Back at his university, people had а saying: ‘Keep calm and call Babic’. That’s also what the users of 3veta are experiencing.
Energetic, fun, and resourceful, Nikola will always go out of his way to help you out!
Hi, Nikola! Welcome to ‘the hot seat’. Let’s start with a simple question: what is your background?
First of all, hi to everyone reading this.
So I come from Banja Luka, which is the second biggest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina (southeastern Europe for those that are not aware). I finished the international baccalaureate high school in my hometown before I went to study International Economics, Management, and Finance at Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy. I also did my Master in Finance there which is currently the 7th best in the world (according to Financial Times).
It is during my master years that I have met Iliya (co-founder of 3veta.com). As luck would have it, we were roommates in the same dorm. We instantly became best buds, and I was even his best man for his and Masha’s (our other co-founder) wedding last year. We also founded the Bocconi Students Mathematics and Logics Association together which I’m especially proud of.
Following my training in Finance, I did my first internship for UniCredit Bank, and after that, I started working for a boutique consulting company based in Milan. Working for the consulting company was great, the team was amazing, we worked on interesting projects and traveled to many places. However, after a couple of years, I received an attractive offer from one of our Dubai-based clients and went to UAE to work for them in the retail sector. This was also a great experience since it taught me the intricacies of both the fashion and retail industries, and how KPIs and careful planning can play a massive role in improving a company’s overall performance.
After a couple of years in the retail industry, I finally got a chance to work in the field I specialized in – Finance. I started working in Risk Management for SHUAA Capital (the oldest UAE Investment Bank in Abu Dhabi). It was very interesting seeing how the financial system works from within, and it’s unlike anything I have imagined. However, if you strip down all the complicated financial products and terminology, the entire industry is simply just a people’s business.
That brings us to today.
During the corona pandemic, Iliya approached me with the idea of working together on 3veta. I loved the idea and was immediately on board. Now one year down the line I couldn’t be happier with the progress we have made with the platform, and I believe our users would agree with me!
Sounds like quite the ride! So, what is your role in 3veta exactly?
Great question. I get it a lot!
Seeing how we’re a very small team, all of us have to work multiple roles which is something I very much enjoy. However, my tasks specifically are mostly client-facing, so both sales and customer support. That is probably why many of you reading this today know me already, I assume we have interacted in some way through one of our many communication channels haha.
On the sales side of things, I find myself enjoying the dynamism of it. There’s not a “one-size-fits-all” solution that is forcing us to try different campaigns and strategies, some of which are more successful, while others less so. We are currently working on a campaign that I’m very excited about and can’t wait to see the results of. The approach is truly unique and we’re hoping to see positive results and I truly believe this is something we could use a lot in the future.
You’ve been working in industries that are known to be slow to adopt new technology. Now you are in an environment where the product is much more agile and the pace of change is quite high. How did your work routine change?
Strangely enough, the pandemic has also changed the face of the Finance industry quite a lot. We have all started working from home and using mostly video calls and chat to communicate. I believe that COVID has brought about the changes that many thought would never happen. Some of my ex-colleagues are still working remotely and we have all adapted. Or at least we had to. And now nobody wants to go back to the office, and I completely understand that.
However, other than working from home, you are right that the Finance industry has largely been stuck in its ways for many years. This is obviously completely different when your product is SaaS.
When working on a new product you’re basically starting from scratch. While in large established companies you spend most of the time working on the already established and repetitive processes. In a startup such as ours, most tasks require you to build something from scratch. A lot of the time is spent thinking about how to do certain things.
For example, we have many brainstorming sessions where we discuss the product, how do we see and perceive it, discussing different views and ideas on how to solve a problem or create a feature. This is rarely a case in a larger organization where you are rarely challenged creatively.
Standard processes are the death of creativity as we like to say. What are some of the new skills you have acquired since you joined 3veta?
Thankfully, I have been a part of small teams before, so I was already quite aware of how that should work. Although, this is the first time I’m working on a project that I’m involved with from the start. Moreover, I’m working on it with friends, so this has been a very pleasant experience I have to say. We often have differences of opinion, but I think that knowing each other actually helps us when making decisions.
I’m very pleased that I started finding out more about coding and how it all fits within a system since this is something that always interested me. Naturally, I didn’t do any of the coding myself, but I was involved with translating the website in Italian, so I had to learn how to use GitHub and how the collaborative work is performed in general. I’ve created quite a few pull requests (if I have to use the IT lingo).
Also, I’ve learned a lot about sales and the different methods used in sales. We even held a webinar with a friend who does sales for a living. It was definitely eye-opening. However, I’m well aware that I have so much more to learn in this area.
