How Marko Went From Entrepreneurial Self-Doubt To Success After One Phone Call

A friend asked me recently why I love working on Netokracija. Financial security and writing about interesting startups aside, it’s the true impact you can have by helping others through writing and networking with the digital community.

But never has this rang true than when I saw the comment fellow media entrepreneur Marko Matijević, gave Croatian magazine Telegram in their wonderful write up of Marko’s vertical media platform for students –

Sljedeće jutro zvao ga je Ivan Brezak Brkan s portala Netokracija. Brkan ga je pitao je li istina da gasi portal i u čemu je zapravo problem. Marko mu se požalio na za njega katastrofalnu posjećenost od 50.000 klikova, na što ga je Brkan pitao je li zainteresiran za prodaju, jer on zna ljude koji bi bili zainteresirani za kupnju portala za mlade koji ima toliku posjećenost. Marko kaže da mu tada nije bilo jasno na što Brkan misli. Mislio je da portal nema nikakvu vrijednost i uopće mu ta mogućnost nije padala na pamet. Brkan ga je uspio uvjeriti da bi gašenje bila greška i dogovorio mu sastanak u Algebri, još jednim ključnim partnerom portala danas.

If you don’t know Croatian, let me translate:

Netokracija’s Ivan Brezak Brkan called me the next morning and asked had I really decided to shut down the site, as well as what the problem was. Marko told him that just 50.000 clicks were catastrophic, after which Ivan asked him is he interested in selling, since he knows people that would buy a website like, aimed at students. Marko says that he wasn’t sure what Ivan ment at the time. He thought that wasn’t worth anything and the idea of selling never occured to him. Brkan persuaded Marko that shutting down was a mistake and got him a meeting with Algebra, a key partner of to this day.

Wow. I cried. Shup up.

Believe in Someone More Than They Do In Themselves

I’ll be honest: While I saw great potential in Marko and because of how dedicated he was as well as knowing the media business, that call didn’t seem that crucial.

But to Marko, at his moment of entrepreneurial self-doubt it was.

It shows that a single positive action on part of any of us can greatly help if it happens at the right time. My call told Marko:

  • Someone who has experience in his industry believes in his project (enough to actively contact him);
  • They don’t just believe for the sake of being nice, but are willing to actively help (by connecting him with a business partner).

Marko thought twice and created what has become – a leading vertical media business for its audience of Croatian students.

But even if he didn’t, let’s be honest: Every entrepreneur has doubts in their project at one time or another. Forbes has coined it ‘The Valley of Doubt’ that entrepreneurs need to escape from.

How To Reach Out

While doubting your project for not meeting yours or others expectations might be normal, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be left alone. As Marko’s example shows, if you see a situation where you doubt the doubter – contact them:

  • Don’t wait for them to ask. Instead, proactively contact them via email, messenger or just call them up. They might not be expecting it, but they need a kick in the butt! 
  • Listen to the reasons that are driving their self-doubt so you undestand where they are coming from;
  • Create a situation that shows them the other option! While Marko could have contemplated if other companies would be interesting in working with him, connecting them with Algebra made that option real. No longer was Marko thinking of it as mere theory: It was a real option.
  • Do the one thing I didn’t do: Follow up in a few days or a week.

Your counsel might be the one thing standing between an untimely ended ‘side project’ and a potentially successful startup.

Thanks to Marko for running with the comments he got not just from me, but others who believed in his vision, and creating one of the most promising vertical portals in Croatia. Read more about in Telegram’s detailed article

About Ivan Brezak Brkan

I'm the founder and editor of Netokracija, always interested in new digital experiences.

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