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Nordic Startup Awards 2016 winners Realm on the year ahead

Nordic Startup Awards 2016 winners Realm on the year ahead

Realm has taken home the prestigious ‘Startup of the Year’ at the Nordic Startup Awards 2016.  This is no surprise if you have followed the company’s explosive growth over the last 2 years.  Realm has created a mobile database for developers globally to create advanced applications quickly and easily, and is now in the hands of 1 billion users.

The platform allows users to save time and work faster on fast products.  Brian Munkholm of Realm spoke about how nomination felt; the last year at Realm; the years ahead; and the community around startups.

How has the experience of being nominated affected Realm? Both for motivation in a small team and exposure throughout the world?

It is always very nice to be nominated and we were very surprised. We didn’t know we were nominated, it was surprising to actually reach the final. There are so many other great companies that I thought would have a chance – because we are sort of an invisible technology, we are only known by developers and not by users of apps or anything else.

I was actually very happy to see that there are obviously some good jury members and they could see that this is actually something quite big and it seems big now but also has the potential for getting much bigger. Because it’s something that is a part of potentially every app, it’s quite a big potential.

Do you think the last year has been particularly exciting for Realm? Have there been stand out moments?

It’s two years ago since we launched and we’ve just seen a very steady arc, or exponential curve in adoption which is of course very rewarding to see. You get used to seeing those numbers rise and rise, but suddenly we are running a billion installs. That is something where you really get a bit shocked by those numbers.

What do you think is next for Realm? What are your plans and ambitions after this award?

So obviously, we have other good products with our current database. But, in the long run we still need to fundraise, we already have some very, very good investors but we are also coming out with new, more commercial products to compliment the current offerings. Besides that, we are continuing to add features for our developers. Hopefully, some of these features will enable developers to actually create apps with new possibilities. It will really enable smaller teams to also develop advanced features and that will be coming out later this year.

There is a sense of vibrant community to what you have created. Is it nice then to be nominated from within the startup community itself?

Yeah it certainly does, because as I said, we’re not very public, not very visible. It’s much easier to see an app, which is used by a lot of people, become very popular and even be mentioned in the news, right? We wouldn’t be able to go onto television and say hear, “this is a great app, and everyone is using it”, because it’s just a piece of technology to most people, which they are unaware of.

But obviously, the tech community is very well aware of us. Also, we’re still new and there’s still a lot of companies who haven’t tried us yet so that’s huge potential looking forward. We are really looking forward to actually helping developers create apps that are much easier to use, and to create those apps faster.

Does it feel good for you, still being relatively new, to be able to give something back to the startup community with what you create?

Absolutely, most of us are developers ourselves, right? So we have the unique advantage of knowing our customers pretty well, because it’s ourselves, right? Therefore, we’re creating something that we would love to use and that just makes it easier to come out with something which is very valuable. We really appreciate and use a lot of open source software and therefore as a developer, you really like to be able to give back something.

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Your Twitter feed has praise from Hackney to Berlin, from Sri Lanka to Japan; having exploded into this global community does the nomination for Nordic Startup Awards feel like something of a homecoming?

Yeah we are quite globally used now; we have colleagues in nine countries actually. Even being a very small team we have individuals working out of Korea, Japan, China, Australia, and obviously Europe and the US. But, getting a prize from Denmark was very nice and we hope we will be recognised in other places too, it would be very cool.

Very soon, you go to Iceland for the Finals of the Nordic Startup Awards; Startups can struggle for exposure, do you think awards like these are important platforms for organisations to showcase to the world?

Yes, I certainly think so because, you might think that everyone is hearing about startups, but in reality, it is mostly startups that hear about ourselves, right? What has struck me is that only the big, big, old companies with twenty or forty years behind them is what we are showcasing to new students and professionals. That’s a way to go but, I would love to see the startups getting more exposure to the public. I do think a lot more is happening and has happened in recent years and in Denmark in particular. That has really changed things and I’m actually quite hopeful because a lot is going on there and it’s also what creates the future of big companies.

So, 5 years ago it would be very hard for me to go and find a job in a startup because no one would know where they were. Today, I think that’s a bit easier and I hope it will be even easier in the future. Also, by becoming a bit more aware of those startups and employees trying to work in them they might create a few more companies of their own that will hopefully change how we develop products in the future and not only do that in the very, very big companies.


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