Before founding the technology blog Netokracija, it was Bug magazine where I started my technology journalism career; writing about the best blog platforms in Croatia as well as why social networks would take over the world (wide web). Yes, it was that long ago, when MySpace wasn’t dead and Kevin Rose’s Digg was the darling of the tech world.
But why is all this important? Two reasons.
First of all, now you can understand why I was excited to judge the 3rd Idea Knockout startup competition in a row. As Bug’s executive editor and my friend Dragan Petric puts it: ‘Ivan is the one that asks the hard questions, which is why we have him in the judging panel! :)’
The second reason has to do with the competition, which sends the winner to CES in Las Vegas, one of the largest technology events in the world. As with journalism, you have to get breaks and support from your peers to succeed as a startup – and going to CES can be one of those breaks.
In the end, it was the STEM educational startup STEMI that came out on top, gathering the most points among all the teams.
With over 320 developers attending, the first Change conference to take place in Zagreb, was a huge success thanks to a focused technology agenda and interesting speakers such as Oracle’s Geertjan Wielenga and TVbeat’s Alan Pavičić.
Which is why I was more than happy to participate in the closing panel on how software is influencing society, alongside my friend, one of Croatia’s most and Croatian Makers founder Nenad Bakić .
Joining us were KING ICT Java team lead and Rochester Institute of Technology professor Aleksander Radovan and Oracle’s developer advocate for open source projects Geertjan Wielenga.
Over 300 developer visited the Change conference!
Honestly, when I got the (high level) questions such as when super computers and big data will bring the 2nd cognitive revolution or a post-human era, I knew I had to do my research. Other topics that we tackled included:
What educational models can relate to the fast changing software landscape, a topic that Nenad started the conference in his opening talk;
What are the next industries that the business model shift that comes along with software will disrupt? Guess my pic – yep, it’s my own, beloved media industry that I believe will be completely reinvented in the next 5 years thanks to agile players such as Rafat Ali’s Skift as well as my own Netokracija, ‘The Techcrunch of the Balkans’.
Speaking of agile: Programme director and panel moderator Roko Roić wasn’t going to let us out easy and wanted us to dive deep into the central question in the panel’s title. Having in mind that Roko is the author of Croatia’s first book on the Agile methodology, moving fast and learning on our initial answers actually led to a pretty ‘agile’ discussion. Punny, I know! 😜
Nenad Bakić held the opening keynote.
How Can We Get Encourage More Female Developers in Croatia
Nenad took us back to middle school, arguing that based on both data as well as practical experience from Croatian Makers’ STEM education projects, girls were quite interestedinto learning about technology. At least a 3rd of all the kids attending Croatian Makers classes on building STEM robots were girls, proving that the problem doesn’t stem (ouch) from early childhood.
Closing panel – why are there less women in this industry? The root of the problem starts in the earliest of age, in schools. #TheChangeCon
Aleksandar agreed, saying that the problem is more visible in university such as RIT, Algebra and the Polytechnic of Zagreb where he teaches Java. Women, unfortunately, didn’t make up nearly a 3rd or his students, showing that we need to encourage young girls that technology truly is an interesting and viable career choice.
My own answer was preceded by a simple question: Why was a panel that tackled this topic as well as 100% of the speaker list made up entirely of men? Roko agreed, saying how difficult it was to find female speakers, which is why he wanted to include the question in the panel.
Netokracija’s Ladies of New Business with more than 150 geekettes! (Photo by Luka Travas)
Moving on, and based on comments and talks by the lovely ladies of Netokracija’s Ladies of New Business women in tech conference, I argued that a lot of women just weren’t sure of themselves to ask for a raise, or pitch to talk at a conference such as Change. It’s not that they weren’t truly ready, they just didn’t feel ‘100% sure’ that it was the right time or that they had enough experience. A comment from the audience, which Geertjan agree with, is that the technology industry and development aren’t the most friendly of environments for women.
While women are aware of all these issues, I argued (and will continue to do so) that it’s the job of us guys to also stand up, participate and encourage our female colleagues and friends in the industry to pounce on opportunities.
Just as Ada Lovelace did, as a mathematician and writer in the early 19th century, becoming the world’s first programmer.
P.S. I love the fact that alongside the custom craft edition of Zmajsko (that I ♥️) beer, Roko used a well known ‘agile’ technique to open them when we couldn’t find a bottle opener!
