The past twelve months have not been as revolutionary for us as the previous ones, but we have certainly not been widdling our thumbs. We’ve started working on our own product, we welcomed 17 new Applifers into our family, celebrated the first successes of the London office, and moved Applifting’s tribal structure forward. What else did 2021 bring us?
The year 2021 confirmed for us that splitting Applifting into these so-called tribes is the way to go. Our UK tribe already proved in its first year that it's able to survive in the competitive London market. The successes of Applifting UK and the previously established DX Heroes have inspired other Applifters, and more tribes are currently emerging. You have a lot to look forward to.
Under the leadership of CEO Jan Hauser, Applifting UK signed on four clients in its first year of operations, including the promising UK financial startup Braid and the speech therapy platform Noala. It has thus exceeded its plan to acquire two to three clients in this period. And that's not the only reason to celebrate. The formation of a strong London team is a cause for joy as well. During the year, the experienced Philip Ogilvie joined the crew to handle business strategy, and Karel Nguyen left the Prague office for London to join forces with the guys. He is in charge of the technical side of Applifting UK.
Based on a suggestion we received on LinkedIn, our product team set out to create Applifting's very first custom product. Specifically, it was the transformation of our in-house corporate snack management system into a commercial application called Fridge. There is a live step-by-step intro to the entire process on our blog, where we're not afraid to show our mistakes too. Fridge is still in the production phase of the first MVP, which we plan to test with real users. This year, we would like to iterate further and adjust the MVP according to market feedback. Our main goal then is to have our first few paying customers by the end of 2022.
2021 was also full of interesting projects. In order not to overwhelm you, we have selected the three most important ones. One of them was BankID, a platform that allows companies to digitally verify their customers' identities. At the very beginning of the project, we were involved in the development of the CBA standard and then handled the design and complete implementation of core systems. Throughout the year, Applifters worked diligently on George—the internet banking application for Erste Group. The app is currently used by 4.5 million users in several Central European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, Romania), which means a 33% increase compared to 2020. Worth mentioning is also the crowdinvesting platform Crowdberry, launched in March 2021. There is, however, so much more. We'll keep you updated on the projects we're working on in the form of case studies on our website.
We haven't slacked off in marketing in the past twelve months either. We have continued to host expert product webinars and even got to hang out with attendees several times in the second half of the year, which was just delightful. We’ve started sending out a newsletter, which the recipients actually do read :-). And last but not least, we’ve managed to launch our "Innovation Spotlight" podcast. Our colleague Jakub Marcin invites interesting guests to talk about innovation and more. Within 10 months, 18 episodes of the podcast were released and gained almost 3000 plays.
Our HR department also had a successful year, performing well on all fronts. Thanks to their efforts, we brought 17 new Applifters into the fold, and our profile on StartupJobs was ranked bronze in WebTop100’s Authentic Career Communication. Because we care about the mental well-being of Applifers, we partnered with the Terap.io platform last year. Almost immediately, online therapy became one of the most popular and used company benefits.
In spite of the ongoing pandemic, we have resumed our regular breakfast meetings in the more favorable months, at least for a while. Huge thanks to all who participated in preparing goodies for other Applifters. In September, we also managed to get together for a team building event at Máchovo jezero after a two-year hiatus. Our amazing colleagues in the back office team deserve an applause for the impeccable organization of all the events, including various taste tests, the team building, and the Halloween get-together.
Aside from the 10% of our profits that Applifters traditionally divide amongst themselves each year, we also gifted ourselves beautiful brand new merch from our own creative workshop for Christmas. There are more original pieces coming this year too. In December, we also decided to bump the salaries by 3-5% across the board to compensate for inflation. We also found some time for good deeds, with beautiful 484 hours dedicated to doing good as part of the Spirit of Applifting project.
Another year marked by the covid pandemic made it clear that we are able to function well in non-standard situations and that we are strong enough to hold our own against just about anything. Even though we didn't get to see each other much in person, the spirit of Applifting hasn't disappeared, and that's what matters. That's why we are not losing optimism this year either, and we believe that 2022 will be even better and more successful.