DESO is a software house specialized in the coatings industry and especially on topics related to the operation of a paint shop. Make the coatings industry a leader in using modern technologies in a clever way, with efficiency and passion. This is DESO’s vision and describes well what we are trying to achieve as a company.
It’s been 10 years since the company was founded. What is our Managing Director Martin saying about the growth of DESO?
DESO was founded as a small garage company by several enthusiastic university students. How do you remember this period?
I have good memories, of course 🙂 We had a huge amount of freedom with no commitment to 25 employees, no responsibility for the company or obligations to partners, etc. On the other hand, we didn’t have so many options as we do today and we had to work hard to win every success (not that we don’t have to today…) We’ve been terribly naive about some things, but I guess that’s part of it.
I’m sure you were imagining what you’d achieve in 10 years. Do your ideas at the time correspond to reality?
That’s kind of hard to say. We were sort of pioneers and enthusiasts focused on our thoughts and ideas here and now. We probably didn’t even think about looking 10 years ahead. Of course, we had some ideas, but they were always influenced by what we were currently dealing with. But when looking back, if someone had told me then what DESO would achieve by 2020, it would have made me very happy.
Why did you decide to choose this sector and what are its biggest challenges?
That’s a long story, so just briefly. It all started with my father, who worked as a self-taught programmer with a Czech company in the field. My older brother took over from our dad while he was at university and started expanding his work to other companies. Subsequently, I joined, after a while brought a classmate Jirka and after some time of external cooperation we founded DESO together.
The biggest challenge for us is certainly the fact that software in this field is often considered only a kind of basic interface for “real work” sometimes only as a necessary evil. But we bring whole new possibilities, and so often we have to show our customers the infinite advantages that a similar software can bring them. In our eyes (maybe a little IT geeks) this field is in general still a little behind and that’s a shame. That’s why we want to bring new original solutions and especially in the last two years we have seen that even thanks to our influence the industry is really coming to life.
Has the concept of paint shops changed significantly in the last 10 years? What do you expect them to look like in the next 10 years?
By 2020, the concept of the store has not changed fundamentally, certainly not from the customer’s point of view. However, there is a lot of innovation in the industry as such that increases the availability of paint (lower costs, better efficiency, more affordable marketing options, a denser sales network, etc.) and also the interest of customers in pretty colors is significantly increasing.
But 2020 itself is specific, and even paint manufacturers have begun to demand new solutions, such as online or in-store unattended sales, multiple remote services, etc.
This will definitely be a trend and I am glad that we as a company are already part of interesting projects and we are working on several concepts.
Few people talk about mistakes and what they’d like to do differently. But mistakes are an integral part of business, and your experience can help other young entrepreneurs who would like to take a similar path. What are the 3 biggest mistakes you’ve made that you recommend avoiding?
At first I’ll mention the exaggerated focus on your own product. Probably a lot of start-up companies make that mistake. I think we did many things over those 10 years that weren’t needed at a given moment, the market didn’t really demand them, and customers weren’t willing to pay anything for them. On the other hand, we have threaded many paths and some have proved very beneficial in the future.
The second mistake is not enough delegation. At first, we, the three co-owners, used to do everything at the company. Then, we weren’t able to manage everything anymore, so we started recruiting the first employees and managing them like ourselves, i.e. in the form of micro-management. Later, there were already so many employees that we didn’t have time to manage them properly. That was a pretty strong moment when we realised we needed to change that approach, delegating not specific tasks but responsibility.
And the third is probably the hardest – not to be afraid of complex decisions. Sometimes decision-making can be very difficult and one doesn’t really want to make some of them. But the worst thing is not to make a decision at all and let the situation arise somehow. This way, you become only a servant of circumstances and a solver of the consequences of one’s inability to decide.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect the company and sector?
According to the numbers we have seen so far, the influence of coronavirus on the paint industry seems paradoxically rather positive, at least speaking about the decorative field. In some countries, we even saw record volumes of production during the first wave of the pandemic. People simply spent more time at home and used that time to beautify their homes (and, at the same time, their new workplaces). Any longer-term economic slump would certainly have a negative effect on our field, and apparently more strongly than in some other fields, construction is mostly one of the first casualties. However, generally in all fields there has been increased interest in digitization, remote way of operating store management, or online sales and self-service solutions. And that quite plays into our hands. This year, we have seen record interest in such new solutions.
What interesting projects is DESO working on now?
Modern software development is about continuous delivery and so we invest great effort in new features for our main products, especially Redlike and TMC. We bring these news to our customers with every major release, i.e. approximately 6-8 times per year.
In 2020, our pilot projects have proved vital, and now, we want to take them to the next level. The pilot project is a very intensive and non-binding collaboration (typically around 4 months), during which we perform detailed analysis and design of customized IT solutions together with the customer. Over 60% of our new customers start the cooperation with a pilot project. The best feedback is the continuation of long-term cooperation with almost all such customers. The only downside is that for a good result we need close cooperation from a customer who often doesn’t have the time to do so. And that’s where we want to improve, to make it as easy as possible for customers.
But the key product of 2020 is our brand new Redlike Manager, internally known as Redman. This is our response to the current offer on the market. On the one hand, there are laboratory systems focusing on color formulation. On the other hand, we have POS systems for the production on tinting machines. The focus of each part is fundamentally different and they lack a truly effective connection that would allow central data preparation with local specifics. Redman opens up entirely new data management possibilities, an effective delegation for local-specific data maintenance, more frequent fully automated updates, and much more.
Redman’s goal is to build on TMC’s success and bring a revolution into the operation and management of paint shops.
What are you most proud of in DESO?
I’m proud of the fact that within a relatively short period of time we were able to build a successful and confident company in this rather complex market. I take special pleasure in every moment when we achieve something that others have discouraged us from, or where they underestimated us. For me, the strongest are the moments when during the first weeks of cooperation we get enthusiastic feedback from a multinational company with decades of experience about how strong the results of our work are.