Meet The Bakers: Jakub Kočí, Web Developer at BudgetBakers
What started as one man’s dream to develop a tool to manage his finances has now become a full-blown startup, BudgetBakers, employing a motley team of talented individuals, all working towards helping the world lead a richer life.
Who are we, really? Many of us began our journey with BudgetBakers, like you, as users of Wallet. As a team, our users mean the world to us, and we would love for you to take a peek into our life at BudgetBakers. So we present to you an interview series called Meet The Bakers to let you in on a little more about each of us here.
This week, we’ve our Web Developer, Jakub Kočí, on the hot seat. Jakub is the real force behind Wallet’s Web App. The Web App is literally Jakub’s baby; he created it from scratch all on his own. So let’s get an inside view on this production process and also get to know Jakub a bit better!
Hi Jakub! Great work on the new Web App! So tell us what’s different in the new Web App?
Hmmm… So now, the design is better. Actually, we built the Web App from scratch so that we could add new features faster in the future. Earlier, it was built on Angular and we now shifted to the React framework. We made the shift not because of any technical problems, but we wanted to rewrite the code from scratch to ensure better code quality.
So now, we added Categories and the Transfer option while creating a record, both of which were missing from the old web app. We also added filters. We do realize that they are basic and we’re working towards improving them. Right now, we are working on the Settings section and we will soon be adding more language localization to the Web App. Yeah, we also have a fresh-looking dashboard with charts.
So what are your favorite things about the new Web App?
I really like the record editing page. I feel this is the biggest difference and advantage the Web App has over the mobile app. When you click on a record, you immediately get all the information without having to open or close any window. You can see everything at once. When you make changes, you simultaneously see how it affects each part of the screen. You can also switch between records and edit them quickly.
What are the features you’re looking forward to in the Web App?
Like I mentioned before, we’re working on the Settings section now. After that’s done, we would like to keep improving the Dashboard, Records and Settings sections and add more features to it. The next step that I’m looking forward to is multi-selection of records. After that, adding photos and locations to a record. And, then maybe better filters. That one’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.
So could you explain a bit about the workflow of the production process?
We started off keeping the Android version of Wallet as a reference and the aim was to replace the current Web App with a new one, but also to match its features. So at first, we named the features we wanted to replace on the Web App. Usually, when I work on something new, I sit with Honza [Muller, Founder] and Michal [Kratochvíl, CEO] to discuss our business priorities. I then speak to our UX designer, Nick, and our UI designer, Max, who designs every feature.
I also take down inputs and feedback we get from our users from the Support and Marketing teams. Feedback also comes in from my colleagues. I make a note of all these and set priorities depending on what can be implemented immediately.
Great work, indeed, Jakub! So now let’s get to know you a bit better. When did you join BudgetBakers and tell us a bit about your life before that.
I joined BudgetBakers in September 2016. Before joining the BudgetBakers team, I was working with TopMonks, a software development company in Prague, where I was a part of the team that delivered web API for the Czech Bank, Ceska Sporitelna. Before that, for three years, I had done back-end development at the Czech Home Credit IT Center, EmbedIT, in Brno. It was at TopMonks that I moved from back-end development to front-end. I did some maintenance work in the existing application build on Ember framework. And, after that I moved to React.
Starting from my student days, when I was poor, I used to tracking my expenses. Then, I had used Excel sheets. Soon I moved to personal finance management apps to help me do this on the go. When I saw that BudgetBakers had an opening, it seemed like an opportunity to build something that would solve the problems I had faced while tracking my finances. And, that’s how I got here!
So tell us, what’s your favourite feature on Wallet?
It’s hard to say. I use Wallet to track my expenses. So I really like to know how much I spent at the end of every month. I use the Cash Flow Report for this and look for the total expenses figure. So reports are, perhaps, what I like and use most on Wallet.
Has Wallet helped you save money or change your attitude towards money? If so, how?
After having started using Wallet, my aim has been to keep variable expenses to the minimum. I only track my variable expenses, like food, drinks, films and outings. Because, I can’t do much about my fixed expenses.
I think Wallet helps a lot because it works on a simple philosophy. If you want to spend less, the first step is to track. In that way, you see how much you spend and on what you’re spending. Sometimes, it has even happened that I avoided buying something because I knew I had to track it. (Laughs) So there is definitely more awareness about what you have with you and it makes you think before you make spending decisions.
But some people think that tracking is too hard and restrictive. What do you have to tell them?
Having tracked my expenses for over 5 years, I can tell you that it’s definitely not hard to do so. It might feel a bit overwhelming or monotonous at first, but it’s only a matter of building the right habits.
The one advantage of Wallet is that it works for you irrespective of the system you follow. Everyone can get results with it.
The results vary, of course, because each of us can use it for different things. Like I use it to track, someone else may use it to budget.
So Wallet works for all kinds of people. It is flexible and you could track your expenses on the go on the app. But if you aren’t a person who likes to do that, you can simply save your receipts and then sit for five minutes a day, at the end of every week or month or whenever you feel like it, and use the Web App to put in your expenses.
I’m a person who has to do everything right. Like If I buy a magazine, then I have to read it from cover to cover. I’m learning to let go a bit and take only what I need from it. It’s the same with tracking. At first I used to fret a lot when I forgot to track something. But now I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.
At BudgetBakers, we’re always looking at different ways to achieve our dream of replacing manual tracking with automatic tracking. It’s like our goal and I think we’ll get there soon.
So for those who are just starting out, maybe start tracking only one category, say, food. Or, coffee. And, see how much you spend on that category alone.
Tracking will be an eye-opener for you, I guarantee you, because you will see how small expenses add up to make big dents in your savings.
And, don’t worry if you forget something, just try to build the habit. I have used Wallet to save money. And, I have used that savings to pay for so many vacations.
What are you working on right now?
Till a few weeks ago, I was focused on delivering new features on the Web App. But now, I’m doing more bug fixing, maintenance and refactoring.
So what is it that you like about working at BudgetBakers?
I love the freedom. I have a lot of freedom in my work; also a lot of responsibility. And, I am learning every single day. But I like this mix. It’s challenging, but I like it. I like the fact that there are a lot of open discussions at BudgetBakers and I can participate in them, give my ideas and discuss things even in fields outside mine.
Tell us a bit about your life outside of work. Your hobbies, interests…
I really like my work. So I try to keep up with new developments in my field. I watch lectures on YouTube, listen to podcasts, read articles and books (but books not as often as I want these days). I work on some side projects at times. Apart from that, I like to watch TV shows. And, when I start watching something, I have to finish it. I also really like sports and I’ve been playing something or the other all my life. But now I’m not so active in sports.
And, that’s because I love my work and that has become my hobby. I enjoy working and doing stuff related to my work. Maybe some people don’t get it and call me a workaholic. I don’t agree with it because I’m having fun doing what I do. I’m an active person and when I’m not playing something or exerting myself physically, I feel that my energy dips. So nowadays I try to go to the gym from time to time. I also enjoy mountain biking and snowboarding.
And, finally, what is your advice to web developers who are just starting out?
To be disciplined and focused. To write good and readable code. And, to have fun at work. I feel they must have a knowledge of general topics like algorithms and data structures, functional and object-oriented paradigms, and also not make the mistake of restricting themselves into specific frameworks or languages. Yes, it is good to get better in a specific framework during the short-term, but keep updating yourself and know how to transfer your knowledge from one framework or platform to another.