Nikola Obradović: The man must eat sawdust first so that later he could eat lumber

Nikola Obradović is a „serial entrepreneur“. He has started working on many projects, while successfully doing his work as a project manager in “First Beat Media”. This is how Nikola sees the business world.


SW: Hi, Nikola! We have already made a short introduction of you for our readers, but I think it would be better if you told us a bit more about yourself and your current projects.

NO: Thanks ☺ Whenever somebody asks me what do I do, the easiest thing for me is to tell them that I am a project manager, although I actually do programming, designing and team management. I do multiple things simultaneously and I handle a couple of projects at the same time because I’m really into it. A project that occupies most of my time (besides my job at “First Beat Media”) is Theme Street – designing and selling templates and website themes.

SW: How did you decide to design website themes? What makes themes that your team builds different from the other themes on the market?

NO: I have created many websites for different clients, and in many cases we would wind up buying a website theme from one of the popular theme stores, instead of creating a custom theme. That is when I realised that I could create themes that I can offer to others in that same marketplace. In this way I can have a global reach and themes that my team builds can be sold everywhere in the world. Also, a theme we build once can be sold a few hundred times, which is one of the benefits of this type of work. The thing that sets us apart from the competition is our flawless customer support. We are available for our customers them 24/7 and try to help them in any way we can. People around the world know how to appreciate that.

SW: How many team members do you have?

NO: Currently, there are nine of us. We have two front-end programmers, three designers, one back-end programmer, two WordPress programmers. And I am the member, of course.

SW: You were the winner of the first Startup Weekend in Novi Sad. What are your experiences from that event? What lessons have you learned while developing your business idea in only 54 hours?

NO: It was a great experience! I came to Startup Weekend to meet new people and mingle with the crowd. It crossed my mind to try and present an idea that could solve a problem I had a couple of days prior – finding a parking space in Budapest. I figured that parking reservation would be a great option, so I pitched the idea. People liked it and I promptly had a great team surrounding me, creating Pick’n’Park. The rest is history ☺. I have also learned a few valuable lessons:

  1. It is important to meet new people all the time because that way we improve ourselves,
  2. I’ve learned through training and Startup Weekend the importance of being able to pivot, adapt your products and research your market,
  3. I’ve realised that customer development is more important than the programming, and that, on top of that, you have to do a bit of business development as well,
  4. The timing is very important – you need to determine the time when you are going to do something and stick to it, in your personal life and in business.

SW: Do you still work on the Pick’n’Park service? At which stage is the project now?

NO: This project currently stagnates. We are still in customer development phase. We are collecting data and statistics that will help the further development of the service.

SW: Working in a startup or corporate work – what is your choice and why?

NO: Interesting question. When you work for a corporation, your perspective is affected by the position you hold in that company. In my opinion, a person has to work in a big company first so that she could get all the necessary experience and learn all the procedures. It is where you develop your trade and learn what is right, and what is not in the business world. I usually use a saying that „The man must eat sawdust first so that later he could eat lumber“ :). If you are ambitious and wish to advance your career, the corporate work should just be a phase in your life. The next step is starting your own business. It carries a far greater value, both in finance and in your personal development. So, my final answer is a corporation first, then a startup :).

SW: Do you have a message for startup enthusiasts?

NO: Well, I have something to say to people who are preparing for that step. Work globally and start immediately! Don’t invest your money until you are certain that people wish to use your product. You have to validate your idea before you start investing. Often, what you find cool, others may not. Learn from your mistakes and constantly improve your idea by implementing what you have learned.

SW: Thanks Nikola, it was a real pleasure talking to you.