Oguz Serdar, stubborn, laser focused and keen on solving one important thing

Oguz Serdar chilling in Chile (I just had to say that)





Goran: Hi Oguz! Can you introduce yourself? Tell us what makes you an entrepreneur, what do you love about developing?

 

Oguz Serdar

Oguz Serdar

Oguz: Sure! My name is Oguz Serdar (22), I grew up in Turkey, have been making money from web based projects for the last decade. I always believe that entrepreneurship is more an attitude and mindset than a skill or a profession. An entrepreneur loves what he does, does what he loves. The idea of fixing small problems that make other people suffer thrives off of me, especially when it’s possible to build a profitable business around it.

Goran: Like many successful startup co-founders you are a “hard working + never give up” material. Would you also say you are stubborn (which is a common disadvantage) or do you have a different Kryptonite? What separates you from where you want to be, and what was the advantage that gave you success over the years?

Oguz: Not only the startup founders like us, but also the most successful entrepreneurs (or athletes, politicians, artists… you name it) that we know happened to have a stubborn personality which was one of the main reasons of their extraordinary success. Never giving up, or taking “No” for an answer is actually a good thing, and I wouldn’t count it as a weakness. By applying this mantra to my life, I would say being a hustler was the biggest advantage that gave success over years.

When it comes to be a hustler,  there’s one important thing that you should be careful about it: Don’t be weird. I remember this deck from Paul Singh of 500 Startups that recommends not being weird as number #1 goal in life. As long as you’re able to stop before things getting weird, hustling and pushing the boundaries are good. Honestly, I feel like this might be my Kryptonite, as I tend to forget where to stop when insisting on something, and not noticing that it’s already getting weird. 🙂

Goran: I saw Nico Orellana wrote a comment on Limk’s AngelList profile, and we all know how important public commenting and referencing is. It’s always difficult to get someone talk about you or your startup, so when someone says you are perceived as “Startup Chile heroes” that’s really special. Can you write a little bit about that experience, how it changed you, what was the best thing you took home with you?

Oguz: Chile is a wonderful place with incredibly friendly people, and the program is good. You get to know a lot of cool people, learn a lot, experience other cultures and have the resources to make your startup better. If you have the right expectations you can make Start-Up Chile a fantastic experience, but people shouldn’t expect a program like YC, TechStars or 500 Startups accelerator. You don’t have people like PG, David Cohen, Dave McClure or Christine Tsai to run the program, lead the batch. You don’t have office hours, startup dinners, or incredible mentors stopping by. You don’t have the cash wired into your bank account as the batch starts, but you have to deal with lots of bureaucratic stuff and submit all your receipts, and expect to get them approved. Things like that…

No matter what I think more developing world countries like Turkey or Croatia should replicate the approach. My experience is overall positive, and I would recommend it to everyone else.

Goran: Oguz, you have over 2,800 subscribers and nearly 3500 friends on Facebook, almost 44,000 followers on Twitter, Limk has over 70,000 likers, give us your secret recipe! Or at least give us 1 best tip we can all use! Also be honest, how much time do you spend on social networks per day?

Oguz: Not that much, probably half an hour in a day. Thanks to tools like Hootsuite & Buffer (you can read my interview with Buffer’s co-founder Joel Gascoigne) that let me to schedule things ahead of time, I can pretty much set everything I want to share in that short time frame. Hootsuite is also great at monitoring stuff as it gives you more options comparing other solutions out there. I think the #1 tip we should all consider to use is avoiding the overdose of social media.

Use your time wisely, and be selective when it comes to sharing content. That’s the best & guaranteed way to build a follower base that gives a damn what you have to say. Follower counts are misleading indicators, and I believe they never represent overall influence. Limk is a different story as it has a strong history in Turkey.

Goran: Now that we have everyone attention, tell them why Limk.com is cool, awesome, life changing and why everyone should actually click on this link, and spend their time in order to sign up to yet another service. What is Limk? Can you compare it to http://www.thefancy.com or 9gag.com?

 

Limk - a world without noise, yet to explore!

Limk – a world without noise, yet to explore!

Oguz: I would compare 9gag to Cheezburger Network, and The Fancy to Fab. What we’re trying to accomplish with Limk has nothing to do with our alpha release (*), and is a struggling one. Although most of the services aiming to lower the web noise claimed the very opposite, I think the problem of bringing relevant content to you has always been simple. They simply never want it. Why? Because not only those services, but also the major social networks aggressively compete with one another to monopolize the time & attention of average users because their business models are built upon, and heavily rely upon, selling this attention.

Such companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter are the giant movers and shakers of the Internet, much like McDonald’s and Burger King are in their industry. What they don’t yet know, or are just ignoring in a wait-and-see holding pattern, is that they are the source of something akin to an epidemic of obesity on the worldwide web.

Ozer Dolekoglu, Product Guy (left) and Oguz Serdar, Chief Hustler (right)

Ozer Dolekoglu, Product Guy (left) and Oguz Serdar, Chief Hustler (right)

That’s where we will excel. Limk cuts through the web noise intelligently by offering a clean feed built around your interests that strips away the clutter, and incentivizes users by giving credits to their actions which they can redeem for related goodies, deals. The beta release is almost ready, and we look forward to release in a few weeks.

(*) During the current alpha release , we have been testing out a few channels which are known to attract massive attention, entertainment and inspiration, in order to make sure the dynamics of users’ attention is understood. We also got quite a feedback from the community that we wouldn’t otherwise have without shipping a product. We also learnt (the hard way) that there’s no such a thing as glamorous launch of startups. But of course you can always make it fun by having Dave McClure to push the launch button, as you did. Very classy move. 🙂  You should be shipping all the time, focus on your one important thing. For Limk, it’s cutting the web noise by offering a nice & clean feed, and everything else is secondary.

Goran: Thanks for the compliment on our launch. Let me return by saying Limk.com is a great domain name! I own a couple of 4 letter domain names, they are really hard to get, especially good .coms. Have you ever thought about building more websites on other great domains around your main one (like a franchise or a sister company)?

