Last year, in defining our mindset, we stated: “If you’re lucky enough to have a team of creative people that are itching to take on challenges, set them loose and watch what happens.”
STRV has been gathering experience since 2004. Back then, we hoped we’d one day hit that sweet spot — having specialists for every role so we could freely work on both enterprise-level projects and bold endeavors just getting off the ground.
And here we are, with a team of almost 200, doing just that. We could expand to 300, but what would that do to our company? Every project would be another number on some chart. Few things would surprise us, and the excitement would be gone.
We’re not moving away from client business. We want to continue growing (at a relaxed pace). But our ambition isn’t more of the same; instead, it’s to experiment and find out what we can do on our own.
The Evolution of STRV Labs
STRV Labs isn’t a new concept. We’ve been investing time and resources into STRV-made products for years — a number of dating apps we built back in 2016 (Zoe and Surge) are established leaders in the dating apps category. What’s new is our focus.
Internal projects used to be an afterthought, something to work on for a few people here and there. An engineer would have an idea, a small group would get together and pursue it on the side, and the product would flourish (or fail) with minimal impact on the company.
The conviction that it’s time to give our own products the same care we give our client work is one we all share. It just makes sense. As STRV CEO Lubo Smid says,
“No one doubts that following the path of our own projects is the right move. For me, that’s the most important thing.”
A New Gang Takes the Wheel
In 2021, we began putting the proper processes in place for STRV Labs to thrive. One of our iOS Platform Leads, Jan Pacek, became the Head of STRV Labs and we united our dating apps under the newly-formed Cosmic Latte, bringing in Milan Kovacic to take charge.
Finally, earlier this year, we added a leadership role to STRV and appointed a COO — our former CFO Jaroslav Lehoucka, who’s been with us for more than seven years. Lubo handed over all operational responsibilities, which had taken up about 80% of his day-to-day, and began dedicating that time to STRV Labs. So far, the undertaking has been a journey in its own right.
“I thought it’d be what it was a decade ago — me helping engineers fine-tune things, drawing wireframes… but I realized I can’t do any of that. We have better people for all of it. What I CAN do is give projects direction, check that they have the right structure, help with problems as they come up and make sure we’re choosing projects worth our time.”
The (Not So Modest) Aspirations
If you ask Lubo where all this is headed, he’ll tell you that our goals are as high as they get.
“In the next 10 years. I want our own projects to surpass our client business and for us to build one of the next unicorns.”
Of course, getting there won’t be easy; but if we weren’t aiming for the top, why even do it?
As with anything of value, STRV Labs is putting quality over quantity. We plan to take on about two new projects a year, which will mean exploring at least ten ideas to see which one clicks.
While we expect mobile apps to be at the nub of STRV Labs, we’re also tackling web3, looking at data science and augmented reality (where we see great potential) and will need to pick up some skills in marketing for the end user… unmapped territory but all the more invigorating.
So, what’s STRV Labs up to now?
The team is heavily improving our LGBTQ+ apps under Cosmic Latte; advancing the soccer game Live Penalty along with its founder Pavel Kacerle; building the NFT game Scavenger Land, spearheaded by STRV co-founders Martin Stava and Pavel Zeifart; refining our new breathwork-focused app Float; and working out the details of Enter, a token-gating and NFT ticketing solution for web3 with a mission to help the first billion users enter the tokenized world.
Calling On Our Community
If you know us, you know we’re not ones to hide in the corner quietly doing our thing. While STRV Labs projects will always be driven by STRV people, we’ll absolutely be turning to the community we’re lucky enough to have outside of STRV walls for support.
For one, we’ll need additional experts now and again, so expect some open positions to pop up occasionally. And second, we’ll be sharing everything as we go and all (ALL) feedback is welcome. So please, stay tuned, stay vocal and let’s see where this road takes us.