Can you introduce yourself and your position in the company?
Pavel: I am a long-time fan of great products. My love for building products and the internet started when I first saw old Telnet in 1994 while studying in the USA. It then manifested itself during building Atlas.cz where I led all products and in later companies like Ataxo where we’ve built with Josef Slerka Social listener that later became part of Social Bakers or with Michal Illich first incarnation technology that later powered Sklik. All of my ventures were always driven by data on a large scale and it has always been a struggle. With my partners Petr Šimeček and Milan Veverka at Keboola and our teams, we’ve decided to change that and enable everyone to work with data easily.
How long ago did you start building the business and where did the idea come from?
Pavel: I met Petr around a year 2014. I outsourced some work to him as they had already a company and were doing custom cloud and data jobs. I was surprised by how fast they were. We’ve later talked with Petr and Milan and decided to take their internal tools they were using for data integrations and build the whole platform on top of it. And that’s how Keboola as a product company was reborn. I knew first hand from running my companies how big of a struggle data was. Petr, Milan, and our core team had a perfect idea of how to solve this technically. And they are all great people to be around 16 hours a day. Which is necessary and a great benefit when you’re building a company together with someone.
You partner with professional services companies to build the right solutions for our clients. What did the collaboration teach you, can you remember a crucial moment?
Pavel: Crucial moment for us was when we realized we can’t do all implementations ourselves. There was a moment that we just couldn’t scale and our clients had to wait. That was when we realized the importance of partners. Both as solutions integrators as well as technological partnerships. You can have the best technology in the world, but as you grow you will never be able to provide the service necessary to all of your clients. That’s where partners come in.
Can you share the biggest challenge you had to overcome as a team so far? How did you make it through?
Pavel: For us, it’s probably the distance. We’ve been building something that nobody has done before in the market where everybody knew how it should be done, but their way stopped working with the cloud. So, for us, it is the hardest to stay constantly in "day zero" mode and innovating while being all in sync. The problem is too fast to understand what focus on. Realize when and what is the market ready for. I would say it has been our biggest challenge.
We’ve had many near-death moments along the way. We’re bootstrapped with a heavy tech part, across the globe, so it is taxing. But if we want to do something, we can decide on the spot and do it. And the freedom, in the beginning, was worth it.
What do you expect from the future of the company? Do you have specific plans?
Pavel: Our market, and what is possible to do with data is always evolving. We're first, maybe, 10% of people will be doing data in the next 10 to 20 years. So it is very hard to predict precisely. But, one of the things that told me it is good to partner with Milan and Petr was that since the early beginning they had an official "Keboola space program" with badges, logo, and everything. And I’ve always thought that this is our north star. Can you imagine how much more complex will the data stack be once we do go multi-planetary? 🙂
How can a person who does not work in Keboola imagine a company culture? What values do you hold?
Pavel: We have several values like love and care, respect, and always do more. But two of the most important that we value is radical openness, no BS and as our colleague, Odin has put it: "As Buddha famously said: Just don’t be a dick." And we’re trying to live to those.
Finally, we would like to ask what do you expect from people applying for a job in your company? Do you have any specific advice?
Pavel: We expect to work with people who are adults in the way they operate. Meaning having an internal drive, understanding that they know what is good and should behave according to that, and not expect somebody to babysit them with thousands of rules. We love to work with people, who are better than us and we can learn from them. Specific advice? I would say, we love people who are proactive and act and as well people who have "full lives" meaning they have their hobbies and passions and are a bit weird. I mean it is important to have some passion that you can lean to and balance the hard work. Something that helps you to relax and put your mind at ease.