 

Oguz Serdar chilling in Chile (I just had to say that)

Oguz Serdar chilling in Chile (I just had to say that)

Oguz: At this point we’re laser focussed on achieving the one important thing of us, and not considering such things. But we might consider doing so in the future. Other than limk.com, we also hold .co, me, biz, tv, us extensions for safety, and li.mk also belongs to us. There’s one thing I believe about domains is that they matter a lot, but how you look (branding & PR) and what you do (product) matter more than anything else.

Goran: I think that reading books really transformed my life, and changed the way I think, do business, and many other things. What was it in your case that sparked that change to go from an ordinary job to a startup? And what is your favorite book if there is one?

Oguz: Ever since I was a little kid, I never thought of having an ordinary job and never had one thus far. I can’t say that books helped me to make a switch like that, but the situation itself mostly affected book choices of mine. By far, “Losing My Virginity” from Richard Branson has become my favorite book. It is just thrilling to read about what a dyslexic man with no college education could create for himself & the rest of the world.




Joel Gascoigne is focused on the lean startup approach and customer happiness.

Joel Gascoigne





Few months ago I stumbled on a great tweet from a great blog. Since it’t been a while, I can’t really remember what was it about. What matters is, since that moment I wanted to interview Joel. You can see from a persons tweets, Facebook statuses and their blog posts what they are made of. You can see what drives them, and how they inspire other people. You can use people like Joel to see if you are going in the right direction. What a funny coincidence that perhaps a week from now two of us could be sitting together in San Francisco, and when we met online I was in Rijeka, Croatia, him in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Goran: Joel, first of all I have to say we have a very similar taste in books! 🙂 The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell, and Richard Branson’s autobiography Loosing my Virginity. I also read all of them, and these are some amazing books. But apart from those, which is your favorite or perhaps top 3 if you can’t decide? And also, has any of them made a big impact on your life?

How to win friends and influence people: Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People – By Dale Carnegie

Joel: By far my favorite book is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Published long ago in 1936, it is still one of the most important and relevant books I know. The book is all about human relations, all about simply doing the right thing and finding ways to make others happy. It just so happens that this is by far the best strategy to get what you want, too. It also is a much more satisfying approach than being a typical “hard-nosed” business person. The book changed the way I approach others and find people I can get advice from. It has also shaped how we handle customer support at Buffer.

Goran: Why do I get the feeling you traveled a lot? Birmingham, Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv did I miss anything? You wouldn’t happened to hear about a book Four hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss? What Ferris did was he lived a 1-3 months in a lot of different cities. Places like Berlin, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Thailand, so it seams to me you are a bit of Timothy Ferriss yourself?

Joel: You missed a quick trip to Japan that we fit in there too, and another brief one to Spain in the earlier days of Buffer 😉 It’s interesting you mention the Four Hour Workweek, since I actually read that book when starting Buffer, before all the travelling happened. I never thought it directly influenced my decisions to travel, but I think that it perhaps did subconsciously. I certainly enjoy spending 3-6 months in other places and truly experiencing new cultures. It’s very powerful and I think the travelling has helped me in many different ways.

Goran: Since you are an experienced startuper I would like to set an example with your answers on how to pitch to an investor. Can you describe your business model? What does your startup do? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition and what do you have that they don’t? Why should I use your service?

Buffer logo

Buffer logo

Joel: Sure thing! Buffer is your smarter way to share to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Whenever you come across an article you love, throw it in your Buffer and we’ll share it for you with your friends and followers. If you add 5 articles to Buffer, we’ll space them out through the day so you don’t flood people with 5 Tweets at once. We’ve been running for 2 years now, and we have 350,000 users of which 35% are active. We have a super simple business model: people pay for a $10/mo Awesome plan if they want to share more in advance (e.g. line up 4-5 days of sharing) or want to share to more accounts (up to 12 of any social network). We have 1.5-2% of users on the paid plan, so we’re currently on a $800,000 annual run rate. Our key differentiation is that we’re not a dashboard for people to stay inside all day long. Instead, we’re a thin layer spread wide across the web and mobile apps. We have great integrations, for example you can add to Buffer right from inside Pocket, Instapaper, Reeder and TweetCaster amongst others.

Goran: On your Twitter account it says “Focused on the lean startup approach and customer happiness. “. I personally think that’s a great line, and that was the reason why I really wanted to interview you! Can you share some of the strategies you are using for your startup in order to achieve this? How does that work on a day to day basis when you fall into a routine?

Joel: The key question we try to keep asking ourselves on a daily basis to stay lean is “What can we do right now?” This means – what can we do right at this moment to learn about whether what we’re planning to do, what we’re working on, will turn out as we expect and as we hope? It means doing things manually, like manually emailing 100 users a fake weekly report of analytics from their social sharing in order to validate right now whether we should continue spending resources on that feature. More often, you don’t need a product or a feature to be fully built in order to learn if assumptions are correct.

Goran: Hypothetically speaking, if you sold Bufferapp for $100 gazillionbazillion what would you then do?

My other passion is to help others with their startups. I already talk with 5-10 founders every single week over coffee or via Skype to help them with their current biggest challenge (people can get in touch here: http://joel.is/startup-help). We have a long vision with Buffer, but if I were to do something else I would want to help other founders full-time. It would perhaps come in the shape of a co-working space, coffee shop or incubator, but the focus would be on helping others. I’ve found when I do that, I’m happiest myself too.

Goran: What does your tipical day look like? Do you code late, or do you get up early?

Joel Gascoigne

Joel Gascoigne

Joel: I awake early, around 5:30 and try and work for a couple hours until 8am. I then grab some breakfast and have our daily team standup Skype call where we update each other on what we’ve been working on and any improvements we are trying to make with our schedule, sleep, exercise or anything else. I split my time 50/50 between maker tasks (currently building our Android app) and manager tasks. Every day in the afternoon I head to the gym at around 2:30pm to break up my afternoon’s work.

Goran: My startup WhoAPI deals with domains, so I need to ask you a couple of domaining questions 🙂 What was the first domain name you registered?

Joel: Haha, wow, that’s a difficult one. I think it would probably be one for a team I used to play online games with back when I was 12. It’s not live anymore 🙂

Goran: Does Bufferapp have any other cool domains like bufferapp.com? For example, would you be interested in registering buffer.app? Why yes, why not?

