Startup of the Day – Komola UG

The company of the day is Komola UG, based in Germany. Their mission is to create useful apps which are fun to use. You will find below an interview with Thomas Schaaf, Co-founder of Komola UG. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with Thomas Schaaf, Co-founder of Komola UG

Who are you?

The company currently consists of 3 people who are all under the age of 20. The two founders, Thomas Schaaf (17) and Sebastian Hoitz (19), are still in high school but have worked on their projects since 2004.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?

We feel honored and thankful to have the ability to show others that even the young founders are able to get promoted and supported by large companies such as Microsoft.

What did you do before creating your company?

We realized we can earn money with our hobby.

What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?

Our company’s mission is to create useful apps which are fun to use. Another principal is to eat our own dog food. We always use the products ourselves. As to what we sell it’s at the moment the German VS.Php PHP plug in for Visual Studio. For the near future we want to release another product which we have been working on for several months.

Any clients? References? Partners?

Miami based Jcx.Software Corp. is our partner for VS.Php development. We are involved in the development of a city-wide wifi network.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

We were just students and did software development as a hobby. We funded the server we were running on with our pocket money until one day we discovered that we could make money with developing.

Growth? Internationalization?

We started as two founders. This month we hired our first official employee but work with a couple of different designers every once in a while. We are planning to hire another developer next year. Since we are fluent in German and English we have the ability to translate our software into German and English. Our PHP IDE Plugin for Visual Studio has been translated into German, is being partly developed by us and now being sold in English, Japanese, French and German.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Including the founders we are three developers. If you include our designers who work with us most of the time we are six.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

We are looking to hire another developer, but we aren’t rushing. We want to find people in Braunschweig, Germany that get the hang of a California style startup which has got a pool table and a hammock in their office. They have to know what OOP is and how to use it (design patterns etc.). The programming language does not matter, since programming languages are subject to change. At the moment we happen to use C# and PHP (Zend Framework) a lot. Since we build a lot of applications around the web, “fluent” JavaScript, HTML and CSS skills are basic requirements.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

The Visual Studio plug in VS.Php is programmed in many languages, but the newer parts are all built in C# mainly because of the great framework behind it. We also do a lot of PHP programming using the Zend Framework. This is where VS.Php comes in handy – eat your own dog food!

Who’s your role model?

We have lots of role models but we are a big fan of Joel Spolsky and his company FogCreek. We love simplicity and admire any company which does a good job at it. Some examples are 37signals and getdropbox.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?

Web! We deeply believe that the future software apps are mostly hosted in the cloud.

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

Nope we’re self funded and profitable since day one.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

We already joined as one of the first companies in Germany. It’s great to be able to test under the newest environments. I have several VM’s running which are using XP, Win Server 2003, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Without the program we would have probably only tested a few of them or might not have gotten the ability to test at all because the license fees for a startup are well above what we had gotten.

Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?

Develop software because you love it. Never forget why you started doing it. Komola has got a policy that everyone may do a project part of their time. It’s great what comes out of it – translating VS.Php was one of the fun projects we did.

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