The next AppParade is coming soon. We talked about this platform for mobile developers, clients and tech fans with its director and our CEO Vratislav Zima.
What you didn’t know about AppParade, but you definitely should?
What was AppParade for you as a developer before you bought it?
I started to go to AppParade sometime in 2012, when it was taking places for about 2 years. For me it was a time when I started to focus on mobile apps development, develop them myself and worked on my own micro projects.
At that time AppParade was a pivotal event where you could find out who was working on what. There were always interesting people from the Czech development community. I was creating applications at a terrible level at that time, so I found it great to meet, chat and be inspired by the industry leaders. You could also win a phone, which I, as a poor student, found great back then :)
Then I started competing at AppParade myself - I think it was two or three times with different projects.
How did you end up then?
With one competition app really badly. But at the second time we won the T-Mobile award and even went to a show called Aplikace on Prima Cool, They interviewed us, which was a huge thing for us back then.
And what did we succeed with? We wrote an app called Jukees, which were digital jukeboxes for bars and pubs, where you tapped the songs over the phone and then played them in a real jukebox. When we won the AppParade, it made quite a bit of hype and people started downloading our app. That all would be great if we fine-tuned the project and had contracts with at least some bars and restaurants where Jukees could be used… It just shown an error saying that one has to be in the bar and it referred him to the bar maybe 300 km away :)
We just didn’t have the project fine-tuned at all and after some time we stopped it anyway, because we encountered legislative problems with playing music and the whole thing was just too complicated :)
But what was great about it was that we experienced how important marketing and PR are and how to get our idea to people. When people started to write and talk about us, the project took on huge proportions. We didn’t know what it feels like to be in such situation. And now, we give this feeling to all AppParade winners, who have a lot of workshops and mentoring waiting for them.
But moved away a little from what AppParade meant to you at the time…?
At that time, it was an event that one could go to instead of an evening cinema for example. The person would find out what was going on in our Czech mobile applications scene, what were the new trends, the best mobile applications and take part in the competition. It’s a show, people have fun, but also get inspired. I attended AppParade regularly and I thought it was one of those really good events happening in Prague.
What was the moment you said you wanted to host AppParade and take it over from Mediář?
In the spring of 2018, we worked on the Poopy Doopy mobile app entirely because of AppParade. We finished it after about 3 months and went for the win because it was a great idea - Poopy Doopy helps to drown out the sounds you make in the toilet using different types of hairdryer!
But when we wanted to register as competitors at AppParade, we found that there is no AppParade taking place. We wrote to Ondra Aust - editor-in-chief at Médiář and AppParade’s father asking what will happen next with AppParade. He wrote back that he doesn’t know what to do with AppParade, that it needs to be restarted. Eight years after the shows were quite the same, the audience participation and registered projects began to decline quite a bit. It was quite a lot about introducing large corporate and not always interesting mobile applications.
Coincidentally, we were thinking in the summer of 2018 that we also wanted to organize events for the developer community. But hackatons and meetups were happening a lot here, so we were coming back to AppParade in our thinking and that we wanted to do something similar.
We talked to Ondra and Médiář that we probably know how to improve the event and we wanted to get involved in the organization and help. It came out that it would be ideal for AppPararade to be held entirely by one subject. So we agreed on full acquisition of the brand and event and to organize it as SYNETECH further on.
What has SYNETECH brought to AppParade?
Over the past 8 years, there have been 30 shows, over 400 mobile applications, and the evenings were no different from each other. It was always just about choosing the best app.
We wanted to make those evenings different. We decided to start making thematic evenings and as a technological company, we wanted to focus on technologies.
To begin, we wanted the community to decide what topic the next AppParade should have. We focused the topic selection around various components of the phone and we were looking for applications that use geolocation, camera, augmented reality, or notifications in an interesting way.
For AppParade 31 - our first show - the winner was “Geolocation”. The topic of the next one was using notifications and all re-engagement tools. But for the upcoming 33rd happening, we decided not to be purely about particular technologies or hardware components. Instead we want to talk with the participants more about the purpose, help each other and the whole community and perhaps stir up a debate about whether we do things well, or if we can’t do it better.
Just looking at nice apps is no more enough for us. We also want to talk about the latest trends or what is itching the community. That is why every time we invite an expert in a specific area and he presents the most important points and highlights in 15 minutes that we should be aware of.
To give an example, at AppParade 32, where we discussed how to properly motivate a person to return to the app, Pepa Holý from MSD has thoroughly discussed what happens in a person’s brain when he is constantly distracted by push notifications and what he does with them.
It is important for us developers, agencies and clients to open this topic, if we misuse these tools we are setting ourselves to end. People are massively uninstalling applications and have allergic reactions to the tool itself, and we can blame ourselves.
Each time AppParade has a different jury and a different expert / speaker for each topic. How hard is it to get these people to AppParade?