Joel: buffer.app would be cool, but I’m not sure the real use of it, so for now we’re avoiding picking up too many domains. I do like our short URL buff.ly though 🙂

Goran: You had a great post recently about naming startups, and the role domains have in that process. http://joel.is/post/29186927028/how-to-name-your-startup I do agree in large part, even my startup went through the same thing. We started as www.getwhoisxml.com, and by the time we were 100% sure, we switched to www.whoapi.com. But don’t you think that with proper strategy a domain name like www.twittlater.com or www.sharelater.com or one that’s still available for registration that I will mention privately. 🙂 After all you do own www.joel.is, if that’s not a cool domain I don’t know what is 😀

Joel: I think a good name is useful, especially if people will search Google using similar keywords to your domain. For us, that doesn’t happen, so the domain is less important. Rather than having an outstanding domain, I’d rather have an outstanding name and then get a domain that might not be the exact name. Yes, I’m very happy with joel.is though 😀

Goran: Would you like to ad something, perhaps if you are looking for new employees, or some special announcement, some news, or just say hi to mum and dad?

Joel: Absolutely! I’m back in San Francisco now and would love to meet any founders who want to ask advice. They can Tweet me at @joelgascoigne or book a slot from http://joel.is/startup-help. Also, we are of course hiring at Buffer. We’re looking for people who love our culture of improving ourselves and providing above and beyond experiences for our users. Right now we’re looking for front-end and back-end developers as well as devops, customer support and BD people too. Just email me directly at joel@bufferapp.com if you’re interested 🙂



I never go on a 1 week vacation, but when I do, I mentor 22 startups

Startupcamp Vis





Last week was one of the best weeks in my life, hands down. Why? First of all, thanks to Stevica Kuharski I was invited to come to Vis for free for a week. I asked what’s the catch? He said I have to do what I love, help startups and act as a mentor. I had absolutely no problem with that, and after talking with my investor (who was also coming as a mentor) and my partner (Edi, the other WhoAPI co-founder) I was on my way.

However, I wouldn’t be on my way if the whole camp wasn’t funded by the U.S. embassy! Now if that wasn’t cool I don’t know what is… Also, most of the images and video used here are from U.S. embassy’s in Zagreb facebook page.

Goran Duskic

Goran Duskic

On startupcamp Vis there were 22 startups, and top 3 already got coverage. Just to show you the quality of ideas and startups there I decided to interview co-founders of my three favorite startups there. Some may think why focus on the losers? Well here’s where they are wrong. I see them as winners. They were winners because they showed up on Vis, they were winners because they made profound progress from first pitch on day 1 to last pitch on day 3. And in my eyes, they are winners because they show passion and commitment to do what it takes to succeed. Perhaps there are projects at later stage or with better ideas. This doesn’t matter because these people are ready for overnight success, they are willing to work overnight. They will finish their projects, and if necessary find better ideas.

I published their answers in alphabetic order – I love them equally and if I was an investor I would do some serious due diligence in order to give them seed funding. This post is for them, and I am hoping to help them once again!

Oh yea, it’s ON, Croatia’s got startups!

Goran: Stevica, you an Saša Cvetojević from Croatian angel network were the two conspirators in the master plan called Startup Camp Vis. Can you tell my readears how did you get to this idea, and what was the crucial turning point when you realized that this is actually going to happen?

This idea crossed my mind while we were in Barcelona. Four of us, Sasa, Damir Sabol and Marjan Zitnik were living for 6 days together, which looked like a camp. Then I’ve realized that having a camp for startups would be blast. Participating a panel organized by US Embassy, I’ve expressed this idea to audience. Sita from US Embassy asked few questions and approached me after the panel asking “Were you serious about that camp?”. I’ve sad that I was. “OK, we’d like to pay for it”, she concluded.

Goran: You played a key role in organising the event, to which I personally thank you. I really think we made a difference. Can you tell me what was the most rewarding thing you saw in Startup Camp Vis. Obviously we all had to bail out from our offices to make this happen.

The most rewarding thing was seeing students changing their pitches and presentations. They have made tremendous progress during just two days. I still feel warm around my heart thinking of it.

Stevica Kuharski

Stevica Kuharski

Goran: Do you think that camps like this can make a real difference in the croatian economy, and what needs to happen on larger scale for this camps to occur more often?

Yes, in the long run it could make a difference. Pitched projects now need to grow more and to mature. Only then they will be able to attract foreign investors. For sure we would need more serious young entrepreneurs to have camps more often, not just in Croatia, but in the whole region as well.

Goran: In your oppinion, what was the thing that was missing? More mentors, more time, better ideas, more keyotes, something else? Can this be provided in perhaps next camp?

We’ve missed one more day. For the next camp we’ll squeeze it in and provide students lectures about dilution of ownership, how to create their pitches and basics of investments.

Allmyconferences.com

Goran: What makes your startup so special and why do you think you were invited to come to
Seedcamp, and this week’s Startup Camp on Vis? What exactly does your startup do, and tell us a
little bit about your team (age, background, qualities, etc)?

Ilona Spajic and Matea Torcic

Ilona Spajic and Matea Torcic

What makes us special are basically two things- firstly the team whose energy is unstoppable, and secondly the idea behind it. These two made us pass to the competition part in Vis, work all day and night there (literally) and get much more than we’ve expected (and we expected A LOT).

Our idea is to connect organizers of all kinds of non-formal educational events and their prospect users (attendees) by their previously chosen criteria. The reality is they sometimes just can’t seem to find each other. We want to provide them an ultimate place to meet and make their search and life much easier.

Our team for now consists of us two, Matea (22) and Ilona (24), we’re specialized in Marketing, Business and Finance fields, however we are on the search for the development partner, equally enthusiastic in this as we are. We both come from entrepreneurial families and, therefore, have the insight of all processes needed for something to succeed. And that’s exactly what we have in mind with this project.




Goran: Whats the most valuable thing you got during the Startup Camp Vis? Do you think camps like
this should happen more often, and should perhaps the Croatian government fund such an event/
camp? In general, what can you say about the Startup Camp Vis?

