OPW INTERVIEW - Mar 14 - STRV is a cheaky development company that developed the Apple TV app for Tinder. Bear with us, this story is interesting. STRV is based in Czech Republic and is a top-tier mobile and web application designer & developer. Clients include Microsoft, Hallmark, Lufthansa and dating companies such as JDate and Christian Mingle.
What is the STRV founding story and what does STRV stand for?
After cementing our reputation as the leading digital product agency in the Czech Republic, we decided the timing was ripe to hit the competitive US tech scene in 2012. Over the past six years, STRV, a play on "strive," which has come to define our tireless drive to develop innovative apps, has transformed into one of the most well-respected design and app development studios in the US, working with a number of Fortune 500 companies and established brands, including Tinder, Spark Networks, Christian Mingle and JDate. We have also developed and scaled a trio of our own dating and social networking apps -- Surge, Grizzly and Zoe -- which are geared toward the LGBT community.
How many team members do you have and where are you based?
Over the past six years, we grew from a small team of 20 to a powerhouse of ~170 people. Our team is primarily based in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic. We also have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.
What are the biggest obstacles startups are facing when hiring a development agency? How are you different? What makes you stand out?
Our focus is our work. Too often startups spend a lot of time getting hung up on hammering out a plan of action rather than diving in and getting things done. At STRV, we just want to get to work and deliver the best possible products for our clients. It’s as simple as that. We also pride ourselves on being proactive, which has landed us some pretty lucrative contracts over the years. Our work with Tinder is a good example. Tinder's CEO, Sean Rad, casually mentioned at a tech conference we were both at that he'd love to someday develop an app for Apple TV. Sean's a busy guy, and we asked if we could help him out and were told "thanks, but no thanks." That, however, didn't stop us from developing our own Tinder MVP for Apple TV and presenting it to Sean and his team in just a couple of months. And guess what? We got the job! Perseverance is what propels us forward.
Tinder doesn't usually hire external developers but made an exception with STRV. How come?
We decided to surprise him. We didn't have a contract, but we had a vision and decided to take a chance. The Tinder team was so impressed with our code (and initiative) that they give us a contract to help develop their Apple TV app. Our team relocated to LA for the project and worked alongside Tinder's dev team. It was the first time Tinder agreed to work with an external team, and we couldn't be more humbled by the experience.
How was your experience working with the Tinder team?
Our cooperation with Tinder has been fantastic and long-lasting. Both teams learned so much from each other. In fact, after months of working side-by-side, our devs felt right at home in Tinder's Hollywood headquarters. Many personal friendships have also come from this amazing partnership.
Tinder's former CTO Ryan Ogle has recently visited you in Czech Republic. What other projects have you been working on with Ryan?
After five years at Tinder, Ryan along with a few other early Tinder people, decided to launch their own startup, Arimus, which recently rolled out a B2B social network platform, called Ripple. Ryan turned to STRV for development help for this as well as another project his company is planning to bring to market later this year. We really love working with him. We share a lot of the same passion and drive for success.
What other dating projects have you worked on, and what kind of dating apps would you most like to innovate on in 2018?
We recently established STRV Labs, a new division that will focus solely on bringing new innovative apps to market. Our first really successful in-house project, a gay dating and social networking app called Surge, has grown tremendously since launching in 2014. Over the last 18 months, we've added two other dating apps geared toward the LGBT community, Grizzly and Zoe. Our goal right now is to continue to grow these apps and respond to the evolving needs of our user base. However, if we are presented with another opportunity for developing a new dating app, we will certainly explore the idea.