Interview: Meet the Fruux Team

At the end of last month, we had a look at Fruux (under the tagline iCloud for Everyone) which is a great and easy way to keep your contacts and calendars in sync across all your devices no matter which platform you are running. fruux was awarded a very prestigious 9 out of 10 score here on Web.AppStorm and we loved its simplicity, range of features and its extremely low (i.e. free) price tag.

Today, we have an interview with Dominik Tobschall and Evert Pot, the cofounders of fruux, and their team. Keep reading to learn about the idea behind the product, how it was developed and what they have got in store for the future!

Tell us a bit more about fruux. Where abouts are you based? How many people work for you at the moment? What motivates you as a company?

We’re based in Münster, Germany. Currently, it’s the 4 of us but we’re looking for more programmers! If you’re talented, and would like to work in a product company then drop us a line!


The fruux offices in Münster, Germany.

What was the idea behind fruux?

We were utterly frustrated with the state of address book and calendar sync. We wanted to build a system that’s reliable, easy to setup and use and has a great interface. As of right now we mostly do just synchronization of personal data, but from there we want to progress towards team features. We feel there’s a big gap in the market there.

How difficult was it to design? Which apps did you primarily use during its development?

The protocols we have to work with are, what I would call, hard to implement. It’s taken quite some time to get things right, and to get support for all the clients with their subtle variations of interpretations of the protocols. Many clients also have bugs and a lot of times we actually ended up going directly to the authors of the applications to get them to work correctly. This process hasn’t really ended yet either :).

Our development environments are mixed, ranging from vim to sublime. Next to that we make heavy use of tools such as PHPUnit and Jira. We’re all on Macs though, so we could certainly have a bit more diversity in that area.


The fruux team at work on their Macs.

Without giving too much away, give us a short introduction on the underlying technology of fruux.

Our primary language is PHP and we use MySQL for most of our storage needs (this may change in the future). What’s a bit more unique is that our back office is completely separated from the web application. The web application only talks to the backend through a REST-ish web service.

By doing this, we ensure that we have an internal API that can do absolutely everything, and helps us keep a strict separation of concerns. It’s really the best way to build a web application! The bonus is that as we are furthering development on our system, we automatically get an API that has support for every single feature. We’ll be publishing this API quite soon too!

Was fruux aimed to bridge a gap in the market? Or was it merely seen as an improvement on an existing product?

Both, actually. There are some tools out there that might help you if you are just using devices from one vendor or only want to sync your personal data, but many of them are not very stable, or difficult to setup.

So on the one hand fruux is an “improvement” because it’s easy and it actually works. On the other hand we’re bridging a few gaps in the market by allowing people to “bring their own devices”, not locking them in on a specific platform by supporting open standards and tackling the pain of working together in a team with address book and calendar data.

What’s your office environment like and what is it like to work at fruux?

We’re a start-up, and recently got funding in order to build our product. We’re all quite excited in doing this as most of us come from a background where we actually had to report to clients. Not a great situation to be in!. The fridge is always fully stocked with Becks, and it’s “free” if Dominik isn’t watching. We try to architect our system to make sure it’s maintainable, so it can scale, but also try to pick the types of technologies that do keep it interesting to work with. Boredom kills the mind so we hope you can find a challenge with us.


The kitchen at the fruux office with that famous Becks-stocked fridge!

We put quality over quantity. We don’t have a boring 40-hour work week, and don’t count vacation days. We want you to get stuff done, do it well and be happy while doing so.

Have you had any stressful times whilst being at fruux? How do you cope with them?

I think in any start-up there will be a lot of stress. A lot of this is natural and normal, and some may even be self-induced due to the personal goals we set.

But frankly I think we are still very excited and grateful for how things are going, and the things that are yet to come. Being in a situation where you get to decide what you feel are the ingredients for building a good product is a privilege. So, if anything.. that’s how we cope (also…beer) ;-).

Have you got anything exciting planned for fruux for the future?

Right now our biggest priority is team features. We want to make it really easy to work with global address books and calendars in a group of people. This problem exists in every company and nobody has the time and money to really solve it. The good news is, that we’re doing it for them. 😉

Besides that we hope to generate an ecosystem around fruux by opening up our API. By giving third parties access to our API we want to solve even more problems for our users and in the process grow into new and exciting use cases.

Thanks, fruux!

I’d like to say a big thank you to Dominik and his team for taking time out from their extremely busy (and, by the sounds of it, beer-filled) schedule and granting us this interview. We here at Web.AppStorm would like to wish them all the best of luck for the future.

If you haven’t already checked out fruux, then take a look at our full review before signing up to the service for free!