I’m Željko Švedić. Try pronouncing my name — it will give you some great tongue twisting fun for a few minutes. A roommate in NY got tired of trying to say it and renamed me to Zel, which has stuck to this day. Originally from Zagreb, Croatia, I am a passionate traveler. I lived in New York, San Francisco, Thailand, London and Oxford. I’m currently living in the city of “poor but sexy” people. Not that I belong to any of that categories, but I still enjoy Berlin.
I have always been fascinated by computers because I think they are the ultimate creation tool. During high school, I got really into competitive programming, which culminated with medals in a few competitions. As side projects, I developed an MS-DOS 3D space simulation game, an incremental parser, and a joke-sharing website. After getting a degree in computer science in 2002, I worked for few years at Microsoft and Infragistics.
In 2005, I decided to move to the dark basement of my parents’ house to start my own company. Notice how in the United States, everybody starts a business in a garage, while in crowded Europe, basements and attics are more popular startup choices. Although I didn’t see much of the sun, this proved to be a good business move. The first product I created, GemBox.Spreadsheet, is still selling quite well ten years after its creation. I hired some people, and we created GemBox.Document, which achieved similar revenue in just a few years. After that, I decided to venture into the recruitment testing area, and I co-founded TestDome, a service for automatic testing of programming skills.
Running your own company is not as sexy as many people imagine. Sometimes you need a rest and new challenges. In my case, that comes from travelling, giving talks on various subjects, and writing this blog. I have a deep passion for obscure subjects, which you may notice if you read my posts on cohousing, water-fuelled cars, or zombies and failed alien invasions. Obscure topics are great because they are hidden gems of amusement and intellectual curiosity. The only problem is that it is hard to find people who are interested in your obscure interest.
However, there is a solution to that. If you find any of the topics I write about interesting, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. For other means of communication or for pure lurking, check my profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, CouchSurfing, and Hacker News.