USA government is currently shutdown, it’s in a standstill, waiting till the parties reach the agreement and continue to non-govern. I say non-govern because this has been one of the most passive Congress ever. It passed only 220 laws about a hundred less than the previous record low. I don’t want to comment on politics, but among those 220 there was one important act that will shake the venture industry and the whole investment ecosystem - JOBS act.
JOBS act - Jumpstart Your Business Startups Act - is an act that will change the venture world and the perspective startup founders have towards the challenge of raising capital. JOBS act was in the cooking for about a year now, but only 2 weeks ago did it get out of the oven when the Title II part went into effect. Let me explain.
Fundraising is hard for anybody and obtaining capital is especially hard for the early stage companies and startups. In the past, startups and early stage companies were not allowed to raise capital by publicly advertising, by general solicitation. It had to take place behind closed doors, in private. General solicitation was allowed for the large companies that could spend huge amounts of money for due diligence and all sorts of insight analysis to be able to get listed on the stock exchanges.
Apart from that, companies have been allowed to raise funds from only accredited investors. Accredited investors are people of a certain net worth or certain income per year. The number of those investors is limited (report by the Government Accountability Office says there’s “only” 8.5 million accredited investors in the States) so the supply is scarce, making the whole fundraising process really competitive among startups.
Even though some questions and details are left open and uncertain, since of 2 weeks ago, the ban of general solicitation went away so startups and other early stage companies are allowed to publicly raise capital using Facebook, Twitter, AngelList or any other platform to inform potential investors. The other ban of accredited investors stays and it’s expected to be lifted next year. Effectively, that means that we’re currently in a transition - a period when startup founders can publicly solicit and therefore reach a broader audience of potential investors but only accept investments from accredited investors in the same time. And that’s a big thing for startups because more deals will be made and the amounts of the deals can potentially be bigger.
In the next couple of blog posts I’ll try to put together a lot of the aspects of the JOBS act, pros and cons and how investors, founders and platform makers will cope with it in the near future.
Remember late last year when, trying to compose a new mail from your gmail account, you were pi**ed off by the New Compose option Google made you click? Remember how you searched (Googled) to find an alternative just so you wouldn’t be forced to have a pop-up window every time you wanted to send a mail? Eventually, you found the way - "temporarily switch back to old compose" did the trick.
You were happy, couple of months passed and in March there was another “try” into making you use the new compose. Even though experienced, you were slightly scared that the learned trick won’t work this time. But, it did and you got yourself out of the pickle once more. One thing I am sure you asked yourself was - how long will this “temporarily” actually last? Well .. due to the official Google statement, I’m sorry to inform you it has just stopped.
That was me. And that was you. Don’t deny. Even though a whole bunch of people I know, both UX designers that actually know this kind of stuff and regular common people that have no idea, had quite a lot of things to say about the new compose in their inboxes, none of those things were positive. “How to change?”, “What to do?”, “What are my options?”, “Will it stay?”. Now, it will.
Now, every time you want to write a mail, a pop-up window on the lower right corner will come out. While in the middle of writing your mail you want another mail, no problem - another pop-up window is right next to the one already open. So, now you can multitask - write one, write another. And then, you receive a mail, you can instantly see who is it from, do you have to answer it right away (of course you do!) - so, now you have 3 pop-up windows at the lower right corner of your screen. Multitask away!
To make things even worse - on smaller screens, you couldn’t multitask even if you want to (the red lines above mark the inbox width).
Yes, I am a bit sarcastic here and you can imagine why - I really don’t like to new compose in my gmail account. I think it’s bad and, even though it’s an noble idea to try to improve my productivity by allowing me to see the received messages (and to browse through the rest of the inbox) while writing a new message, I really don’t need it and I don’t want it. I don’t want to move my head up-down while I’m at a 30’ screen. I don’t want to move my mouse all the way to the lower-right to tick a CC button just so I could add a contact in. Not to mention the attachments (all sorts of those), partly visible and dynamic “+” or the “let me get out of your way” FROM field in the compose window. Thanks, but no thanks.
So, what am I going to do now? Close the account and quit gmail? Well, unfortunately no. Thankfully, there’s a little lifesaver (or gmail-saver?), and no, there’s no “temporarily” option now - you can choose a "Default to full-screen" option. That options allows you to get a centered compose window every time you want to write a new mail. It’s definitely better than the alternative.
