A little over a year ago, an old college friend, now living in Kuala Lumpur, called up Konstruktiv co-founder Sander van der Kolk to tell him he might something interesting for them. That interesting thing turned out to be a pretty big client: the Asian counterpart of the UEFA, the AFC. Konstruktiv designed their media channel and both founders were recently invited to Kuala Lumpur to talk about some new business opportunities.
Only Sander was able to go though. Thijs Wijnmaalen, the other founder, had the flu and had to stay home: “I missed out on all the fun and saw all the photos of delicious and exotic food from the comfort of my bed...” he adds with a smile. “But Sander and I kept in touch every day through Skype. What’s interesting, is that he’s an early riser and I’m the opposite, so with the time difference, this was the first time our rhythms were completely synchronized!”
Custom web apps
They were hired by the AFC to build a custom media channel, so the press covering the matches can register and be verified beforehand. “There’s still a lot of people trying to get in with fake press credentials”, Sander explains. “But when journalists and photographers sign up for a match using the media channel, they also have to upload their passports, so there are a lot of privacy issues involved. Everything has to be really secure.”
And with their custom web apps, security is one of Konstrukiv’s specializations. “Big organizations like the AFC have very specific needs, so full software packages a lot of other companies supply doesn’t work for them. They need something custom and tailored, which is something we provide. We build things from scratch basically, which is also a lot more secure”, Sander continues.
The AFC needed a secure media channel, fully operational by December last year. Just a few weeks ago, Konstruktiv was invited over, to celebrate a job well done and talk some more business. Sander: “It was basically a thank you and to meet in real life. We did the whole project by email and Skype, so it was really cool to finally meet everyone.”
“The whole experience was really great and pretty bizarre at the same time”, Sander continues. “We’re just two guys from Groningen and Konstruktiv was more of a side project for the both of us. Landing this project for the AFC was what made us decide to do it fulltime. And to fly over to Kuala Lumpur is just awesome!”
“It’s bizarre to sit at this big board room table with people from India, Japan and Korea, all with different accents and different customs. Like the Japanese guy handing over his business card very formally, with two hands and bowing ceremoniously. And the meeting continues in a bar over drinks, that’s funny too. You think you’re done for the day and after a few drinks, suddenly the laptop is back on the table”
All those meetings led to a couple of new and interesting projects: “We’re also going to build a new feature for the media channel, where journalists and photographers can pick their seats and photo dugouts next to the field, pretty much the same way you pick your seat when you check in for a flight. But we also need to build a priority feature for that. For example, if there’s a football match between South Korea and Japan, the press from those two countries get priority over press from say, China. That’s something even the FIFA doesn’t have yet”, Thijs explains.
“And we’re also thinking about providing a channel like this to other sports federations”, Thijs adds. “It’s a great niche with a lot of potential!” With a few cool projects lined up, things are getting pretty busy for Thijs and Sander. “We’re thinking about hiring a developer, maybe we should add that to the article”, Thijs adds jokingly. Sander agrees. “So what would be the specs, PHP?” “I don’t think it’s a good idea to turn it into a full job description”, Thijs laughs. “Let’s just call it backend developer, that’s general enough I think!”