12 Years of Driving Innovation in Embedded Solutions

This year, Tronel is celebrating its 12th anniversary. What started as a humble dream, nurtured by passion and dedication, has become a thriving success. Initially founded as a start-up, Tronel now employs over 60 engineers and collaborates with technology leaders in markets worldwide. Challenging what’s achievable in the world of embedded solutions and continuous commitment to quality have brought Tronel to the forefront of the industry.

We sat together with our co-founders Marcin Żyrkowski and Paweł Kubaty to uncover the remarkable story of their entrepreneurial journey into embedded solutions. In this insightful conversation, we explore the early years of the company and pivotal moments in its development. Marcin and Paweł share the key principles that have driven the company’s sustained success, the lessons they have learned along the way and their vision for the future.

Co-founders, Marcin Żyrkowski and Paweł Kubaty in front of Tronel's logo sign at the company headquarter

Tronel is turning 12 this year. What have been the highlights for you?

Paweł Kubaty (PK): There were many of them. The initial phase and transforming dreams into reality: founding the startup in 2011, building business relations with the first client and hiring the first engineers. The moment I moved back to Poland and joined the organization myself in 2013. Reaching consecutive milestones in the growth: first 10 engineers, then 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60. Establishing business relations with new customers—it’s a highlight every time we do this. And finally, forming the Embedded Solutions department.

Marcin Żyrkowski (MZ): We’re definitely proud of what we created here. We hired people, we provided money for families and for the living for so many people. And we always cared about quality. Our people were always very carefully chosen from the markets. Nearly all of them are Masters of Science from technical universities and they are experienced in the technologies that we use. Clients recognize that we can deliver something faster with better performance. Our software is well-tested and it’s cheaper in terms of time to market for clients.

Let’s start from the very beginning. How did your passion for software engineering begin?

MZ: In my case, I had my first computer when I was twelve. I was starting to write a very simple game. This was the passion that started from gaming and stayed with me for all those years—I still love games. But at the time, that was a challenge to do something more than use the computer to create something. That’s how the passion started.

PK: My father bought me an 8-bit computer, Timex 2048, when I was nine years old. It was in 1986. I did not understand what a computer was. I remember I wanted a calculator instead. There was no internet, resources were very limited. I discovered programming by reading books and magazines and by experimenting. When it worked, I felt like a god. It has become my passion since then. I also started gaming and I wanted to write my own games.

How did you get to know each other?

MZ: That was about the time we were 15. At that time, I already had a PC which we normally call a computer today. I broke it by experimenting. I started to look for someone that could fix it for me and found Paweł and his brother, Piotr. They created for me a recovery disk, they lent it to me, and that way we met.

PK: Later, Marcin approached me to share programming knowledge and experience and work together. We have become friends since then.

Tronel's co-founders, Marcin Żyrkowski and Paweł Kubaty sitting at the table

What inspired you to start Tronel?

MZ: When we were working in the UK for a customer that we have been with for over 12 years already, we found that we were appreciated as an engineering force with a good technical background. We did a good job. So we started to think about creating an offshore development center in one of the biggest cities in Poland where the talent polls of engineers are quite good, for example, in Gdańsk, Wrocław, Warsaw, or Krakow. And that was something that inspired us at the time. To build our business with good people.

PK: For me, it was the dream to work for my own organization, with people that I choose, like, understand, respect and trust. The need to elevate my life to a new level, break the limits and grasp a chance to do something new, big and ambitious. And the history of people I admire and am trying to learn from, such as Steve Jobs.

MZ: In the past, I got my own experiences already in the entrepreneurial area. This is not my first company. But that was always a dream. It’s a big difference to work for someone and to work for yourself—when you are a decision-maker and when you can drive the company in the way you like. So, yes—that was always a dream.

How did the experience of working in the UK influence your vision for the company?

MZ: We found that the work environment was more open in the UK. People were more happy to help. Not only focused on their own goals but always happy to help you and share your experiences. The communication between people was much better than in the Polish companies. These were my personal experiences, of course. But we liked it and we wanted to continue the same approach in our company. We wanted to be open, we wanted to talk to people and solve their problems.

PK: Before working abroad for multinational organizations, I had a very poor overview of various management styles, philosophies behind running companies or cultural differences. From the very beginning, I tried to build an organization by picking what I thought was the best in various management styles and cultures. Tronel combines Western openness and common sense applied to everything that you do and the allowance for the proper rest and work-life balance that is working in Poland.

Why did you call the company Tronel?

PK: I remember the discussion involving all three co-founders regarding this and the number of ideas, variants and versions. We came to a conclusion fairly quickly, as all three of us usually do till today when we’re finding a good compromise or a solution to a common problem. “Tro” means three. Those are the three co-founders. “Nel” sounds like something related to a wave or a transmission. Something linked to telecoms, something we were originally planning to focus on.

How do you remember the first years of the company?

MZ: It was quite difficult. At that time, there was only me and one colleague. We had limited money as a setup. We were carrying tables by ourselves, we were tidying up our first office, we were doing anything that was needed at the time to save money. And that was starting very slowly. For the first year, I think we had only seven people. We were a little like a small family— we were eating breakfast together in one room, we were making jokes and having fun.

Now, having about 60 people, we have departments and work mainly remotely. So the first years were very, very different from what’s going on now. I recall this initial phase with sentiment realizing how much we grew as on organization.

PK: I would add that the organization was obviously smaller at the beginning, but the vision and principles and culture did not change much really. We adapt to the world around us without compromising our core values. We are not becoming a typical corporation. Individual people matter and the people are the most valuable asset of the company. It has always been like that.

