Throwback Thursday? We’ll spare you childhood pics. Here’s an interview with Naval Ravikant we did 2.5 years ago I just came across. Lots has changed. For example, AngelList has shot up to fame and prominence, seriously challenging the status quo in Silicon Valley and beyond. And the idea of a startup in Central and Eastern Europe doesn’t sound crazy anymore. Yet, I found a lot of the advice doled out in the interview still relevant today and thought many of our newer readers would enjoy it, too.
Read the full original interview here.]]>
The winner of this year’s TC Disrupt in San Francisco was Layer (@LayerSDK), a cross-platform user communication SDK founded by Ron Palmeri (@ronp) and Tomaž Štolfa (@tomazstolfa), who is Slovenian and formerly known to this audience as co-founder of vox.io, which ceased operation earlier this year.
And the winner of the Best Hardware Startup portion of the event is Polish Estimote (@estimote), founded in Krakow by Jakub Krzych (@jimiasty) and Łukasz Kostka (@ljdk). Estimote produces a small device that can be used to broadcast venue-specific or object-specific information to smartphone users within 50 meters, targeting retailers as its main customers.
These are not only exciting wins, but also pretty impressive and innovative technology initiatives. Congrats! We can’t wait to see how TC Disrupt Berlin goes in October!]]>
The main take-away so far is that the trend is unclear, but something interesting seems to have happened in 2009 when U of L implemented the Bologna reforms. It seems that the changed curriculum and grading resulted in increased percentages of women progressing through to the second year. (From my own experience with various education systems I’d take an un-educated guess that 1-1 oral examinations were reduced and contributed to the change.) However, the data needs more mining and Tori posted it on Google docs for anyone to take a look.
It would be AMAZING to understand developments in the participation of women in computer science in other central and eastern European countries. Do you have a contact at your local computer science department/faculty/university? Can you get some data and send it to us? We will publish all data we collect, and recruit help in analyzing it.
While we’re at it, this kind of analysis would also help us understand trends in CS enrollment in the region in general. Let’s DO THIS!
Head over to Andraz Tori’s blog for a great read and inspiration.]]>
The Rijeka-based startup WhoAPI has just been offered to join 500 Startups, a seed fund and accelerator founded by Dave McClure (@davemcclure).
The magic happened during McClure’s “Geeks on a Plane“ (#goap) visit to Zagreb last week. When he heard the WhoAPI pitch, he described it as “twilio for whois data”, which must have been a good sign, since Twilio is a successful 500 Startups company. Later, McClure tweeted the actual funding announcement, also sharing his excitement about meeting the Croatian president in the same tweet. This man is an efficient tweeter.
I asked Goran Duškić (@duskic), WhoAPI co-founder, what he was most excited about before going to Silicon Valley for the 500 Startups program. Here is what he had to say:
“It’s really difficult to single out one thing! We are looking forward to absolutely everything, and we are all really excited! I mean, take 500 startups mentoring for example — they have over 100 mentors from Google, Youtube, Zynga, not to mention we plan to visit those companies! Their knowledge, experience and contacts will be priceless!”
Congratulations and we look forward to hearing stories. For earlier Eastist coverage of WhoAPI click here.]]>
Codeanywhere is a cloud-based code editor that enables you not only to code in the cloud, but to connect to your files via (S)FTP server, Dropbox or even GitHub. Also, as the only multiplatform cloud editor (supporting iOS and Android as well), Codeanywhere allows you to really code on the go – anytime and anywhere.
„What we are doing is taking the way people develop in the desktop editor and mirroring that experience to the cloud. This enables users to seamlessly migrate to Codeanywhere. Only when we recreated the desktop experience did we start introducing features that only a cloud based system can offer, and with this milestone I believe we are on the right track.“ says Ivan Burazin (@ivanburazin), Co-founder.
Codeanywhere already has many features you would expect from a desktop editor, but the ones that are missing are coming by years end. A list of new features includes a fully customizable editor, terminal support and support for even more third party services, like Google Drive, Amazon AWS, and others. With the number of mobile app downloads now almost matching the number of new user signups, Codeanywhere will soon be releasing new mobile apps that will have all of the features that the web based version of Codeanywhere has to offer.]]>
A lucky group of 32 early-stage startups from Central and Eastern Europe will participate in How to Web Startup Spotlight, a three-day program that is part of the How to Web conference in Bucharest. The program is dedicated to web and mobile startups with less than 2 years of activity and funding no larger than €100K.
The Startup Spotlight sounds like a great comprehensive opportunity, starting with a day of practical workshops as well as pitching training, followed by the opportunity to pitch at the How to Web conference. The best 8 teams will get to pitch at the keynote sessions, while the rest will be pitching at a dedicated startup stage. The winners will receive a total of €20K in cash prizes and various in-kind gifts.
Everyone will receive mentoring as well as opportunity to meet investors and accelerator representatives from established European programs such as Seedcamp, HackFwd, Rockstart, international programs like Mozilla WebFWD, blackbox, or GrowLab, as well as CEE institutions like GammaRebels, Startup Wise Guys, LaunchHUB and many more.
In summary, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for your early-stage startup. The deadline to apply is October 13th.]]>
Goran Duškić, the co-founder of WhoAPI, interviewed Saša Šarunić, the co-founder and CTO of ShoutEm, among many other ventures. I love the idea of entrepreneurs interviewing each other, and with Goran’s permission, I’m re-posting this great post in its entirety from his blog.
