KAIST Startup-ting X CHEQUER Review

The first startup of 2020 Fall Startup-ting is Chequer! We met Chequer during 2019’s LunchTalk, and Chequer once again joined us for Startup-ting. Due to COVID-19, it was held online through Zoom.

Chequer is a data management and analysis solution software software startup that develops SQLGate, an integrated development environment (IDE), and QueryPie, an integrated analysis environment (IAE). In today’s Startup-ting, Chequer’s staff discussed about the web, database, and Silicon Valley, with a Q&A session followed up.

The Silicon Valley Challenge of a Korean Software Company – CEO InSeo Hwang

The first chapter started with CEO InSeo Hwang’s story of the Silicon Valley Challenge of a Korean software company, and explained about the births of SQLGate and QueryPie. Chequer developed a data management and protection solution to help businesses solve problems. Chequer’s software service works on web browsers, and checks whether a user has access to a database and data is being recorded well.

Chequer launched QueryPie in July 2019 and successfully entered Silicon Valley by targeting the US market, eventually receiving investment by Y-combinator. At Y-combinator, a company must concisely and accurately introduce the company, product, and its problem solving skills within 10 minutes. Last year, Chequer overcame the 135: 1 passing rate and became the only Korean startup to receive investment. It is important for software startups to make a product that can sell and to focus on customer needs rather than trying to solve problems with technology. In addition, Y-combinator focused on entrepreneurs, so we defined the importance of team members. The capabilities of the entrepreneur determine the size of the company, which means that not all entrepreneurs can succeed. For software startups to survive, an excellent team that heads in the same direction is necessary and it is important to become the best, not only in the US but also in small markets. Since there is no right or wrong in the startup world, we emphasized the importance of people.

Startup Agile best practice-Head of engineering Dong-Woo Kim

Dong-Woo Kim is the head of engineering as well as a developer with 16 years of experience. He was interested in the work process which led to him to the software development field. Kim is already famous in the front-end field, and his detailed explanations and organized PPT were very comprehensible.

Kim first began explaining Agile by comparing it to Waterfall. Waterfall is a linear sequential life cycle model, so it is difficult to move back to make changes in the previous phases. On the other hand, the Agile model follows an incremental approach by building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

There are two widely used methods in Agile called ‘Scrum’ and ‘Kanban’. In Scrum, the team breaks their work into goals that can be completed within timeboxed iterations called Sprints (usually 1~4 weeks). During the Sprint Retrospective, the team discusses what went well and what could be improved. Kanban has a route of to do – doing – done, so it is easier for people to understand and manage their work. There are some limitations to each route, but it allows constant improvement. Scrum is widely used in development organizations, and Kanban is used in testing teams or teams with stable priorities and services. In Scrum, the most important concepts are story and velocity, which emphasizes the speed of the team. Once the amount of work for the next two weeks has been set, you can follow the Burndown chart (x-axis: Spring time / y-axis: Remaining Story Point) to check if you’re going in the right direction.

The procedure of a scrum sprint is as follows: Planning Meeting (plan unit sprints and choose sprint goals, all persons concerned participates) → Daily Standup (within 15 minutes, issue-oriented meeting) → Demo/Review (after achieving 2 weeks of goals, share achieved sprint goals and feedback) → Retrospective (sharing what you liked, lacked, learned, and things to continue).

Currently, Chequer’s QueryPie is at the 44th Sprint. For more information, please check the blog post by Chequer.

How is QueryPie made – Co-Founder Ki-Yong Jang

The third lecture was by co-founder Ki-Yong Jang, who worked as an open source developer since 2013 prior to the establishment of Chequer. Jang tried to create an interactive time with the participants to overcome Zoom’s shortcomings.

The front-end ecosystem went through a stormy period due to new development sources such as Javascript and UI, and has settled onto React component. Because SQLGate only worked on Windows, Chequer developed QueryPie which works on mac and Linux. While creating a large data grid and challenging the new paradigm of development, Chequer launched QueryPie. QueryPie is used by various companies such as Yanolja and Kakao Enterprise.

