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!
Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.
Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.
If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.
The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.
It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.
Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”.
Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?
It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as well as urban planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!
A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.
Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!
Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.
Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company.
Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.
Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard. The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.
Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one?
Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.
Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.