From being known as the “blogger without a blog” to now running Southeastern Europe’s most proficient technology blog, Netokracija, I’ve always loved how writing online lets me go back into the archive and see where my thoughts (as well as a lot of dreams) were in the past.
As Netokracija has grown, however, it’s become far more than a single person’s blog and requires me to write long-form, detailed articles that need to adhere to our very ambitious editorial plans and great audience.
I knew I missed having a place to just… make notes… on the web, to truly blog. Reading experienced investor and blogger Fred Wilson’s “A Public Record“, where he states how blogging for more than 14 (FOURTEEN!) years has helped him in a similar way – took me back a moment:
I tend to get obsessed about one thing and write a lot about it. Which creates a public record. You can’t hide from that, but then again blogging is the opposite of hiding.
This little blog, little website, isn’t a content project, a fast growing blog, a media company. It’s my little, personal corner of the web, a public record.
Being involved with both corporates and startups in Southeastern Europe, I had the pleasure of talking about how the two could work together as part of a panel at the SAP Forum 2016 in Zagreb, alongside experts from Podravka and Agrokor’s mStart.
What is the SAP Forum?
The SAP Forum which takes place annually in Zagreb and is one of the largest tech conferences in Croatia. For those not familiar with SAP, it’s a German multinational software company present in over 130 countries with almost 300,000 customers around the world.
You Need ‘Startup Types’
Along with Coworking Croatia’s founder Matija Raos, STEMI’s co-founder Pavao Pahljina, mStart’s innovation manager Marina Meštrović and Podravka’s Open Innovation manager Emir Džanić, I talked about how corporates such as the ones present at the SAP Forum could and should work with startups to improve the rate of innovation.
The conversation was moderated by my long-term colleague and friend Luka Sučić, currently manager of the Croatian coworking space Hub385 where our own Netokracija offices are headed. Luka’s experience with the question of startup-corporate cooperation stems from his work at Deutsche Telekom, including working as an investment manager at DT’s Hub:raum accelerator in Krakow.
Win For Netokracija: Mia Wins Journalistic Award
What made me smile most at SAP’s event was the moment we knew that Mia Biberović, Netokracija executive editor, won the yearly ‘Božo Težak’ award for journalistic excellence for her work on writing about technology in the previous year. Panel’s come and go, but having Mia’s work honored was truly the highlight of the SAP Forum 2016!
Webiz is probably the most consistently well-attended event around internet business in Serbia and we’ve been supporting it at Netokracija for years now. Which is why when Webiz’s Vladimir Kovač asked me to moderate the Ecommerce track as well as do a talk on the topic, I couldn’t say no. After all, only weeks had passed since Netokracija’s own OMGcommerce conference and I had a lot to say about what needed to change about ecommerce in Southeastern Europe.
What Does E-commerce Have To Do With The Serbian ‘Alps’?
Webiz Edukacije or ‘Webiz Education’ series is a – you guessed it – series of educational presentations that took place in Zlatibor, an important tourist area of Serbia, honestly, I’ve not heard about before. Not well known in Croatia which was made obvious by our car’s plates being the only non-Serbian ones, Zlatibor is actually known for its hiking trails and has a cool alpine climate. If you like hills, you’ll love Zlatibor, although keep in mind that the town is a couple of hours drive from either the Croatian border or Belgrade.
The module on E-commerce featured three speakers: TakoLakoShop’s Marko Ilić, Planeta Sport’s Zoran Bošković and myself. While Zoran Bošković talked about his company’s experience in switching from a regular retail to a multichannel approach in selling sport’s gear, Ilić defined the landscape of e-commerce in Serbia based on his vast experience. Ilić, for all intens purposes, is one of Serbia’s e-commerce experts, having established Serbia’s first ‘click and mortar’ web shop E-Dućan, while later launching the NonStopShop e-commerce brand for publishing giant RingierAxelSpringer.
It was down to me to give a regional perspective on what has changed in the regional e-commerce scene. Thankfully, the great sessions of OMGcommerce gave me lots of material, including: the move from pure players to enter the ‘offline’ retail space, launch of Agrokor’s Abrakadabra brand as an Amazon-like regional webshop as well as using drones in the delivery of goods. In the end, it gave a good overview for participants before both Marko and Zoran’s detailed talks, as well as a discussion with participants on what was most important in their shift to selling online.