Group of Tronel employees at a team building event at a karting center
Three winners of a karting competition during team building event
Tronel co-founders, Paweł Kubaty and Piotr Kubaty working side by side at the company's first office
Group of Tronel employees at a team building event at a shooting range

How did the strategy and the types of projects change over the years?

PK: The initial strategy was to focus all the efforts on supporting our main customer by working on continuous projects long term. And with the years, we decided to move more focus on building our customer base by investing in marketing and sales. This resulted in our involvement in shorter-term and fixed-price embedded solutions projects, requiring much more flexibility, responsibility and better more mature planning, both in business and technical aspects.

We have gained a lot of experience already, which is crucial for these types of projects to succeed. We also gained more technical expertise in a variety of technologies way beyond the boundaries of embedded solutions development.

What were the biggest challenges you've encountered?

PK: All three co-founders have technical backgrounds. We all lacked proper big-scale business hands-on management experience. That was the challenge. Marcin had some experience, but it was not even comparable in scale to companies that he owned in the past. And the rest of us had no experience. Not even in the family, so we didn’t have relatives as experts that we could consult. We had to build this experience through actions.

Surprisingly, I’m not mentioning the challenge that is very typical to IT: finding engineers. Sometimes we had more difficulty, and sometimes it was more fluent, but we always managed to find very good, capable engineers. It just required a little bit more time sometimes, but we didn’t struggle as much as other companies.

I think that was because of the opinion of us as an employer. We offer competitive conditions to the engineers and the projects are in general interesting. We’re working on areas that are very new, we’re involved in cutting-edge technologies. This is combined with the healthy organization, and healthy principles of building the business structure, and people feel that.

What's the most valuable thing you've learned over those 12 years?

MZ: I learned that when you work with a group of people that you trust and like working with, and they share the passion, the difficulties you encounter are much simpler. You can always ask for a second opinion, you can trust someone with their decision and you feel good about that. You do a job without being afraid that something goes wrong. The people are very important.

Another thing is that ten years of hard work brings you immediate success [laughs]. That is something that I learned. 

PK: I learned that a healthy business should not be run purely to grow and gain resources. This is the conclusion I have after all these years, not necessarily the last twelve years but earlier as well, observing the ways of running businesses worldwide.

I think the main purpose should be to provide a well-balanced environment, attract the right people and the right customers, support these people and customers and build long-term relations in a positive atmosphere of trust, respect and justice. This allows us to compete on the market as an employer, and also to deliver good quality embedded solutions and find customers that buy our products or services with confidence that all sides are doing a good deal.

How has the embedded solutions market changed during this time?

MZ: I would say it changed hugely. With IoT, any device can be connected to the internet. People demand more and more gadgets and electronics to help them live. Embedded solutions markets evolve as well of course. Manufacturers are creating smaller and smaller devices with bigger capabilities, lower energy consumption and better performance. Tronel is very close to both providing software for embedded devices as well as communication services. We connect those two things in our experience and I think we are in a good place in that time.

Tronel CEO, Marcin Żyrkowski at a desk

How does Tronel stand out from other companies in the embedded solutions market?

PK: We provide the best overall value for money for the customers, literally worldwide. This is because the skills of Polish engineers are huge compared to other regions of the world. And our rates are not the most expensive in the world, which means that the value for money is definitely great. Our customers understand that they can benefit from this.

The second thing is the high standard of morality and virtue, both in relations with customers and regarding the employees and contractors. Unprecedented flexibility and the healthiest internal relations and structure.

MZ: I would like to add that we stand out by having a very great experience in telecoms. That is something that other companies don’t have. It’s a specific area of low-layer communication systems. Many of our engineers who are really experienced in these technologies have been with us for seven, eight or ten years. We do whatever is needed to keep this value inside the company.

What has driven Tronel’s success over the years?

PK: The very reason for the success of the company and the reason why we are where we are is linked to the commitment of the individuals. It’s not linked to the correct business and technical decisions but the core reason is the commitment of the right individuals who work for our organization and always try to do a good job. As simple as that.

Focus on people truly lies at the heart of Tronel’s mission. What traits do you look for when hiring new employees?

MZ: Especially for passion. We’re taking into account the experience that people have already had on the market. We are looking at what did they do in the past, for example, for their own projects. So we can see if there’s passion in someone. And an attention to detail. They’re very important qualities in people.

PK: People we’re looking for need to be driven by similar goals. We are seeking maturity, responsibility, common sense, openness, and desire to invest in their knowledge and quality. And the internal need to be good at what they do.

What do you think the next 12 years will bring for Tronel?

PK: The situation worldwide is too unstable to predict the next 12 years. But in the shorter term, I know we will have to continue competing in a global market, which I am not too worried about thanks to our unique profile and approach to the staff and the customers. The Embedded Solutions department will grow rapidly and continue to expand beyond embedded systems. Also, I hope Tronel will invest in our own products, which will be a great addition to the services that we currently offer.

Marcin Żyrkowski

Marcin Żyrkowski

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder at Tronel

Leading the company for over a decade, Marcin’s entrepreneurial spirit and determination have been crucial to the continued success of the company. He works closely with software engineers, which means he knows exactly how to use technology to advance clients’ performance.

Paweł Kubaty

Paweł Kubaty

Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder at Tronel

Driving the technological side of the firm’s strategy, Paweł brings sustained growth to the company. He combines a strong software engineering background with an analytical mind and extensive experience in project management methodologies.

By Monika Wozniak