Be patient, it‘s a marathon, not a sprint

FOEX: We specialize in creating powerful plugins that enhance Oracle APEX

Please introduce yourself and your startup FOEX to our readers!
My name is Peter Raganitsch, I’m one of the founders of the company. We started our journey in 2012, when together with Matt Nolan, our company’s CTO, we founded FOEX GmbH.

Before FOEX, I have been working in consulting and development using various Oracle technologies for more than 20 years. I am an active speaker at various Oracle conferences and an Oracle ACE Director.

As for Matt, he comes originally from Australia and at the time we decided to join efforts and found a company, he was already well known within the developer community for the great plugins he was building at the time.

This brings us to our product/software. Our main solution is called the FOEX Plugin Framework. I say this is our main solution because we also provide a number of additional add-ons and extensions that can be purchased separately.

To explain briefly, the FOEX Plugin Framework is suite of plugins which extends Oracle Application Express (APEX), a rapid application development (RAD) tool. Our framework focuses specifically on helping developers build complex back-office applications.

In other words, we make software that helps you build applications faster, easier, and whilst writing very little code. This is referred to as declarative programming.

How did you get the idea of FOEX?
Before founding FOEX, both Matt and I were working for various customers as freelance developers. On most occasions we found ourselves satisfying user requirements by including 3rd party plugins in the software that we developed.

Everything worked well when creating small business applications, because in most cases you’d mostly use the standard features of the APEX and a couple of plugins. The challenge came when you wanted to develop business applications with a higher degree of complexity. There you would find yourself writing a lot of custom code and using plugins, each built by another developer who already had a full time job. This meant that in addition to writing code, obtaining support for these plugins was very limited and at times unresponsive which basically slowed down the whole development process quite a lot.

The two options we faced at the time were:

1) We could simply write custom code (a lot of it) instead of using any 3rd party plugins, but in addition to the initial time invested in writing it, we also had to ensure maintenance over time and that increased the customer’s IT costs.

2) We could use individual 3rd party plugins. This would reduce the need to write that much custom code, but had the disadvantage that we had to
contact each developer individually and work according to their time schedules to solve various compatibility issues.

We also faced the risk of using a plugin that could be desupported at any time or not supported on future versions. As a side note, it actually
happened on one of the projects I was working on and all I can say is that it wasn’t a great situation to be in as a freelance developer.

We looked at what tools were available on the market that could help us solve this issue. We also figured that just like us, there are probably many other businesses and freelance developers who are in a similar situation.

Since we could not find a reliable tool, we began developing our own solution. That is what you know today as the FOEX Plugin Framework – a set of 130+ plugins created for developers who use Oracle Application Express (APEX) which extends the platform’s functionality, shortens the development cycle and ensures a faster time to market for enterprise-grade web applications.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
Like any young company we had to adapt and learn pretty quick from the mistakes we made along the way. It was really important to listen to the
feedback submitted by our users and refine the product as much as we could, so that it would appeal to more potential customers.

As a reference, when we initially launched the FOEX Plugin Framework, the software included about 60 plugins. Five years later, our solution has more than 130 plugins and we’re constantly looking to include additional components.

A key strength for our tool is that not only we add functionality to the Oracle APEX development environment, but we also integrate one of the most
comprehensive JavaScript frameworks used for developing web applications, Sencha Ext JS.

From a technical point of view, ensuring compatibility between our own components, Oracle APEX and Sencha Ext JS was an interesting problem to
tackle. Since we target the enterprise application development market, solving this challenge turned into one of the key selling points for us, as large part of our customers already use products from Sencha.

We were fortunate enough to attract customers quite early in the process. Some of them actually started using our software even before we had officially released version 1.0.

Having paying users at an early stage told us we were on to something and it wasn’t just us who were looking for such a tool to simplify the development of complex back-office applications.

Who is your target audience?
Primarily, our solution addresses companies who currently use the Oracle Database with any kind of UI on top of it. They might already use Oracle
Application Express, or older tools like Oracle Forms, or any other technology.

Although developers are the people who actually use our product, we also look at the IT managers or C-level executives that are in charge of the IT
infrastructure, as they are the ones who give the go-ahead and approve the budget when it comes to using new development tools within the company.

What is the USP of your startup?
We provide a flexible development tool, which we learned from our customers, can be used to achieve multiple outcomes, whether we talk about migrating an app that was built initially using a legacy technology, creating custom modules for Oracle E-Business Suite, or to simply add more functionality to Oracle Application Express.

Essentially, anyone who wants to build feature-rich back-office applications and has a basic understanding of PL/SQL can leverage our solution.
Furthermore, we are the only vendor on the market who provides 130+ plugins specifically for Oracle APEX and guarantees compatibility between our
components, Oracle APEX and Sencha Ext JS.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
You never know what tomorrow might bring. In the past two years our team has been growing, so naturally, our roles and responsibilities within FOEX have changed a bit.

Matt focuses almost exclusively on the technical part of the business, ensuring that we continue to innovate, bring new functionality and provide a better product with each new software release.

As for myself, I divide my day between technical and business issues. When I’m not working with our developers, I’m usually in contact with our clients or work on developing the business further. This could mean that I’m presenting FOEX to potential new customers, talking with our internal sales and marketing staff or follow up with our partners on the leads/opportunities they are working on.

Where do you see yourself and your startup FOEX in five years?
Our aim for the future is to assist businesses who want to modernize their IT back-office applications. We look to offer not only a tool that reduces development time, and provides a more user-friendly UI, but also a solution which enables a smooth transition to a newer technology from the existing development tools they use.

A lot of back-office applications that large companies use internally were developed using tools and technologies that have been around for 20-30 years.

Not to say they are not reliable anymore, but there’s an increasing shortage of skilled developers who can maintain and develop new apps using these
technologies. Also they are significantly more expensive than other IT resources that a company can use.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Peter Raganitsch:
1. Don’t lose focus
2. You won’t find that silver bullet
3. Look at each user interaction as a learning opportunity

Matt Nolan:
1. Be patient, it‘s a marathon, not a sprint
2. Build your product around a minimum viable audience
3. Celebrate the small wins along the way to drive motivation

More information you will find here

Thank you Peter Raganitsch for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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