Interview by Mateja Plaskan
Julio Santos is a software engineer with a Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering. His main interests are web and mobile development, interaction design, and building Facebook applications. He is based in betahaus Berlin as lead developer and founder of the Facebook application, Gruvi. Gruvi is a platform that helps entertainment brands build and manage their communities by allowing users to give and receive movie recommendations within a network.
Gruvi is a start up registered in UK, but you started to develop the program in Copenhagen. How did you become involved with founding Gruvi, and what inspired you to found it?
I started out as one of the two initial developers, not a founder. But it so happened that, as time went by, I developed a very close relationship with both the product and original founders, and I eventually became part of the company, and am now considered a co-founder.
What made you decide to come to Berlin to develop your product? How has working from betahaus affected you and your work?
I came to Berlin because right now it really feels like the European capital. I came here from Copenhagen, and I had gotten a little tired of how strict everyone was over there - though I found it easier to communicate with people, since there were more English speakers there. In Berlin, I find everyone to be more open - you can communicate and connect with nearly anyone. It really feels like people are living here!
I had been working from a similar coworking space in Copenhagen. This particular place was located in a building formerly owned by Nokia, who, after having experienced an unfortunate round of layoffs, had left a lot of free space. So the environment here isn’t radically different, but I still prefer betahaus.
You’ve worked with some well-known studios before. How did you get in touch with them?
One of the original founders has a background in the film industry, and used to work with a trailer distribution company, so he had a lot of contacts and a good idea of how the industry worked. Aside from that, our product is revolutionizing the way business is done in that industry, and so these brands end up coming to us for help, without us having to ask them.
What is the aim of your product? Do you have any challenges in the future for Gruvi?
the Gruvi app
The aim of our product is to do something with movie recommendations that has never really been done right before. There are already products like Netflix, who use complex algorithms to try and determine what movies one wants to watch. Nobody really cares about that. Instead, people are more likely to watch movies based on recommendations from a friend, or from someone they trust to know their taste. So we base our product on that, by helping people find contacts who can get to know their taste and recommend movies to them.
What kind of advice would you have for young software engineers, particularly those wishing to found their own start ups
Software engineering is probably the best job to have at the moment. There is amazing demand in the market for software engineers, so it’s a highly-valued position. However, I see a lot of people getting pulled away from what they’d perhaps really like to do because they are so seduced by such a highly-valued job. In the end, the quality of your product depends entirely on how passionate you are about your work, so it’s best if you do something you love, even though you may not make as much money from it. Of course, if you have a family to feed, money should be more of a concern, but before that, I’d say you should just do what you love!
Want to join Julio and other entrepreneurs at betahaus? See how here!
Claudius: Design is the core of what we do and what we’re all passionate about, but hardly our only focus. Design, at LAUDO, stands more for designing a whole strategy, often very close connected with marketing. We’re developing websites and apps for our clients, but also help them reach their target audience through SEO, Google ranking developing newsletter systems, print brochures etc.
Claudius: A lot of other companies are seeing themselves as a service provider and don’t really question what their client wants and why. We pay very close attention if the work we provide for a client is in line with our personal values and vision. It’s not just delivering a product to the client, getting the paycheck and leaving, but also building relationships with clients and collaborating. Because they are often our doors to new opportunities
We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’
‘’We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’’
Orietta: I think one thing that makes us stand out on the market and our number one strength is the team. We’re a small team and we all look in the same direction and have the same approach and vision. That makes the communication go smoothly.
Joey: Another thing is that we have a very hands-on approach. We are the guys, who say: ‘’Okay, let’s do it’’. That’s our culture.
Orietta: When we started looking for a place I was already involved in the betahaus community. Working from previous betahaus locations and attending the community events, I already knew a lot of people in the 'haus ...
Joey: Yes, I remember on the first day we came to betahaus Orietta was like ‘’Oh, hey! Hi! Hey, how are you doing? Hi!'' giving high-fives to everybody and we were like: What is going on, why does she know everybody?!
Orietta: Well, the vibe in betahaus is just super easy going. You directly feel that you can meet people easily. If you go to the kitchen for example and just ask ''Hey how are you, what are you working on?''. We made many new contacts too.
Claudius: What makes it nice here is that people are enjoying being here and working on their projects.
Claudius: The truth is, we could probably afford an office for the same price, but that would put us between these four walls, which put you into a box, much harder to exit and to connect with new people. We went for a Team Desk because here we have so much more space and everything seems much more connected. You can easily meet people.
Orietta: And it’s just so spacious here. We have this super nice garden.
Claudius: I like being focused on my work but I also like if someone disturbs me from time to time. It helps when the door opens. In an office we would work in a whole different way. Here Gillord (Coworking Manager) is coming in everyday, giving me a hug, telling me about his workout .. that’s the main reason - the personal connection.
The day in betahaus starts with a hug and ends with a hug. The time in between is pretty much spent on doing what you love.
After you’ve taken care of your paperwork and you’ve signed up both in Bürger- and Finanzamt, you are all set up to start working. One of the best ways to get integrated into the city fast, meet like-minded people, and even find clients is by working from a coworking space. There are tons of benefits for freelancers and luckily Berlin has a lot to offer in this way. A coworking space is a physically collaborative shared workspace, which brings all kinds of creatives and entrepreneurs together. It’s a perfect place for startups, freelancers, digital nomads and even corporates searching for innovation. And it’s the biggest advantage towards the typical office space is that it pushes a collaborative exchange between its members and facilitates the creative process and networking.