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Innovative approach in business development - examples from real life


INNOVATION Innovative approach of management, leadership and entrepreneurship styles, marketing, In the previous editions of the magazine we talked lot about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in Macedonia. But what we didn’t cover was the innovative approaches that they have taken over the years towards solving organisational issues. In the following pages through examples we will see how some of them have solved those issues and what innovative approaches they took. Moreover it has been long proven in various startups, multinationals, big corporations and even small teams that it is the leadership style of the person in charge of the team that creates the appropriate climate for entrepreneurship and innovation inside the company. If the person who is immediately above you in the hierarchy is not entrepreneurial or innovative that will directly influence your innovative approach and work ethic. Therefore most innovative people change working places often thus the saying people don’t change workplaces they change bosses. Another interesting fact is that founders of businesses/startups/organizations are great entrepreneurs but not necessarily good leaders. However on the other hand, managers are not only good leaders but also turn out to be quite innovative in their approach to motivate their subordinates. In addition, two managers and entrepreneurs are never identical in their styles of managing, there are no two Steve Jobs or two Elon Musk out there but there are common traits that most of the successful leaders of people express. In this magazine we will try to find the traits that Macedonian successful entrepreneurs and leaders have and what innovative approaches they follow in various elements of the business aspect: finances, organization, managing etc. The next section we will have interviews with entrepreneurs who did something innovative in their approach in doing business. The following examples are of great entrepreneurs turned great managers and leaders.

Systems 4 enterprises Innovative approach to management Stefan you are serial entrepreneur, but interesting before entering the startup world you were active in youth organizations, can you tell us how they changed you as a person, entrepreneurs and professional? The activities which shaped my personality and put me on the crossroad of the tech and the social sciences happened mainly during my adolescence. I was shy prior to taking drama classes in my early teenhood. When they put you onstage that is it, you cannot be shy anymore. In the real life everything happened in my head, 2


and I just decided that it is same as stepping on stage. My friends now tell me I am one of the most outgoing people they know. To my colleagues who are afraid of talking in front of audience I recommend thinking as if they are actors, they have no other option, because that is the reality in almost all professions. Computers came natural to me. We had a computer in our home when I was 7. My father later opened a school for computer skills, and I was teaching part time. He believed that programming is a skill that is needed in most professions. Even if you are not a programmer if you know to think like one you can be much more successful in most businesses. During high school I was heavily involved in youth organizations where I have learned how to motivate volunteers. This is essential. Once you learn how to lead people which are unpaid to do tasks for the greater good it is much easier to do it with professionals. I have learned how to create an atmosphere where caring, understanding and group growth are essential. So starting a startup just felt as an natural extension of this path. System for enterprise is a startup that you founded some years ago, can you tell us something more about S4E?

Computers came natural to me. We had a computer in our home when I was 7.

We strive to make the world a safer place trough creating innovative solutions for the insurance industry. Our approach is to care. We care about the needs of our clients and the needs of their clients. By understanding the bigger picture, we make better long-term decisions. Our goal is making a full-fledged insurance enterprise solution. To get there we are developing each module of this enterprise solution as sellable piece. This approach pushes us to make each module competitive with the industry best. When the synergy of these modules occurs, I have no doubt that we will have the best insurance enterprise system out there. It is interesting that in System for Enterprises you have obligatory cooking timeslots, how did this tradition started and how it has evolved over the years?

I was shy prior to taking drama It all started as a problem. Our office is in a resident area and there are no good classes in my lunch options in a walking distance. We started as a small group and cooking came early teenhood. natural in the beginning.

The challenge was to organize it as the team grew. We have decided to stick to it and make it part of our identity. When you think about it, we are saving money as this takes less time than having hour long breaks. More importantly it is a great team-building activity. Most of the people did not knew how to cook prior to join us. Now we are making sushi and our own beer.

