Everything starts on paper

More than just a programming den – that’s Karlmax Berlin. The young company develops software applications for Android and iOS

Karl Szwillus Photo: Michael Hughes / Karlmax Berlin GmbH & Co. KG

What do you need to develop an app? Maybe a state-of-the-art, lightning-fast computer? Maybe a couple of clever programmers? Or a conglomeration of the latest smartphone models? If you ask Karl Szwillus, the reply you get is: „Firstly, you need a lot of analogue things.“ For example, a pin board, index cards, coloured pens and a whole lot of paper. These are the analogue birthing tools for the digital world. Because what appears on our smartphones later on showing us the current local weather, or measuring our daily calorie consumption, or navigating us reliably through the streets, begins in the old-fashioned  way on a plain white sheet of paper. This is where the app gets its design, where the interface is designed, colours and shapes are specified and the functions and menu items are arranged.

And the app also has to pass its first test on paper: does the model even make sense? How good is the user-friendliness, or how high the annoyance factor? Weeks or months can go by in this way. Only then is the code written for the software. „So this means that in the beginning we do a lot of painting and sketching – and only then does the programming begin,“ says Karl Szwillus. With his company Karlmax Berlin, the 35-year-old develops software for Android and iOS, and also for mobile websites. His customers are mainly smaller and medium-sized companies throughout Germany.

„But we wanted to be more than just a programming den,“ says the media sciences graduate. This means that the company doesn’t just develop the software, but works on the programs from the first idea to the design and the implementation. And the company has continued developing some of the apps for years afterwards. Which presents the programmers with an ongoing challenge. „You have to keep figuring out what happens to the app when there is no reception, how must memory space the program is allowed to take up, how the updates are meant to work, on which device the program is meant to run,“ explains the Dortmund native. One of the main focuses of the company is on the development of e-learning software and the control of external devices such as lighting systems, home entertainment systems or trade fair exhibits.

Karlmax Berlin was founded three years ago by Karl Szwillus and Max Julian Dreißig. „We spent a long time trying to think up a name,“ Szwillus recalls. The solution: a combination of the first names of company founders Karl and Max. The two met at Mobile.de in Europarc Dreilinden. „That was a very nice period,“ Szwillus remembers. They gathered experience and learned about how a company works. „But we always wanted to be self-employed,“ explains Szwillus, who has been sole Managing Director of Karlmax Berlin since the start of the year. The company started out at the Jannowitzbrücke in Berlin. It relocated to the Bülowbogen commercial complex a few years ago. For Karl Szwillus, an extremely exciting location. Above all, the interaction of the many different companies makes the commercial complex unique.

Stefanie Paul
Kluge Köpfe 2014