Branislava is CEO and co/founder of a well-known company Infostud. She became an entrepreneur when she was only 20 years old. By education, she is a Communicology specialist. She won numerous awards for her work and some of the most important are: “Žena zmaj” award for female entrepreneurship, best 30 entrepreneurs under 30 in Serbia, her name appeared in a book “50 successful business women in Serbia” in 2009, “Elle Style Award” in 2012, and others.
SW: Dear Branislava, for a start, please tell us something about you and your job.
BGS: My job is to make sure that Infostud group is growing and developing – inside, by supporting our existing businesses, and out – by creating opportunities to expand on some other areas. While doing that, my focus is on the team. I want to make sure that we have a happy, strong and motivated team who provides excellent results and has financial stability. To be able to achieve all of this and to be content, my primary job is to balance between my business ambitions, my personal development, and my family.
SW: You became an entrepreneur when you were only 20 years old. Can you describe your beginnings?
BGS: The beginning was quite a spontaneous. I never thought that it was something special. We just started to work, and we have devoted ourselves to the idea. It all came naturally. I was aware that I am just a kid, without any relevant experience, which was something that is quite visible when you are 20, and you want to sell something to the Dean of the Faculty. But, our youth didn’t stop us from moving forward and getting experience on the go. First moment when I realized that we are building a company was the moment when we first hired someone and moved to the real office and started introducing some organization in our work.
SW: Is it difficult to be a female entrepreneur in Serbia?
BGS: I believe that it is the same as being a male entrepreneur in Serbia. In my opinion, the difference can be significant only when a female entrepreneur wants to start a family. She needs to take some time off for her maternity leave and later she needs to take care of her children (which is a problem only if she don’t have proper support from her partner). This is why I believe that it is crucial to promote the idea of shared family care and even shared maternity leave (this is a general practice in Scandinavia, so why we wouldn’t try it, too).
SW: What is your advice to all women who want to be successful in business? How should they fight for their place in the business world?
BGS: First, they need to decide that they want to be successful in the business world, and then they should devote themselves to that idea. I think that there is no need to analyze whether your gender is advantage or disadvantage, but to focus on things that matter and do a good job. Everything else that I would say are classical career development advice.
SW: You won many awards for your work. How all of these awards affected your career?
BGS: These are all lovely awards and a great addition to good results that makes me feel good and that I am proud of Infostud and our team. Awards help because they give you a confirmation that things you do make sense and they also help you to become recognized. Awards can be helpful in early stages of career and business.
SW: What do you think about an event such as Startup Weekend?
BGS: I am very glad that such events exist because they encourage building a new entrepreneurial mentality in Serbia. Such events also help people believe that it is possible to start your own business. Without such a lean approach to testing a business model, it is not possible to rebuild our economy. Small and medium companies are quite significant to our economy renewal, and ICT is one of the beacons in this field.
SW: What is your advice to all young people who wants to start their business? What is a key to success, in your opinion?
BGS: Different things are key factors in various stages of business development. In the beginning, founders are the key. Their ability to launch the idea to the market and to work on it while there are no financial results. After that stage, the key is an ability to build a strong and successful team that you can rely on. As your business grows the key is to create a healthy organizational structure (opposed to a startup where you don’t need a structure to be successful). Finally, the key is to recognize the moment you’re in, to be flexible and to prepare for the next stage of development which may require the different approach to the business.
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.
Mirko Topalski is an entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Eipix Entertainment and one of the judges at Startup Weekend in Novi Sad. Here is what he had to say about startups, success, motivation and his life passion.
SW: Your company is well-known all around the world. Today it is a global symbol of fun. What makes you the proudest when it comes to Eipix Entertainment?
MT: I like the idea that Eipix is a global symbol of fun, and I’m very flattered if one gets an impression that the company already symbols that. However, at the moment, Eipix is „only“ a global leader, or more precisely – the most productive development team – on HOPA (hidden object puzzle adventure) video games. On top of that, Eipix is also entering another exciting market – free to play games. I believe that our dream, which coincide with your announcement, for Eipix to become a leader in the industry of entertainment. In addition to developing video games that include comics, movies, cartoons, music and other media. We hope to achieve all off that in the upcoming years. I am proud of previous business success, but I am the proudest of people who are making Eipix one of the best global teams for developing so-called casual games.
SW: How much time did you take from the birth of the idea to making it a reality, and achieving your goal and creating Eipix?