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Cooking is an innovative approach to make team building part of the company and helps with the satisfaction of the employees, but what other benefits and team building activities do you integrate in your every day management and leadership? We have company library, weekly trainings, database of courses and everybody can purchase any course (even on unrelated topic) on the company bill. It is not only about “what”, but also about “how”. We empower people to be: proactive, initiative taking, to care about their work and the team. There is a process which encourages group decision making and easy communication. For example, I design instances when interns have same decision power as I do, this in return creates great dedication. You are avid behaviour economist, how has behaviour economics influenced your leadership and management/entrepreneurship styles? The science of decision making, and influence is essential for any manager. Behavioral economics teaches us when the most common pitfalls in our logic occur. We can use it to both change our behavioral, design team behavior and understand and nudge our customers. What are the new products you are working on? As part of the insurance enterprise solution we are working on increasing the synergy between the products we have created:

We empower people to be: proactive, initiative taking, to care about their work and the team -DIAM NOBIS

Our communication module – Dopamine, which is created around the needs of the insurance salesmen. Every standard enterprise module includes emails. We went a step further by allowing salesmen to schedule personalized SMS. This way their client relationships get personal and lasting.

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Our Reinsurance module – ORM includes optimization of the reinsurance processes and guiding the companies towards their best choice in reinsurance. None of the enterprise solutions offer something like this. Our Claims module has incorporated task management system – b0ard. This system is more intuitive and feature rich than Trello. The mobile and web sales platform which is fully configurable by business people with zero programming skills. The insurance tech is an interesting field to be working on, what are the newest trends and what is S4E doing to follow them? Insurtech is very exciting. Startups are experimenting with: blockchain, AI, big data and innovative sales channels. Vehicle insurance will significantly diminish by 2030 when the autonomous cars overtake the market. This will no doubt bring substantial changes in the insurance industry. As we are getting heavily dependent on our digital solutions the cyber-risk is also on the rise. I expect by 2030 cyber-risk to become biggest risk class, bigger than natural disasters. In short what does the future hold for S4E? The future is where I live . believe remarkable things are coming ahead.

ADEVA innovative management towards working environment -remote work Katerina and Tosho, you opened Adeva quite some time ago as a purely outsourcing company, but something changed. Over the years Adeva has become a Macedonian synonym for out-staffing. Can you tell us something more about Adeva and out-staffing? That's right, Adeva started as an outsourcing company with a traditional approach to working with clients: we got a project, worked on it in-house and then delivered it. After a while, we started feeling firsthand everything that companies find repelling in outsourcing. We had the control over the work, not our clients. It was our team, our working processes, our values. It's great when you're working on MVPs 5


or individual fractions of a project that don't depend on anyone else. However, it's not the right approach when it's an ongoing collaboration where you need to build trust and accountability.

Honestly We started learning from every challenge we faced and everything that was even remotely yes. It is the time to start an issue for our clients. That's how we came up with the outstafing model - a way of work your own where our clients have full control over their team. They get to use their own tools and business. It processes, schedule regular meetings with their remote team and have each team member will not be align with their own culture and their own values. easy, but it will be So what is Adeva at the moment? You are known for taking good care of your employees, canityou worth elaborate more on some of the innovative approaches that you have taken on leadership and management of your organisation? Adeva is a bridge between tech companies and world-class talent from around the globe. Our vision is to bring untapped talent to hyper-growing tech companies and help them launch international careers. We do care about our people and we believe in a world where everyone organizes their work around their own priorities. To empower our team to do that, we introduced remote working around a year ago. At first, people were split between the pros and cons of remote work. Now that they got used to it, there's no going back :) Since the office is not a limit any more, we recently started expanding to the global talent market. Using unconventional approaches for sourcing, screening and evaluating engineers, we are constantly growing our talent community. Our goal is to redefine the way people work. That is, everyone should be able to work on what they want, from where they want to. So, no matter where they are, we empower our developers and designers to tailor their perfect job position. Then, we match them with the right client, instead of doing it the other way around. You both are advocating for remote working, how does a remote day in Adeva’s offices look like? Empty :) Seriously, people started enjoying remote work so much that there are initiatives to start a mandatory office day so that we start hanging out more in person.