The most important thing we’ve learned in Vis was that we ought to share, comment, ask, criticize and pitch our idea as much as possible. That’s different from the usual Croatian mindset, but you just can’t progress alone, in your room, holding jealously your idea to yourself. Startups need to be dynamic, flexible and fast. With that in mind, Startup Camp Vis was the best place to be this year.

Things like SCVis should most definitely happen more often, and it would be great if the Government would fund them, but somehow we think it will continue to depend on the enthusiastic and crazy people who do it out of the pure belief in young people and their ideas. They were the ones who made Camp flawlessly organized, filled with awesome energy and people.

It’s really a great thing in every sense of that word for them to do it and, without any cliché, make the world a bit better place.

Goran: Were you satisfied with my performance as a mentor, and have the other mentors deliver what
you expected of them? Did we lack some critical information to your startup, and what would that
information be?

Mentors on startupcamp Vis

Mentors on startupcamp Vis

You were a great mentor, to be honest, one of the toughest but with the constructive critics. It was great to listen to you because were/are a startup yourself. Therefore, you were the only one who gave us opinion with the startup perspective which was very valuable.

All the mentors gave us some great feedback that really helped us, not just for the future, but we literary implemented them right away. It was incredible how none of the teams said for Camp it was “Ok”, or “Good”, we were all thrilled. Time of our lives, really.

Goran: At what stage is your startup, and what are you currently looking for? Is it funding, development
guy, biz guy, mentor, or perhaps clients and partners?

We are merely at the beginning of our project, and the Camp was the best thing that could happen at this moment. Our next steps are to establish the first version of our web site, get the developer, collect some data and get our startup going. Obviously, since we are students with limited budget, it would be great to get funding, but to be honest, not as much for the money part as much as for the mentoring, feedback and partnering part.

Goran: What do you see as your advantage compared to Silicon valley startups, and what’s your next
step in achieving that? What’s your and your teams next step in general?

Well, we are geographically in Croatia which is so much cooler than Silicon Valley 🙂

There’s nowhere in the world so much (stupid) bureaucracy obstacles like here, but we like to see it as a challenge. Like we said, we have a great team to start, but we’ll have to expand it a bit more to optimize our resources, skills and technical knowledge.

As we said, we are just beginning the story we believe it’s going to be big. Our passion for non-formal education drives us to work long hours.

Like Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

You can see allmyconferences.com presentation here.

Just a quick update, I hear the girls have a new name and a logo to replace allmyconferences.com 

Anctu.com
Goran: What makes your startup so special and why do you think you were invited to come to Seedcamp, and this week’s Startup Camp on Vis? What exactly does your startup do, and tell us a little bit about your team (age, background, qualities, etc)?

Marko Pavlovic

Marko Pavlovic

-Why is my startup so special? Well most of all, I think that we as a team make our startup special, not because we are some kind of a geniuses, but because we are very passionate about doing what we do.. simply „We are in love“ with the problem that our startup solves , its really breaking the limits once it comes to social media tools, gives users the ability to create their own environment and gives developers a „hotspot“ for building their social apps. Those are probably the reasons why we where invited on SeedCamp and Startup Camp on Vis.

Team is sustained of my coworker Goran Blazevic and me(Marko Pavlović).

We are building social media marketplace called Anctu. It’s an open platform for developers to have a place where they can build and sell their social apps for users, mostly community managers, so they can choose between a long range of social apps/tools that suits them and their business, this way they will be able to create their own working environment for managing and tracking their social media and finally do it all from one place; Anctu!

There are ton of social media services out there which are mostly broken,useless or even good but their are dying since its hard for them to profit, I think a lot of people will agree with me on that. We are not only trying to unite existing ones, but to create new ones and have it working in a harmony with users on a single platform!




Team is expanding rapidly since recently we met some people that share the same vision as we do. Goran is 5 years experienced frontend developer and graphic designer which comes from Đakovo, Croatia. He is 27 years old and just getting his bachelor’s degree at Electrical Engeenireing, very calm and hard working guy, we have a lot in common (we both love Anctu and rakija, that’s for sure!).

I am 20 years old PHP developer(4 of years exp.). Coming from Vinkovci, where I graduated from high school of economics and trade. I don’t know how I ended up there since I love coding & tech overall, from my 10. I started seriously with one unsuccessful Andriod app and ended up 4 years in freelance waters with dozens of web projects behind me. Curentlly studying on faculty of electrical engineering at Osijek, but I feel „one big“ dropout coming up since Anctu needs me here alot, but anyway I plan to finish it later on. At the moment I’m living at Osijek and Goran is moving here also.

Goran: Whats the most valuable thing you got during the Startup Camp Vis? Do you think camps like this should happen more often, and should perhaps the Croatian government fund such an event/camp? In general, what can you say about the Startup Camp Vis?

Most valuable thing I got from Startup Camp Vis is those great people I met there, for god sakes, we became one happy family and that’s awesome! I really felt the bound with all of them there, both teams and mentors! So much positivity, great working atmosphere and crazy fun-times! Startup Camp Vis made me believe in myself even more then I did! What a great experience, it should happen much more often. Croatian government should definitely fund it, especially since this explosion of innovativity is happening on Croatian ground, right?
Startup Camp Vis is connecting people with great ideas and helps them to improve, that’s something great!

Goran: Were you satisfied with my performance as a mentor, and have the other mentors deliver what you expected of them? Did we lack some critical information to your startup, and what would that information be?

You where amazing Goran and same I hear from others! You supported me, advised me, felt my passion and energy about my startup and most of all, you where bloody honest, not only to me but to everyone; that’s exactly how every mentor should be, good job! Every of you mentors where great, some of you had harder time to understand what my startup is actually about, since its pretty deep into social media and development world, but on the end you all got it even better then I expected. This is one thing that almost made me cry: After doing the final pitch, one older mentor came to me and said „I am 70 years old, its really hard for me to understand some tech and social media stuff, but you made me get it all in only 5mins, amazing job, amazing pitch!“. This was my StartupCamp Vis reward, 50 years older person telling me this words. Felt.Stuning! All of you showed interest in my startup, both inside agenda and outside, that’s great!