MT: Achieving goals is a relative term, at least in my case, because my goals are often changing. Sometimes I’m facing (really just sometimes!) with a turbulent period, and almost every week I have a different vision of what Eipix should look in the future. Video games were my childhood dream. I achieved it 2005 when I gathered a team, and in 2008 we finished Pyroblazer. Pyroblazer is the first video game I created that found it’s way to the publisher. Unfortunately, the publisher kept the game, and it was never returned to us. In 2011, Eipix signed exclusive cooperation contract with the USA company Big Fish Games, which up to now published 44 of our HOPA games, so far. Considering the fact that I built a company in which 250 make video games, I can say that I have achieved several of my goals by now.
SW: Are you working on some project at the moment, and if so, can you tell us more about it?
MT: Eipix is working on many project simultaneously. Currently, we have ten HOPA games in the production, including the thirteenth sequel of one of the biggest franchise in the genre, the mother of the genre (as some would say), Mystery Case Files. It is indeed a huge success and an honor! Also, at this moment, Eipix is developing several free to play projects, including match-3 game Free the Witch. Free the Witch is in the final stage of development. At the recently held Casual Connect in Tel Aviv, one of the most important conferences devoted to casual games, I spoke about the great challenges that we have faced during the development process and we are still facing them. I have talked with many people after the lecture and they all reacted very positively to the game itself, which is the reason I am encouraged and I am looking forward to the release date of the game.
SW: Which part of the work brings you the greatest satisfaction?
MT: Although I don’t have much time for public appearances, the greatest pleasure for me is participating on panels and conferences where I can exchange experience with people who are interested in entrepreneurship and video games. Also, I would like for Eipix to be more involved in education in the future. Through our cooperation with the Faculty of Technical Sciences and the University Educons, we have made first formal step toward educating young people interested in the development of video games development. And I am sure that this is just the beginning.
SW: What are your greatest passions? What moves you forward?
MT: I was lucky enough to work on something that has been my passion since childhood. Besides video games, music is another thing that moves me. I mixed these the two by composing music for many of our games and games of other development teams. At the age of 16 I started playing drums and later some other instruments. As a part of the music group Obojeni program, I recorded two studio albums. I enjoy in digital simulation of the orchestra and in the creation of applied music composition in the style of nowadays well-known film composers.
SW: In an interview you did for www.netokracija.rs, shortly before 99u Local Belgrade conference, you said that each of us should believe in themselves and to convince others to believe in us. How did you convince others to believe in you?
MT: I convinced them by believing in myself and my idea. I knew what I wanted, and I was not going to stop until I find a way to make it happen. Now I realize I could have taken an easier way to get me where I am today, but the essential thing was that even when it was the hardest I have not given up. Of course, it sounds like a cliche, but it is the truth. Simply, my associates, people I wanted to work with, and my family, saw that I have been actively working on my idea, that I was focused and determinated to find a way to overcome all obstacles. You have to show people how much energy is in you, which also requires a lot of that same energy. Stay motivated.
SW: How would it be the best to keep quality engineers, programmers and mathematicians in Serbia, in your opinion?
MT: I have only two solutions. First is to offer them jobs in inspiring and innovative companies that will more or less fulfill high standards set overseas. Second is to encourage and educate them to start their own businesses in the local community with the potential to expand their companies into the global market.
SW: If you had a chance to start all over again, would you sign up for Startup Weekend?
MT: Of course! When I started, startup culture was not developed anywhere near as much as it is today. The fact that I was not thinking as an entrepreneur, but as a passionate gamer, and that there was no startup community to talk to when I needed advice and support, cost me at least three years of my life, both private and business. I am sure that some mistakes could have been avoided if I could have come to Startup Weekend and heard that I should examine the market before starting to create a product.
Andor Luhović is a sucessful entrepreneur, founder of Buscador app, and one of the mentors on third Startup Weekend in Novi Sad. We have talked with him about success and startups. Here’s what he has to say!
SW: What is your occupation are you working on at the moment?
AL: Last September I stepped into the startup world and my occupation at the moment is Buscador – safe hiking app.
SW: Do you have any additional projects that you are developing in parallel?
AL: Everything goes very quickly, so some parallel projects or some other jobs can hardly be done. It is always quite dynamic and challenging in the Startup world, and such work requires 120% of your dedication. I have spent last few days in Sofia, in the Eleven Startup Accelerator. We are currently launching the first version of our product Our next step is to move on to fundraising and participating in some new programmes.
SW: How important is to have support in the startup world?
AL: Having support in the startup world is very important. We cannot work without support, without the network of people who are helping us. Even though, in the beginning, I didn’t believe I would get this far, but here I am. Everything is possible when you connect with a large number of people. You discover, learn, and that’s how you get to the investors and experts who help you develop your story. More or less, we function with the help of the Startup community that keeps getting stronger in this region.
