Two ordinary guys, two laptops, free office for 3 months and practically no money. That is how the story began in 2011. From that moment on until today, CodeWell has grown into a mobile software service providing company in a 4 story building full of employees in the city centre, with cutting-edge technologies and work conditions that keep up with silicon valley standards.
During the past 7 years CodeWell successfully completed more than 100 projects for world known brands like T-Mobile, Sony Music, VIP (Telekom Austria Group), Holland Casino, TELUS, Raiffeisen Bank, New Frontiers Group, etc.
My name is Nino Karas and together with Martin Anchevski, we are the founders of CodeWell. We have met each other in a High school IT competition. We were both very eager to learn computer sciences and one day build our own products in our own company. With plenty of hard work, that came true.
I started to show great interest and curiosity in IT technology and the computer as a powerful machine at a very young age. I was only 6 when I had access to a Commodore 64 computer, and I got my first home PC and Dial-Up Internet access at the age of 8. I joined my first "Computer Networking" course at the age of 9 and started programming at the age of 10.
Everything about computers inspired me and I wanted to know everything to the tiniest detail. Through the years that knowledge that I gained helped me win many national and international competitions in Informatics, starting from the years when I was in elementary school up to the years when I was in high school.
Martin’s journey began as a little kid, when he started with competitive mathematics in school. He loved solving problems, competitions and the challenge to be the best in the field. Later in high school he continued competing in algorithmic programming and figured out that the IT field opened up a whole new world. He also took part in some of the world's best competitions and gathered several awards in a short time.
Me and Martin, as competitive as we are, decided to try and apply for an Android competition with an application that we’ve built. At that time mobile apps and Android were still in the early stages, so early that the newest version of Android was 1.6. The first app that we made was Avtobusko, and it was a solution to our personal problem of how to get around town with a bus. At that time, the buses were very old and they were also the only public transportation device in Skopje, Macedonia. Because of the lack of any GPS infrastructure in the buses, there were practically no information about the departures and arrivals from the bus stations per station and people were catching the bus they needed by luck, sometimes standing on the bus station for 30 minutes and more. With our algorithmic skills, we managed to create a proprietary mathematical/statistical algorithm, that predicted the bus position with a marginal error of 3 min. Thank to the offline algorithm that we developed, Avtobusko was able to give the users full navigation route as well as the ability to precisely plan their trip with the public transportation.
Although what we created, was highly functional and solved a real world problem we were almost last in the competition and won no prizes. However, we believed in the idea and later on we presented Avtobusko at a local scientific conference where we got the attention of the local Yes business incubator. The people from the Yes Incubator realized our potential and helped us start and grow our own company.
It was back in 2011. Martin and I put our knowledge to use and founded CodeWell with a great lack of resources. At first, we had to work for free in order to get more experience and also earn the trust of the customers. The first year was very difficult for us to just get off the ground, but we managed eventually to make a deal with T-Mobile and sell the previously mentioned app Avtobusko to them so that we can gain a bit of capital to get started. We had a lot of challenges and obstacles to overcome but we managed to grow CodeWell into a stable and profitable company with a great team behind it.
Things finally started to come to place and we wanted to use the knowledge that we gathered from all of the failed attempts in the past and start a new product. Adventurous and full of ideas as we are, we created MarkO.
MarkO was а smart reminder that helped people always remember everything, everytime, everywhere. He had a specific feature of using context aware location based reminders in order to remind people of the things they enlisted that they need to do in that area of the town. It could also find the best place to finish people’s errands on the way home.
We worked very hard on that product and at the same time we applied to different accelerator programs. Surprisingly at that time, we got accepted into 3 accelerators at the same time. We chose the Rockstart accelerator in Amsterdam as the one we thought is the best and could help us the most with the intense training it offered.
We moved to Amsterdam and stayed there for 6 months. We were getting coached, criticized and mentored for 8 hours a day and we were coding for 8 more hours each day. That training was very important to us because we learned so much and we saw all the mistakes we were doing in the past. The experience from the Rockstart accelerator opened up a whole new perspective for us and we got a glimpse of what was going on in the big leagues.
MarkO won us many international awards and brought us great success and valuable experience. MarkO won the Community Award on the Pioneers festival in 2014.
Unfortunately, we realized that having genius ideas and have a good plan are two things that must go along, and eventually we got to a point where it was very difficult to get a next round of funding for MarkO because we discovered some weaknesses that we couldn’t handle at the time.
We took all that we learned from our 5 years’ experience that we had in coaching, failed products, great pitches and excellent mentors and poured it into our next startup company, Letz.
Letz was the world's first active multi platform productivity chatbot. Our bot, Lucy, functioned as a virtual assistant. People could set tasks, ask questions, and the bot studied people’s behavior and even sent funny jokes upon request. It provides the Artificial Intelligence to empower professional productivity for individuals.
As an innovative company, we developed our proprietary AI tech based on Recurrent Neural Networks and machine learning that gave the bot a personality and a human touch in the interaction. Additionally, we developed our own NLP technology that was specially designed to significantly boost the accuracy, fluency, and speed of text entry on mobile and computing devices also making it possible for the bot to learn new languages fast without vast amount of data. She could make you laugh, entertain you, inform you at any time about the weather and world news but also encourage you to be very productive. She was a friend.
Letz has won many national and international awards and gave us so much experience. It was the first Macedonian startup that achieved incorporation into the USA and the first one that managed to raise Venture Capital. We were also honoured to take part in the TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco & TechCrunch Disrupt in London, where we promoted the product to the world. We also took part in some of the world-known events such as The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, AI Summit in Amsterdam, the Chatbot Summit in Berlin etc. With Letz, we were featured in many world recognized magazines, such as Forbes, The Huffington Post and many more.
The successes were coming one after another and that led to the ultimate honouring award.
Letz was the first and only EU startup that won the prestigious Product Hunt – product of the year award. We won the award competing side by side with Google, Slack and Product Hunt. And we did it. Lucy did it.
Letz had accomplished tremendous success and left an important mark in the industry of mobile apps.
Unfortunately, after we did not make it to the next round of funding, we had no choice other than to close down the startup company.
There you have it. Through the whole experience that we’ve learned from our ups and downs, successes and failures, good days and bad ones, let us believe that we can achieve anything we set our mind to. We continued with our awesome workflow and we carried on developing new brands, working with world known companies, some of them being Fortune 500 companies and persisted with our progress seamlessly. We have worked until now with companies located on 4 world continents and we will continue that tendency of constant growth. The most important thing is that the ideas that we had and the passion that we developed for the IT technologies starting from very young age, got realized and we are planning on achieving and realizing even more awesome projects and launching more successful startups.
Lastly, I want to tell you that there is not a thing in the world that could stop you from building your own startup, brand, product, or anything else that brings you any joy, when you have the right mindset and the help of the right team, as we have up to today. CodeWell is and it will continue to be a successful IT solutions company, startup builder, world range innovator and grow day by day with the help of the great minds and team behind it.