We had an amazing opportunity to talk to Nikola Arežina, one of the mentors at Startup Weekend in Novi Sad. He shared some advice based on his experience. He was talking about Fruškać, what inspires him and what motivates him to move forward. Here is what he had to say.
SW: You have been doing graphic and web design for quite a long time, and this year you combined your love for technology, nature and design to create a web portal called Fruškać. How did you come up with that idea?
NA: I have been working in a design studio in Belgrade for a long time and at one point I decided to do outsourcing so that I can move away from a city bustle. I found my source of energy near Fruška gora. After a long time, I have finally found peace and the perfect place to rest. At the same time, I started to make some quite good results with my business. After a while, I came up with the idea to research and take notes of Fruška gora with my friends. It resulted in a creation of www.fruskac.net web portal, in late April this year, after nearly three years of work on the project. We have made some great results with our web portal – we are raising awareness and gathering community interested in Fruška gora, or Fruškać.
SW: From your experience, how long does it take from the moment the idea was born to the realization of the project?
NA: It depends on how big your project is, what type of a project it is, what you want to achieve and what you expect as an outcome. Of course, it also depends on the time that you invest in making the project. I knew that Fruškać will be a long-term project, which requires a lot of time, love and patient when we started working. Publishing a project is just an initial step. It is important to define goals that project should achieve. The one thing that I know for sure is that nothing goes easy and fast. It takes a lot of effort, work and sacrifice to make a high-quality product, whether it is a software or a web portal.
SW: What brought you into design?
NA: I was always interested in drawing and animation. After that, computers broke through, and everybody started using Photoshop and similar tools, and it was all about individual efforts. We all finished design schools, made our portfolios, and started looking for work.
SW: Do you think that graphic and web design are developed enough in Serbia, compared to the worldwide achievements?
NA: Most of the high-quality designers are outsourcing nowadays. I guess I can say that Serbian web designers are not far behind when it comes to quality in the global market. On the other hand, the local market suffers because it is unable to adapt to the conditions offered by the global market. The situation could be better. In Serbia, web design is not considered a profession that provides a good and comfortable life.
SW: There are mixed reactions from entrepreneurs when asked about working with people they know. How you manage that?
NA: Well, personally I never had problems when I was working with people I know. It even made things easier. We know exactly what each of us can do and because of that we can organize things in a way that best emphasizes our abilities. It is rarely a question of money, so no, I don’t have any problems when I am working with friends.
SW: What are the things that inspire you? Where, with whom and how do you find your inspiration?
NA: Everything inspires me. I love my friends, my job, nature. I had built my system, an algorithm in my head, that works pretty well. It helps me find an easy way to face and solve all the problems and challenges.
SW: What is your advice for the people who aren’t sure about the success of their ideas?
NA: The most important thing is to believe in your idea. It is very hard to do that when you’re young, so you have to listen to advice from more experienced people and not wander too far from your goals. Just believe in yourself and push as hard as you can. You will eventually learn all the things you need to know, it’s just about making an effort.
SW: What is your message to participants of the Startup Weekend?
NA: My message is always the same: the one who come once will be there for the second and the third time. It is a great opportunity to start a new business. You can skip one night out with your friends and instead spend a weekend with people who can change your perspective on life and give you a new dose of optimism. Startup Weekend is a very healthy environment where everyone should spend as much time as possible.