SW: What would you recommend to someone who has an idea?
AL: Everything starts with a spark that appears in an individual. During the time that idea matures, and when it gets a ripe shape, it becomes a business idea. If you feel a turmoil that doesn’t let you sleep at night because you see that it has some potential, and when that turmoil boils inside of you long enough, then you say: ‘’Let’s do something.’’All that you should do now is to validate the idea. And you will know that you have done it when the potential users tell you: ‘’Hey, I would use/pay for this.’’, then you have something that you can work with.
SW: When we talk about persistence: young people nowadays are very impulsive. They would attempt to accomplish everything right now, and if they cannot achieve it momentarily, they would quit. How important is the persistence in business?
AL: Even an aeroplane doesn’t take off with the help of the air, but against the air current. The primary idea was to identify the problem that you need to solve. For Buscador, the problem is that people are unaware of all the natural beauties that surround them. If you are passionate about solving problems with ideas that have business potential, then you have a chance to be a successful entrepreneur. If you tend to find some shortcuts and easier routes, then that isn’t for you.
SW: How important is teamwork for you? In some previous interviews, you have mentioned that the team is very important in alpinism. Thus, how important is the team for a project, in the world of business, science or any other area?
AL: The team is crucial. A man can improve a startup with his skills and involvement in the whole story. Likewise, a person can totally slow things down, and ruin a startup. I am the third generation of the Startup Academy. Every generation has seven or eight teams. In my generation, no team survived, they all fell apart. The ideas were great, but the idea stayed with one man, who gathered new people, and not the team that entered the Academy. So, it is very important that the whole team gets involved completely.
SW: Many people choose team members based on friendship. Is that a bad approach?
AL: I chose persons who I believe could be a part of the team, based on what I knew about them at that moment. It is easy to quarrel; the point is to reconcile. If the team is good, you can do whatever you want, you can create, and you can conquer. The most important is the passion that has to last.That passion can be nurtured by a person who is willing to make a sacrifice and who has a strong will to succeed. It doesn’t matter whether if she is my friend or not.
SW: Where do you see yourself in a few years? Still all over the world, or at one place?
AL: I see myself in the world of entrepreneurship because I have always been changing something; that is my nature. Early next year we plan to travel to the USA, to conquer American national parks and to record tracks from these places for our application. The application is based on a lifestyle I have. The plan is to start from the Great Smokey Mountains, which is the most visited national park in the world with over 9.000.000 visitors per year. We will see what we will be doing next after that.
SW: To conclude, what recommendations would you give to the Startup Weekend participants?
AL: A very important thing that is meaningful for young people who want to step into the startup world is that they should be shameless. In the early phase, that is the key that defines success and failure. If you’re afraid of asking the answer is always ’’no’’. Young people need to understand that we were all beginners, and we all needed help at some point. In my case, being shameless helped me the most I wasn’t ashamed to come and say: ‘’I need this, I need that.’’ or ‘’I don’t know this. Do you know someone who knows how to do this?’’ ‘’Can you help?’’. My advice is: have no fear, be completely shameless, take a chance, because if you won’t, somebody else will.
Global Startup Battle (GSB) is an initiative created by Startup Weekend that aims to generate a stronger global community of entrepreneurs trough the largest startup competition in the world. Global Startup Battle is a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week that will start on November 13th and finish on November 28th. Hundreds of startups, who wins Startup Weekend and other Techstars Startup programs that are hosted all around the world, in this period, will have the honor to compete in GSB. Developers, product managers, marketers, and startup enthusiasts who will gather together for 54 hours to share their ideas and launch new startups will be able to compete for the title of the Best Startup in the World.
In 2014, Global Startup Battle included 25.000 participants, 236 events in 83 countries. They have all spent about 1,5 million hours of work on innovations, starting new companies, and applying modern technologies. In just two weeks, the GSB has 1,000 video entries and over 321,000 votes, and 1,3 billion views! On Twitter, the GSB has 1,25 million tweets in just ten days.
This year, the battle returns on November 13th-22nd! There will be over 30,000 entrepreneurs in over 100 countries rally together in the name of innovation and community, in more than 200 simultaneous events and programs over ten days.
Global Startup Battle enriches the global entrepreneurial community by creating a sense of inclusion between startup teams all around the word. It was created by the community, and it serves the community. It’s a great chance for entrepreneur enthusiasts to stand up and show the world what they’re all about.
