Vu Hoang Anh, CEO of Avocode: “The best ideas come from our users”
20 вересня, 2017

Avocode — is a product of Source. A programme, exporting from PSD and Sketch files a CSS, Swift, Android and React Native code of colors, image assets, fonts, sizes etc. Misha Rybachuk went to Prague and talked to the co-founder and CEO of the company Vu Hoang Anh about the product creating process, ideas, team, and customers.

First question: who is this guy who made up Avacode? Was he a designer or a developer?

The first product we ever built was a Photoshop plugin called CSS Hack, which basically just translated CSS Layer cells in Photoshop into CSS code. Very simple. A native feature you already have today in Photoshop. It was the first product we ever built. We had a lot of customers and users. From their feedback and the conversations with them, we realized it would be useful to build something like Avocode. And I think, initially, it was Peter’s, who’s a cofounder and a front-end developer. He thought it would be a great idea. He talked to us, all of the founders, and we tried to validate the idea. We spoke to customers, trying to figure out whether it’s something good to build. We realized it would be great and started building it 2.5 years ago. Along the journey we brought more and more people in. Once we launched the product, we started selling it.

How did you find the idea? Or it was not an idea, but just a pain?

It was an ache and pain we had in our team. And I’m sure the initial idea came from there. Then we had to validate whether other teams had the same pain. So we did that with our costumers from previous products and it turned out a lot of teams had it. We tried to look at our pain and solve our own problems. I think, it’s the best way to build great products.

What was the team like from the beginning?

Before we committed full time to build Avocode we’ve been building Photoshop plugins and other businesses . First, we allocated 2 developers. One of them was Peter, who also was a co-founder. They built a prototype. There was also a part-time designer who helped them to figure out the UX and stuff. We had a first a prototype and gave it to users to get feedback. When we realized it was great and could be something big, we allocated more developers. I think when we launched Avocode, there were 6 developers, 1 designer and in total 8-9 people.

One designer and he created such a great product!

Yes! It was one designer who created the UI and stuff. There was also marketing stuff.

How do you get now that ideas are great? How do you get the idea to upgrade something to improve the product?

We had a lot of ideas from the beginning, we are implementing a lot of things we wanted to from the very beginning. But the best ideas come from our users, so you listen to them carefully. You listen to their problems and come with solutions that solve themn— it’s the best way.

Okay, next one is about users, because I work with developers. There are a lot of strange guys among them. What do you do to hear them and their pain? Developers are not common users.

A lot of developers have problems with communication, but there are also a lot of them who actually can express themselves. We get users on calls so we can ask them one on one. There are also letters in email, but we try also to meet with them. If their location is available, we try hold a meeting. Otherwise we communicate on Skype, Google Hangouts etc.

There are so many tools for designers and developers that help them automate their work and make it easier. What do you think would be a must for developers to be the best? How to become the one on a horse in the foot troop of developers?

We tried to hire top-tier developers. We don’t look only at coding skills, but at how they think of UX, at their copywriting things, how do they manage their code and stuff. These are the other 50% fo what we are trying to find in developers. Because you are working in a team, not alone. So communication, copywriting are important in the process for developers to understand the product and be passionate about it.

You have an office in the US. What is yhe thing with it?

We do have a US company, it owns the Czech company, but physically all the people who stand behind Avocode are here in Prague. US company is currently just a business location for us. All the paperwork is going through that company. Also when people are using our service it all comes to the US. Now no one is living in the US but I think it can be different in terms of marketing and sales in future. I think in Europe we have a huge resource of people developers and designers and we should use them as comparative advantage. If you hire a developer in Silicon Valley you can spend a fortune.

Do you have ideas for new products? Or aimed at improving Avocode?

Yes, our mission is to give the best collaboration tools for designers and developers. We are definitely there and a there are lot of things we could build to improve that. Avocode is one of those products. We will build the other products on top of our technology of Avocode. If you look at it today, we are supporting Photoshop and Sketch and we are planning to build things like Illustrator, Adobe XD. We are looking into prototyping, into UIKit, style guide. This is something I believe is definitely coming into Avocode and we’re all looking into that.

Please, tell a couple of words to designers who want to create a mobile app but are afraid to do that.

I think the best way to start something is to start doing it. Even if it were the worst design of app ever, at least you did something and learned something. It’s a process. I’m not going to give you 10 tips how to create an awesome app. The best way to build something is to listen to people you are going to create it for. I think it’ s a key in building a product: listen to your customers.


Russian version is available via the link

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