Applications for the best emerging marketing start-up are open until September 12 on www.martechchallenge.com
DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions’ CEO Jovan Stojanović talked to Marketing mreža.
Our market has a relatively low number of registered start-ups that are focused on marketing. What is your take on the Serbian market’s potential when it comes to launching new start-ups? Why should Serbia’s marketing communications market pull together in this mission?
Perhaps we could say that our market is still in its infancy when it comes to the start-up community, especially in terms of marketing as a field of innovation. However, there have been some very positive developments over the recent years. A survey first conducted by the Digital Serbia Initiative that continued as a global scan through the Start-up Genome has revealed that the most common industries for Serbian start-ups include blockchain and gaming, which also draw the biggest investments. Start-ups focusing on the application of new technology in marketing are indeed still few, but this doesn’t mean that the marketing industry doesn’t need them — quite the contrary. Start-ups can serve as a genuine support and driving force for agency growth if you know the right way to work together. I think the key prerequisite for increasing the number of marketing start-ups is that those who are launching new companies have a deep understanding of our industry and its needs. In real life and in most cases that means that they had been in our business for some time and that they understand the challenges and limitations we encounter in the right way.
In your opinion, how much are start-ups important for the growth of our national economy and how much do they contribute to the market’s growth?
Start-up ecosystems have become perhaps the most important — and surely the most dynamic — driving force for the development of any country. In addition to most commonly creating products that have global appeal, they also bring new value to their local environments, both in terms of economy and on the social, cultural, and psychological levels. As I mentioned, my subjective observation is that the Serbian start-up ecosystem is continuously evolving. I use the term subjective because there’s no research to back up any one argument. In any event, we do see movement — both in investments coming to start-ups from these areas and in strengthening the collaboration between the traditional corporate world and start-ups.
DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions is already working with a number of start-ups. How much of an impact did they have on your business?
We started working with start-ups prompted by the need to accelerate growth, as well as — simply put — modernize our business, and this process is complex and challenging in our business as much as in any other. Our cooperation has a twofold objective. On the one hand, it’s rooted in the need to try to automate processes as much as possible in order to provide more efficient services, and on the other, the need to be able to offer our partners the most advanced and optimal solutions from the most evolved markets. This entire process has ushered in change in the agency culture itself, which is well on its way along the path of transformation thanks to coming into contact with the start-up mindset. I hope that the start-ups working with us are also happy with the resulting benefits. Above all, those include the insights they gained into the needs and processes of an agency through our work together, which I am positive will help them come up with new ideas or design even better solutions.
What is the goal of the MarTech Challenge project and why should start-ups apply?
Encouragement and networking are the two terms that maybe best describe the goal of the MarTech initiative. When we started organizing monthly events for marketing community representatives and tech entrepreneurs at ICT HUB at the beginning of the year, we were completely fine with not having a clear picture of what it would all look like. We saw that there was interest in exchanging ideas, and this inspired us further to continue with the events and launch the best emerging start-up competition — all to additionally motivate them to think of marketing as a solid and lucrative platform for innovation. The competition is regional in nature, accepting applications from emerging start-ups or teams that are yet to be registered as legal entities but that have ideas they believe in. Applications can be submitted on www.martechchallenge.com by September 12. The winning team will be announced at the Kaktus conference, which this year puts a spotlight on young talent and innovation, and the grand prize will be a trip to the MarTech Conference in San Jose, which explores marketing technology. I expect that the best start-ups to apply for the competition will also find value in working with the region’s leader in communications, our mentoring aimed at further developing their solutions, as well as promoting their efforts.