Applications for the best emerging marketing start-up are open until September 12 on www.martechchallenge.com
Marko Mudrinić, Netokracija Co-Founder & Managing Director
How much do the media actually focus on the start-up ecosystem in Serbia?
Coming from a media outlet that was among the first in the region to write about local start-ups, developments in the tech entrepreneurship world, and innovation funds, I cannot help but be critical when I say that the local media’s grasp of high-tech entrepreneurship is still fledgling, with no specific interest for spotlighting entrepreneurs as role models for the general public. On the one hand, that is a true reflection of our environment, and on the other, an opportunity for an outfit like Netokracija to address the small but select target audience that consumes our content because they find it important to keep abreast of the changes that take place locally, as well as the unfortunately still marginalized local entrepreneurs’ success stories.
How can a quality start-up with no budget draw media attention and tell its story?
If you feel that your story is really worth telling, reach out to Netokracija! All jokes aside, just as entrepreneurial literacy is poor in the local mass media, so is media literacy among local entrepreneurs, who mostly see media outreach as unnecessary or as another task on their to-do list that they’ll never get to. In my opinion, this is a completely wrong move, because appearing in a select media outlet that understands the subject matter, as well as wanting to spotlight information that will generate sufficient attention among the audience (in other words, being completely mysterious should be avoided) can only create a positive image for the team, product, or company. In addition, media appearances on carefully select channels such as Netokracija can only reinforce a team’s position, make them searchable for investors who stay up-to-date and on the lookout for new teams, and offer them an opportunity to form new teams in early business stages.
What is your take on Serbia’s start-up ecosystem compared with the region?
Serbia is definitely not lagging behind when it comes to building a start-up ecosystem. On the one hand, we have a truly gifted and committed first generation of entrepreneurs who are now slowly making their first exits and who have inspired a slew of founders who are just joining the world of high-tech entrepreneurship. On the other hand, we have a government that puts digitalization and the 4th industrial revolution quite high on its agenda, as well as organizations like Serbian Entrepreneurs and Digital Serbia Initiative, which are doing truly fantastic work on reducing the gap between Serbia and the Silicon Valley. Let’s not forget that Serbia is the only country in this part of Europe that was included in the big global Startup Genome research in 2019. However, the road ahead is long, the whole ecosystem has yet to mature, and this will not happen overnight — but instead through implementing initiatives centered around deepening different industries that are already ripe for digitization and working with innovative start-ups.
Why should start-ups sign up for the MarTech Challenge?
When we started discussing partnerships on the MarTech Challenge project at Netokracija, we immediately liked the idea of involving an industry that is digital in its own right while being capable of far greater benefits by using innovative ideas and solutions. The world is changing, and so are agencies. Very quickly, their ranks are going to include more developers and data scientists than we thought possible only five years ago. Start-ups that are indeed thinking about signing up for the MarTech Challenge should absolutely do so because it is one of the few initiatives — an industry’s call for innovators to showcase their solutions and experience firsthand what it looks like to work in a rounded out media system, as well as how this system can be improved even more.