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The best thing about remote work is that everyone is able to work from wherever they feel most productive. That doesn't mean that place can't be the office (especially if it's an empty office :)). There are usually 4-5 people working from the office on a normal day. Others are combining work with travel, visiting family, or simply working from home on a hot summer day. It's amazing how the priority is shifting from sitting in a desk for 8 hours to organizing work around your life.

Our office is empty most of the time.

Is the future of organisations remote? Yes! The technology has advanced so much that you can call anyone on the other side of the world and feel like you're talking to your friend next door. Even at the office, we communicate more over Slack than we do in person. On the other hand, the global tech centers are overcrowded and it becomes impossible to hire qualified engineers in budget. Having amazing talent distributed around the world, why would we limit our choices to a small geographic region? Remote work contributes a lot to our quality of life, but it's not just an idealistic view of how our lives should look like. It's also a strategic choice for growing companies from global tech centres. Where is Adeva in 5 years? In 5 years, Adeva is a fully remote company that contributes to reshaping the global working landscape. With a thoughtfully designed process of matching candidates with the right companies, we help developers find the job they'll love and at the same time make sure the company gets a candidate that fits their culture and performs best in such environment.

Adeva is also active on the product market. Can you tell us something more about your newest product, who is it for and what is the innovation?

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We are working on an AI-powered platform for automating a big part of the sourcing and screening process of tech talent. It's meant to boost what we've been doing in the past years in a way that will make it even easier for entrepreneurs and HR Managers to get quick access to qualified talent ready to start right away. Again, our focus will stay on empowering developers to define their own working conditions and preferences and we'll make sure to match them only with clients that meet them. For the clients, this will mean access to hand-picked candidates who fit both their technical requirements and their culture. Last but not least, community or corporate work? Both :) If you only do community work, you can't really scale it. That's why we try to interlace our corporate work with our "responsibilities" to the community. In an indirect way, partnering with amazing companies and organizations from around the world makes it possible for us to bring exciting possibilities for professional growth for developers. With the lessons we learn in the corporate world, we can coach developers on how to perform better and grow their careers. In a more direct way, our corporate work gives us the resources to support local and global communities, as well as start initiatives for growing the ecosystem. We support WeTalkIT, local developers community in Macedonia; Learn IT, Girl, a global initiative for mentoring women in tech; and organize many events and initiatives in Macedonia, with Adeva's Female Bootcamp being the latest one.

Stay Uncle Innovation styles in communication to stakholders and social media Blaze, you are the co-founders of a highly rated and successful startup in India - Stay uncle. Can you tell us more about how you ended up in India and how the startup was started? My first foray in India was in August 2011 after series of unsuccessful attempts to land on internship or career opportunities in Europe. My primary objective was to pump up that resume of mine and gain professional experience. I didn’t imagine that India will further stoke my entrepreneurial passions 3 years later. From the early beginnings Stay Uncle was original in it’s communicational activities. Can you tell us which communication channels you used and why? We started with a mere Tumblr blog and email newsletter where I put my cofounder’s Tinder adventures and sort of made them a public affair. He wasn’t aware about it. It was like a sort of reality show but it wasn’t manufacturing reality. It was real. People loved it. The popularity of the newsletter grew so much that soon it found its way into his parent’s house in a small town in Uttar Pradesh. His mother got a mild attack when she got to know about the content of it. We kept doing it nevertheless. Consistency matters. Stayuncle is active on social media and is one of the first startups in Indian startups that utilises the community to the maximum, how did you created the community of loyal uncles? 8


We were very humane and we were vulnerable. Like we’d like a friendly neighborhood uncle to be. Because of StayUncle’s controversial nature and the way we branded ourselves, we were often a target of organized cyberattacks. Every time our business was affected and our website shut down by hackers we cried out and

openly asked for help from our community. And lo, others came to our aid. We acknowledged the help. Then we cried for help even more and acknowledged those who helped us even further. We created a magical loop of asking for help and acknowledging those who assisted us. It worked. Soon one fan of ours even created a website called The StayUncle army campaigning and inviting the public to register and mention the type of skills they possess that could help StayUncle.

