VIII. Report on the State of Ackee in 2019
The seventh year has a tendency of being critical, however that does not apply for Ackee. The year 2019 was contrarily exceptionally successful: We started cooperation with world leader in sports reporting LiveSport, platform for electric carsharing WeShare by Volkswagen or the media group CME. All the teams were joined by incredibly talented and motivated people and last but not least, our turnover grew by 50% to 75 million CZK. Seven years of continuous growth is not just something self-evident and I am very pleased that we are still standing firmly on the ground. How was (not just) the past year and what is awaiting us?
The beginnings are difficult for each company and who claims the opposite does not know what they are talking about. There are a lot of paths that you can take. Companies that do not have any strategy or vision start turning in circles and cease to exist sooner or later, even when they have really talented people. We bet on quality and services with high added value that are not and cannot be cheap.
In the agency world there is an almost perpetual sinusoid: Either there are few people and a lot of work or the exact opposite. We also experienced situations where we could not fully utilize some of our teams. We used these situations to create our own products, improve the common technological stack, open source projects and try new technologies.
It cost us a lot of nerves, but in the end it helped us to create an even better IT agency than we could ever dream of. Moreover, it is profitable in the long-term without a single investment. Clear priorities and internal rules enable us to focus on what matters the most: quality, interesting projects and good relations with clients. Thanks to this strategy, we can also spend time on projects that are purely for joy.
Drive to Move Forward
As a successful company that is focused on quality, smart people and extraordinary company culture, we started focusing more on the development of middle management about two years ago. We based it on team leaders: We assured quality coaching, everybody is working hard on their development and today, they are an important part of managing the company. Today, these people lead their smaller teams in the spirit of Ackee values, just like we as co-founders took care of them a couple years ago.
We all spend most of our time at work. That is why it is so lucky that we do not have to count minutes until the end of the shift. For many people, Ackee is like a second family: During our yearly evaluation sessions, most mention that the biggest benefit for them are great colleagues who are trying to do their job at 100%. Every half-year, we send out anonymous questionnaires about the satisfaction in the company. And now after more than 7 years, we have the best results in our history.
When you have a team full of smart and ambitious people, it is a great advantage that they do not want to stay in one spot. They want to work on a modern stack and demanding projects for renowned clients whose applications make life easier for millions of people around the world. That brings great impulses even for us as leadership and it is completely in sync with our own world view which is the effort to continuously improve. Also thanks to that we managed to get a couple really attractive contracts in the past year.
Demanding Projects for Big Clients
Along with a couple projects for ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab (for example application for delivery into car trunk and global mobility CityMove) we started working on a key project WeShare for the Volkswagen concern last year. It is a platform for a 100% electric car sharing that is successfully working in Berlin since last year and this year it is also headed for Prague.
Our application App4Event was a guide to hundreds of thousands of visitors to festivals and conferences around the world – but also to Czech people during last year's celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet revolution. Within the non-profit project Svobodu! (Freedom!), we created an app thanks to which people could watch the events of the 17th of November 1989 in live broadcast.
Our biggest domestic project at the moment is the aggregator of news that we are building together with a world leader in result reporting LiveSport. In Germany, we are very satisfied with the long-term cooperation with the Simplifa company as well as the project for World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The app for German Bundestag also deserves special attention. Our work was under close scrutiny from the beginning since it is highly unusual for a Czech company to deliver software for the German government. So that the Germans do not beat us by miles, we had to deliver 100% quality which was recently also appreciated by German professional public. The application was launched in March 2019 and it is currently used by almost a million users. Additionally, its rating has been growing rapidly from the release of our version.
Working on interesting projects with smart colleagues who are an inspiration for us, those are the reasons why we still enjoy what we do. The agency sinusoid has mostly stopped. Ackee is bigger and more stable. And the labour turnover is relatively low for an IT company. What more should we wish for?
What Lies Ahead in the Upcoming Months
We were never used to overstatements about ruling the world. We are approaching our business with humbleness from the beginning. We always attempted to make rational decisions based on research. We do not believe in fast success out of nowhere and we prefer to work for it. Somebody might say that this is reactionary, that we grow slowly, that nowadays, companies are sold for billions of dollars after a couple years. However, we are taking a different path and this year we plan to have a turnover of 100 million CZK.
One of our principles was from the beginning to have our own product. We have been working on our own event app App4Event for seven years, we use our own software for administration of company expenses, we have our own business intelligence, we also wrote an image server for resizing images that we use for our clients because it is more efficient and cheaper than solutions from our competition. We do not like to bet everything on one card, that is why we have a branch in Germany 3 years already. With most likelihood we are going to move to new offices. Basically we are going to try our best to have an even better company next year, even more satisfied people and customers. That is why we do it.