adria airways

December 4th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

Adria Airways Airbus A320-231 at FRA

Adria Airways Airbus A320-231 at FRA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

i had to defend adria’s airplanes again. this happens a lot, against people who find the embraers ‘crap’, not fancy enough, obsolete, not real airplanes. i totally dissagree and tell them everytime that regional planes in USA are far worse, and that i find adrias’ planes cute. that usually shuts their mouths.

there is however a different list of complaints i have after using adria service for several years now. i had to write them up eventually as they don’t go away by themselves…

  • i’ve heard of stories of planes fully boarded, waiting for an hour and a half for the last two checked-in passangers to arrive, before taking off. never happened to anyone i know though. what did happen repeatedly, to me, my investors and friends, was that we were checked into a connection, inbound flight had small delay, adria took off without us, leaving us behind to spend a night in a foreign boring place at their expense. in my mind this positions adria as a service that doesn’t care about me at all, and kills any chance of customer loyalty they might gain in any other way.
  • hand luggage on small planes is an issue, i get that. giving passangers a chance to take hand luggage to the gates, stash it in luggage section, then give it back as they disembark, seems like a reasonable hack to improve service. but, i find it completely insane, to let the whole plane full of people wait in front of open doors of freshly landed plane, while waiting for the handful of hand-luggage is unloaded and prepared for those few who had to give it up. whatever insane regulations require them to keep everyone in the plane, rather than let everyone out while the few wait on their stuff, should have been oposed and overturned by airliners such as adria.
  • i book all my tickets trough a travel agency. yet, somehow, adria got hold of my email and started sending me spam disguised as flight notifications. i didn’t even bother clarifying it, but it sounds like data theft to me.
  • however, even though they clearly have my email and phone numbers, they are not using that for emergency communication. like for instance right now, when my evening flight home from munich was first delayed twice for technical issues, then at midnight rescheduled for midday next day, then delayed again for technical issues, until it was ultimately canceled 22 hours after original scheduled time, and each time we received only scarce information available to the airport staff, that we should wait another hour. and another. and another. i understand it’s hard to coordinate all the parties in such cases, but i’d expect the airliner to at least try to communicate with us what they know.

… i fly enough to know that adria is no worse than any other airline really. but being a small company in a small country sounds like it might be an opportunity to be better, if only they tried harder.

oh, and in case someone relevant reads this – if there is any way i can help, i will.

sizing slovenian markets, everything is 10M potential

December 1st, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

lots of entrepreneurs in slovenia want to work with slovenian market first. nothing wrong with that, as long as you do your homework. marketing and go-to-market in slovenia must be very different than it would be in a larger society.

most important excersise of the go-to-market is always the sizing. and sizing a small market is particularly tricky – usually at least one of the important numbers is large enough to give you some slack, but in slovenia you must be careful.

i use a rule of thumb to quickly asses two variables:

  1. number of potential customers that would be interested in the given product / service; based on how many people are receptive of the problem the product / service is solving
  2. appropriate / expected pricing of the product / service, which is essentially what the disposable income of the population is – how much can your target customers spend without causing themselves existential threat

in slovenia, i believe that we have rule of tens.

for luxury items, this means:

  • 1000 people can afford to spend 10.000 eur
  • 100 people can spend 100.000 eur
  • 10 people can spend 1M eur

and for everyone else:

  • 10.000 people can spend 1.000 eur
  • 100.000 people can spend 100 eur
  • 1M people can spend 10 eur

so you have to know your potential appeal with the product, and then cross check with the pricing you had in mind, to see if your customers can afford it at all.

then you take those targets, and start devising detailed operational plan of activities that will get your product / service in front of those exact 10/100/1000/10.000/100.000/1M people.

and then you can come raise funds to execute the plan. ;)

sushi spotting

November 27th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

how awesome, we have sushi truck in slovenia!

every wednesday it goes from maribor to piran and dispaches sushi that customers have ordered a day in advance.
great idea, poor execution imho. let me explain why:

