Mike Kumpf’s Secret To Building Apps He Wouldn’t Otherwise Be Able To Build
In today’s maker profile, we’re featuring Mike Kumpf, a Mendix MVP and principal at software consulting firm Brook Trout Partners, LLC. Hear how he likes to use Mendix to build prototype solutions quickly and help clients solve complex business problems.
What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
I’ve been in the technology business for about 30 years now. I began working with global 2,000 organizations like Procter & Gamble and Maybelline Cosmetics in a staff role. Since then, I’ve moved into the consulting arena, where I’ve worked for a broad range of customers. The focus has always been in helping businesses use technology to achieve what they want to achieve.
I’m not a hard-core developer. I have an engineering degree. I’ve never been in a role where I’ve spent three-quarters of my time coding, but I am adept at cracking things open and figuring out how to make things work. When I bump up against a problem the program can’t handle, I need to be creative.
How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
Four years ago, I worked with some business partners in Holland, and after they sold the business they told me I really ought to check out Mendix. I went to the web site and thought Mendix had a great story.
But it was a story I had heard before — make apps quicker and at lower costs. I was dubious. I took a three-day training class and started to think Mendix looks like it’s for real. The next question was whether there was demand in the marketplace. I spoke to people in my area who’ve run businesses and asked if this was something that would interest them. Some said sure, build something for me.
To my delight Mendix has worked out to be everything it was depicted to be when I learned about it. It makes it quicker and less expensive to build apps. It makes it possible for companies to do things they would otherwise not be able to do. Without this platform a lot of projects would take too long and cost too much.
I’m a true believer in the Mendix story.
What was most helpful to you in learning Mendix?
The Mendix Forum was very important for me. When I’m working on a project, and I run into a problem, I always give it my best shot to figure it out. If that doesn’t work, I’ll pose a question. The forum is active enough where I’ll get an answer. To me the forum has been indispensible.
Which apps or projects that you’ve built are you most proud of?
We built a SaaS app for Kermit, a startup in the healthcare space, that’s worked out really well. The company helps hospitals manage medical implantable devices. The app enables hospitals to capture information about surgeries in real time. Nobody else in the industry can do this. From a strategic benefit, access to this type of information gives hospitals visibility into products used by surgeons so they can make better decisions about what products are used at what price points. It looks at prices and the quality of healthcare outcomes.
Many organizations grab data after the fact and try to do analyses. The problem is it’s too far after the surgery to be relevant; you can’t learn from that data anymore. In ERP, information passes through many hands, and if a business analyst doesn’t get access to data until 6-8 weeks after, that’s too late from a contractual standpoint.
I don’t know that this startup could have built the app without Mendix. It could have built something, but not with the same features. It was a question of resources. I find you can get three to five times the number of features into a solution with Mendix than without it.
Have you had any “aha moments” using Mendix?
When I was working on my first project – one where the client could do billing out of the app – the client said he had another development company trying to build it. The company had to pay penalties if it didn’t get the app done in time. It got to point where the company owed him money. It took us about 8-10 weeks, and the other group was still working on it after 4-5 months. For me that was an aha moment.
What advice would you give to other Mendix developers?
Always be curious about how things around you work. When you’re working on a problem, keep at it. The first solution might not work. Even if there’s something you’re not 100 percent happy with, keep trying.
How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
Without Mendix, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now. I may have managed teams of developers, which I still do today, but I like to keep my hands in the development work, and I’m able to do that using Mendix. I enjoy the problem solving and the ability to help people with their business. With Mendix, the real benefit is being able to quickly deliver what the business needs.
How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
I describe Mendix as a tool that enables organizations to build apps they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. It would cost them too much, and they wouldn’t have the ability to iterate through different parts of applications.
What are your interests/hobbies outside of work?
I love being outdoors. I like hiking, fly fishing, and reading. I have seven kids, so a lot of what I do outside of work is family related. We live in Maryland and within a few minutes have access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and we make good use of them.