Startup Interview with Zoltan Csikos, Co-Founder & CEO, Neticle by@sgabriella

Startup Interview with Zoltan Csikos, Co-Founder & CEO, Neticle

Hungarian startup Neticle offers text analytics tools for businesses. HackerNoon interviews the founders of Neticle. The founders say they have great chemistry, transparency, flexibility, and equal opportunities - strongly manifest in our day-to-day lives.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

Neticle began as a small B2B startup company in 2012, founded by three graduates of the Corvinus University of Budapest. The company’s first (and to this day, most popular) product is a social listening tool, Neticle Media Intelligence. The three founders - Zoltán Csikós, Róbert Horváth and Péter Szekeres - had an education in Business Information Technology, and were inspired by both their studies and their work in a large university organization to start their own company.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

It is called Neticle and it offers a range of text analytics tools for businesses. If you have textual data to analyze, Neticle has a solution for you!

What is the origin story?

The three founders originally came up with the idea of the company at a party during their years at Corvinus - and the next morning, it still seemed like something worth a try. One of the major inspirations was a study published in 2010 that showed how trends on Twitter often predicted the movements of the stock market.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

Our team has great chemistry. We love that Neticle has become a workplace where people enjoy spending time together and don’t just think of it as a way of making money. Our core values - transparency, flexibility, and equal opportunities - strongly manifest in our day-to-day lives, and they attract a group of talented, like-minded individuals. Everyone here believes in the potential of AI-powered text analytics and strives to find the best solutions.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

I was always fascinated by large and complex systems so I always wanted to move towards something that involved working with these. I had a few ideas in mind, like being a software architect, a consultant, or in some type of management position. I had actually started my career before Neticle as a technical consultant (and later as a technical lead), working on large-scale ERP implementations. I really enjoyed the complexity, that I always had something new to learn, and that each business was different and each faced its own challenges. I can imagine being in that kind of role if Neticle hadn’t been born.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

I think we all had a troublesome past 2 years, so I’d say it’s quite hard to grasp what success means at the moment. We managed to continue our growth, albeit a bit slower than we’d have liked to and how we’d planned before the global pandemic began. We did not need an emergency bailout from our investors.

Our markets narrowed but at least they did not completely disappear like the tourism sector for example. Most of the startups in our region were not as lucky as us. So at the moment, we all agree that we made the most we could and that we have a successful year behind us, despite all the challenges we faced because of the pandemic.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

It is great that we have been able to expand our services to several countries across the world, especially in Europe, where we’ll soon have complete coverage. The other sign of leveling up has been working with larger enterprises, which often have more complex or custom needs. We love to adapt and find solutions that work best for each individual client.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

I’m a big technology enthusiast, who’s always excited about the new technologies that pop up every year. I’m mostly an optimist, I really think they make our lives better (with a few exceptions) and we will be able to overcome the challenges that they put on our society, lives, and environment.

Currently the most exciting to me is the growth in the production of renewable energy and the electrification of our world. We will have a much better planet to live on once we leave all the pollution from burning stuff behind. Can’t wait to live in a city where there are only electric cars. On the other hand, I’m quite worried about how some governments tend to use what current AIs with limited capabilities offer. Sometimes I worry about what the future holds as we develop better and better systems in this aspect.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

We really liked the new aspect in your delivery of developer news: the way you interpret the field and other related topics. Another huge plus is your open editorial team. This shows how you provide opportunities to freelancers and startups to introduce themselves - in one way or another, a huge range of people are featured on the pages of HackerNoon.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

I think the main advice I would give to myself if I had the chance is to do things a lot faster than we did at the beginning. We’ve got investment, but I would urge myself to try to secure it a lot sooner in the company’s life.

We’ve managed to hire a lot of talented people, but again we should have had them as fast as we could. We are still experimenting with different sales strategies and structures to find the best one that works for us, but if we had started sooner, we would probably be ahead of where we are at the moment.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

In 2021 we’ve had the unpleasant experience of seeing that even if we allocate and spend a significant portion of our budget on digital marketing, it is not guaranteed to yield the results we want. It depends a lot on the target market and the strategy, as well as the circumstances - such as the pandemic.

We’ve also realized that having a large office space is not important, but we mustn't neglect team-building events. They provide great opportunities to connect, which means a lot, especially when we often work remotely.

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