What is a piece of advice you would give to yourself as a fourteen year old?
I should have gone to school. I didn’t. Nobody told me that it was important, so I didn’t go there.