At ages 19 and 16, Jan Hajek and Tomas Prokop rebuilt an entire IT network as a summer project. One year later, they joined the Microsoft Student Partners program in the Czech Republic. Now CEO and Director of their own company, the pair are well on their way to world domination. This is their story.
|Tomas Prokop (with tablet) and Jan Hakej (in the background) during presentation about Mobile, Cloud, Office in November 2013 (taken by Rene Ramis)|
If you’ve ever sat down at a computer lab in a school or library, you know the pain that is outdated technology. But when it came time to update its own network, Gymnazium Zdar nad Sazavou, a high school located in Czech Republic, decided against hiring a team of professional engineers.
|Jan Hajek speaks about Windows Phone 8.1 at the Mobile, Cloud, Office event in November 2013|
Why? Because two of their students could do it better.
Jan Hajek and Tomas Prokop, then high school friends, recognized the incredible opportunity to transform antiquated school operations and equipment to run more like a modern, mobile business. They would be given two servers as a kind of proof of concept and, if that went well, the headmaster agreed to allow Jan and Tomas to undertake the entire project.
How could they possibly have the skills and experience to pull off such a large migration? They each came into technology early.
|Jan Hakek (front) and Tomas Prokop (back) showing a newly built server room at Gymnazium Zdar nad Sazavou in September 2013|
When Jan was in 6th grade, an older Microsoft Student Partner (MSP), Jan Sterbel, sparked his interest in tech. And Tomas’ father is an industrial automation engineer, programming smart solutions for manufacturing, so Tomas grew up kind of speaking computer. Throughout their primary and now secondary school years, Jan and Tomas were the guys people relied on to fix broken and outdated PCs.
This experience as self-made troubleshooters would serve them well in the summer of 2013, when they successfully updated the IT network at their high school. Students at Gymnazium Zdar nad Sazavou can now do things like participate in class discussions, view grades, turn in assignments, access schedules and read textbooks – all from the device of their choosing. You can read all about the migration story here (written in Czech, so be sure to use a browser translator).
|L to R: Tomas Prokop and Jan Hajek attended TechEd 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Pictured here with Joe Wilson, their mentor and GM of Worldwide Field Evangelism for Microsoft|
With the experience they gained rebuilding the network at Zdar nad Sazavou in 2013, and with the support provided from the Microsoft Student Partner Program, Jan (now 21) and Tomas (now 18) decided to turn the operation into a full-fledged business endeavor in 2014. The Netw.org was born. With a vision to hire themselves out as IT consultants, Jan and Tomas are coming into their futures with the experience many young entrepreneurs can only wish for.
Their primary project right now is EduLog.in, which brings easier management and single sign-on to universities. Students often have different credentials for various departments at universities. EduLog.in will greatly simplify how students access what they need from any device.
|Tomas and Jan’s current project is EduLog.in. Second is the friendly UI. The first shows the Azure-hosted admin screen.|
One of their best selling apps, called “Travel Alarm,” was developed at a global hackathon event. Have you ever fallen asleep on a train or bus only to find that you’ve slept through your stop? Travel Alarm alerts Czech train commuters when their stop is approaching. This app, and all of their current projects, use Microsoft Azure, for back end support.
We wondered why Jan and Tomas are such Microsoft Azure fan boys. Jan said, “Azure helped us rapidly deploy and focus on code rather than the infrastructure and configuration.” Jan and Tomas chose Azure as their clear hosting and deploying tool of choice because it’s extremely easy to use for building and hosting websites, and has broad support for a variety of programming languages.
“Azure is a very expensive, powerful technology that Microsoft offers students for free!” Tomas excitedly explains. “Why wouldn’t we use it?”
In addition to writing apps, running a startup, and with Jan in University and Tomas still attending high school, the MSP program keeps Jan and Tomas busy. For instance, last year they hosted an Xbox Event. In addition to planning and organizing the event, they also both spoke to the 200 Windows 8.1 enthusiasts in attendance. Jan and Tomas also give lectures to other students through a program called Student Trainer Centers in Czech – a kind of educational center for students wanting to be IT Pros.
|Jan and Tomas’ travel application is hosted by Microsoft Azure. The app wakes up sleeping train commuters when their stop approaches.|
Want to be like Jan and Tomas? Microsoft makes it easier than ever for students like you to bring cool ideas (and startups!) to life. One way the company helps students deliver on their dreams is through Microsoft Azure, which allows you to easily host your web apps and websites today with the power of the Microsoft cloud, at no cost.
When combined with Visual Studio Community 2015 for coding and the GitHub Student Pack to add more services and tools to your project, Microsoft Azure provides an incredible free launchpad for students. And we’ve got great free online courses for students to jump into web development at Microsoft Virtual Academy, like this course that Jan and Tomas took on Windows 10.