Together with Ondřej Zelenka, Jiří Pudil founded the software startup SoftCake, which joined the startup family InQbay. One of their main interests is to create their own portal solution for process automation. We wanted to know more about Jiří and here is the result of our questioning.
Looking back on your career, which period was the hardest?
The answer may seem like a cliché, but I would certainly consider the very beginning to be the most difficult period. It was a time when we had to stand up to large and well-established companies and gain a certain position, which was not easy. It was also a time when our plans and ideas came across a harsh reality, which also had to be dealt with somehow.
What was the hardest part of starting your business and how did you overcome the crisis?
As I said, the beginning was quite rough. I would not call it a crisis, but rather a school. Right at the beginning, we encountered an underestimation, or also an attempt to make us very cheap workforce that (thanks to our freshness in the field) some people believed they could afford much more to. But I think that thanks to that we had an opportunity to show our qualities, stability and healthy self-confidence.
What would you advise to anyone considering starting a business?
Before starting the company, Ondřej and I (co-founder, managing director, CTO SoftCake) were consulting for more than a year. We were thinking about different variants and all possibilities. We only founded SoftCake when we were absolutely sure of our plans and strategies, and it is precisely what a person needs in the very beginning to be able to overcome the difficulties that will sooner or later come.
Which of your qualities do you consider to be the most important for the management of your company?
In elementary school we had the following system – at the end of each week, we did self-reflection and evaluated how successful we were in mastering the subject matter. I was not able to honestly say that I was good at this and that, I was rather looking for my shortcomings to focus on. Even now, this question is not easy for me, because I can think about my 10 different personality traits that I can improve. But if you really insist on some “praise” of my own, then I think I am open to the opinions of others. It is not necessary to let yourself be directly influenced, but to listen to opinions on the matter and see the situation from different points of view, which helps to avoid unnecessary mistakes.
What is most annoying about being in charge of a firm?
Responsibility. From time to time there are the moments when it is necessary to make a decision and there are only disadvantages for both variants. We are are in a dead end, but we have to decide. I don’t know if to call this annoying, but it’s definitely unpleasant.
What drives you forward?
Coffee, green tea and faith.
The belief that we can do something. The belief that we will help someone. The belief that a person will be rewarded for hard work, and the more work there is, the greater the reward one day will be.
Do you have a business model?
My parents, though neither of them do business. My father is a doctor and my mother a teacher. They are definitely my business role models because they both always work more than “just” 100% and not for money, but because they both take their job as a mission.
What will reliably throw you off during a meeting?
There can be several things. The first thing that comes to my mind is the situation when the business partner takes on a different role than the one he traditionally has, for example a supplier dictates to us what we need from him and we don’t. Or the moments when our copartners have an equal position, but only they would like to set the rules. Then it is necessary to define precise competencies and this keeps us from negotiating key issues.
What do you do when you have a crisis?
To handle the crisis, I go through several stages. First of all, I formulate the causes and then I try to outline my own solution. After that I like to listen to the opinions of other people and their solutions, which I take into consideration.
What is your guilty pleasure?
If I revealed my secret vice, it would no longer be a secret. Well, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I like to play computer games. When I was a little boy, my older brother and I had more limited access to the computer than our peers, and then, of course, more enjoyment when we got to the computer and could play games on it for a while. And I think that thanks to that we both still love such “old-fashioned” games as Stronghold Crusader, GTA Vice City or Mafia 1.
What have you wasted the most time on in your life?
Procrastination. Retrospectively, I look at every unproductive moment as useless.
What was your best life investment?
Unequivocally studying, the grammar school in my hometown and here in Prague Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Technical University. The grammar school provided me with a general overview. When I finished my secondary studies, I wasn’t very sure about my future university studies. I applied for different types of schools. As I passed the maturita examination in mathematics and physics, I finally decided to go to the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, which helped me to get to know myself and realize my future specialization.
What’s the worst thing about a business?
Definitely lack of time. Initially, you invest a lot of time in work that brings you almost no profit. You invest time not to develop the company, but to maintain and stabilize it. It is even worse when you are a student. Especially in the examination period you have to devote a lot of time to school. Then it’s really critical, when a problem comes the day before your exam and neither school nor a problem in your firm can be postponed. That’s why I am really grateful to Ondřej, who takes my study into consideration. He is very tolerant and helpful in solving the problems that only I should solve otherwise.
What is the best thing about business?
Reward. As I mentioned above, the possibility of obtaining a greater reward for more work done or increasing the quality of work. I think that it is very tempting and motivating. I already have some work experience and the thing which always bothered me was that you often have a fixed reward and no matter how much and how well you work.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I’m looking forward to how successful SoftCake will be in the future. The company is growing step by step and it is doing well. When founding it was difficult to predict what SoftCake would look like in a year. Maybe that’s why I’m really looking forward to the next one.