Stay uncle regular is featured in world renewed newspapers such as national geographic, bloomberg, forbesetc what does a story in this magazines bring to stay uncle on the long term? It brings what India’s first hotel aggregator for couples truly needs. Credibility and trustworthiness. Indians always pay a second look if a company is acknowledged by international media. Plus a solid ranking on Google SERP for a search category which keeps growing. That acts as an entry barrier and even protected us when India’s biggest budget hotel aggregator ventured into couple friendly accommodation later on.

You are also the writer of the white trophy book inspired by your entrepreneurial endeavours in India and how you made it from zero to million dollars, what do you want to communicate with the public though this book, what are the main innovative approaches you used in the promotion and distribution of the book? If you wish to create wealth, entrepreneurship is the way ahead. Government jobs, such popular alternative in postcommunist countries will only take you this far. And If I, an average youth who was tilling the land yesterday, living in an impoverished family can turn a leader of multi-million dollars’ company today, so can you.

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To turn a book into a commercial success you need to see it as yet another product and you yourself as a marketer. Being a writer is no longer enough. Writing the book is only half of the job. As a marketer-writer you are expected to do what every other marketer does to successfully launch a product – segment the market, pick up his niche, communicate using the right language, hit the right sentiments shake hands with the best distributor and hit hard on promotion.

What is the future of stayuncle? We want to migrate from an online aggregator to fully managed franchise model. We plan to open India’s first exclusive love hotels. if you are to start again what other innovative communication tools will you use to transfer your personal massage ( the white trophy) and the massage of the company (stay uncle) Email newsletter again. Fortunately, India hasn’t yet caught up on those pesky anti-Spam laws and that sort of gives bidding entrepreneurs with just little bit of creativity a chance to be noticed. And I would definitely add Instagram stories and Instagram influencers within the mix right from the start.

Marand Consulting Innovation in financial management and accounting Marijana, you started your consulting company over 13 years ago. I can say that you were among the first in Macedonia to specialize in providing advices to companies and entrepreneurs in the domain of taxes, legal and financial advisory; can you tell us more about the beginnings? Our beginnings are closely connected to the beginnings of young entrepreneurs in the IT industry. My former colleagues who started their business, needed support in the field of taxes, finance, accounting, and payroll. It all started on a friendly basis. Later on, I was thrilled with the idea to run my own firm under “my rules”. Admiring old and experienced accountants having a pile of tax reports of their clients, proudly standing in a row in front of the PRO, I pictured myself in their position craving their shoe size. I knew hard work was on the rise. Nowadays, a dozen of folders is required for the tax reports of our clients. These IT entrepreneurs, as my first clients, inspired and supported me, but more importantly – showed me the possibilities of being different than an “average accountant” by using IT technology at each stage.The embracing of their way of “smart” thinking and the possibility of e-accounting placed a new trace in the later stages of the work of my team. What were the main advices that you gave to companies and entrepreneurs then (13 years ago) and now? 10


They have to be aware about their financial position at any moment. Taking risk is crucial for every business, but I always point out to the entrepreneurs that they have to be aware of the “calculated risk” (as much as it can be calculated). Regarding nowadays, the principal advice stays the same, only supplemented with the necessity to focus on what they do best, having in mind opportunity costs, while acting in a way – “I can do almost everything”. This is a statement without a promising future, because taking care of many non-important things is always more expensive than use the possibility to adopt virtual teams and outsource as much of their non-core businesses. What has changed in the mindset of managers and entrepreneurs? From our experience, treatment of employees is something that is on the top of the list. Finance, investment, and distribution of profit, are below it. Employees are the most valuable asset for a firm. That being said, hard-working and good employees do not leave employers, they leave Managers. Having this embedded in a high-profile Manager mindset, sometimes seems impossible. It might be attributed to the culture or just the clear objectives of the firm, where profit and output are the main drivers.

