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By Eszter

The Virgo story

Does the story of a bunch of high school friends starting a successful business in a garage sound familiar? You might have heard stories like this before. But not very many of them can say that their product has been used by almost every Hungarian. That’s the Virgo story, our 20 years of history.

 

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The beginnings

Virgo was born of a bunch of high school friends. Ákos Gordon, Péter Petrovics and Attila Szantner were studying software development and computer science when in September of 2000 they launched Virgo from a downtown apartment. It was unintentional, they claim, that they started an IT business with world changing plans at the turn of the millennium, at first they just took jobs and let things happen to them. They did it at the best time, right at the beginning they were working as contractors on enterprise level projects. Soon the demand for their work was so great they started to fill up Virgo with new employees coming from their friend group.

The journeys of the three founding members later on departed. Péter Petrovics left after the acquisition of iWiW. He lives in London now and is working on the development of a new, blockchain based, stable cryptocurrency as the cofounder and technological leader of Augmint. Attila Szantner was technological leader at Virgo until 2011, you last could hear about him in relation to one of the international citizen science projects that involves gamers researching different proteins in DNAs. Ákos Gordon is currently one of the owners of Virgo, a strategic leader and director of the e-commerce division.

Ákos Gordon

Péter Petrovics

Attila Szantner

The big firsts

2000-2002

One of Virgo’s first projects was the Integrated Postal Network: Virgo working as Unisys’ subcontractor participated in the development of integrated services that they still use in post offices and had a budget of almost 4 billion HUF. Not much after we contributed to the development of OTP Bank’s loan management system.

Virgo’s first independent project was its first Java based development, a phone book project, MATÁV’s online information bureau. That’s a great story too, it was almost like we won the tender of Magyar Telekom’s ancestor, Axelero as if we walked in from the street. The team promised to complete it in 3 weeks and through their insane efforts they delivered. Virgo System left behind a great reputation that resulted in further Telekom and Origo projects later on.

Six years before Spotify was launched Index Radió was created that offered online radio services that combined online streamers based on users interests and taste.

On the request of the ministry of finance we teamed up with TÁRKI and made a special statistic based simulator software named TÁRSZIM. The tax and affix calculator offers help in impact assessment to people making economic decisions.

András Pölöskei

Gábor Egri

András Vass

The era of information bureaus

2002-2005

After the success of the online information bureau Virgo almost had a production line for systems transforming different information bureaus to digital services. That’s how Telefonkonyv.hu, Telekom Online Tudakozó es Szakmai Tudakozó, 197.hu and Telekom SMS Tudakozó came about.

A truly fascinating project was the software we made for the ministry of education called Családi Emlékezet. After registration anyone could build their family tree and upload pictures and data to it. The family tree could be downloaded to a file and if they wanted it could be printed. There were no such services in Hungary around then so this and the fact that it was easy to use made it very popular. Almost everything was given to serious success but the GDPR ombudsman shut down the whole initiative. 

Pesti Est was a weekly issued activity calendar that was known by every youngster in big cities before smartphones, wifi and mobile data became popular. The editors of the paper were using a Virgo created activity information backend system and we also made their website Est.hu.

Other exciting Virgo stories: we made a vehicle stock finance application for Budapest Bank, we renewed the Invitel CMS portal. The Fővárosi Dugófigyelő was a map based browser app displaying traffic conditions that we made for the mayor’s office of Budapest. We also made a tree planting planner and tree processor management system for Mecsekerdő Inc.

Zsolt Bányai

László Gergely

Erhart Kornél

Kornél Erhart

Are you on iWiW?

2002-2014

The most popular Virgo story is iWiW’s. Only a few people remember that it’s previous version, WiW was launched in 2002, almost two years before Facebook. WiW started as an online Who is Who and connection network manifestation by Zsolt Várady. WiW was the hobby project of a group of friends that with Virgo’s support grew to a social media page visited by millions. WiW was successful in its own ways, ever growing group of browsing Budapest youngsters were finding old classmates, searching for their accointances, socialized, participated in group discussions and uploaded their first profile pictures to the internet. WiW unavoidably became a business and Márton Szabó was made its managing director.