Goran: At what stage is your startup, and what are you currently looking for? Is it funding, development guy, biz guy, mentor, or perhaps clients and partners?

Anctu logo

Anctu logo

We are at „wrapping up“, we expect our first live beta to be out in a month or so. We are looking for people that have any of those skills and are interested in Anctu, we are looking for people who will share the same vision as we do. Mostly we lack „biz guy“ which would do the sales and keep business connections, but we are also open for all interested clients and partners!

We are looking for funding, but we will turn to that much more seriously once we get the product out, all trough, it would not hurt us if it happens at this point also.

Goran: What do you see as your advantage compared to Silicon valley startups, and what’s your next step in achieving that? What’s your and your teams next step in general?

Silicon Valley atmosphere is much more competitive, here we live in a high-friendly atmosphere, that’s one of the advantages being in smaller communities. For Anctu its just another great location with bunch of good startups, we are not intimidated by it. Our next step is to release the product and get first costumers in.

Get you’r preinvite for Anctu live beta at: www.anctu.com
You can download Anctu presentation here.




Squee.it

Goran: What makes your startup so special and why do you think you were invited to come to this week’s Startup Camp on Vis? What exactly does your startup do, and tell us a little bit about your team (age, background, qualities, etc)?

Ivan Ivankovis, Ivan Kapulica, Krunoslav Klaric

Ivan Ivankovis, Ivan Kapulica, Krunoslav Klaric

What makes us special? That is a hard one. We consider our self different, hmm. That is about it. We believe that we have a good project. That our application has what it takes to become popular not just in Croatia, but with broader public. Squee is a beautiful app that basically allows the user to discover, share and buy an independently developed gadgets directly from your iPhone. Today the Silicon Valley is going through Hardware Renaissance, due to the cheap 3D prototyping and new technologies a lot of small teams make incredible gadgets, they make a prototype in the US, Europe and then they ship it to China, India for “mass” production. A lot of those teams get funded trough www.kickstarter.com. Squee is basically a social hub (mcommerce) for all the gadget creators and lovers.

Squee iPhone app

Squee iPhone app

Ivan, he is a creative guy, designer (likes to brag with the Squee UX), at the moment he is a proud user of CodeAcademy, earning his badges, learning how to program and having a time of his life, also
he is our blogger. Most of our gadget reviews are coming from him. He is a proven entrepreneur. Ivan has successfully founded and runs the best and most beautiful espresso&wine bar and coffee house
in the city, in his words Rubirosa (the name of the place, named after Porfirio Ariza Rubirosa) is the perfect connection of pleasure and taste. Ivan has initially came up with the idea and now he strongly
believes that he is more cool than Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen.

Kruno, where to start with Kruno, hmmm. Lets say he is a adventures type of guy at least. Every one of us knows a guy like him. Example, when the waves are so high, and no one else is on the sea he is the first one to come with the idea to untie his sailing boat, pushing us to come with him. We believe he was brain washed by watching Thomas Crown Affairs and Indiana Jones movies just too many times. Also, he is our rock star marketing guy and strategist. As well, he is constantly harassing indie manufacturers to work with us and he is fiercely explaining to them what we are all about. Not that we are counting but we are pretty sure that he achieved seven restraining orders issued against him so far, talking about persistence :)). Kruno is also a consultant with additional self entrepreneurial
experience trough his whole life.

Squee logo

Squee logo

We have two Ivans in our team, not to be confused; the first one isn’t so in love with himself to write twice about his life :). The second Ivan is insanely focused, doesn’t sleep during day nor night, we still believe that he is a robot, or has a twin brother that we aren’t familiar with :). He is the Christopher Columbo of our team, always knows where we are going and in which direction. He deals with everyday problems and issues. Also he is contacting web portals and blogs around the world to develop mutual endorsement and he is spreading the good word. When other people are watching reruns of Two and a Half Men he is working hard as a community manager pushing info and sourcing gadgets. Ivan is working for 3 years now as a strategy consultant with a high number of successfully
executed projects.

Marin, he is our in house developer. Marin is developing our code and he is crazy good at it. Hence, he developed several iOS apps and successfully launched them. Few of his apps have a fan base of over 10.000 users. He is passionate about what he is doing and we are having a blast with him. The most important thing is that we utterly understand each other, when talking about women and wine
obviously.

Goran: What is the most valuable thing you got during the Startup Camp Vis? Do you think camps like this should happen more often, and should perhaps the Croatian government fund such an event/camp? In general, what can you say about the Startup Camp Vis?

The most valuable thing we got during the #scvis was the mentorship and all the networking with super creative and smart people. We definitely believe that camps like it should happen way more often. First thing on our mind when we came back in Zagreb was the feeling of emptiness, I cannot describe in words how much we wanted to wake up again in our apartment on Vis and start with the pitching, hustling and fast mentoring. We missed the entire crew, all the creative startup teams that became our friends and all the mentors. It is not expected from our government to fund such events, #scvis is something they cannot grasp or think off, and that is a shame.

Goran: Were you satisfied with my performance as a mentor, and have the other mentors deliver what you expected of them? Did we lack some critical information to your startup, and what would that information be?

Honestly, we will be forever grateful for all your help and all of your information and time you gave us. Your mentoring was incredibly helpful for us, thanks again for believing in our team and our project.

Goran: At what stage is your startup, and what are you currently looking for? Is it funding, development guy, biz guy, mentor, or perhaps clients and partners?

At the moment our startup is in seed stage. What do we mean by that? We are in a prototype phase and pushing hard to launch our app on the App store. We are looking for a in house developer and
funding.

Goran: What do you see as your advantage compared to Silicon Valley startups, and what’s your next step in achieving that? What’s your and your team’s next step in general?

Silicon Valley is full of large companies and great startups that are hunting for talented young people, so that is maybe the advantage compared to SV, here in Croatia you have a lot of talented people.
Hence, you can more easily gather a good team in the beginning. One big difference is the funding. Silicon Valley is fool of angel investors and VC-s, so startups in Silicon Valley can more easily get funded. Our next step is to push our application to MVP (minimum viable product) and launch it until the end of the year. Also, we are hoping to get funded.