So, who can compete in Global Startup Battle? If you have an idea and want to compete, you must attend a Startup Weekend hosted near you. Global Startup Battle allows you to compete first against those in your city, and then those near you (in one of 6 global regions), and then when you beat the all you can compete globally.
The competition has three rounds:
- Round 1: Best of the Cities – Teams compete to win the local Startup Weekend. Teams who place in the top three at their local event are eligible to compete to be one of two regional champions.
- Round 2: Best of the Regions – Top three teams of Round 1 compete against other winners from their region. The teams try and win as many Facebook votes as they can. 50% of their overall score is determined by votes; the other half is determined by the judges. Top 15 teams with the most votes can move to next phase.
- Round 3: GSB Champ Crowned – The winning teams from each event move forward to compete with one another via a global video competition. Two teams from each region will emerge and square off against the rest of the Regional Champions. From the final 12 (6 regions x 2 Regional Champs), the final Champion will be named by the judging panel.
Winners of each round of Global Startup Battle have a chance to win many valuable prizes. Such prizes in the past have included travel and access to conferences like GEC in Milan, CES, LAUNCH Conference, and more.
The biggest battle in the Startup World for the 6th straight year is coming soon! If you have a million dollar idea, apply for the Startup Weekend in Novi Sad and get a chance to become a part of the best Startup in the world.
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!
Welcome to the Startup Weekend blog! Here you can see everything we post about Startup Weekend in Novi Sad, well, at least the important stuff, like information about the event, interviews with your mentors who will be there for you during the SWNS03 ( from 20th to 22nd November), interviews with judges who will decide who’s the best, and much more.
You are still wondering what is the Startup Weekend? You never heard about it, or you don’t know enough to be part of it?
Well, let’s go from the start 🙂
Startup Weekend is an event where participants have the chance to make a good business story out of their ideas and convince the jury that their idea is the best, that they are ready to implement immediately and that they know how to do it.
It all starts on Friday night when contestants gather and pitch their ideas. About ten most convincing ideas, chosen by the audience and participants, goes on for further implementation. All participants gather in teams, and the game begins. The goal they have is to develop their ideas until Sunday afternoon. What teams have to do is:
- to define their ideas clearly,
- set its basic hypotheses,
- to do customer development,
- to make your MVP, and
- be well prepared for the final presentation.
Sounds impossible? Believe me, a lot can be achieved in 54 hours, only if you try hard enough.
For the entire weekend, competitors will be on the road from an idea to the business model. They will not be left alone. They will get some help from mentors who have already passed that road and proved themselves as successful entrepreneurs.
And that’s not all. Teams who triumph and wins one of the first three places will get some interesting and valuable prizes. And, on top of that, the ones who become champions of SWNS03 had a chance to participate in Global Startup Battle.
Now, let’s go back in time to see how it was on previous SW events in Novi Sad.
The first Startup Weekend in Novi Sad was organized in October 2013.
A large number of registered participants and the great atmosphere made this weekend very interesting and extremely successful. The winner of the first Startup Weekend was the team “Pick’n’Park” gathered around Nikola Obradovic. The idea that this team presented was Airbnb for parking, or in other words possibility to reserve a parking spaces in big cities. Sounds interesting, right? But the fact that the idea was interesting was not the only factor that influenced this team triumph. They won because they had a good approach to the idea, formed business model, had a quality presentation and presented the prototype of the future website.
Second Startup Weekend in Novi Sad took place this year in March. Great teams and great people have shown that they know what startups are about, that they know how to pitch and how to work on the development of their ideas. The idea that had triumphed was named “Bill Hunter”. The essence of the idea is an application that could easily scan invoices we receive and send it to our accountants immediately. In this way, we would get rid of the additional papers, and our accountants would no longer have headaches due to misplaced bills. Presentation of Sanja Jovanovic was spotless. She had made it to explain all the aspects of the future application. In the end, even if the competition was tied “Bill Hunter” was the one who grabbed the victory. And, not to forget to mention that in spite of the hard work, a good time was not absent.
We think that is great to be part of SW, don’t you?
If you are still having second thoughts, here are a few reasons why should you be on SWNS03:
- you will have the chance to pitch your idea,
- you will meet a lot of interesting people,
- you will learn a lot, especially how to develop your idea,
- there are some prizes (for first three teams),
- and the last, but not least is that you will have fun! 🙂
That’s what we can certainly promise you.
The third Startup Weekend in Novi Sad is scheduled for 20, 21 and 22 November 2015. It will take place in the Management building of the University of Novi Sad. So, come, join us and be a part of an amazing weekend that can change your life.