  • slovenia is a mediterranean country. fresh fish comes from piran, and i don’t accept any excuse not to switch the direction of the truck. sorry.
  • customers have to remember to order a day before, and i’ve heard many friends complain on wednesday at lunch time that they again forgot to do that. one of them exclaimed: “i’d pay them more if they just reminded me on tuesday!”
  • people working in creative industries in ljubljana traditionally go for hodok on wednesdays. nothing you can do here :)

i think it’s great that they started doing this, but in a normal market economy, these points would be huge weaknesses that would immediatelly create competition that would try to leverage doing it right, through better product and better marketing.

in slovenia however, we have 200k unemployed who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details.

job creation

November 24th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

under our office is a parking lot. or better put, it is a long and narrow courtyard, used to park cars in two rows. it’s great, because it reduces costs for some of our colleagues who drive to work, and makes it easier for the visitors to find us.

however, it has a downside – since cars and in two long rows of five cars, inevitably everyone who parks here has to get up several times per day to move their car because the car before them need to get out. annoying, but doesn’t surprise anyone.
i believe there are three lessons to be learned here:

  1. we, the company, should have hired someone as a valley, to move those cars around. the valley could even park more cars in empty lots around the office, not just on the courtyard, because she would have all day to optimize the positions. maybe that valley could even do other useful things, like change lightbulbs (which is currently often needed and done by the COO) and such. we, the company, are behaving pretty idiotic not to that, but unfortunately the employees are not in favor of the idea either – slovenians are not used to trusting the keys of the car to a stranger. so i pick my battles and not create a possible job.
  2. but! if we were in america, we’d have someone knocking on our door every day, offering their vallet services, convincing us that they should get this job. and maybe we would give it a try and give them the job for a while! and maybe this person would then be encouraged and go find more lots like this, and hire more of their unemployed friends jobs. maybe they would even scale up into a services company for flexible workforce. who knows, but the point is, that of all 200k unemployed in slovenia, i have never ever heard of a case of creative job hunt. it takes two to tango.
  3. however, the real truth is, that quite possibly legislation forbids us from creating such a job position. quite sure there is regulation about work safety, property insurance, outdoor work conditions, flexible work schedules, that we would need to plow through before even doing an experiment. in this country, it’s simply easier to not create jobs.

in slovenia however, we have 200k unemployed and 200k public servants who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details.

the clash of generations

November 17th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

i work with a lot of startups and startup organizations in slovenia and abroad. not long ago, a group of entrepreneurs even visited the president, who wants to help.
we were a diverse group, and first surprise was, that each of us had completelly different set of operational challenges that made it hard for him to develop their startup in slovenia and thus create more jobs.

  • some were having hard time raising funding from foreign investors because our legislation is exotic, continental, written in slovene, not simple for business and because not a single global law firm has presence in slovenia.
  • some where having hard time getting bank loans, not because their business plan would be shady, but for procedural reasons like not having 3 or 5 years of balance sheets to provide – because the startup is younger than that of course
  • some weren’t receiving responses from government institutions responsible for their fields when they asked for clarifications on legislation, increasing the risks of operating the business
  • most are having problems employing foreign high-skilled workers, because getting the visa is lengthy, because immigration office doesn’t speak anything but slovene, and because work taxes are so high, that workers receive less net salary than anywhere else in europe
  • some struggle because they want to issue stock options to employees, a concept that doesn’t exist in our system and thus requires a lot of improvisation, and where tax implications are not clear at all
  • some serial entrepreneurs complain that the capital they made in the past and paid capital gains tax for, should they reinvest it into new business, that will create new jobs, will get taxed again. and again. and again.

this is an example list of ‘small’ issues that we identified, and while it looks huge and diverse set of problems, everything boils down to two fundamental facts:

  1. previous generation and it’s institutions, that are currently leading the society, do not understand specifics and differences of our generation’s institutions. all those problems are essentially simple misunderstandings, that would improve if we talked more about them.
  2. but we don’t need them to understand, it’s easier to just move away. young ambitious person in a globalized world can choose from hundreds of work environments with different characteristics, and all these ecosystems are essentially on the market for talented entrepreneurs to come and make societies better. Slovenia doesn’t act as if it’s in the market for young people.

these two facts combined result in unprecedented void between the leading and the coming, which has no rational reason to cure. it’s unprecedented, because only now the borders are gone and people and businesses are more free to move around then every. young people have no rational reason to stick around in an environment that calls them “the lost generation”, their energy is more efficiently spent elsewhere.