At the beginning it was easy, but after all, the Czech technological pond has some limits… We struggle, but we still manage to get familiar people into the jury who also understand the topic - this is the most important criterion for us. To make the jury’s rating credible.
The most important thing for us is that AppParade still remains an independent platform that connects the community. We are not afraid to invite people from competing studios to the jury. Everyone is good at something and for us the expertise and knowledge of the topic is still the most important thing, and it seems that all jury members are enjoying their roles. More often it happens to us that some people do not feel worthy to take part in the jury, that they do not have sufficient know-how yet and therefore reject the role.
Who is the new AppParade for, who can we find in the audience?
I feel AppParade has changed a lot over time. 9 years ago, students came to AppParade, they grew up in those years, and suddenly they are business managers, founders of development agencies or startups - people who revolve around marketing and digital business. But of course it’s still about the developers.
In fact, in this evening, a rather interesting mix of people meet at Vnitroblock. People from different industries - marketing people, startup guys, programmers, product managers, investors and talent seekers - all connected by the interest in mobile phone as a tool and mobile technology.
And on the other side - why is it great to participate in AppParade as a contestant?
I’ll take it from my point of view, why I always wanted to compete there.
It wasn’t because of some major prize. The most important thing to me was to get up on stage and show my mobile app to 350 people in the audience. To get feedback, draw attention to myself and my work, and present it to interesting people. And maybe with a little luck to find an interesting contact, a potential partner or an investor.
I didn’t know how get into the media with my app myself, and AppParade helps a lot with that. It can be a good springboard for many developers or app owners.
What are people’s feedback on the new and old AppParade?
Of course, people tell me they like AppParade more now :)
But seriously - when we bought AppParade, we took the preparation, communication and production from the very beginning. It is clear that Ondra - the editor-in-chief of a big media - must had an incredibly tuff time when combining his work with the organization of such an event.
We have a team of people to do it, a few months before the event we are preparing everything to make the evening worthwhile, and the effort made corresponds to the result. We communicate about it much more, so the father of AppParade Ondra Aust himself says that “our” AppParades are the biggest events for the whole existence of the show. 350 people would not even fit into Bio Oko. So we are happy that our efforts pay off.
Well, if people don’t lie to me, the event is nice and the topics we deliver there are interesting. Someone just goes to see the best apps and that’s fine too.
We do not want to make AppParade just a “fight” between app-makers, but on the contrary we want to make it a platform that inspires and maybe educates the scene as such.
Two AppParade behind us, what makes you happy about it the most?
The amount of people in the audience and of the submitted projects.
Our first AppParade 31 was actually somewhat an experiment to find out, if we manage to get the event back on track again after a year. And we packed up the entire Vnitroblock so that people couldn’t even fit into the hall. But that could be only because of the curiosity about what we did with the event.
So there was another AppParade (with number 32) and we said to ourselves that it would become clear and we’ll see if people would come back or not. And they did! Even if that day was the premiere of the last episode of Game of Trones :)
For us it was an indication that we are probably going in the right direction.
And I’m also glad that we have always had a star jury without exaggeration and that the same interesting people are being interested in AppParade in general. But we also know that AppParade can still be improved many times.
What are the plans for AppParade in 2020?
Less AppParade :)
In 2020 only 2 shows will take place. We want to make it a little more exclusive. It seems to us that over the years there has been that feeling AppParade takes place every 2 weeks and that they can just skip the upcoming one and we don’t want that.
We do not know ourselves what the upcoming topics will be, but they will definitely reflect the current situation.
AppParade 33 is coming and its topic is From Idea to Development, how was it with your Jukees project with which you won the AppParade?
We had the opposite. We did not go from the idea to development, but from development to the idea :)
We met with other programmers to discuss what super technological we can do, we invented that technology, and then we wondered where it could be used. And because we liked going to pubs, we thought of bars.
Then we worked on it for a very long time … And straight forward on the full-fledged version, not a prototype. After at least three quarters of a year, we said that we can finally show it to the bars, that it is in sufficient quality. So we started touring the pubs and the response was somewhat more lukewarm than we imagined. When we offered it to the bars for free, it was possible :) But we actually forgot to think about how we will make money with Jukees and we did not even find out.
And for this reason too, it is great to talk about this issue, so that others wouldn’t make similar mistakes as we did. After all, it was x months of work that could be spent in more meaningful way.
So the mobile app must make sense…
The word “sense” can be understood to have different meanings. It does not always mean that the application must have some “higher purpose”. But it definitely has to be meaningful, that’s definitely the most important thing! And it makes sense when someone uses it, it helps users or solves a problem. There are so many applications and if you don’t know what the app will help you with or what it brings to you, you will not download it to your phone.
How would you summarize the meaning of AppParade in a nutshell?
With each show, we want to stir up a debate on a particular topic to show the development scene, startups and people from digital business a new perspective. We want to share experiences, show success and fail stories as help each other.
If we create bad mobile apps and people don’t use them or worse get angry with them, we are degrading the entire mobile app industry. And nobody wants that.