Avocode: Making Designers and Developers Collaborate Easier
Designers and developers are two parts of the business puzzle. As such, both require tight collaboration in getting things done.
Oftentimes, this collaboration brings a lot of problems, like a lot of manual work for both sides of the puzzle. And most of the time, it’s just the nature of the work that makes that collaboration difficult - both in execution and communication.
To tackle this issue, three young people, led by designer Vu Hoang Anh and developers Petr Brzek and Martin Duris, decided to solve the issue by combining their wits into one product called Avocode.
What began as an idea between colleagues, gradually led to the invention of a helpful tool for everyone within the industry.
This is how Avocode was born.
A Pool of Talent
Vu Hoang Anh, the CEO of the company, is a Prague-born Vietnamese. As part of the small Vietnamese minority in the Czech Republic, things haven’t always been easy for him. But even as a young boy, he was very persistent and determined to succeed in life. He showed interest in creating and building things, even at a young age. The passion for design followed him into high school which eventually led him to the pursuit of a university degree in design.
Petr Brzek, the Chief Product Officer of Avocode, was also born in Prague. He had an affinity for technology, and he loved spending time on his computer. This passion only grew in high school which led him to enroll in university to seek a degree in informational technologies.
Martin Duris, the COO of the company, was born in the small town of Poprad, Slovakia. Much like his later-to-be colleagues, he too was interested in computers and technology from a very young age. Enrolling in a high school that was more on the IT side followed as the logical choice for Martin. After graduating from high school, Martin decided to pursue a different career and moved to Prague to study at the University of Economics. That journey was short-lived, as only after one year, he dropped out to follow his true calling.
Planting the Seed
Vu Hoang Anh eventually decided to drop out of college, directing all of his focus on projects. His decision to leave college triggered a lot of backlash from his family, mainly because in the Vietnamese culture, having a higher education was seen as quite an achievement and yielded admiration. However, Vu decided to follow his heart, always going through life following his simple motto - “think differently”.
In 2012, the individual paths of Vu, Martin, and Petr intertwined and they ended up working together. Vu and Petr were working together in a digital agency, planning to apply to the Prague start-up weekend with a revolutionary clock as their invention. But then they met Martin and started working on another, even more, exciting project. They built a photoshop plugin called CSS Hat, which became world-famous. The three of them earned a lot of money and acknowledgment thanks to their invention. Operating under their new brand name - “Source”, they continued creating more successful plugins.
While working as a designer and collaborating with developers, Vu encountered many problems that were challenging to him. Every time he finished a design, he would send the photoshop file to the developers- Martin and Petr. So each of the developers had to open up the file using their own license for Photoshop to get all the assets they needed to start coding. However, Martin and Petr were not that skilled in Photoshop, so Vu had to manually write down all of the values he used in the design’s layer style, so they wouldn't have to do it themselves.
He started brainstorming for ideas on how to make things easier for him and his colleagues, thus rendering their work more effective. It turned out that solving that problem was not an easy task, and it took a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but Vu, Martin, and Petr were persistent, and quitting was not an option.
After a whole year of hard work, going through a lot of trials and errors, finally, in 2014, Avocode was ready to see the light of day.
Firstly called “Kebab”, but then renamed into the more catchy “Avocode”, the team’s invention came to life.
Because of the numerous difficulties they faced along the way, in terms of collaboration, the team was challenged to create a product and it turned out to be a complete success. Vu, Martin, and Petr managed to create an app that is very simple to use, user-friendly, and works on all operating systems.
Automatically turning design into code and significantly shortening manual work for both the designer and the developer, and omitting the use of irrelevant tools, were the main reasons for creating the app.
All in all, the young entrepreneurs made a useful product that made the workflow between designers and developers a lot faster and easier, improving communication and allowing both designers and developers to focus on their main activities, saving them a lot of energy and precious time.
Harvesting the Fruit
They’ve already experienced success with their previous and highly praised product CSS Hat, so the successful start of Avocode was not a surprise at all. Accumulating the sum of $100.000 solely from pre-orders was a very promising start. By the end of 2015, Vu, Martin, and Petr had already earned $1.000.000 from their products combined, including Avocode, so clearly they were on the right path.
Avocode grabbed everyone's attention from its release. Investors, companies, designers, and developers, all recognized the genius idea behind it and what it can do for the industry. The team’s first million, alongside the massive interest for pre-orders, were a good sign for investors who wouldn’t want to miss a stellar opportunity for success.
In 2016, the Avocode team applied to Y Combinator, a seed-money startup accelerator, but eventually, Avocode didn’t receive the funds they signed up for. Alternatively, Avocode moved forward to the next option, taking a shot at venture capital firms to raise funds, but they had no luck there, either.
Luckily, Vincent Jacobs, one of the partners in Kima Ventures, a venture capital fund, saw their potential and suggested they try getting into the 500 Startups, the world's most known venture fund and seed accelerator for startup businesses. Kima Ventures connected them to one of the 500 Startups partners, skipping the application process and going straight to the interviews. Managing to convince 500 startups of their potential, they got in.
This was the real push the company needed, it helped the company grow a lot. In the 4 months the team behind Avocode spent with the companies comprising the 500 Startups accelerator, the young entrepreneurs learned a lot about marketing and business growth, at the same time, networking with other companies. But most importantly, they did raise one million dollars through the funding.
Today, Avocode Inc. is a company based in Prague, Czech Republic, led by Vu Hoang Anh as the CEO of the company, Martin Duris, acting as Chief Operating Officer, and Petr Brzek, the Chief Product Officer. The three co-founders of the company and the actual masterminds behind their main product. Now, Avocode provides a working environment for 28 employees.
These days, Avocode is used by major companies like Panasonic and Intel, being recognized as a valuable tool by tech companies and getting positive reviews from designers and developers from all over the world. It is funded by 7 investors, with 500 Startups, Kima Ventures, and Jeremy Yap being the most notable ones. Other investors are Phase4 Partners, Reflex Capital, Wisemont Capital, and TSVS.
Avocode is a successful and inspiring story. It’s about young talented people using their passion and talents to create and invent. Hard work, patience, and working as a team supporting each other and believing in themselves and the team, brought them world recognition. Whatever comes next in line for these guys - we are looking forward to seeing it!