new york is a fabulous example of government that extended their hand and proactively works with new generations to form policies to make new york better for them. and when i say proactively, i mean all the f**ing time. one month after i moved to new york five years ago, i received a call from the NYCEDC, asking when could their head visit me for a chat on my experience with establishing the business there and how they can help. i told him many things, including that for a european the streets feel dirty. the director of a public agency was performing a on-the-site customer interview, not because i am so important, but because that’s what he does – he knows the people who will shape the future of the city better than anyone else.

in slovenia however, we have 200k public servants who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details. and we have 20k people who left because they weren’t heard when it was time.

general disclaimer

November 10th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

i noticed that i often get ideas to write on this blog, but after thinking about them i realize that they might be misrepresented and thus decide not to write them. i’d hate it if this blog was the reason for any particular person or company to be misunderstood and damaged, but at the same time, i feel that each not published thought is lost opportunity for me and for the readers. so i’ve decided to write up a general disclaimer, that will be part of every provocative blog posts i publish in the future. i hope it will manage to frame my context well enough, to prevent readers from jumping to conclusions and judgements. here is the wording i’m thinking about, and i would very much welcome any improvements or feedback.

the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.

i hope this will relieve me from worrying too much, and to start writing more aggressive and controversial pieces, that will stir the conversations more. not because i would want to convince anyone of my points, but because i feel that not enough people are contributing to public debates, which gives unfair advantage to media and politicians and trolls. so bear with me, specially when you disagree.

welcome health tech community of slovenia

November 7th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

wednesday was a particularly heart-warming day for me – healthday.si happened, an event in ljubljana that got 180 local participants together to talk about what they are doing to change health industry for the better. startups, enterprises, doctors, beaurocrats. the organizers even published a ‘health book’ – showcase of the the community that was officially born there.

but really it all started in july already. gaja and I had some friends from NY visiting ljubljana. by coincidence two of the four worked in health-tech in the big apple, and we decided to drum up a themed tech meet up.

the email blast went out in the morning, 40 people and 12 startups showed up in the evening. after few hours everyone was excited to have met a number of likeminds they didn’t know existed in our town.

this turn up was an indicator that there is a community waiting to happen, all it needed was a catalyst. the organizers and key sponsor of the later healthday.si were there as well, saw it and started planning next steps.

i hope the community will continue, through such events, meetups, or simply direct contacts, but most importantly, by helping eachother at marketing the next revolution.

This Friday: Startup Crawl – Book Your Schedule, Reserve Your Tickets

March 18th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

6550496871_c910e7b55a_n
#190: Twenity – lansiranje - NOVOLETKA, 21. De...

#190: Twenity – lansiranje – NOVOLETKA, 21. Dec 2011 (Photo credit: Kiberpipa)

Slovenia has incredibly healthy startup community, with probably largest amount of global startups per capita. Most of the public is still unaware of how different (and healthy) work environments these young and fast-growing companies are.

After super successful first startup crawl amongst Ljubljana startups (last October), when literally hundreds of people came to visit some of us, the InternetWeek.si team is rallying us together again, in an even more awesome all-day startup festival.

As of today we have 24 super interesting startups opening doors for visitors, ranging from global super stars like Outfit7 and Celtra, to most ambitious newcomers like Sqwiz, Dietpoint and Oculus.

Let me rephrase this – this Friday you have an unique opportunity to see how Outfit7 and Celtra look like from within and talk to them in person!

A totally unique chance if you are looking for a better job (in various roles, not just engineering), if you are a journalist, consultant, or just a worried parent of a high-schooler that likes internet a lot.

This year we are also not only limited to Ljubljana anymore – we have startups from Ptuj, and Kranj participating as well.

So, here’s a recipe for you for this week:

  1. TODAY: go to internetweek.si and checkout the list of participating startups
  2. TODAY: BOOK A TICKET with the ones that you are interested in – the quantities are limited, with some of them very limited
  3. FRIDAY: go have a chat with some of the only creators of jobs in Slovenia
  4. FRIDAY EVENING: after party in LP in the center of Ljubljana

If you are a startup as well, and are wondering why you are not on the list, all you have to do is send an email to the internetweek team!

