From punch cards to the web, a great journey
Miran Dennerqvist is the entrepreneur who created one of Sweden’s most successful IT companies through his passion for system development and programming. Flex Applications has reached its position thanks to the fact that the company’s founder has always had the system development and the rapid technological shifts in his focus. Now, 25 years after the start, Miran Dennerqvist, whose role model is Steve Jobs, still considers a good product to be the most important thing for the company.
In the late 70’s, Miran worked as a developer at Yxhult AB in Örebro, as a payroll system developer. This is where the payroll system knowledge was formed and Miran got a head start thanks to his expertise in systems for personnel administration, In the early 80’s, he worked with programming of payroll systems as well as report generators developed by himself at a couple of computer companies in Örebro.
– It was a pure hobby of mine. Developing and programming was a lot of fun. I could be totally absorbed by my task and suddenly, without realizing it, it was 10 pm and everybody had gone home, says Miran, recalling the joy of programming and making the computer executing the commands that he had written. Miran has long experience and he even remembers the era of the punch cards, in the late 70’s, when he was a system development student at the school Risbergska in Örebro. But it wasn’t until the PC was introduced that he really started enjoying programming.
– If I hadn’t been so interested in computers, I would probably have gone in for the other hobby I had in my youth, namely painting pictures, says Miran.
Flex Applications was founded in 1990, at that time under the name Miranda Software AB, at a serviced office in Kumla. The first program created were payroll and report generator programs. But it wasn’t until Miran had developed his travel expense claim system that the business took off for real. He then had companies like Agda, Hogia and Datema as partners, and the company needed to hire more developers.
– I was one of the very first suppliers on the market with that type of system. It was an open playing field, and within this niche the company could truly develop, says Miran. During the years from the mid 90’s to the millennium shift, numerous technological shifts took place in the world of IT. The development went from DOS to Windows and once the branch had adapted to this shift, the Internet had its true breakthrough, and everything should be ”on the web”.
– A potential customer called me some time in the year of 1997 and wondered if Flex could be run on the Internet. At that time, we were still using Windows, and we were just about to finish our first client-server system in the Windows environment. I believed that the whole thing was a misunderstanding from the customer’s side. But that wasn’t the case, and I realized that this was the future, says Miran. Already the following year, he and his co-workers had developed one of the first web portals within the branch.
Flex Applications has developed successfully. One of the main reasons for this is that the company has been able to offer flexible systems for time, travel and payroll management adapted for the web. The growth was rapid, and the company was rewarded with the gazelle award by the magazine Dagens Industri three years in a row, from 2007 to 2009. An increasing number of large companies started using Flex products, among them service agencies like PWC and large organisations like Samhall. Today the focus lies in gaining large companies in staffing intense segments, starting up a business in Norway and continuing developing systems at the forefront of technology. An important part of it is providing users with applications for travel expense claims and time reporting in their cell phones. When it comes to the question what Miran has enjoyed most during these 25 years he answers:
– The company has had a steady progress right from the start. It has also been very stimulating with all the excellent employees that we have managed to recruit over the years. The fact that we in recent years also have managed to attract an increasing number of large customers is another reason to be proud. When the question concerning the future for Flex Applications and the industry comes up, Miran mentions the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.
– We have a lot to learn by Apple in this area, especially when it comes to delivering user-friendliness and elegant solutions to advanced technical challenges. In these respects, my role model is Steve Jobs, says Miran.
As the owner and founder of the company he still has a great interest in system development and design. This means that Miran acts as a support and a sounding board for the project managers at the company and he often attends the product forums together with the customers. Miran Dennerqvist doesn’t leave his hobby horse – to constantly develop and improve Flex system products for the 400 000 Swedes who are currently using them.