Nordeus: ‘Screw them, we’ll do it better’

BY Vukašin Stojkov ON June 6

On the day of the StartupStandup event, the fog in Belgrade was one the heaviest in living memory, which was the reason one of two key speakers, Oliver Holle of SpeedInvest couldn’t make it due to flight cancellation.

This is a nightmare for every event organizer, especially in a situation where there is a small number of speakers planned, such as the case was here.

Fortunately for us, Branko Milutinović, the CEO of Belgrade’s own Nordeus, was present at the event and accepted to fill the vacant slot.

With only a few guidelines during the lunch break, he improvised one of the best keynotes I heard on the subject of startups and entrepreneurship in general, with a special look at the circumstances of the SEE region.

So if you are a part of a startup, are thinking about starting one or looking to join one – this video is a must see.

Below is the embeded video and below that is a short overview of the main points Branko shared with the audience.

1) Always be learning

All that you’ve read about startups either online or in a book, all the talk and theory about how to build a company and succeed… Is actually pretty true.

I used to have an oppinion that people can be good at something only if they are doing it to, while others sit and write about it. It isn’t that simple actually.

In other words, never stop educating yourself and stay informed.

2) The team comes first

Money is a very neat thing to have when starting a company, but not the crucial one. The focus is on the people, the team.

If you have smart friends – attract them and get them into your company as early as you can. With smart people around you there is no problem you cannot solve.

Capabilities are not the only measure for quality team members. You are going to need all the people you’ve ‘been through a war together‘, you can never have too many people you can count on.

3) Success from the Balkans

All the cities from Niša to Ljubljana – they are irrelevant on a global level. But this doesn’t rob us of the opportunity to surprise everyone and win from Belgrade for instance.

As a nation, and this goes for the whole region, we have a need to find the reasons and excuses for our failures.

“I wasn’t lucky in that I was born in Belgrade, Serbia, otherwise had I been born, with my skills and talents, in San Francisco, I would have been Bill Gates.”

I strongly object to this attitude. I believe that all you need to do is focus, see challenges as opportunities, not as problems.

4) Challenges as opportunities

When Nordeus founders were told that they were crazy for leaving Microsoft and returning to Belgrade to start a company, when they could be staying in Denmark, they saw this as an opportunity.

Although the situation in Serbia is far from ideal for starting any kind of business, they knew that there is a huge number of talented engineers who could compete with anyone in the world.

At the same time, in Serbia they were far more affordable than anywhere in the West, especially in the US, plus there is not even closely the kind of competition for talent or opportunities for people to compete and win on the global market.

All in all, always be positive and see challenges as opportunities.

And never, ever, blame someone else for things not happening for you.

5) It’s all a matter of attitude

Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. Thus some time before the launch of Nordeus’s Top Eleven a very similar app by global giant Electronic Arts came out, with far supperior budgets.

In such a situation it is very easy to lose morale, but the way you look at the situation is very important.

We could have said that we didn’t have enough luck with the world greatest authority for sports games coming into the same market as we did, with unlimited resources.

Instead of that we said – screw them, we’re gonna make a better game, a better product, and by the end of the year we’re going to have the most popular online sports game in the world. And we did.

I know that we’re not any less capable than anyone else in the world. Our capabilities are the same and it all comes down to the attitude you have towards life and seizing opportunities, which makes the difference between success and failure.

6) Strike while the iron is hot

I would strongly recommend all the young people in the audience that still don’t have kids, to actually try something new in life when it comes to professional challenges.

Don’t be afraid of risk becuase you’re not risking anything – if you’re young and smart there is always a job waiting for you in the future.

The question is only whether in ten years from now you will look back and ask yourself how it could have been if you hadn’t been working for Microsoft for a nice paycheck and had a cosy family life. Will you be asking yourself how it could have been if you had maximized your potential?

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