Obsessed with entrepreneurship and web technologies from a young age, Hluska quickly found a home in product development. From early efforts building digital solutions for realtors, to long stints in sales, he quickly realized that he was great at closing sales and delivering solutions, but rather poor at finding prospects.
Realizing that problems with prospecting were holding him back, Hluska went back to University and completed a marketing degree in 2007. While in University, he quickly grew nearly obsessed with eCommerce. This lead to an interest in trust, which turned into a strong interest in PCI-DSS (payment card industry data security standards) and general credit card security. That interest lead him to start working closely with friends from China and Vietnam to build/optimize websites that drop shipped products from southeast Asian factories to North American consumers.
Their business model was simple. They would buy a domain, put up an eCommerce website, enter products, and start buying Adwords (which was quite primitive) to generate traffic. Hluska mostly handled the technical and digital marketing sides, leaving relationships with suppliers to his partners.
After Hluska finished his business degree, he closed a round of angel investment and started a security camera business. Built around a software product which mostly automated setting up a CCTV system and enabling/securing remote view, this business relied upon solid relationships with suppliers in China and vendors in Canada. Alas, he made several critical errors and GT Surveillance proved a failure. While crushing at the time, the utter collapse of that company taught Greg a tremendous amount about business. With the benefit of hindsight, he now sees it as his personal MBA.
Around that time, Hluska and a partner stumbled into the publishing industry, putting out a magazine called the Regina Streets Magazine. Built with a classic street paper model in mind and armed with a wonderful hack to sell advertising, the RSM proved incredibly successful.
While they were building the Regina Streets Magazine, Hluska spent almost three years working in User Experience at Netsecure Technologies where he helped make their flagship SmartSwipe product easy to use and worked closely with the company’s end users, marketing and development teams. He also ran all of the company’s websites, which used a mixture of Joomla and WordPress. SmartSwipe was another tremendous success, even winning an ABEX award for best new Saskatchewan product.
A few months after the Regina Streets Magazine folded, Hluska decided that he wanted back into indie publishing, so he simultaneously launched a new magazine and started working with a loose knit group of hacktivists and publishers to build tools for indie publishers. While highly productive, that group ultimately failed as indie publishers have absolutely no money.
From there, he worked on a platform as a service startup with three gifted engineers and a tech support as a service startup with a good friend. He supported himself with web development, eCommerce and digital marketing consulting while he bootstrapped startups.
Everything was sailing along smoothly. Hluska was working on bleeding edge solutions to interesting problems while managing to stay afloat with just enough consulting to pay his bills. He had achieved complete independence to pursue tech startups. Then, Greg and his partner had a daughter…
Suddenly, Ring Around The Rosie became significantly more interesting than mucking around with Ruby. So, Hluska decided, “fuck entrepreneurship, I need a job.”
In one of his favourite stories from a long career filled with interesting stories, Hluska started at Vivvo Application Studios about 16 hours before his daughter Lauren was born. He went from setting up a development environment in the midst of serious first day jitters to racing home at speeds that could have lead to his arrest…all before noon.
When he got back to work a few days later, he built a very cool automated deployment system using Jenkins, Docker, a PHP/jQuery front-end and a metric shit tonne of Bash. Afterwards, he wrote the company’s PCI-DSS documentation, then web development called again, and he took over the Ministry of Education’s Following Their Voices project.
Initially a pure PHP (using the Slim Framework) and Backbone/jQuery app, Hluska built an iPad version using Phonegap and successfully learned Angular.js to take over more of the project. He lead a small, but highly productive team and achieved serious milestones while building out the feature set and solving some pesky bugs.
Unfortunately, Hluska was laid off in the aftermath of the 2017 provincial budget. It was his first experience being laid off and, while it’s not one he wishes to repeat, it’s certainly been another incredibly good learning experience.