Other than that, it is very important to be well organized. I’m still working part-time as a consultant for the investment bank, so it is very important to keep track of all the tasks, meetings, and deadlines across three time zones.
I know you and I know that you are a very likable person. However, while answering support questions, you are often being criticized about everything users don’t like about the product, as if it is always your fault. How does it feel to take all the hits for the team? 😀
Haha yeah, I print them all out and put them on a wall as motivation. Just kidding.
We really haven’t had a lot of negative feedback which is a testament to the great product we have built. However, we did have some complaints (*khm* account creation flow *khm*) so what I believe is the best strategy, in this case, is to try to show the users our reasoning behind this feature or approach to solving a specific problem. Naturally, you should always try to be as polite as possible, and people usually respond in the same way.
There was only one time I slightly lost my temper. I replied to a Facebook comment criticizing one of the features of the product and I… how should I put it… let’s just say I replied more aggressively than I normally do. And wow, it blew up immediately. Within 5 minutes I had other 5-6 replies from different people just piling up on my comment. I had to backtrack and in a very polite tone explain our position on this issue. Hasn’t happened since though, and probably never will.
But to be perfectly honest, so far, I’m very proud of the way we have interacted with our users and I believe that they are satisfied with their communication with us.
I am happy you are happy, Nikola! Now, people joke with the fact that you are always online. Are you really?
Yeah, my girlfriend has been telling me the same thing haha.
There’s a funny story about this. I’m currently spending a lot of my time replying to people’s inquiries and I’m always trying to reply to everyone as soon as I can (I just find that to be the best possible impression you can leave when communicating with people).
I guess people took notice of this because, during one of our webinars, I appeared on camera and say hi to the attendees. As it turns out, some of the attendees were surprised to see me since they assumed I had to be a bot because I’m always online and replying to everyone.
Since then this became a running joke within the company. We’re always joking that I’m some kind of sentient AI.
But to me, the key message here is that people notice when you reply to them quickly and provide an answer or a solution to their problem. They also like it when they see the person they are speaking to and know there’s a real person there trying to help them out. I believe that’s what most of our users like, we are always out there, interacting with everyone and we’re not afraid of showing our face since we stand behind the product we’ve created and trust in it.
What new feature or theme are you most excited about in the future development of 3veta?
Good question. I’m quite excited about numerous upcoming features (reminder that you can find our public roadmap and all of our upcoming features here).
Several calendar-related features are in the pipeline. We will soon have multiple calendars and per service availability, restyling of the calendar view, and many more.
But what I’m most excited about is the Team plan.
We are a small team, and I know how difficult it is sometimes to organize a meeting with more people, to find that ideal time slot, then inform everyone where will the meeting be held. So much time is wasted on this and numerous teams around the world are facing the same issue. Therefore, by solving our problem we will also be solving theirs.
The Team plan is already halfway completed and I can’t wait to place it in the hands of customers so they can test it, use it, and give us their feedback. The best part is that this time we held many meetings with already paying clients to ask them what they want us to build, so I do think this feature will be nailed from the beginning.
What is one thing you are passionate about outside of work?
Ooh, I like this question. I mean who doesn’t like to talk about their passions. Let me list some of them down:
Now I know this sounds like your average Tinder bio (add also traveling and pizza), but movies are indeed my passion. When I was a teenager I even directed two short movies, one of which was featured at a local film festival and I almost went to a film school. But I guess common sense prevailed and I studied Finance instead. However, I’m still a great admirer of the seventh art, I tend to stay informed as much as I can on all the upcoming movies and like to get lost browsing IMDb. If you’re looking for a movies guy for a pub quiz, I’m your man.
Fantasy Premier League (FPL)
This is a passion of mine that is fairly recent. I’m quite a competitive guy overall so FPL is a great game for someone who doesn’t have too much spare time. For those who don’t know what it is, it is a game that links to the English Premier League in football. At the beginning of each season, you choose your team of 15 players (11 plus 4 substitutes) and earn points based on their real-life performance (scoring or assisting goals, etc). The best part of it is that you get to play with your friends against their teams. It is very addictive.
Football is number one, basketball is a close second, but I enjoy all types of sports. I was recently introduced to cricket and rugby through some of my colleagues and now like watching them as well. I’m a big supporter of Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade, which made it very fun when they played each other in the Champions League.
Is there a question I didn’t ask which you’d like to answer?
Yes, thanks for asking. Burek is only with meat, all else are pitas.
You heard it here first, I guess.
Thanks so much for your time, Nikola, and good luck with all your future campaigns!