You can download Squee presentation here.




Sasa Sarunic – serial startuper

Serial entrepreneurship like cliff diving





Serial entrepreneurship like cliff diving

Serial entrepreneurship like cliff diving

There’s something about serial entrepreneurs… Take cliff diving for example. You are standing on top of a cliff, let’s say 10m high. It doesn’t matter if your plan is to jump on a head, or legs. You are scared as hell! Some of your friends, and “friends” are teasing you, saying you don’t have the guts to jump. You know that the chances of something bad happening are minimal, but there’s this loud voice inside your head yelling you could break your back, neck, embarrass yourself.

And than finally, finally you beat the coward in yourself. You take the jump! Just do it, as the commercial said so. The rush goes through your body, as you hit the water you are relived. You are victorious as your friends are chearing, not tesing you. Entrepreneurs, you know what I am talking about.

Than a funny thing occurs. Along comes winter, and the next summer. You are up on that big rock again. Guess what, your legs are shaking of fear. Once again you have to beat the devil, the diablo. What in the world led you to that silly rock again? What in the world were you thinking?! Why, why, why do you persist? Maybe because you choose to. Maybe because you are foolish enough to think you can change the world. Maybe because you want to help people. Or maybe you just have that drive within you, and you are like a rocket prepared to do what it takes to reach Mars.

This is why I interview entrepreneurs. In our country, entrepreneurs like Saša don’t get (wrongfully) much media attention, because all the bad entrepreneurs get it. This leads the public oppinion in the wrong dirrection, so the public turns into a crowd that laughs at you, points fingers for no apparent reason, and throws accusations, because they are used of entrepreneur wrong doing. I choose to believe differently, I see entrepreneurs as saviours of the society. Paying way more taxes that drives country budget, and drive the ecnonomy by spending more, hiring people that were unemployed, and inventing new services (or bringing old ones to mass market) so they solve problems. Basically entrepreneurs are problem solvers, they are the solution!

I am sure there are some people in your country as well that call themselves entrepreneurs, when they are not. Know thy true entrepreneur, the force is strong within him.

Why Saša Šarunić? Oh well, no particular reason… He founded a succesfull mobile and software development company (5minutes) and got an $1.7 million for a third (ShoutEm) (The Next Web, 50 cent use it and even Eric Ries with Lean Startup to name a few), that’s innovation and high tech wrapped into one. You could say cliff diving is second nature to him, if you know what I mean. They were the first Croatian startup to get VC funding, went to Seedcamp, and the whole shebang.

Goran: Saša, how do you measure your success with your projects/startups/companies? You co-founded Pticica and Trosjed (which was sold to Net.hr), then 5 minutes, and then ShoutEm, in your eyes how do you measure success in them?

Saša Šarunić started coding at the age of 12

Saša Šarunić started coding at the age of 12

Saša: I measure success in work by two parameters – fun that you have by doing a work, and money as a compensation for your effort. I started all four projects with Viktor Marohnic who proved to be a great partner, full of energy and good ideas. Working with him was already guarantee enough that we were looking at fun times 🙂
While both of us were pretty enthusiastic about Pticica and Trosjed and had a great time working on them, those projects were complete failure in terms of revenue. The whole concept was based on our false presumption that advertisers will stand in a queue to advertise on such great social networks we had built. 🙂 Nevertheless, we learned a lot on our failures and entered the web and multimedia business which was completely unknown area for us before.
Experience gathered on Pticica and Trosjed allowed us to establish Five minutes which is currently going really, really great in terms of interesting projects and amazing coworkers. The money is not bad either. 🙂
ShoutEm is definitely the most fun project we’ve being working so far. It’s for us what’s going for Olympics to a sportsmen – fighting with the best ones. While not profitable yet, ShoutEm has, at our opinion, the potential to outgrow Five minutes significantly.

Goran: Can you tell my readers where did you learn to code so well? How would you compare yourself with some of the best coders in the world that work at Google, Facebook, Twitter? Would you say coding is your passion, and why did you choose this particular programming language?

Saša: I’m programming since I was 12. I’m 37 now so you can do the math 🙂 It must be a passion since no one was forcing me to do it.
There is no chance that I can compare or compete with the best coders in the world. Most of ShoutEm and Five minutes employees are better developers than I am. However, I think I have a knowledge and people skills broad enough that I can be a CTO and do it well.
Since the team is growing and management roles take more and more of my time, I must admit that I’m programming less and less, just a few hours a week on some non-critical tasks. I do it to stay in shape and because I love it.
Among programming languages, I would say that my current favorite and the language of the future is definitely – JavaScript. That is the language that was unfairly neglected and been hated over the years, considered ugly and badly designed by most. These days, Javascript is a high-performance, well understood dynamic scripting language good for both – client and server programming.
If someone wants to learn how to write code these days, the first thing I’m going to say is learn Javascript.

Goran: At what point and why, did you choose to go after a VC money? Whas the process difficult, or should I ask, what was the most difficult part? How did you feel when RSG Capital said they were interested in investing, how did they tell you the good news?

Saša: Viktor and I knew from the beginning that we don’t have enough money to finance ShoutEm development and were aiming for VC money from the day one. The process lasted for the full three years. During that time we were constantly rejected by VC-s as being in too-early stage of development (which is just a VC’s code for “we are not sure if you will succeed or not”). RSG was one of the first VCs we contacted and they passed on a deal as well. However, we were persistent as hell, and this didn’t went unnoticed. After years of pushing it, we finally closed a deal. Since it didn’t came overnight, there was no ecstasy, just a relief that we’ll be able to finish the project for which we knew will be a success.

Goran: How are you coping with the employee growth? Do you use any strategies, attend seminars, read any books, gut feeling? Werner Vogels for example likes to use small times, and he calls it the 2 jumbo pizza rule. If you can’t feed your team with 2 jumbo pizzas, the team is to big. 🙂 Do you have any particular company culture, do you do something different?