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Move on! Next week! Internet Week Ljubljana!

October 15th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

Proud to announce that my favorite startup community has matured to the stage, where we had to organize Internet Week – a whole week packed with events of various kinds, by several partner organizers, on multitude of topics. We are sponsored by the Digital Champion of Slovenia.

Startup CrawlOne of the highlights of Internet Week that’s going on in Ljubljana at the moment will take place on…Oct 23 2013restreaming.me

You should all take time between October 23rd-30th, and go visit at least a handful of the events, and get to know the community better. At Zemanta we will be hosting startup crawl next friday, when everyone is welcome to stop by for drinks and chats about the future of the web publishing.

I was fortunate to see how Internet Week NY developed, from it’s modest first year 2008, to an overwhelming festival of entrepreneurship it is now. I hope Ljubljana will follow a similar path, as it is the only way to the future.

Oh, and if you want to promote your event as well, give me a shout. happy to add it to the list. ;)

Join us. Move on.

we need a new profession: startup engineer

August 19th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Startup screen
Startup screen

Startup screen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Economic crisis is still the dominant topic in Slovenia, with worrying news and indicators popping up daily. At the same time, Zemanta has never been better, and is actually growing fast. Of course, because we are active on global market, rather than dependent on local economy. Except in one aspect – hiring.

We are looking for several new exceptional colleagues in our Ljubljana office. brilliant, smart, ambitious software developers. It’s not surprising that a lot of people are applying for the position, and I’m very happy to see that many of them actually fit the profile we are looking for.

I’m starting to call it startup engineer, to differentiate it from other software development jobs, like traditional IT, systems integrations or website development. many students coming from the universities here are not aware of the difference, and I think we, the startups, have to be very loud about how differently we work. here is a short list of the type of differences, would love to compile a longer one with your help:

  1. problem-solving: we are a product company, building a product of our own. there is no external client inventing and changing the specs all the time. there is no map of where we are going. we are learning with every step what the next step will be. thus there are not many repetitive tasks. every day actually brings new challenges. some people don’t handle such uncertainties well. startup engineers thrive in the challenge.
  2. freedom and flexibility: to a large extend we don’t care when and how you work. we expect you to do what it takes to understand the challenge well enough, to tell the other how you will solve it. hours, days, languages, locations are up to your judgment. some people cant handle this freedom. startup engineers love the freedom and grow with the responsibility.
  3. curiosity: the world is changing with incredible and accelerating speed, and we need to stay a step ahead of it. we need to understand the emerging technologies before they become standards. it takes extra time and energy, that doesn’t necessarily pay off always. startup engineers experiment and learn, because they cannot not to. sometimes that’s called being brave.
  4. global view: even when working on local problems, startup engineers have to understand the world at large, keep in touch with global trends, and think how the flap of the butterfly in silicon valley will affect us here and now.

there are several practical challenges that we are facing when trying to communicate why working in a startup should be attractive option:

  • I wish in the future, people looking to work as developers, would be aware of this difference well in advance. ideally even before high school, so that they can optimize their learning for the style of work that suits them best. we see a lot of very compelling candidates, that unfortunately end up working for banks and IT companies, simply because they don’t know that being a developer can mean very different things.
  • there is a prejudice that startup jobs are not stable enough, so specially young candidates are discouraged from applying for them. I find this mentality particularly cynical and obsolete. not only have I met a lot of very stable and healthy startups over the years, also the ‘stable’ companies are laying off incredible amounts of people these days, and government jobs are less and less secure as well.
  • some candidates, if they happen to know about startups, are convinced that they are not good enough to qualify. they don’t realize that what we need is first and foremost smarts and curiosity, and not PhD quality of theoretical puzzle-solving. at Zemanta, cultural fit is much more important than skills and experience. don’t negotiate with yourself.

I wish we could make this, ‘startup engineer’ a formal post-graduate university program. there are practical skills they could learn, to accelerate their growth, but these will change from year to year. more importantly, by having it as an option within formal educational system, we would be raising the awareness and actually giving some of the students a fair chance to realize their potential. creating it in collaboration with the actual companies would make sure the students end up with a bit more practically useful knowledge built on top of computer science fundamentals, and give them direct access to a pool of employers, that have been doubling every year.

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