SW: Can you please tell us what exactly are you doing for a living?
SK: For the last few years, I have been developing and selling a digital product with my team, WordPress themes, and last year we started developing a global clothing brand.
SW: How do you manage to run your own business? Who is your support?
SK: My support is my team and people around me who share my vision.
SW: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea for starting a business?
SK: People shouldn’t keep their ideas to themselves, they shouldn’t hide it from the others with a fear that someone will copy their idea. Ideas can not be copied that easily because there are a lot of things that stand behind an idea. If they share their ideas with the others – friends, mentors, the idea can only become better if it’s worth developing. If it isn’t worth developing, talking to someone about the idea will save you precious time in developing, and later failing.
SW: How important is teamwork for a business success?
SK: Teamwork is one of the most important factors in running a successful business. The team is the force that can push the idea until the end, and also to shut it down even though the idea could have been developed into something much bigger. It is important to have clear goals, clear positions and clear tasks for every team member to be able to reach goals.
SW: What was your biggest challenge so far?
SK: The biggest challenge so far was building a team that I can trust. Everything else is written somewhere and can be learned from somebody else’s experience, positive and negative. In case that it isn’t written, you can test it really quickly. But, building a team takes years.
SW: How do you see yourself a few years from now?
SK: I see myself at the same place, with the same people, but with a lot of new knowledge which I will acquire when I start some new ideas from my list.
SW: What would you recommend to participants of Startup Weekend in Novi Sad?
SK: I recommend to all the participants to explore the mentors who will work with them. Find out who they are, what are their best skills, with what they can help you. Prepare questions for each of them and don’t afraid to ask those questions when you meet your mentors.
SW: Thank you very much Siniša for your time.
Marko Mudrinić is editor in chief of Netokracija Serbia. He joined the team in 2012; soon he was emphasized as one of the leading IT journalists in Serbia, covering topics about internet entrepreneurship, new technologies, and digital trends. Passionate for new media and publishing in the 21st century, Marko reports from Belgrade, and when he has a free time he works as a mentor for all startups who wants to learn more about the media presence and public relations.
SW: Can you tell us why you have decided to attend the Faculty of Culture and Media at the “Megatrend” University, and why journalism?
MM: After finishing high school in the USA, colleges in Serbia didn’t want to recognize my diploma from the USA. That is why I decided that I will go to a private university, which is perhaps one of my best decisions when it comes to education. I am not saying that because of the quality of education, but because of the opportunity that I had – to work during my studies, and not to spend my time learning books from cover to cover.
Love for the written word actually emerged during my education in America. I was working on a school magazine with a few of my colleagues there. I fell in love with the media back then, and I knew that the this is the industry where I see myself in future.
SW: Why did you decide to be a journalist who covers the IT sector?
MM: Because today technology is something that is changing every aspect of our lives. There are a lot of untold stories related with IT that will significantly affect our everyday life. I want to be the one who will write about them. That and the fact that I’m not good enough to be a sports journalist are the main reasons why I decided to be an IT journalist ☺
SW: Can you tell us how you became editor in chief of Netokracija Srbija?
MM: During my studies I began to look for a practice. Soon I ended up being a correspondent from Belgrade of the Croatian IT portal. Time passed, and the audience reacted quite excellent to my work. After a while, my boss suggested that it’s time to start local, Serbian edition. I agreed. At the end of 2014, we formed a team, and since the beginning of 2015, we are working on a separate edition – Netokracija Srbija.
SW: How hard was your path from one ordinary student to one of the most influential IT journalists in Serbia?
MM: It happened overnight, but after three years of very hard work, tears, blood, and sweat. Literally! I know it sounds like a cliche but when you set your goals, you will achieve them. Maybe not exactly at the time when you want it, but you will sure arrive at the destination.
SW: This year you will be a member of the jury at the “StartUp Weekend” in Novi Sad, tell us what do you think about this event. Would you sign up for participation if you wouldn’t have your current job and if you would have the business idea?
MM: SWNS, like many other startup competitions, is an excellent opportunity for young entrepreneurs and those who want to experience how it look’s like to be one – even for 54 hours. Such events are great because they promote a positive, healthy and normal things. There should be more stories like this one in the region. I will certainly sign up for the competition as soon as I get my million dollar idea☺
SW: What would be your message to young people in Serbia who want to start their own business, who have ideas but also have a big fear of failure?
MM: Failure is unavoidable, and the best way to overcome it is to work and put all your efforts in it. You will learn a lot of things from a failure, and you don’t need to be afraid of it. Starting your own business, working on your idea maybe sound like a crazy thing to do from the current perspective, but а lot of people had succeeded, and that number is increasing every day. The key is to work and be persistent. For such people there is no fear.
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:
- It is important to meet new people all the time because that way we improve ourselves,
- I’ve learned through training and Startup Weekend the importance of being able to pivot, adapt your products and research your market,
- 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,
- 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.
Today we will meet Aleksandar – creator of Silos software and an excellent programmer. His primary company in which he does all of the aforementioned is MP Solutions (a web design, programming and online business solutions company), a company he founded.
SW: Hello Saša! How are you? Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit more about your startup.
