A biologist who built a top development agency and sold it to Kiwi a few years later. This is how we could describe the entrepreneur Karel Souček, who we interviewed in this interview. How do you know a good mobile app? How did the company founded by "three nerds" come about, and why did he sell it to Skypicker (Kiwi)?
Karel, you studied molecular biology. How does man go from such a field to mobile app development?
The story is actually very simple. I've always enjoyed biology, so after high school I went into science at MU and later did part-time research at BFU AV.
In my second year of college, my friend Jarek Hejl and me founded company to supply temporary workers, and at one point I decided that I was tired of studying, and I started to pursue entrepreneurship full time. And because I don't like to do activities that are repeated more than twice, I started to figure out how to make it easier for myself.
The first thing was to post the vacancies on the websites. It seems funny today, but 18 years ago it was almost revolutionary. Gradually I invented more and more features and I found out that I liked working with IT.
How did Trinerdis actually come into being?
When after some time I stopped working in a temporary agency, my friend Pavel Žák and I agreed to start an IT business. We added Radek Bartona. That's why Tri Nerdis - three nerds. After analyzing it, we realized that mobile apps could be a good business in the near future, so we took the plunge.
Logo of Trinerdis
Can you recall the biggest challenges you had to face in Trinerdis?
For me, from a business perspective, the hardest part of custom development is reconciling the high labor costs of programmers and the high complexity of mobile app development with the pressure to keep the price per project as low and fixed as possible.
If you've got a fixed price job and you're just a few days over budget, it stinks, so you have to constantly decide between quality and speed in development.
What do you consider as the greatest achievement of Trinerdis?
From a business perspective, definitely co-working with Kiwi.com, either financially or by learning how to make an app used by millions of users.
On a personal viewpoint, we managed to build a great team, my colleagues were really great, I really enjoyed working with them and a lot of them really grew on me.
How is an app for millions of users different from a regular local app?
There is a difference in everything if you want to do it well. From backend loading to different languages, currencies and payment systems to better quality and more complex testing, because even one small mistake has a big financial impact.
And you're also more likely to encounter specific situations, for example with the Kiwi.com app it's the movement of users at airports where the wifi connection is often very weak, which is worse for the app's behaviour than being unconnected.
The offer from Skypicker (Kiwi) came after 4 years of operating Trinerdis. How did you perceive it at the beginning? Was the sale an obvious choice?
Clearly not, but very interesting for sure. Definitely one that we've been thinking about seriously since the beginning.
Why did you decide to sell Trinerdis?
For the money and to be part of Skypicker (Kiwi.com). We believed it could be a super success story that we would like to be a part of.
After the sale, you continued your work and led the development department of Skypicker (Kiwi). Have you considered early retirement?
Part of the agreement when we sold the company was that we had to stay in Kiwi.com for 3 more years. And I have to say that I stayed and worked there happily for more than those 3 years.
Shared moments in Kiwi
But in the end, you quit your job in Kiwi. What made you do that?
Extreme fatigue and the realization that I need to stop for a while. I've been riding at 120% for the last few years. I started to feel tired, lost the joy of work.
I've always had the theory that work is supposed to be fun. And suddenly it was gone. The last stone was when I went to the office on Sunday afternoon to finish something, I knew it was important and I had to do it, but I couldn't. I stayed until the evening, stayed overnight, and when I went to make coffee on Monday morning, I realized I had a few lines and that I just couldn't do it that way, that my brain was saying stop and I needed a break.
What do you do nowadays? Do you have any other interesting projects?
To tell you the truth, I'm resting now, getting myself together and catching up on everything I haven't had time to do in the last few years. My daughter was born in January, so I'm trying to devote myself to her, I'm building a house, which also takes some time, I'm doing a lot of my hobby, which is sport archery.
I'm also trying to spend more time with my wife, as she hasn't enjoyed me much the last few years, or taking educational courses. Well, at the same time, I'm looking around for something new to take on.
Karel's wedding and the archery win
Do you continue to follow trends in mobile app development?
I admit I'm trying to ban myself to watching it. When I come across something, I immediately think about how it could be used, work stuff starts popping up.
What I see as interesting is the ever-returning trend of multi-platform apps, with the current wave being on React Native. There, I'm curious to see how some teams handle it and whether it will therefore be the endgame for native.
What do you think is most important for developing a good app?
Not the most important thing, but a few basic things that need to be followed. In my opinion, a good fight is not one that someone shouts about, but one that brings interesting business. Just money talks...
So what do I consider important for developing a good app? First, to answer the question: Do I even need a mobile app? Isn't a mobile website enough? What should be the benefit of an app? Developing a mobile app is quite expensive and usually continuous development is needed, so the app should have a clear business case.
Secondly, to know who the end customer is, how they behave, why they should use the app, what the benefits are for the user. Just a clear product vision.
Thirdly, learn to say no, to be able to cut unnecessary functionality and focus on the essentials.
Fourth, good analytics - you need to track and evaluate. What you don't measure, you don't improve.
If you had to decide again today, would you start a development agency?
No, because it's very hard to find good and aware clients. Without them, custom business is very complicated.
Karel, thank you for the interview!
And here's another interview for you. Read how Freelo was created and how it is possible that only four people work for Váš Hosting, in the interview with Karel Dytrych.
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