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 your self. 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: 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.
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: 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: 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 ad something, perhaps if you are looking for new employees, or some special announcement, some news, or just say hi to mum and dad?
Thank you for your time!]]>
During my visit at StartupHighway (SH) I’ve been on a mission to fire up their brain, you can call it mentoring, and to put a foot on Vilnius ground once again. Must say it felt good. Anyhow, after mentoring sessions my job wasn’t done as I was asked to write a guest post comparing Western Europe/ Anglo-Saxon with Lithuania in relation to business culture, negotiation skills or even what was strange for me once I started working with Lithuanians.
I would like to stress that my disclaimer is based on personal experience thus others may have a different one because of two reasons: different background and different people they’ve been dealing with. Last but not least I don’t speak the language and I conduct all my business in English. Certainly the language has an impact on how people conduct business therefore it may be different once you communicate in Lithuanian. Anyhow after 3 years in Baltics (mainly Lithuania and Latvia) I believe I could share a couple of worth-knowing things.
Usually when making comparisons people tend to focus on the negative side of it. So I have tried to break my comparison into three sections: the good, the different and the areas for improvement .
Somehow there is a misleading belief that Lithuanians are not friendly. I always found Lithuanians extremely welcoming, friendly and good natured. I have had lots of nice people crossing my way, lots of interesting dinners and chats over wine and if you broke the ice, it was reciprocated.
On the professional level, Lithuanians are dedicated people. For sure they want to keep a good work balance, but if you give them a deadline and they agree on it, they will always deliver and work from home. It is not somehow obvious but (except maybe in basketball as players or fans) I find Lithuanians quite competitive. Once you give them something they consider as a challenge (individually or as a team) they will chase it and want it to win.
While having conversations with some of my friends here, I got an explanation for such Lithuanian behavior. As you know Lithuanians were under pressure from the Soviets for a long time, thus I believe when people are given a chance, they always try to prove and show than they can do better.
First, I always find it very difficult to have a meeting here (I’m referring to Lithuania and also to Latvia) because the level of feedback during the meetings is almost nonexistent. Mainly I refer to body language.
I call Lithuanians the greatest poker players in the world as from their expression (face & body) you don’t know if they are agreeing, disagreeing or for that matter thinking you are full of shit. In terms of verbal communication / feedback, I’m certain that people don’t want to engage in open challenges during a meeting. Usually they prefer to collect the facts and then after making the position in their mind to get back to you in written form. Anyhow I’m not certain if this business dealing approach is applicable to people speaking Lithuanian.
Second, I find most Lithuanians extremely polite in the way they speak and conduct their business. In general I curse a lot and I use all types of expressions (English, Spanish and Portuguese). This is not something one would find in Lithuania simply because it takes people a bit out of their comfort zone. So, dear business fellows, it might be risky to start swearing during business meetings as one can lose face in their eyes.
The areas for improvement
Last but not least, I find that some people (this applies to Latvians also) are lacking the ability to think big, to believe in scaling ideas / enterprises. This is related to a problem that most Lithuanians focus on the short term. I am not certain where it comes from, maybe because of the history, economic crisis or cultural heritage but it is a clear limitation. Just to give you an example relating to the service industry:
A typical night in Vilnius – you go to a restaurant. The ambiance is nice and the restaurant is half full. You order and after waiting half an hour, you start wondering if something is wrong (usually waiters are “hiding” at this moment). So you call the waiter and ask “is there a problem with the food?” The usual answer: “well, we have one cook only and there are many orders, but yours should arrive shortly.” After waiting another 15 minutes, finally you are served.
If you are in the service industry you know by now that this customer is pissed off. So, story#1:
Story#2: You need to make up to the customers.
Well I am still waiting for this to happen to me at least once. For example, it could be an invitation to taste a wine or dessert on the house or a voucher for something free next time you visit the place (please note the example could apply when the wrong order is brought to you or other similar cases). Nooooo, they are just thinking in the short term – I can’t lose money on this customer during tonight’s dinner. The reality is – you lose money for the rest of this restaurant’s life because of focusing on the short term.
So my advice would be – plan long term and invest in relationship development (don’t try to screw the other party on this negotiation because you will face them again in the future), be tough, but explain why and provide good feedback, and always think about scale.
The paywall will include content from 42 different newspaper and magazine websites owned by seven major Polish media companies – Agora, Murator, Ringier Axel Springer, Media Regionalne, Polskapresse, Edytor, and Polskie Radio. Several of these groups are foreign-owned or own properties abroad, which means we should watch the results of the Polish launch very closely. While some have attributed Piano’s success in Slovakia and Slovenia to the small size of those markets, a success in Poland would be much more meaningful.
As of today, Piano’s login icon will appear at the top of each media’s page. Starting in August, a free trial will be offered, followed by the start of the full Piano subscription system in September. Subscription prices will be 9.90 PLN per week (€2.37); 19.90 PLN per Month (€4.70); and 199 PLN (€47) annually.
For more in-depth coverage of Piano Media and this industry in general I recommend heading over to Paid Content.
Piano’s CEO Tomas Bella addresses the Guardian’s Changing Media Conference on March 21, 2012]]>