AS: Hi, my name is Aleksandar Sabo, I’m electronics major with a temporary employment in the ICT sector. I’ve been a professional programmer for more than 15 years. I’ve worked on many interesting and challenging projects from a very wide spectre of different fields – industrial electronics, sports (kayaking), project management and WordPress websites, rose planting… Currently, I am focused on the development of the Silos program, which is a specialised software for the process of buying mercantile goods. This software is specifically aimed at the buyers of raw agricultural products, i.e. mills, agricultural cooperatives, and companies that trade agricultural products. The software helps them optimize their business and makes their buyout, accounting and shipping logistics more efficient.
SW: Why have you decided to create a technology startup in the field of agriculture? Is there any space for B2B software in this industry?
The story started back in 2011. My sister got a job as an accountant in the local agricultural cooperative in Neuzina that summer. When I got home for the holidays, I barely saw her, because she was working 10 to 12-hour shifts due to the amount of work involved in accounting for the buyouts. I wanted to help her to find a suitable solution to speed up her work and get all the necessary information about the bought goods in one place. Since we were unable to find a suitable tool, I’ve decided to create it myself, and Silos was born. Three years later, in the summer of 2014, my sister managed to finish all the work she had with mercantile goods buyout processes and to do all the accounting for doubled number of cooperants. She managed to do all this work in just seven work days while working normal shifts. She also managed to do her other regular work as a chief accountant during the same period. Silos helped her accomplish all of that.
This situation helped me realise that many people have the same problem as my sister. It was clear that there is a place in the market for my software, so I started creating a business around it.
SW: Tell us a little more about your team. How many of you are there and what is your focus?
AS: The Silos team have five members. We have two programmers, one marketing and promotional/educational activity organiser, one door to door salesperson and one more person that handles all other tasks.
Currently, our goal is to present ourselves the best we can in the domestic market. We want to show that we are trustworthy and that we can help agri-businesses to deal with their issues (especially during the buyout season).
SW: The harvesting season is over. Have you managed to help new customers?
AS: Yes, we have :). The software is stable and fully functional, and the team was able to provide full technical support and solve all problems that clients had. During the summer, the Silos software had processed the buyouts for 10 million euros worth of goods. We consider it to be a great success for our team.
SW: Is it hard to create a startup in Serbia in the field that isn’t very well-known for accepting innovations and new technologies?
AS: The effort we make isn’t any bigger than the other startups (oriented toward different industries) are making.There is a preconceived notion that people from the agricultural field don’t follow the advancements in technology, which is far from the truth. If you take a look at the Vojvodina fields, you will see that modern machinery does the work; that the wheat is harvested in space shuttle-like machines; and you will see only modern tractors being used. When it comes to software, the people from this industry know that they need specialized software and know what to expect from it. But, not all of them understand that the software has to be bought and that it cannot be created by “the kid next door”. This is the reason why we try to educate our clients as much as we can.
SW: Working in a startup or a company – which is your choice and why?
AS: I always worked on startups, so it is a clear choice for me. I’m not the person that can go to the office from 9 to 5 and stop thinking about work as soon as I leave the building. I like to work until the job is done. I like working from home, or from a cafe. I also like to travel and work in different cities. Another thing I like is the thrill that startups are offering – I never get bored at work.
SW: What is your message to the future entrepreneurs who are thinking about creating a startup?
AS: I don’t want to sound too smart, so I’ll keep it simple: set a goal for yourself, choose the path to that goal and go for it. Allow yourself to change goals, to change the road you are heading for, but never let yourself stay goalless or pathless. It will help you a great deal when you decide to develop your ideas.
SW: Thank you Saša, we wish you the best of luck in your work!
Goran Bajazetov directed and lead design teams, and contributed as a designer – on projects for clients such as Google, Toshiba, 20th Century Fox, Coca-Cola, Yahoo, e-Bay Motors and many others. He worked with startups from USA and Europe by strategizing and consulting, development planning, prototyping and project managing. He is passionate about involving and creating new technologies in tandem with cutting-edge design.
On SWNS03 Goran will be one of the mentors who will help you develop your ides into a sustainable business model. Read what he has to say about entrepreneurship, Startup Weekend and work in general.
SW: Considering the fact that you were successful freelancer since you were 15, what inspired you to make your own business?
GB: In that time, I was working for a company from Dubai, and it was mostly lack of my satisfaction that drag me into the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.
SW: When you were starting your company, did an event like Startup Weekend exist?
GB: No. Back then you did not have that kind of opportunity.
SW: If you were now to start your firm, would you present your idea through Startup Weekend?
GB: Definitely. I would take part in that kind of event. I think that knowledge and experience that you can get throw these workshops are very useful, and it could save you plenty of time, as much as money.
SW: What would be your advice for young people who have an idea, but are too scared to realize it or simply don’t know how?
GB: Whenever you start something new, there’s always a possibility to fail. But you have to wish it strong enough and to believe in its success. If you don’t know how to do something, search it on the internet. Everything’s already been written, and you just have to read it. The problem that you have has surely already been solved. It’s up on you to find the solution and decide to use it on your own situation.
SW: Do you think there are some specific characteristics that all the entrepreneurs must have?
GB: All of them must have a strong wish for success; and basic human values.
SW: Thank you Goran. We wish you a lot of success in future!