In your opinion, what should entrepreneurs have in mind from financial and accounting point of view when they are starting their company? Nowadays, access to finance is not the biggest issue in starting a business. Anyone that has a good idea, good product, and can find its place on the market, should start the business without any doubt. Human capital and entrepreneur’s agility are crucial for emerging businesses, because new opportunities might be missed in a blink of an eye. We know that the financial sector is changing rapidly, we have more and more online banks and applications that take care of our financial well-being; this being said, what innovative financial approaches would you recommend to young entrepreneurs? Our main strength is the adjective “e”; so we are delivering services of e-accounting, cloud-based ERP software, easy to use from anywhere in the world. Clients have access to software which has all data daily updated. Finance, HR, banking, all of it can be managed even from one’s phone. For example, for businesses that require frequent travels, traveling costs are significant item on the cost side, and the possibility of daily data entry by the employee is very useful. 11


We are using interface friendly ERP solution, connected to a mobile application for the purpose of delivering timely information. It is applicable when the employee is out of office on an assigned task, or sent abroad on a business trip. The application is connected to the software (Android only) even when offline and collects data about each cost the employee is having. When the phone is connected to the Internet, costs are automatically recorded. The possibility of real-time data and timely processed information are the basics entrepreneurs rely on. If you are going to list 3 things that every entrepreneur MUST do before starting a business from a financial perspective, how would that list look like? 

Structure business plan in the most simple way

Find Human capital

Prepare strong marketing and sales policy

What about the DON’T? What should entrepreneurs be careful about when starting their business? Stay on the ground in terms of finance. Do not forget to be careful in spending for the things not related to business, and do not spare on employee costs, education, equipment, and other facility costs. Lastly, what do you think will be the future of Marand Consultancy? Will you be going international through franchising?

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We already succeeded in exiting the borders. Acting as registration agent for establishing companies in Macedonia, we acquired the first client from Dubai last month. Regarding the financial planning and reporting, going international is the future. We are already involved in reporting for our investors from UK, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, and by word of mouth, we are soon starting to work directly for foreign entities. Having the team of 9 extraordinary enthusiastic “bees” doing only regular day to day activities is just not possible. These professionals are the driving force to implement many innovative tricks in

supporting clients in the managing of their finances.

VA-Plast Innovation approach towards in production Vanco you are a self made entrepreneur. Can you tell us your story, where did the idea and the strength to say “I want to be start something mine” come from? My entrepreneurship "story" started 20 years ago when I worked in the Toolkit firm KTZ Kragujevac. I had great wish to start my own business because I had great knowledge in the mechanical and a solid knowledge of plastic materials.

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In 2000, I called a friend of a large company in Gostivar from the chemical industry and asked how they solved the problem of closing the bottle for salt and pepper. Because I worked on this “issue� in the previous years I decided this was a problem i will solve, so created my own tools and company for production of plastic parts. These were the beginnings of my company. Like every beginning, mine was difficulty, especially finding means to buy enough stocks of materials and working capital. In the first year of existence, the biggest problem was how to start cooperating with big companies and make products for them. However , since then I have invested heavily in quality machines that produce high-quality plastic products (tools) for the largest companies in Macedonia and the region

