Regional internet festival dedicated to promotion and advancement of the Internet, WebFest.Me started this morning in Budva, Montenegro with a panel discussion. Joško Mrndže from Google Adriatics, Dejan Nikolić from Njuz.net i Ivan Brezak Brkan from Netokracija talked about the beginnings and lives of startups. Their receipt for starups has for main ingredients: boldness, passion, knowledge and a good team. As Dejan put it, even though his Njuz.net is a story about satirical distorsion of reality, the business is real:
Njuz.net not a result of a plan. It began as a blog on Facebook and then exploded. The product was good quality and it has received the support of Serbian online communities. So far we do well. What worked in our favor was that people were sharing our content. This social capital can not invented and planned, but developed. If I could do that on purpose, I would be the biggest wizzard of social media, but I am not.
Ivan Brezak Brkan shared a similar story about founding his blog:
Netokracija did not started very ambitiously – it started as my personal blog. It took a few years to get things working. This journey has taught me how to sell things, how to get on my phone and make the partnerships and jobs. As for these sales skills, it is not like I can sell snow to Eskimos, but I can notice how to connect the sponsors with a webpage. I believe that it is crucial to know your subject well and to know the business. Most people just sit and wait. However, advertisers do not come to you on their own. The biggest problem for startups in the region is that nobody sells, nobody goes to the customers and knocks on door and what they should do is talk to their clients.
Joško Mrndže from Googlea said that the successful people he met since he started working for Google all share one trait: a great will to succeed.
Before I joined Google my experience was limited to marketing and I did not know much about Google. It’s a company with over 30 000 people, but it has the spirit of startups. People are willing to help and to learn from each other. When we started in Croatia, it also appeared as a small startup itself. What I have learned is that time is working for us. Startups that have ideas and want to be positioned globally, with Internet as a tool and Google as a platform for growth, have the space for succeed. Despite the recession, the world is very dynamic and full of potential.
Dejan also pointed out the importance of being proactive and creating opportunities:
We are now working on Njuz.net in English and we need to figure out how to repeat the success. We have found ourselves in the arena in which we must relearn everything from scratch and where our competitors are the same sites that were our inspiration in the beginning (like The Onion). Weather we are fools or just very bold, we are persistant. I’ve never heard of a content cmpany based in Eastern Europe succeed in the US market. We are trying, and honestly, I do not sleep very much.
At the end of the panel discussion, Joško from Google highlighed one point:
It should be fun! If it is not fun, it is not worth it!
Photography by Marina Filipovic Marinshe