Smartlook is one of Brno based startups that has recently received an external investment – in this case, from the Airbridge Equity Partners (NL). Besides two local funds, at that. The company belongs to the world’s best in their business sector – developing tools that analyze user behavior on websites and in mobile applications.
We spoke with Smartlook founder & CEO, Petr Janošík, about the ups and downs of doing business from Brno and the key factors to their success. His is the 10th in a series of interviews with the personalities behind notable Brno companies that operate internationally.
Petr founded the original company (called Smartsupp) in 2013 with his schoolmate from Brno University of Technology. Now, its spin-off Smartlook boats 300,000 users in 95 countries. Their total number of employees has exceeded fifty, most of them based in Brno. The core employees still hold the majority stake in the company.
Looking back at Smartsupp
Smartsupp provided a livechat communication with website visitors, especially visitors of e-shops. In 2016, Smartsupp launched a new free product called Smartlook attracting 100,000 users and received some USD 500,000 from two investment funds (launched by two Czech successful internet entrepreneurs). The company also featured in the Startup WorldCup top10 within Central and Eastern Europe.
One year later, the newly added feature to record sessions (showing how the cursor is moving and clicking when users buy) was amended by heatmaps (the colors show where users spend most of their time on every screen) and Smartlook suddenly had 1,700 paying customers.
Over time, even more features were added. Their customers didn’t want to lose time browsing long recordings and so events and funnels got introduced – features that filter recordings by predefined conditions. Now, the software can focus only on situations where e-shops want to convert potential interest into completed transactions. And of course, the Smartlook tool can now analyse user behaviour also on mobiles.
In 2019, the company newly offered its tools for mobile games, and soon counted 250,000 users and USD 140,000 monthly recurring revenues. It also achieved its break-even point and 100% growth. By then, it was obvious this new product had greater potential and Petr gave it the proper go-ahead. In 2020, the team split up and Smartlook, a new company, was founded with an investment of USD 3,8 million.
Smarlook’sbusiness is based on the SaaS model – software as a service. Clients pay monthly subscriptions. The smaller ones (paying up to USD 100 per month) manage their accounts themselves, the bigger ones (for example Miele in Germany, Hyundai in Brazil) Smartlook supports individually according to their needs. Only about 10% of the company’s revenues come from the Czech market – represented by major sites like Alza, Seznam, O2, Kiwi.com or Home Credit.
European countries generate about 40% of revenues. The key market (almost three times larger and more developed) is the US (30%) where Smartlook plans to set up a sales office. It’s also where their main competitors are based. The self-service buyers still represent the majority of their revenues (about two thirds), but the percentage coming from the big clients with their own account managers keep growing.
Through this all, Petr remains faithful to his Capricorn dream – “building a growing global company and preserving its startup spirit. Being available for any device, any platform, including TVs or virtual reality”.
Brno is welcoming
Brno brings the competitive advantage of technology talents, lower living costs and opportunities for many different lifestyles. Unlike its competitor from Malta, Smartlook can enjoy the innovation ecosystem with several Brno universities at its roots, where the company can always reach for new talents (and not only from IT faculties). Speaking from experience, Petr says that remote work pays back only with senior staff, the major workforce has to be physically present. And Brno is a welcoming place for their people, indeed.
A lot of new employees come from big corporations and appreciate the change to a startup company culture. On the other hand, the location outside of the capital means weaker media coverage and requires more effort for countrywide PR. Though their recent investment is opening new opportunities to build new departments & positions with fast-growing visibility of results and no rigid processes.
Smartlook in numbers
|Turnover (in mil CZK)||16||30||54|
|EBITDA (in mil CZK)||-5.5||1.2||2|
|Employees in Brno||14||20||40|
|Share of R&D costs (in %)||40.6||39.3||40.5|
Petr knew what his livelihood was going to be straight from his first year at the Faculty of IT (Brno University of Technology). And indeed, even before he finished his studies, he’d had a successful project under his belt – a project that generated millions of CZK a year. He’s never been employed, by any company. He’s a co-founder of the Saas Movement conference, which aims to connect its community across Central Europe. In his free time, he plays squash, hikes and spends time with his young family who has recently grown by a new member.
Photo courtesy by Petr Janošík.