Chequer is also working on application development, because more customers want to develop apps instead of web. In the new web version, a storybook was developed and introduced. Storybook allows component-unit development, so it improves work division and development speed. In addition, using snapshots users can test UI more efficiently. Look forward to a more advanced QueryPie!

QueryPie’s Security, Cloud, and Back-end Architecture – CTO Kwang-hyun Eom

CTO Kwang-hyun Eom has been building 20 years of development experience at Naver and Kakao, and joined Chequer in February 2020. Eom explained about the back-end development process. QueryPie is the only tool that satisfied the Product Market Fit with a Support cloud platform, Compliance, NoSQL, Data warehouse, Web based application, and QueryPie powerful editor. Chequer created an architecture based on the Product Market Fit that provides support transaction, modularity, and automation. In terms of security, QueryPie provides data masking and query captor. Data masking is demanded by the market because it limits and adjusts the access of private information. Query audit & capturing receives and manages the queries sent to DBs, so is also demanded. This was the story of the back-end development technology.

20 year-old Developers, Fly High from Startups

The following section was like a talk show rather than a lecture, with 20-year-old developers answering questions asked by director Dong Woo Kim through Zoom. It was a good time to hear about the realistic stories of 20-year-old junior developers from QueryPie’s QSI team. Each developer explained what they were doing at Chequer, and how they got into Chequer. Some developers gave up on studying to work as a developer, and some prepared step by step since high school. Junior developers challenged themselves by studying, doing group studies, and through online communities to improve development skills. One developer was motivated to join Chequer because he knew that QueryPie was made by Chequer, one wanted to develop QueryPie doing alpha tests, and one joined after learning about Chequer in an open chatroom. Through this time, it was clear that Chequer gave junior developers high responsibilities, allowing for growth.

Q&A and Discussion

Based on the questions received from pre-registration, the CEO and executives of Chequer had a Q&A time. Chequer kindly answered the numerous questions and solved the curiosities of participants.

There were many questions about Chequer, starting a business, difficulties running the company, and what students should do to become software engineers. Regarding the question about how to prepare for coding tests, Chequer answered that rather than the ability to implement algorithms, it is important to understand the programming language itself and what can be utilized to solve problems.

The biggest difference between Chequer and existing DBMS and relational data service companies is that it is a startup and has successfully entered the Silicon Valley. There were many questions about Y-combinator, and Chequer answered that it is important to answer exactly about the product in the market, number of users, and how often the users use the product on a weekly and monthly basis. In addition, to be selected by Y-combinator, a company cannot have a solo founder but must have engineers.

There were many questions related to software development, and the executives gave detailed answers based on experiences and examples. When asked about Chequer, they answered that Chequer provides more than 30 days of annual leave and has a corporate culture with few labor intensity problems. Chequer is heading towards an integrated platform due to the expansion go the data analysis and security markets. In the startup environment aspect, Korea has become a good country to start a business, and there are a lot of support programs in schools. However, companies with problems need to shut down, but have been maintained hindering the regulation. Besides questions from pre-registration, Chequer answered various questions through live chatting. Check out the Youtube video to see more questions and answers!

Although it was a short time online, Chequer showed a free and open work environment, using English names in the company. We were able to get a glimpse of the open atmosphere, when junior developers and executives communicated freely.

Today’s Startup-ting was a solid time to really show what Chequer was like. The full video will not be uploaded, but those who could not participate in the startup-ting can watch the Youtube video to learn about Chequer. Chequer wanted to hold Hackathons besides lectures as well, but due to the limitations of holding events online, the startup-ting was held in the form of a lecture. We hope COVID-19 ends soon so students can meet Chequer offline, face-to-face! Although it was online, thank you for participating in the Startup-ting and please look forward to the next Startup-ting 🙂