Hi! Great to have you here, can you tell us a little about you and your company Supernova.
Jiří: Really glad to be here talking with you. I am Jiri, I am the CEO, co-founder, and creator of the core underlying technology powering Supernova. Supernova helps designers and developers to create their apps faster, due to the automation of processes that were previously really hard or impossible to automate at all.
Basically, we take the design for any mobile app and turn it into code representation, significantly reducing the effort needed to create it - and saving a lot of time of everyone involved in the process.
What was it like starting a company from scratch - did you or your friends and family have any doubts?
Jiří: Funny enough, I think the family and friends were the only ones who didn’t doubt me - as they know well that I am crazy enough to pull something like this, or at least die trying, ha. But other than that, most people doubted it (and some still do) because the idea is really wild and bit outrageous - we are after all claiming that we can automate something that the whole industry deems impossible to do without doing it manually.
A lot of first-time founders are looking for inspiration on how to get started. Do you remember the very first thing you did when you decided you are going for it?
Jiří: Oh absolutely, I remember. I have worked on 6 projects at once, which is really taxing even when you know what you are doing, and most of the projects were pretty similar to each other.
That is when I started to think about ways how to automate at least some small things - and sure enough, I did have some early successes, however, to turn it into a viable business required to build the entire platform that can unify those small ideas into one large working ecosystem. It took 2 years of unending work to build - most of the founders have to be prepared to have will-power and dedication to see it through - to see only the first algorithm that would have relevant results. We are building the tech for nearly 4 years now and only at this point I am getting confident that we are getting close to THE solution. So yeah, a lot of dedication.
What do you feel like are your biggest responsibilities as the Founder/CEO?
Jiří: I am not what you’d call a prototype CEO - similar to the likes of people like Elon Musk, I like to stay close to the product as much as possible, so my day-to-day job is still solving the hard technical problems. I am doing things like hiring, investments etc. that I can’t really delegate, but the tech is and always will be what I am best at. As with everything though, this is a process, and as we grow even more than we are now, I am expecting to shift more to the managerial role.
But there is specifically one thing that I think every CEO needs to take special care of above all else, and that is the team of people you have. It is, after all, the most valuable resource you have. I am trying to always be on top of any issues that are arising, either resolving them or anticipating them and trying to prevent them. And truly trying to listen to the team. Having a working team full of motivated, happy people is in my eyes the only true key to build any successful startup/company.
Do you have a corporate experience to compare with?
Jiří: I have worked for small companies, freelancers, agencies small and large but also worked on projects for the biggest companies in the world, like Uber. However, the answer is still no - there is nothing like running your own startup. Even considering that I actually went through all the phases of a startup with a different company, being CEO is just a vastly different role that requires completely different skillset and mindset.
What gave you the power to take on such important role? Was it your education, previous experience or something else?
Jiří: I don’t think there is anything specific. The CEOs that I admire are passionate, love what they do, have their way with people and have an unbreakable will. Well and lastly, they are pretty crazy. So I guess I am trying to be the same, adjusting to the situations as they come. As this is my first huge startup, it is a constant learning process for me in all of its aspects. But I think what separates one from being good and bad CEO is the will to listen and learn from mistakes, from the team or clients.
What is it that you love about working for a startup?
Jiří: I have a love/hate relationship with the uncertainty of it - you never know what the next day will bring, and every startup is really fragile by the definition of it. But I think that is what makes it the most thrilling experience if you are that kind of person. And as I already pointed out, the team that is with you for the ride. I was super fortunate to manage to build probably (and objectively) the best team I have ever worked with - not just by the measure of skill but also their passion and the sheer enjoyment of the work.
And tell me what is the hardest part?
Jiří: Everyone has a different answer for this - for me, the hardest part is definitely time management - I love efficiency and productivity and running a startup is always about juggling many things at once, but I find it a bit hard to manage all of it. Getting better, but nowhere close to be satisfied. So it usually comes at the cost of personal life :)
Would you recommend working for a startup to other people?
Jiří: I would recommend it to people that like thrilling, uncertain environments. There will be a time where it is all amazing and then time when there is no hope - but if you can endure all of it, it brings satisfaction unlike any other. I think that is the main difference compared to cozy corporate positions where the company will be there for years to come.
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If you want to meet Jiri in person, join us at Startup vs. Investor hosted by WeWork in Prague on October 29th.