VA plast was establiesd 18 years ago and in this brief period of time it is the list of 150 best companies operating in Macedonia. Tell us more about the products that VA- PLAST is creating? In the beginning of 2015, as a result of good results from year to year, our company "VA-PLAST" received recognition from the Ministry of Economy that we are a company that has progressed steady in the first 15 years. This was the result of working with the large Macedonian companies that use plastic materials to store their products. The plastic products made in our company are manufactured by machines with German technology. All the machines in our company are made by the best German brand ARBURG, which makes machines for 14


plastic parts. VA-plast uses plastic from famous brands on the world trade (Lukoil-Russia, BASF-Germany etc…). The plastic from these companies is not harmful for the enviroment and for the peoples’ health. What innovative approaches did you undertook the previous years, which helped you consolidate your business and be where are you now? As the product the company grew, the company also invested in better and newer machines to be more competitive on the market in terms of quality and quantity of products. In 2017 our company decided to renew it’s machines and invest in new ones from the German company "ARBURG" which are the highest quality machines and the most competitive in the manufacture of plastic. We have also entered a new and bigger facility so that we can produce products that are for export. The quality of the machines we use to produce the plastic products lead us to new opportunities and was recognised by the big players in the different industries that we serve. from the many branches that we serve , we chose the cosmetics to be our main target because by making cosmetic boxes we have seen that over the years cosmetic companies have problems to maintain the quality of the ingridince which they fill in the plastic container (baby cream, face for face, face mask, etc.) if that container is not made from the highest quality and standards. That’s why the first innovation was the construction of a plastic container suitable for creams that protects the cream as long as possible. The second innovation was was to make the container from nano materials. In this segment we have not done enough testing, because it takes a long time for tests and time will be needed to prove the innovation in full. The third innovation is the make the container decompose after its initial use. We want to make the box entirely from biodegradable material that will not pollute the environment. This innovation was ranked as one of the most innovative out of 406 companies that participated on a World Bank project. Vancho, your compmny Va Plast workes with the biggest Macedonian companies, can you tell the young entrepreneurs how did you manage to connect with such companies and what innovative approaches you used in the the negotiation with them. Working with the best firms in our country and in the region requires lot of preparation in every segment of the production process. First of all, I mean a you need to have product quality. The machine involved in the production process should be in excellent shape and well-prepared for production. The team leding the production should always keep an eye on the environmental standards required by the clients and, above all, the the employees should have appropriate knowledge of the production process, and have the appropriate training for the workplace. All major firms (Alkaloid, Replek Farm, Swisslion, Lyon, etc.) have DMP norms that allows anyone who fore fills the norms can be supplier to them. This gave us hope from the beginning that we can succeed and that the entrance to every big company is possible and it depends only on us. We managed to start 15


collaborating with the big companies from the early beginning and we are still their preferred supplier and manufacturer of plastic materials. We cherish the tradition that we need to improve on a daily basis to produce parts for them. Where do you see the future of VA Plasnt The future of our company should be in the part of production of Pharmaceutical and cosmetic plastic canisters and boxes. In these two branches we have the most experience and products. This products are the most basic for making, but demand high quality, service and as a company we always want a challenge. Of course, we are trying to develop ourselves in other industrial branches, primarily in the construction and food industry, but our priority is pharmacy and cosmetics for now. We proved our innovativeness with the production of cosmetic and pharmaceutical plastic products. The next project of our company will be in the field of pharmacy and our team is working on a major project for the Pharmaceutical industry. According to the estimates, the project should come out in the next two years on the market and of course, we will again be participants in the competition for innovative solutions. This project is ready as a product that can be started with preparation, but we consider it necessary to examine the product in the laboratory and the opinion of the big companies to accept it as part of their program.

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Innovative Approaches in Business Development  

Magazine 3 - "Innovative Approaches in Business Development". Created in the project "Entrepreneurial Education for Youth". Sponsored by t...

Innovative Approaches in Business Development  

Magazine 3 - "Innovative Approaches in Business Development". Created in the project "Entrepreneurial Education for Youth". Sponsored by t...

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