Saša and his team from 5 minutes, all wearing mustaches for a humanitarian cause - they raised 4000$ for a children's home

Saša and his team from 5 minutes, all wearing mustaches for a humanitarian cause – they raised 4000$ for a children’s home

Saša: I must say that I’ve read a pile of books on organisation, project management, psychology and software development in general, but non of them survived the touch with reality. Each company is different in its own matter and best practice books are good to get a general feeling on how others do it, but you have to find what works best for your own company by yourself.
When we looked where to grow the team, we always did it where it “hurt” the most. For example, we didn’t employ a secretary only until we couldn’t do the paperwork by ourselves because of lack of sleep.
If I could stress one thing we constantly promote in our company(ies) is pro-activeness. That is a trait that pushes the company forward.

Goran: Hypothetically speaking, if you sold ShoutEm for $100 gazillionbazillion what would you than do?

Saša: I would rest for a year (just sleeping and doing nothing 🙂 and probably start some new venture the year after 🙂

Goran: What does your tipical day look now? Do you code late, or do you get up early?

Saša: When I was younger, I really liked programming in the silence of the night and that was the most productive part of my day. However, now I have a lot of coworkers who depend on me being available in the company, and I can’t afford to wake up at noon anymore 🙂 To my great relief, I discovered that mornings are great for working as well. I would even dare to say now that you can’t be really successful in life if you don’t get up early (except if you are a rock star, maybe).

Goran: My startup WhoAPI deals with domains, so I need to ask you a couple of domaining questions 🙂 What was the first domain name you registered?

Saša: That was time.hr, a domain for my first company – Time d.o.o. This was a company doing software development for radio stations, real estate agencies and lawyers. Although it was a one-man-show, helped me earn some money during my university days.

Goran: Time.hr, that’s a great domain name, what are your plans with that!?

Saša Šarunić - wearing mustache proudly while helping raise money for a great cause!

Saša Šarunić – wearing mustache proudly while helping raise money for a great cause!

Saša: It is now a company ran by my mother doing marketing for local newspapers in Dalmatia. It is interesting that time.org and time.net domains were for sale at the time but I didn’t want to buy them. I thought that it was too much to give $70 for the domain (the price of a domain in 1995.). Stupid me! 🙂

Goran: Does ShoutEm have any other cool domains like shoutem.com? For example, would you be interested in registering shout.app? Why yes, why not?

Saša: Yes, we bought all variations that we thought people would type in and address box instead of shoutem, like shoutem.net, shoutm.com, shoutm.net and are always looking for a new ones. I consider good (short and simple) domain name crucial for the success of the company and would be interested in buying shout.app as well.
I even have a few of my own, like – sarunic.com, truehackers.com, hackerville.net, etc… waiting for me to finally start a personal blog.

Goran: Would you like to add something, perhaps if you are looking for new employees, or some special announcement, some news, or just say hi to mum and dad?

Saša: We are currently seeking a JavaScript ninja (he/she doesn’t have to be a Japanese, though). If someone is interested in changing the world of mobile app development, please send your resume to sasa [at] shoutem.com

Thank you for your time!




Discover the “attached” man – Ben Coe

Ben Coe - co-founder of attachments.me





Let me welcome you to the new era. Everything is not working the way it’s supposed to, but there are some startups that are trying to fix that. I think that’s the best thing that can happen to us, and to our society. So don’t let anyone tell you changing the world isn’t possible, cause it is.

Cloud just got cloudier - save to drive option

Cloud just got cloudier – save to drive option

There are so many cloud services out there, and one wonderes, is it really cloud if at some point you have to use your hard drive? Attachments.me is like a bridge for a few clouds. One cloud being your email (Gmail) and the other being your online drive (Dropbox, Box, Google drive). At this point you probably guessed it right. When someone sends you an attachment, you can save it directly to one of the most popular online drives, or vice versa when you are sending an email, just access your account and attach it.

Epic? Hell yeah! You can even search all your attachments, but it works way better than looking up keywords in your gmail. Why? Because this is a specialised “attachments” search, and you lookup only attachments, they are highlighted, and you can see the preview. I gotta tell you, you have to see it for yourself. (Especially if you are already a Gmail/online drive user).

Correction, I managed to filter attachments

Correction, I managed to filter attachments

I wish I could give you a screenshot of that, but it’s way to personal. I’ve tried finding a spot where I don’t publish something that’s not supposed to go public, but no luck. So it is safe to say that attachments are reeeealy important to a business individual such as my self. And obviously I am not paying enough attention to them since so far I haven’t had any real help around with dealing with them.

You are just going to have to try it by yourself. Signing up is…well, you just login with your Google account, that’s how easy it is.

So, what they want to do is get you and your company’s files organized. They do this by making sure all the files you receive in email are easy to find and automatically put in their final destination. As I said before, they connect your email to cloud storage solutions like Dropbox  (Dropbox gives 500Mb for every user you send their way, so I would be thankful if you signed up with this URL) and Box. They follow you where ever you go, which means, when you are logged in to Gmail, or when you are browsing with your Chrome (Chrome Extension – Attachments.me for Gmail, Dropbox, …), or if you are on you iPhone! Attachments.me- Gmail inbox software to efficiently manage emails

Attachments.me was founded by Benjamin Coe and Jesse Miller. Originally they were located in Toronto, Canada. After taking funding from Foundry Group they relocated the business to San Francisco. Our office is in the sunny Mission district, in a shared space called Dolores Labs.

I’ve read Ben’s “confession” and instanlty I said to myself, I have to interview this guy, he is the real deal.

Goran: Ben, first of all thank you for a great blog “Confessions of a 20-Something Startup CTO” post with wich a lot of startupers can relate too. Do you blog a lot, and why do you do it? How do you manage to find time in your busy schedule? Why do you use Tumblr as a platform?
Ben: I’ve always loved writing as a hobby, and it’s a skill I’m constantly trying to hone. Most weekends I take a bit of time to write a blog post. Partly because I enjoy it, and partly because it helps me reflect on the week. I use Tumblr because it has an intuitive interface, and is easily customizable… in short, it doesn’t get in my way.

attachments.me - changing the way we attach

attachments.me – changing the way we attach

Goran: What about the beginnings of Attachments.me, were you excited about registering that domain name? How did you choose that name, and did you have any trouble with picking the right name for your startup? Did you feel from the start that something big was about to happen?
Ben: The domain name was actually registered by Joe Stump, who was one of the original founders of Attachments.me. This saved me some trouble, since I’m terrible at picking names (you can look at my Github page and confirm this). I definitely felt from the start that something big was going to happen with Attachments.me.