In October 2005 under the direction of Gábor Cseh the by then redesigned and renamed iWiW’s services were relaunched in 15 languages, even then it was expected to be a huge Virgo story. So it happened, iWiW became popular beyond the wildest dreams, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians became internet users just because of iWiW. In March 2006 iWiW was the fourth most visited website in Hungary when T-Online, part of the Magyar Telekom group bought it but Virgo stayed part of its long lasting success by developing and managing the popular site. 

iWiW had its peak in February 2010 when 4.5 million users were registered on it, was visited by 1.46 million individuals and 3.3 million page downloads were made daily. Regardless of its fresh ideas and innovations it couldn’t keep up with Facebook. On June 30, 2014 iWiW was shut down permanently, all uploaded content was preserved in time capsules.

iWiW applications and other social media sites

Zsolt Várady

Márton Szabó

Gábor Cseh

Péter Seprenyi

Dávid Bíbor

Krisztián Zachar

Benedict András

András Benedict

Márton Salomváry

Balázs Lécz

Gábor Lendvai

Dzsó Pengő

Enterprise projects

2006-

In 2006 iWiW was connected to Origo, the news portal became iWiW’s exit site so for a long time iWiW users were a great percentage of Origo’s visitors. It was followed by making many new functions for Origo. The list of enterprise projects were started with backend systems and later the development of digital services for telecommunication and public sector enterprises and organizations. The list still goes on today.

At the beginning of the year 2010 along with new projects a lot of new colleagues arrived. In 2012 a team of experts under Tamás Szabó’s leadership joined us and we opened our second office in Balatonfüred. Life didn’t stop in central Budapest either, thanks to our PHP technology director, Tamás Szíjártó’s work, our PHP team expanded. They developed Virgo’s continuously updated content and portal framework, the Virgo Spica and the e-commerce framework based on it, the Virgo Corbis.

2005-2010
2011-2014
2015-

Tamás Szabó

Tamás Szíjártó

Péter Komár

László Matics

Adrián Balla

Józsa-Török Ágnes

Ágnes Józsa-Török

Tamás Kovaliczky

Gábor Tarnavölgyi

E-commerce starts

2015-

Virgo’s first big e-commerce assignment was in 2016 by Extreme Digital whose webshop had the largest revenue in Hungary around then. The renewal of their online store was Extreme Digital’s largest IT project of their existence and assigned the Virgo team to execute it. We’re proud of the smooth transition process, Extreme Digital goods were only temporarily listed a few places behind their usual position in Google searches

The first success launched Virgo’s e-commerce division

We developed our own, flexible e-commerce framework and called it Virgo Corbis. It was made to be a framework that offers complex and unique solutions that on top of servicing personal users has an ever expanding list of modules that offer retail sale supporting solutions as well.

Jóautók.hu a second hand vehicle listing portal was launched in the summer of 2017 in Hungary. The known vehicle magazin, Totalcar’s editor team was assisting us to offer solutions that support safe, transparent and comfortable vehicle sales.

Our e-commerce division became stronger while we were helping clients like Telenor, Multivitamin.hu, Anda Present and Építőanyag.hu in their online sales.

E-commerce business strategy counselling

Tamás Szíjártó

Tamás Kovaliczky

László Matics

Tamás Szabó

Agile transition projects

2013-

Agile methods were first used in software development and today almost every organization producing digital goods or services uses them to some extent. The transition wasn’t completely smooth for us either because prior to it Virgo was also using the traditional and predictable waterfall method when planning a development project for over 12 years.

On the contrary agile methods offer flexibility.The iterative development mode makes it significantly easier to adapt to new and changing customer needs.  It’s especially useful when the client’s needs can’t be completely defined at the beginning of the project therefore determining the areas that must be developed is difficult. Not only the completion of tasks were made easier by agile developments but the finished product and the result of the joint efforts resulted in a much more satisfied client.

Agile transitions and agile perspective changing projects that we’re the most proud of: the winning of LogMeIn’s international tender, our collaboration with DPD since 2016 and the marketing and buying management system we made for Drogerie Markt.

The Agilab chapter

Miklós Guthy

Balázs Bitay

Gabriella Nagy

Luca Benyovszky

Dávid Koller

Ábel Péli

Virgo startups, spin-off companies

2002-

Incubating smaller, internal ideas or ideas that are brought to us has always been part of Virgo’s story. The better ideas became startups and the best of the best startups were launched as Virgo spin-off companies that can now exist on their own. We founded Virgo Ventures on the many years of startup mentoring experience we had, and turned it into a digital product incubator with CEIS.

DirektMester was the first serious attempt in 2002. It was an application organizing and mediating people offering different handyman services. Its success was founded on the collaboration with Különleges Tudakozó. Operators offered handymans to callers dialing 197 using DirektMester, they also could instantly schedule a handyman for them through the app. The idea and the execution was well received by the investors, the startup became part of Biggeorge’s Holding and they renamed it to Dome Facility Service Group. It became one of the leaders of the facility management market. The previous DirektMester CEO, Bence Laczkovich soon became Virgo’s managing director.

2010-

Bence Laczkovich

Balázs Csapó

Péter Vidos

Donáth Fruzsina

Fruzsina Donáth