FOEX Co-Founder: “We Make It 3-5x Faster To Develop Large-Scale Web Applications”

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According to FOEX’s co-founder Peter Raganitsch, the company is the only vendor on the market which has developed support for 130+ plugins for Oracle APEX. To us, he spoke about opportunities & challenges in the tech industry:

How would you describe FOEX in a few words?

We founded FOEX in 2012 with the goal of improving developer productivity. Our solution, the FOEX Plugin Framework, is a rapid application development tool that adds functionality to Oracle Application Express (APEX) allowing developers to build feature-rich, single-page business applications faster, whilst writing very little code themselves.

What inspired you to create the company? How did it all start?

Before founding FOEX as a company, both me and Matt have been working for about 20 years as freelance developers using different Oracle technologies. Depending on the complexity of the project, we used third party plugins to build the software according to our customers’ requirements. Small projects required only a couple of plugins, however, things began to get a bit tricky whenever we needed to develop large-scale applications.

In addition to using plugins there was a lot of custom code that had to be written for these apps and later on maintained by others. A large part of our time went into just writing the code for these apps, so we began looking for a tool that would allow us to redirect some of that time towards tasks that could provide more value to customers. We quickly realized that no such tool existed and that’s what inspired us to start building our own solution, the FOEX Plugin Framework. Fast forward 5 years later, we continued to improve our solution which grew from 60 to more than 130 plugins today.

With your framework, you focus on low-code rapid application development (RAD) for Oracle APEX and Sencha Ext JS applications. Why is that and where do you see the benefit?

The answer is quite simple: our solution combines what’s best of APEX, Ext JS and our own components. This is what Fortune 500 and other organizations that we have as customers really appreciate when it comes to using the FOEX Plugin Framework, especially since their developers have experience in working with APEX or Ext JS already. We also work to ensure compatibility between these technologies, so our users can benefit from any improvements made by us, the APEX or Ext JS teams to their respective software.

What customers frequently tell us is that our tool makes it 3-5x faster to develop these large-scale web applications. Among other benefits, businesses can lower their IT costs and have a faster time to market for their products.

Why should developers and startups rely on FOEX? What makes you stand out of the crowd?

The FOEX Plugin Framework was designed so developers can build feature-rich, single-page business applications through declarative programming. In other words, simply use plugins (think of Lego building blocks) that replicate hundreds or even thousands of lines of code, instead of manually writing it for each new app that you develop.

At the present moment, FOEX is the only vendor on the market which has developed and guarantees support for 130+ plugins for Oracle APEX. Without going into too many technical details, our solution also integrates one of the most complete Javascript libraries that exists out there, Sencha Ext JS.

Are you using your services internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Of course! We used the FOEX Plugin Framework to develop our own CRM system and all other internal apps used by the team. Our customer/partner support portal is also developed using the FOEX Plugin Framework. This gave us the opportunity to use real life scenarios to put our solution to the test and get the whole team (Development, Sales, Marketing, HR) involved into fine-tuning the product.

I would say it served as a good learning experience for us, since we had the flexibility to develop the functionality that actually made sense. In addition, the feedback has been great. Having a team with such a diverse background gave us a better understanding over what should we prioritise from a technical point of view.

FOEX Co-Founder: "We Make It 3-5x Faster To Develop Large-Scale Web Applications"

(c) FOEX

You mentioned your diverse team – from starting in May 2012 to now, you’re present in 41 countries worldwide and have gathered a team of 7 nationalities speaking 11 languages. In what ways does this benefit your company culture and business?

Like any other SaaS company out there, we are constantly looking to attract talented individuals that could help us achieve our goals for the years to come. Business-wise, one of the main advantages of having an international team is that we can build personalized relationships with our customers. Doing business around the world has its fair share of challenges, especially when you take into consideration the cultural differences. By having a diverse group of people we can overcome such challenges way easier.

The language skills are also important. For example, one of our front-end developers is a fluent speaker of Spanish and he is FOEX’s main point of contact whenever we have to deal with a partner or customer coming from Latin America. It allows us to understand the context & customer needs better and provide efficient technical support when this is requested.

This also ties up into our company’s culture: we encourage each of our employees to take ownership over their activities and continuously look for ways in which they can improve personally and professionally. If our team is happy and motivated, then they’ll reflect that positive attitude into the work they do, from which we as FOEX and most importantly, our customers, stand to gain the most.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

When we first got started, probably like any other company who wants to challenge the old ways of doing things, there have been some lessons we had to learn the hard way. The lack of close competitors was both an advantage and a disadvantage, as that gave us a lot of freedom to create what made sense to us from a technical point of view, but on the other hand we had to figure out a lot of things on our own and determine whether we have a market for our product or not.

Fortunately, we found our niche relatively early in the process and are becoming increasingly efficient in identifying our customers’ main pain points and how can our tool solve their challenges.

What’s next for FOEX?

Our next steps will be directed towards growth, both as a company and as a team. We are building a strong sales team and aim to ramp up our business development activities in order to accelerate the growth of our customer base, enter new markets and expand our network of partners.

We are constantly searching for the best fitting partners, who share our vision and want to add the FOEX Plugin Framework in their development toolkit. Our technology empowers them to deliver more projects on-time, improve profitability margins and bid (and win) higher value projects that otherwise would be out of reach using just their current internal resources.

Technology-wise we will continue to improve our solution and bring additional products to market in order to provide the right tools that help solve the demanding challenges existing in the enterprise application development space.

You started out in Vienna, Austria. From your perspective, how has the startup ecosystem changed and what would you change if you could?

I think there is a great deal of work still to be done, but things seem to be moving into the right direction. Vienna may not (yet) be the next Silicon Valley, but it has great potential. We’re positioned in the heart of Europe, so if you open a business here, you can reach customers based elsewhere in Europe in ~3 hours or less. Logistics work in our favour, even if we are to talk about a software business such as FOEX, since there will always be a need to provide training, consulting or to simply travel to an enterprise customer to sign that deal you have been working on for the past 3-4 months.

Overall, there is certainly a fair amount of enthusiasm and interest that the community is showing, especially towards technologies which have the potential to reinvent industries (payments, finance, energy etc.) – I won’t use the word ‘disrupt’ to characterize such changes, since I feel that it has become more of a buzzword which doesn’t reflect the value of true innovation.

To address the second point of your question, I believe that anyone can and will bring change to any ecosystem they are a part of, regardless if we talk about a team, a company or an open community such as the one that we have in Vienna at the moment. The important thing is to continue to focus on finding solutions for meaningful problems in our society.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Whatever you do, do not lose focus of what your core business is. Finding the right niche on the market and identifying the channels which attract more customers is key to building a sustainable business, but try to make the difference between what is a must-have and what is a nice-to-have for your business.

There are many distractions along the way and one could easily get sidetracked. Always ensure that the outcome of your work will push your vision further and help achieve your goals.



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