Milos Milovanovic of Blinking tells us about building digital tools that enable people to establish digital relationships with companies, governments, etc.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Milos Milovanovic: Like everyone, we feel very struck by this whole situation and sympathize with many that were strongly impacted. Most importantly, we managed to maintain good health through all this.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Blinking.
Milos Milovanovic: My life can be easily summed up as an unforgiving pursuit for learning new things and attempting to solve problems I personally feel passionate about. Sometimes they are important to other people too, many times they have the luck of being the target of only me and my undivided attention. I have done many things during my career (I was a musician, radio host, postman, worked shortly in construction, became a university professor, and finally entrepreneur). The only thing that remained constant was my love of technology and interest in how it can change the world. As a scientist, I devoted a lot of research into digital identity and areas surrounding that topic, the major being biometrics. My co-founder and I share that interest and have seen the interesting potential of distributed and decentralized technology that was trending at the time and its ability to solve some of the issues we faced over the years of working on digital identity. We decided to venture out, find people that share that passion and establish the company that will enable society to perform the ultimate digital shift.
How does Blinking innovate?
Milos Milovanovic: Our company is building digital tools that enable people to establish digital relationships with companies, governments, and other institutions while maintaining the highest level of safety of their personal data and their identity. On the other hand, we enable these companies, governments, and other institutions to be able to easily expand their digital services, improve interaction with their users and reduce the worry of handling sensitive information.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Milos Milovanovic: The biggest impact this pandemic had on our company was that it divided us physically and forced us to work apart in our homes. This is never easy for a rapidly growing company since we rely a lot on fast communication, working as an effective team, and last but not least on mutual support in challenging times. When it comes to our business, our choice of the field turned out very well since this situation fueled the digital shift in many businesses. Our services are exactly what they need to progress and overcome difficulties.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Milos Milovanovic: Fortunately, in contrast to many other companies, we did not have to say goodbye to some employees. On the contrary, we even expanded our team by 5 engineers in this period. But more than once on our path, the company was facing the ever feared decision, should we just give up and cut our losses or power through. Founders constantly talk about the fact that giving up is never an option. Trust me, when stress, failures, and financial toll hits you and your loved ones, many times, you go to bed with the thought of giving up in the morning. Luckily the importance of community comes through in such difficult times when we support and motivate each other.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?
Milos Milovanovic: Currently, the majority of our working hours are spent staring at ourselves participating in some video call simulation of a meeting. So online conference tools are used, and there is no lack of diversity there. We still get surprised when we receive an invite to some new, out-of-the-ordinary, obscure conference system. Luckily, they are all pretty much the same. There, I’ve said it. Besides that, when it comes to management, we have seen that we can not really sense how our teammates feel from time to time. It is more difficult to detect when a person is losing motivation or is feeling overwhelmed. So instead of having constant communication over coffee, beer, or during lunch, now we started organizing one-to-one video calls that somewhat feel like therapy sessions. Not really sure who the therapist is there. But it seems to do the trick, at least in part.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Milos Milovanovic: Currently, we have the good fortune of competing not only with bigger, better-funded players from developed markets in our industry but also with local big system integrators eyeing digital identity as the next best thing in IT. Regardless, when we cross horns with some of them, we tend to triumph and acquire clients right in front of them. It helps when you have superior technology and the best team in the world. But we also like to think that our sales skills are sometimes flipping the coin in our direction.
Right now, our strategy is to offer superior quality software and service at a lower price. I guess that proved as a good strategy in previous business history, so we plan to stick to it.
Your final thoughts?
Milos Milovanovic: Keep safe and look forward to resolution. Every troubling time had a renaissance period following. I can’t wait to be a part of that!