Marcelo Rodrigues joined zkipster in 2015 and is our mobile software engineer, responsible for developing the zkipster mobile apps for iOS and Android.
He speaks Portuguese and English and is based in his hometown of Cesar, Northern Portugal, a calm village that he likes for its proximity both to the cities of Porto and Aveiro, and the sea and mountains.
Marcelo, tell us about your career before you arrived at zkipster.
“I moved to Coimbra, a famous university city in the center of Portugal, to study for my BSc degree in software development at the Institute of Engineering. Once I graduated, I started working at Present Technologies, a local software company, as a mobile developer. My very first project was an app called Walkar, which was designed to help Windows phone users discover new places. It used augmented reality (AR) to help users navigate to nearby places using their mobile phone location and camera – imagine the Pokémon GO game, but for travel. It was a fun project, and the AR element presented an exciting challenge.
“After a year of working, I decided to return to the Institute of Engineering to study for my Master’s, specializing in software development. I worked throughout my studies, and stayed working at the same company after I graduated – I lived in Coimbra for 10 years before I moved back to my hometown of Cesar. The Windows phone operating system was soon discontinued, and I started focusing on developing apps for Apple iOS instead, including ones for TV screening and sports betting. These different projects allowed me to understand the development cycle in detail and learn best practice for each phase; from the beginning, when working out how to implement an app, to the end, when it reaches stores. All those years of experience as a mobile developer were crucial for getting me to where I am now.”
Tell us about your role at zkipster.
“As zkipster’s mobile software engineer, I develop our mobile app for both iOS and Android. It’s an interesting challenge, as mobile isn’t always considered a critical software system, but for zkipster, in the context of live events, it is. Our app is used at a critical moment for events – when guests are checked in – and it needs to be fast and responsive: it can’t struggle, especially when guests are arriving en masse and need to be checked in quickly and accurately. Sometimes the conditions at event venues aren’t ideal, with poor internet connectivity, and the app needs to factor that in and work well despite such environments: it’s why it’s designed to work even if the WiFi drops out.
“It’s my job to be aware of all those little details and to deliver quality mobile apps that provide the best service for event professionals. The two different operating systems – iOS and Android – are very different, and I need to keep myself constantly informed about how the tech is evolving in order to maintain the two apps. Usability is crucial – our end users need a product that is fast and simple to use – so I work in tandem with our product team, which is headed by CTO Décio Sousa, to deliver that. I understand exactly what mobile is capable of so I can suggest ways to achieve an end goal with our product. Above all I try to think simple, and take the simplest approach to deliver excellent functionality for our end users.”
“When Marcelo joined zkipster, he was a young iOS developer. Today, he fully and solely owns the mobile space, having completely grown out of his comfort zone by embracing Android development. Witnessing his growth – both personal and professional – is incredibly rewarding, and makes me feel extremely confident that we’re able to support our colleagues to exceed themselves everyday. People like Marcelo make zkipster what it is.”
What’s the best thing about working at zkipster?
It’s actually three things! One I’ve already mentioned, and that’s simplicity. It’s actually one of zkipster’s core values, and is reflected in the way the company is structured, with no bureaucracy, and it means that the company has an awesome culture – another great thing about working here. Anyone can make a suggestion, and is given help whenever they need it. Management trusts their teams to do their work well, and gives them plenty of autonomy and responsibility. And that’s the third thing that I love about working here: the challenge. Having sole responsibility for two very different apps for two very different systems involves a lot of problem-solving and is a constant challenge, but one I really enjoy.”
What are the most memorable events you’ve been part of, whether for work or in your personal life?
“Work-wise, it’s two huge zkipster product events. One is the upgrade of our iOS app in 2020, which resolved some legacy problems and also allowed us to future-proof the app and maximize the potential for user growth, which is obviously very important for the company. The other is the total redesign of the Android app we carried out last year. The previous version of this mobile app was old and hadn’t received as much attention as the iOS version, but completely revamping it has made it so much more efficient and user-friendly. It also means that the two mobile apps have reached parity, and that we can implement new features and releases simultaneously. It’s been a great success, which is reflected in the increasing number of Android app users we’re seeing.
“The events from my personal life aren’t strictly events either, but I love the experience of travelling so they were extremely memorable: my first and second interrailing trips around Europe. On the first trip I visited Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and on the second Poland, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia. Highlights were probably Slovenia, especially Lake Bled, and Poland, mostly because I visited knowing almost nothing about either country and learnt so much…and they are such beautiful, fascinating places.”