Interview with Tomáš Záruba, founder and CEO of Czech technology start-up Byzance

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Byzance is a Czech start-up that was conceived as a technology laboratory that would develop tools for design, development and long-term administration of the internet of things (IoT). Since its establishment, the company has focused on changing the way the IoT is being developed and administrated over the long term. Byzance intends to be a matter of course for developers, as are GIT MongoDB and Docker, for example. Using its tools, both small firms and major corporations can easily develop their own smart things much faster and more securely and universally.

Byzance is founded on technical skills acquired at the Czech Technical University, with which it closely collaborates. A large part of the company’s team is composed of students and graduates of various CTU faculties. Byzance was recently registered in our start-up database, so we took the opportunity to ask its founder and CEO, Tomáš Záruba, a few questions.

O 1: Hello, Tomáš. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to start your company? What exactly does Byzance do and what kind of customers do you want to target?

Byzance, as you know it today, was established more than two years ago, when the team formed a clear vision of where we want to go and for whom we want to do it. I like it when things are said as they really are. The truth is that a series of fatal errors and my “perfect and correct” vision cost us quite a lot of money and months of our lives. When we programmed the “world’s best automation” for concrete prefabs (kit-based buildings), we amateurishly failed to verify whether there were customers for it. Pretty funny, right? But that is an experience which has since helped me in making every decision to pose the question of whether there are customers for what we want to develop.

And when building our automation solution, for the first time we ran into the problem of how complicated it really is to make the internet of things with industrial quality and reliability. How much work and time it requires. What a never-ending nightmare it is. With millions of details that we can’t leave out, but which don’t even occur to us. So, instead of our own “revolutionary” product, we are making tools, development kits and assistance services. We thus want to help mainly small and medium-sized firms with the same problem, as well as millions of developers around the world for whom the internet of things is undoubtedly a major financial and technological barrier. The IoT is a gold rush – and we are the shovels and pickaxes.

O 2: Your start-up is an all-in-one platform for administrating the internet of things. An indisputably interesting aspect of your company is that the Byzance team is composed primarily of students and graduates of CTU in Prague. What led you to get students involved in your business?

When you want the best product, it has to be made by the best people. The company is based on outstanding, talented people and it bothers me when I alone am praised as its founder. Byzance is developing an extremely complicated product and it is not a one-man show. It can’t be. It’s the vision, ideas and dozens of micro-start-ups of my colleagues under the heading of one service called Byzance. And of no less importance, I am very unambiguous in terms of HR strategy. But that’s a topic for a whole new article (smiles).

O 3: Does Byzance collaborate with CTU other than through the involvement of students and graduates? We’re asking because it happens that students who succeed in business and are in close contact with their alma mater often get involved in instruction, hold various lectures and so on. Are you doing or planning something similar?

Answer: In my opinion, CTU has long had trouble with maintaining relationships with former students. In the United States, when a graduate is successful, he or she comes back, gives lectures and builds or finances a laboratory or library under their name. And here? On the day of your final exam, they cancel your school e-mail account. What you have described is rather a rarity. It is necessary to change that and we are therefore enthusiastically trying out various pilot projects with the school. We want to show that such collaboration is mutually beneficial, both for the industrial partner and for university employees and the academic sphere generally. We will give several development kits to the school next semester and my colleagues and I will hold several lectures on the topics of IoT, security, development, how to establish a start-up and other things, all in cooperation with the Department of Measurement of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

The Department of Economics and Management in Civil Engineering, which covers power engineering and management generally, has helped us a lot. With that department, we are planning projects involving protection of smart-grids for the Czech transmission grid against cyberterrorism. There are also plans that would off.

For detailed information see the official web site on https://www.byzance.cz/en/offer/ .

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