Approx. 8 minutes of reading time
The story of TruckCntrl X dates back to 2014. A lot of time has passed, there have been so many hiccups and life-changing experiences, that it’d take a book to explain everything. However, as we all know, sometimes a single life event triggers a chain of events that just cannot be stopped at some point. That’s why I’m writing these lines now. To share with you “The Story” of TruckCntrl X.
Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself a bit more. My name is Michal (Mike), and I’m the Founder of TruckCntrl X.
I’m originally from a small town in Slovakia, and I’ve always been amazed by how things work. When I first got my Pentium II computer I just couldn’t stop going through all the system folders, reinstalling the Windows 98 SE a few times and when I realized there exists a thing such as a screwdriver, I immediately knew this is something I love.
As the time was passing by, I started getting more into technology, and even without any internet I was able to learn a lot of things from a few great people. When we first got the ADSL connection at home, oh man!
With the rise of Google, YouTube and many other sites, I’ve started looking for tutorials, sketches and everything I could have imagined. The true meaning of the internet, right?
Getting a new single core, but yet a very powerful one – Intel Celeron D (at 2,8Ghz 😬) meant I could start gaming. And I fell in love with simulators immediately. 18 Wheels of Steel, first Flight Simulator, Train simulators, everything.
When the Euro Truck Simulator came out, I immediately got it. We all remember how you didn’t have to use lights during the night. And if the moon was so bright, it almost felt like daytime 😅
But I felt there was something missing. I just didn’t have the feel of a real car (cab).
When I bought a cheap steering wheel for around 20€, there was still something incomplete. As I was already repairing all kinds of electronic devices and started coding a bit, I came up with an idea to build my own steering wheel.
Designed for simulators.
I was, maybe, 19 years old. So crazy when I think about it now. But, whatever.
Ordered a few things and started thinking about how to do it. From nothing to something fully working. Luckily, I took one picture at that time. Pretty naive, right? (It worked anyway!!)
However, I went to college and I didn’t have much time to work on the project. I started realizing how much work would go into a real commercial project.
I didn’t want to give up on the idea just yet and spent dozens sleepless nights working on it. But there just wasn’t enough time, resources, motivation and basically everything was telling me “Stop it now”. So I did.
After I left college in Brno, Czechia, I took an opportunity to work remotely for a small French startup. This has been a life-changing experience, and I’ve spent more than 5 great years with them. I learned a lot about “what’s the deal to run a startup”, solving everyday challenges, upscaling the team and had a chance to try a lot of tools…and met some of the most awesome people in the world 🙏
However, everything has to end at some point and when I had decided I needed to move on with my life a bit, I left the company earlier this year. I have immediately started wondering what’s gonna be my next challenge. I realized I don’t want to work again in SaaS, I wanted something more physical.
Most of the things we use every day are in the cloud, or somehow untouchable. And I started missing this.
I was nearing the decision at this point. And when I was cleaning my office one day, I found some of the early sketches. I just couldn’t resist the idea of carrying on.
Have to try it
However, it wasn’t that easy. I did a first market check, we’re green, still no device. Looked further into material design and realized my original idea needs a completely different approach. Opened old Arduino project and found out everything is outdated. Looks like I should’ve given up at this point, but it worked the opposite on me.
Immediately asked Suzy if she’d be interested in helping me with this kind of project. She’s also my partner in life, so some conversations have been pretty tough. I’m sorry for that, my love, you’re still doing your best, and I (we all) appreciate it!
We designed the first shapes, brainstormed about what the design should look like. She made a few sketches, I then modeled them and started printing things on a 3D printer. One fail after another, but we kept on going. Trying over and over again, until it all started making sense.
We made a logo, and I booked a domain.
TruckCntrl X is born
This was the official start, however very soon we realized that the two of us are not enough. I can do a lot of website, marketing and social stuff, she can do product and marketing design. So, we started looking for talented people that we have around us who are skilled in the departments we needed the most.
Patrick came up with some ideas for the render, then did the whole thing. Also, the 360 model is awesome thanks to him! And even the 3D printer I’m still using is his 😬
I started writing posts and short texts and very soon realized, I won’t be able to do this on my own. Asked my long time partner-in-crime, Tom, if he’d be willing to join us. Yay, he’s in!
(One of the very first ideas)
At this point, we had awesome renders, a full Trello board of things to work on and no feedback, which started killing us. We needed to get the idea out in the open and start gathering opinions...and to be honest with you – see if this all makes sense to the community. We can create any project we love, but if we want to build a sustainable business, we need to have great feedback and trust from the community.
During August we gathered more than 2,000 subscription emails, and some people made videos on their YT channels. We were absolutely stunned!
We just couldn’t believe what was happening on social media. People started being crazy about our product, and it was a crystal clear decision. We have to keep on working on TruckCntrl X.
We have a commitment now.
The growing team
We also realized we need a proper team member for Mechanical Design and for programming. I started looking for skilled mechanics. Monty replied to me in a day and immediately wanted to meet. He loves this idea and joined us within a week with his first ideas and solutions.
We have also found a skilled programmer that will join our team officially very soon. Lubos joined our team in October to take a role of a programmer.
We’re currently working on the prototype, which we want to get together as soon as possible.
As we said a few times – time means quality for us. We need to make sure everything is covered, and the product is perfect for us. Because if it is perfect for us, it’ll be perfect for you folks, as well.
We also don’t want to promise any release date, until we’re perfectly sure we are able to make it.
As I already mentioned, some things cannot be stopped. We work on this project every day, we put our greatest effort into our everyday tasks. Furthermore, we absolutely appreciate all your feedback, which is crucial for us.
We need to make sure everything will be perfect. Every single shape of the button, from the material used, to the written code and shipping process. We keep on printing, testing, trying, failing and making things right in the end.
As we have never worked for companies which are creating devices like the TruckCntrl X is, it’s even harder for us. We learn every day, and we can promise we’ll do our best to get you our product once it is fully ready.
When I was launching the first campaign and was about to submit the very first Tweet/Post, my hands were shaking. I’ve spent more than 3 months learning modelling, helping designing, printing some parts and I didn’t know if there would be any success. However, the first week exceeded every expectation (even those we couldn’t imagine) and you, guys, are awesome.
We all feel your support every day, under every post, in every email. We can’t imagine spending our energy in a better way. Hoping guys from SCS will forgive me using the #bestocmmunityever hashtag here.
Thank you very much all of you, the road ahead is curved, but together we can make it to the top!
PS: Here’s my latest test print, it looks cool in Arctic White, right? 😏