Source: eKapija | Wednesday, 20.05.2015.| 16:03
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Buyers more important than perfect product - USA investors train Belgrade startups how to turn good business idea into profit

Residents of "ICT Hub"
Residents of "ICT Hub"
On the outskirts of the Zvezdara forest, far away from city crowd, in glass and concrete, as a contrast to the environment, there is Scientific-technological park Zvezdara and business incubator there "ICT Hub", which hides a true treasure box – 45 talented young people split into 15 small startup firms who work diligently on their business development.

They are hosting a visit for the big American fun, "500 Startups", where Belgrade is only one station on a three-week tour in Europe. Dominic Coryell and Selcuk Atli are here to help young entrepreneurs to check their business ideas at the market and to train them how to develop the business they have started. The partner of the fund, Marvin Liao, joined them and was happy for the chance to visit Belgrade again since, as he says, he liked the city before and the hamburger.

Coryell , Atli and Liao shared their experience for "eKapija" in their work with startups and gave a large number of advice to the ones considering joining entrepreneurial world. In their opinion, the first thing one should start from is not to develop perfect product which will be offered additionally to the market. The first thing to be done is to check whether there are buyers for the product. Workshops and mentoring sessions which they held yesterday and today at "ICT Hub" are structured in that way as well – startups firstly must check their business idea and product through a test of 6 steps. If idea passes the test, it means an entrepreneur will not waste time and energy in vain.

(Photo: Saint Gobain Rigips Trophy 2013)
(Scientific and technological park Zvezdara) Youth and IT field help but they are not essential

Somehow it became a common thing to relate startup with young people from IT world, however, all three collocutors of " eKapija" say it is not essential to start good business but that still youth and technical profile help. The key is, as they say, in well-balanced teams which comprise people of different professional background because in every team of programmers who develop a product, it takes people to reach clients as wel as the ones who will make product visible through marketing. Well-split roles within teams are immediately after business idea, the second most important thing so that a startup would develop sustainable business.

-I think that younger age of founders have to do with the fact that when you are young, you do not have enough experience and you are not accustomed to commodity and therefore you are more ready to take risk - Selcuk Atli says and adds that despite that, they have been cooperating with a number of senior founders as well – You have not received earnings for too long, that salary was not too high so therefore that kind of person would be more helpful for starting own business.

-If you are at the corporative sector, then it is preferable you have experience from this area previously and I think it is difficult to be 22 or 23 and be sufficiently experienced if you are aiming at corporate industry – Liao says.

No language barrier

In these two days, representatives of "500 Startups" got acquainted with 6 startups in "ICT Hub”. Their impressions are positive for the moment and they see huge potential in Serbia for development of new software for a large number of highly-qualified talented people where, "unlike many other parts of Europe ", English language is not a problem. Therefore, they think Serbian market is hiding huge potential.

When asked to compare it with their mother country when it comes to development of startup entrepreneurship, collocutors of eKapija claim that decreasing number of Americans want to work for big corporations or state-owned companies and that the trend of being one’s own boss is contagious since people are surrounded with successful entrepreneurial stories and see more benefits.

The "500 Startups" investment fund has so far poured in more than 1.000 small companies worldwide and the objective of every investment fund, according to Marvia Liaoa, "that all these companies grow up one day”.

Pearls of "ICT Hub"

Head of programming at business incubator "ICT Hub" Kosta Andric says for "eKapija" that at the moment they are hosting small firms with great ideas but that their residents are not that famous.

- For instance, Milan Jerkovic and Petar Korda from the Faculty of electrical engineering are developing together with their colleagues one platform which is very interesting - "Thoril". Then, I would mention Nenad Kosovic from "Adrenalyn mapp", as well as Milos Miric and Biljana Djordjevic with "Field Skill". These are three companies I think made the biggest progress in six months – Andric thinks.

Nevena Cukucan

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