Validate your ideas, don’t be afraid of criticism. Any feedback you can get is going to help you.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SAAS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Filip Hasa, CEO of Pixelfield. Philip manages Pixelfield, but more important is that he is here is to understand the client’s product. He aims to help the client’s business and to share valuable experience and focus on the client’s growth. He is interested in innovations and how the digitalisation is impaction our everyday life and changing our behaviour and society.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thanks for having me. I was born in Prague, studied programming and then to a law school. I started Pixelfield 7 years ago during my university studies. That slowly grew over my head, and I had to choose between the lawyer’s career and business. So I am basically another university drop-out with a passion for technology.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I haven’t had that moment in my life. It all started and grew organically. I just loved technology since I was a kid and I was playing with a computer before I was able to read. I am not sure if it is a good thing or not, but my fascination still remains the same. I was studying law, but I was working on my own projects anyway. I just couldn’t help it.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
One of the worst time for us was about three years after we have started. In the beginning, everything was running smoothly. We were fortunate about the people we decided to hire — by the way, many of them still work for Pixelfield seven years later.
Being lucky sounds excellent, but it really isn’t. We were not prepared at all for the difficulties to come. We have lost some clients and made a few bad hires, and it immediately turned into a disaster. We were very naive and unexperienced, and we failed to act fast. We had to pay a terrible price for that in shape of about two years of constant work and fixing things up.
I was thinking about quitting several times. I remember one night, when I was in the office alone and feeling nostalgic, as I was decided to close down the company the next morning. When I woke up, I took a shower and went back to work.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Great. We are now located in London, Amsterdam, in Prague. We have profiled and focused on MVPs and start-ups. We help them design, build and launch their new digital products, whether it’s an app, chatbot or something similar. We also help them with the process and much other stuff, acting basically like a virtual CTO.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
It’s a mistake I’ve repeated many and many times over in the first years — hiring the wrong people. I believed that everyone can be a great employee if they try. This might be true, but there are just some people who are not willing to do what it takes, or it might be the case that you don’t have enough time to wait if this is going to happen. You should be careful about this, especially if you are a small company. I once hired a salesman who didn’t make a single appointment in a month. He had always found some excuse. One day it was he is working on leads and going to do the calls tomorrow, the day after he was under the weather and couldn’t speak. I fired him when he said he will not meet clients because he has herpes. He has then decided the next best course of action was to attack me physically. Nothing serious, but I was clearly right to fire him. Half a year later, I found out that he is running for a seat in the Czech parliament for a political party that wants to establish a monarchy. They, of course, never made it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
It’s going to sound like a cliché, but we are honest. In the end, we make money if we produce code. But we never sell anything that doesn’t make sense. Recently, we have turned down a client who wanted to build a new app but was not willing to hear our concerns regarding his strategy. We had serious doubts that an app can be successful like that, so we backed off and turned down a considerable budget.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Always have a plan. Don’t just watch what is going on. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do or by the gravity of problems you need to solve, sit down, take a paper and a pencil a write down a plan. I have seen many of my colleagues panic and jump from one thing to another, without any significant results. Keep your calm, follow your plan. And then make a new one.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Lawrence M. Miller. It’s funny because I’ve never met the man. I found his course on Udemy, and it helped me a lot at a certain point. It helped me to sort out my thoughts on how organizations work, and his lectures showed me that you can approach this at least a bit scientifically.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
We have produced apps for many start-ups, some of them successful, any of them failing. App business is tech, but it’s still business as any other. So the three steps? Get to know your customer, identify the problem and solve it in the most elegant and efficient way.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
We use different monetization models depending on the size and the type of the project. We always choose carefully which strategy seems to be the least violent, and we test paywall, adds and other strategies on real users. You should also always measure your results and use A/B testing if possible. The growth of your customer base is a priority, especially in the first stages. Don’t lose your momentum because you want to make a few pounds.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SAAS? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Be lean, do as little as possible, launch and evaluate.
- Validate your ideas, don’t be afraid of criticism. Any feedback you can get is going to help you.
- Identify your value. Don’t be a copycat, and don’t combine twenty existing products into a new one.
- Get funded. Development of a new product is not cheap, and you don’t want to fail because of insufficient funds.
- Maintain quality. MVP is not just about functionality, you need to deliver production-ready design, usability and reliability.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I wouldn’t start another movement. I prefer to focus on my daily work and how to get better in it. My biggest reward is if I help to steer the product in the right direction.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow us at pixelfield.co.uk, and our twitter @hellopixelfield.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thanks again for having me.
“5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SAAS” With Filip Hasa, CEO of Pixelfield was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.