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Felix is the founder of fastlane, an open-source tool for iOS and Android developers focused on making building and releasing apps easier. Just last year, fastlane has saved over 15,000,000 developer hours and is used by tens of thousands of companies around the world. He’s also the founder of iOS-factor.com, an open-source best-practices guide on how to build high-quality iOS apps. He was named as one of Forbes 30 under 30. He has published various privacy-related essays on the iOS permission system. As a result, his posts reached #1 on HackerNews multiple times and got covered by major media outlets. Felix speaks at various conferences around the world, most recently Tel Aviv, Oslo, Tokyo, Melbourne, Bangalore, Vienna, Berlin and San Francisco.
Connect with Felix
Felix, you are very well-known for being the founder of fastlane, an amazing open-source tool for iOS and Android developers with a focus on building and mobilizing apps with ease. The tool boasts incredible numbers — it’s estimated to have saved 15 million developer hours. It has since been acquired by Google. What was the inspiration to develop this tool?
Back home in Austria, I started a company that was providing an app builder for sport clubs. Back then, it was one of the first ones out there. It would automatically fetch all kinds of information from Facebook and RSS feeds, like the news items, images, videos and more. The great thing about this concept is that you only had to build it once, and then you could sell it to multiple types of sport clubs. I wanted to build it in a way that, when I changed the core, I could update all the modeled apps without a lot of extra work. I ended up automating 100% of the process—meaning when I changed a line of code and then pressed the Deploy button, it would push 20 updates to the store that hosted the app. That’s kind of how I got started with the automation piece of my work.
It’s really interesting that you knew it was time to make your app / project be something else. How did you know you had to let go of the original idea of your app and focus on something else with it—the automation? Was that difficult?
It was a challenging decision to pivot. There were two components to it: First, selling the sports app was more difficult than expected, and I noticed I didn’t enjoy doing it at all. Second, for my Bachelor’s degree, I needed a project that had the right-sized scope.
In all the work you do, you are also known for leading a nomadic lifestyle—moving to a new place every month and carrying what fits on your back. Is this difficult to do while also working professionally as a developer and entrepreneur?
My nomadic life is slightly different from other nomads in that I usually stay within the same city. I spend most of my time in New York City, where Google has an office. So while I move to a new apartment and a new neighborhood every month or so, I still go to the same office. I still get the job done. I still get to hang out with the same group of friends and so on. I agree that, if you to relocate to a different country every week, it’s more challenging to be as productive, but that’s why I made the conscious decision to move within the same city. While I travel for conferences from time to time, I usually stay in the same city—I’m in between New York and Austria, where I’m from, where my family is, so I spend some time there also.