Building a Successful Start-Up in the Czech Republic with Passion, Recruiting, and Nerf

Posted by #NetSuiteNomad Kelli Lampkin

As the resident #NetSuiteNomad this year I will be traveling to a different country each month as an evangelist for NetSuite social selling while spending some time with our employees, customers, and partners in every pocket of the world. This month I am in the Czech Republic.

In a pre-war mansion complete with tennis court and dog friendly gardens in Brno, Czech Republic sits the headquarters of one of the fastest growing technology companies in Europe. If you haven’t already heard of or used Kiwi.com (formerly Skypicker) to book a spontaneous flight, you are missing out.

Founded in 2012 out of a love for travel and the belief that it should be affordable for everyone to explore, Kiwi.com was built with just €18K in Angel investment to a company 596 employees strong with staff around the globe. In 2015 the company experienced 1,500 percent growth in revenue. Yes, you read that correctly, 4-digit growth!

What is the secret to success? According to CFO Juraj Strie┼żenec it’s the passion of their team.

“There is no recipe for a billion-dollar start-up, it’s got to be the right mixture of timing, luck, and people,” he said. “Execution is what makes Kiwi.com unique, our guys are really dedicated; we have the best guys I have ever seen by far.”

It’s not all work and no play at the Kiwi.com offices. Project Manager Andrej Makovicky gave me a tour of the mansion and warned to look out for stray nerf bullets.

“There is a war upstairs where our development team sits, you can’t go up the stairs without a nerf gun,” he said.

Armed with our nerf crossbows we made our way through the battlegrounds of the development teams.

“We are like a huge family, sometimes we work 36 hours straight, and if we find something is not working we can change it with lightning speed,” Makovicky explained.

At the top of the winding stair case (with great access and aim to the floors below) sat cofounder and CTO Jozef Képesi. After meeting with Képesi I learned why their recruiting strategy attracts such dedicated talent. The Kiwi.com development team is encouraged to volunteer to help start-ups with open source projects as a way to contribute to the tech community and find hidden talent among like-minded entrepreneurs.

As a disruptive travel app, Kiwi.com is already changing the landscape of how consumers book spontaneous travel, but as a local start-up it is also changing the landscape of tech in the Czech Republic.

“There is a buzz in the city about Kiwi.com. The big guns in the Valley have started to search Google maps to see where Brno is located” said Strie┼żenec.

After just four years and less than €2M in total funding, Kiwi.com is on the track to IPO. But success has not jaded the founding team. When asked about how to build a culture like Kiwi.com, Képesi simply replied, “let’s start a discotheque!” The work culture at Kiwi.com is built like a discotheque, hard work but always fun and working all hours of the day and night.

About Kiwi.comi: Kiwi.com, formerly known as Skypicker, is an online travel agency with groundbreaking Virtual Interlining technology and a focus on exceptional customer service. Our unique combination algorithm allows our customers to combine flights from non-cooperating airlines onto a single itinerary, often resulting in significant savings.

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