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Rise of the Phoenix

This article was written by App’n’roll’s Founder, Łukasz Anwajler.
I started App’n’roll in 2012 — I was bored with my current work as a software developer and needed something more: more contact with people, I wanted to learn more and I was fascinated with mobile. Business development was also something that I wanted to spend more time on — compared to sitting in front of a computer all day long — it was (more) fun.
                   First App’n’roll office in Warsaw. Yes, one room 🙂 High 5, Mariusz!

Since the very beginning, I had a strong notion that delivering software services to clients isn’t something that gives me enough satisfaction, but it was necessary to provide resources needed for developing my own products. Later on, it also proved to be very important because it provided contacts and experience.

The App’n’roll team together with a couple of fellows from outside the company managed to deliver few different products to the market. All of them failed, except for Survicate — The fastest way to collect feedback from website visitors. After launching the MVP and showing first signs of product-market fit it received an investment round from the leading Polish VCs and business angels. It helped to strengthen the team and open a separate legal entity, a new office and focus on testing different ways of user acquisition.


Back then, App’n’roll had 2 offices — one in Wrocław and another one in Warsaw, it consisted of 20+ fantastic people. It was also the time when I noticed that I can’t do everything by myself and started looking for support in managing the company, which I think was too late anyway. Lesson learned.

At the right time and at the right place, the universe offered me a new opportunity.

There’s no such thing as luck. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

— Amy Hempel

                  App’n’roll office in Wrocław

And I was prepared.

In the middle of 2014 — two years from the kick-off, the App’n’roll team was acqui-hired by a Swedish startup — Foap, with me becoming their CTO and partner. The timing was perfect because after a few difficult projects in a row, I was tired of client work — both physically and mentally. In addition, as a team we could use all of our expertise and focus entirely on one product — developing iOS, Android, front-end and back-end — from scratch. Moreover, business-wise it was interesting to connect with people such as Gary Vaynerchuk who just became an investor through his Vayner/RSE fund. This is how we joined the Champions League.

You can see me for a brief moment in Gary Vaynerchuk’s short film — recorded during my visit at VaynerMedia, NYC. That was unexpected.

Obviously it wasn’t all moonlight and roses — we took over the whole product, Foap was raising their next investment round and in the meantime we needed to support the old system while building new software, completely new infrastructure and meet new business requirements of a product that we were just starting to understand. As with many tech products, if you take a look at the surface, which is just the app, you will find it difficult to grasp the complexity behind it. We surely did. Building a product or building a product with a huge userbase — these are two completely different animals… Again, lesson learned, fantastic experience!

                   Sad panda is sad

I devoted 18 months of my life and gave all I got to deliver the quality product and I think together with my team we can say: “Mission accomplished”. There couldn’t be a better moment for this: KPIs are growing, the product is sellable, clients are happy using it, it scales nicely, without a doubt it has the best photo community out there.

Unfortunately, all the stress, constraints, hopes, wins, failures and emotional rollercoaster caused that I got burned out and needed to change the context for sake of being happy and free again. So I left Foap which was a sad experience because I also left people that I spent so much time with — fighting obstacles every day but also sharing fun, cheerful moments and successes.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

— T. S. Eliot

After all the hard work in recent months and some time off in January I’m finally ready for a new beginning, so I’m happy to announce that together with Tomasz Nosal, former Business Intelligence Manager at Mars, who will take the role of CEO, we are restarting App’n’roll with an enormous amount of energy, passion and drive for undiscovered.

Based on our experience and motivated by our dreams we will help to build scalable businesses and bootstrap our own products. Instead of founding another software house we aim to become a venture builder, using people and resources inside of the company’s network to launch international ventures. Technology is an important factor in our DNA, but we see it only as a tool for business and society. We want to be more and more focused on the impact on the daily lives of all of us.

Let’s build great products together — get in touch with us to learn more about how to join forces.



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