After university, I spent a year working at a startup called Freshbooks. This was an awesome experience: I got to work with a great team of people, building awesome features, and shipping them to millions of people. I learned a ton about the startup world, and about the software development process. I saw Attachments.me as an opportunity for me to take that next big step, building something I believed in from the ground up.

Goran: Can you tell my readers where did you learn to code so well? How would you compare yourself with some of the best coders in the world that work at Google, Facebook, Twitter? Would you say coding is your passion, and why did you choose this particular programming language?
Ben: I fell in love with coding when I was twelve. It matched my personality, a mix of creativity, science, and problem-solving. I didn’t have the Internet, so I’d buy programming textbooks from the bargain bins at RadioShack — In particular, I fondly remember Andre Lamothe’s, Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus. I read this from front to back several times.

I didn’t start learning to become a good software developer until my stint at Freshbooks. I think this is an important distinction to make, there’s a big difference between a good coder and a good software developer. There’s a lot of process outside of coding that goes into building good software — It’s a lot like an apprenticeship, you learn it from your peers when you’re in the trenches.

I don’t have a clue how I compare to the best coders in the world. I have a friend I hack with occasionally who was a developer at Twitter, I’m pretty wowed by how good he is. I think there are experiences you get when you’re developing at Twitter’s scale that I haven’t had. It changes the way you think about approaching problems.

Currently, I spend most of my time writing Python and JavaScript: Python for building tons of random DevOps scripts for administrating our servers, something it’s well suited for; and JavaScript for Attachments.me’s Chrome Extension.

Ben Coe - co-founder of attachments.me

Ben Coe – co-founder of attachments.me

Goran: At what point and why, did you choose to go after the VC money? Was the process difficult, or should I ask, what was the most difficult part? How did you feel when Foundry group said they were interested in investing? How did they tell you the good news?
Ben: We were kicking Attachments.me along on evenings and weekends, and consulting during the day; we kept this up for a few months. venture capital was attractive, because it gave us the opportunity to make Attachments.me our full-time gig.

In hindsight, it feels like raising our initial 500k seed round happened really quickly. It was definitely stressful at the time, and made more difficult by the fact that Jesse (Jesse Miller – Co-founder of Attachments.me) and I were based in Canada (we’d have to deal with immigration issues when/if we closed funding).

Jesse spent several weeks on phone calls with VCs pitching the product. We managed to get to the next stage with several of them. Jesse and I then flew down to San Francisco for a whirlwind set of meetings. We hit it off best with Foundry Group, both on the phone and in person. Within a day of the final meeting, they had a term sheet for us, Jason Mendelson told Jesse on the phone I believe. It was exciting.

Goran: How are you coping with the company growth? Do you use any strategies, attend seminars, read any books, gut feeling? Werner Vogels for example likes to use small teames, and he calls it the 2 jumbo pizza rule. If you can’t feed your team with 2 jumbo pizzas, the team is too big. 🙂 Do you have any particular company culture, do you do something different?
Ben: There are only six of us, so we haven’t run into any huge growing pains yet.

We gun for constant communication: Jesse and I have a meeting at least twice a week where him and I catch up;
we have a weekly planning meetings, and daily stand-ups with the team. The planning meeting to make sure everyone is on board for the goals of the week, and the stand-ups to make sure that everything is going alright on a daily basis.

One thing we do that’s pretty neat, is a hacking day every two weeks. This is an entire day where developers can work on whatever they feel like, with an emphasis on getting a roughed out prototype of the idea done that day. This does an awesome job of encouraging creativity, and the features often make their way into production.

Goran: I see that your office is “in a shared space called Dolores Labs.”, can you share your thoughts on what it’s like to work in Dolores Labs? Does it have to do anything with CrowdFlower? Are there any other cool startups sharing space with you?


Ben: Dolores Labs was originally CrowdFlower‘s office, it was converted into a shared space by Trinity Ventures when CrowdFlower outgrew it. Working in shared spaces has been great for us. It gave us a good set of peers early on, when our company was small. We’ve shared offices with Card.io, Milk, Happiness Engine, and Tapviva, just to name a few. It’s been great to be able to bounce ideas off these fellow entrepreneurs, I highly recommend a shared space for early stage companies. (Goran: You can read more about Dolores Labs transformation to CrowdFlower in this great inc.com article)
We recently moved into our own offices, in the Hamm’s building in San Francisco. This is an old brewery that has been converted into a space for startups. Along with Attachments.me, Asana, Rdio, and Get Satisfaction are based out of here.

Goran: Hypothetically speaking, if you sold all your companies for $100 gazillionbazillion what would you than do?

Ben: I’d rock-climb for six-months, then build my next company. Afterall – Rock Climbing Saved My Life, and Made Me a Better Software Developer.

Goran: What does your typical day look now? Do you code late, or do you get up early? Do you worry about sitting wrong, or drinking too much coffee?

Ben: Hours are flexible, if there is a big feature we’re all working on, we’ll tend to put in longer hours. We encourage everyone to live a balanced life. For example, if you you want to leave early one night a week to go to Yoga, that’s awesome. I think we all do a pretty good job of staying healthy, because of this atmosphere.

Goran: My startup WhoAPI deals with domains, so I just have to ask you a couple of domaining questions 🙂 What was the first domain name you registered?

Ben: hackwars.net, a game I made in college.

Goran: Do you have any other cool domains except attachments.me? For example, would you be interested in buying attachments.com, or something like mail.attach? Why yes, why not?

Ben: We looked into getting Attachments.com, but it was a hassle as it was owned by a fairly large company. We own att.mn, which we plan on using for short-urls eventually.

There’s also this great review on domain.me about attachments.me, check it out. Attachments.Me Rethinks Email Attachments: How Dropbox, Box.net and Gmail Should Work Together