Meet The Bakers: Jan Muller, Founder of 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 starting this week, we begin our series of interviews called Meet The Bakers to let you in on a little more about each of us here. Who better to start the series with than our Head Baker? So here’s presenting to you the Founder of BudgetBakers: Jan ‘Honza’ Muller!
Hi Honza! So let’s start with where you began. When did you get the idea of creating an app?
It started about 6 to 7 years ago. I was working as a developer at a Czech Bank called Česká Spořitelna. That was the time when Android was a relatively new platform. So in my spare time, I tried to experiment with it. I learned to program on the platform and wanted to do something interesting with it. That was when I got the idea to parse messages that banks sent to our mobiles. I started displaying the data about balances from these messages on a chart. This was what piqued my interest further.
I soon realised that I could experiment some more in the field of money management and expense tracking. I was finding it useful to manage my own finances as well. So this became one of the motivations to create the first version of Wallet.
And then what happened?
After I left my job at Česká Spořitelna, I had short stints at other companies like Seznam.cz and Avast. It was while I was at Avast that I got my first investment from Martin Jiřička. After Martin came on board, I quit my job and dedicated all my time to building BudgetBakers as a startup and Wallet as a product.
Soon, we were selected by the startup accelerator, Startup Yard. We moved to our current location, was mentored by Startup Yard and got another round of investment from them. With this, we hired our first employees — Matěj Trakal and Andrej Kurečenko. And, in less than a year after that, we got the biggest investment till date, with which we further grew as a product and as a team. What started out as just me has now become a team of 20 plus people.
Weren’t there other similar apps when you started developing Wallet? What do you think sets Wallet apart from them?
Yes, there were a few money management apps when I started out, but not as many as are available today. The main thing is that Wallet is not just an app. It is a fully-integrated personal finance assistant, which you can use on any platform and even on the go. It works on different currencies and all around the world. It allows users maximum flexibility, I think, even more than any other app in the market today. Wallet also allows complete and smooth data synchronisation. Any change made on one device will immediately reflect on your accounts in all others. And, most of all, we allow users to share their finances and set access rights for whomever they are sharing it with.
There are a horde of features that goes beyond the basic purview of expense and income tracking like shopping lists, warranty tracking, debt tracking and so on in Wallet. Recently, we released the new Smart Assistant feature, which reminds users to track their spending depending on location information.
The best part about Wallet is that it is an ever-evolving app. Our team is developing it daily. We keep improving existing features and add newer capabilities more than any of our competitors.
So, what do you do at BudgetBakers on an average work day?
Hmmm… I am mostly developing. I now have a small team of developers, so I am trying to lead and direct their efforts. So you could say that I am somewhere between a developer, product manager, product owner and scrum master. Every day is different. On some days, I am only programming, on others there is brainstorming, discussions with the marketing team, UX meetings and so on.
What are the features you are most proud of in Wallet and what features do you wish to see on it soon?
I am most proud of the fact that we allow smooth and seamless data synchronization among different platforms. I am proud of the infrastructure we have built to make this possible and continuously support newer developments. My wish is to see all the features of the Android app on our iOS version and our web app. We are working on it every day.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on the Smart Assistant feature. As it is a new feature, I need to stabilize its working and make sure that it is reliable. I am also working on a new feature for the Android app, which we will be revealing soon.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your journey with BudgetBakers?
I don’t know if I will call it a challenge. But what I found most difficult was to persist and stay patient for so many years. I love to do what I am doing, but it is a difficult path to become successful and stay there. You need to get better each day. Your product needs to get better every day. You may have a kick-ass product, but you need to convince thousands of other people why it is so. Investors, users, your team… it is all about persistence and hard work. You cannot just stay put, you have to keep moving, and be dynamic.
Tell us something about your life outside of BudgetBakers. Your family, hobbies…
I have two children, a girlfriend and a cat. I love the outdoors and like trekking. But with two small children, it is getting increasingly difficult to get out. I really want to get back to sports and hiking. I am waiting for my kids to grow up a bit so that I can take them with me to the mountains. Recently, I have picked up a new hobby. When I do have the time these days, I dabble with electronic music. I try out different gadgets and software to create new sounds. I don’t know how long this interest with last, though!
Where does BudgetBakers go from here?
There is a lot happening. We are working on new releases for our iOS version; our web app is getting a new face. Our team has grown and will keep growing. We also have plans to grow in the personal finance space and work on new products as well. You’ll hear about all this soon.
Finally, what’s your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t listen to anyone who discourages you. If you are confident about your idea, then work hard. And, that’s the only mantra. Work your ass off! Without persisting, nothing gets done. Some people may get lucky and rich soon, but nothing is sustainable without hard work. This is what I believe in and this is my story.
Also published on Medium.