To sum up - the new compose is the worst UX step Google has taken so far. Even though I know that I cannot do much about it, due to the numerous complaints and criticism (just check the Twitter feed, try the Quora posts where mostly smart people post), it is really weird and unimaginable that they pushed it through.
PS - This is definitely not the "Bring the old Facebook back" kind of post. I do welcome change. But good change. I am an everyday gmail user, it’s definitely a part of my life, both professional and personal one, but I simply don’t see any value whatsoever in this change except for running more miles on my mouse and getting more exercise for my neck (up <=> down-right).
PS II - Million dollar question - How can I “Discard” a message from a new compose window? I can minimize it, I can send it, I “can” add an attachment (if I really try), but how can I discard/cancel it? If After already filling in TO and SUBJECT fields, I suddenly change my mind and don’t want to send the email at all (I want to discard it, cancel it, trash it) and the “X” at the up-right of the compose window will not discard it - it will still be saved in my drafts.
EDIT - Found it! It was in the “trash can” (where usually a delete option is).
What do you need to do for an International Internship in the United States?
Firstly, let me be absolutely clear - I don’t want to be misunderstood in any way and I surely don’t want to underestimate the *other* parts of the startup world, but the fact of the matter is this - most successful technology companies, startups and other parts of the startup ecosystem (accelerators, VCs etc) come from the United States. And that’s a fact. Yes, there are outliers all over the world (Skype and Spotify for example), but mostly they come from the States.
Consequently, the demand for the (summer) internships is high - every student wants to go there, gain some real experience from the epicenter, they don’t mind getting their hands dirty and sleep in a sleeping bag just to get the opportunity to be involved. Just like I don’t. On the other side, companies update their “jobs” and “careers” sites, spread the word through their employees, social media and other channels and get their application forms filled much faster than they initially thought they would.
Not only do the local wanna-be-interns have a greater chance of getting picked (they can always come to the company for a real-life interview while making a good first impression), the international interns have another obstacle to pass - getting through the process of acquiring the much needed visa. It would be (relatively) ok if the interns went through the process themselves, but the company (employer) has to go through the process as well.
So, since I applied for a number of summer internships, I did my homework - I Googled, Quoraed, talked to a couple of local ex-interns from Google and Facebook and went to my local USA embassy to talk to the officials to find out about the legal requirements and the procedure for the internship regarding the visa eligibility. Here’s what I found out.
Since most of the international interns are students, the “internship” visa they would be applying for is a "J-1 Visa" - that is a nonimmigrant visa and is part of an Exchange visitor program. You can find out more about it here.
In the process, there are three subjects - intern, employer (company, startup you want to do an internship with) and a "dedicated visa sponsor". While the roles of intern and employer are pretty much straightforward, a dedicated visa sponsor is an organization that works in close collaboration with the employer and the international intern while ensuring compliance with visa regulations (in accordance with the U.S. State Department). Basically, it is the middle man in the process, an extension of the U.S. State Department, making sure that the visa application is fully synchronized with the official and legal requirements and regulations. The list of the “dedicated visa sponsors” can be found here.
Even though the process lasts from 4 to 8 weeks, it’s pretty basic and simple and here are a couple of steps that would need to be taken:
1. Intern and/or the employer find a “dedicated visa sponsor” they want to work with.
As I discussed with the ex-interns, for its international-intern-needs Google uses Cultural Vistas (link), while Facebook uses CDS (link) (that was acquired by Cultural Vistas).
Obviously, there are a couple of others like International Exchange Center (link), American Immigration Council (link) or Council on International Educational Exchange (link).
I assume they aren’t that different, but from the talks I had with the ex-interns, I gather the Cultural Vistas are the way to go because they understand the “startup world” and its needs more and could be more efficient in the process.
2. Filling out the forms and issuing a DS-2019 form.
After getting in touch with the “dedicated visa sponsor”, the sponsor will send both the employer and the intern a set of forms to fill out.
The employer will go through a screening process (how old is the company, does it have regular funding/revenues, what does it do, etc.) including a site visit from the sponsor, while the intern will have a phone interview with the sponsor organization.
After all the documents required (like the company details, internship details, beginning and end dates, the intern’s training program - a month-by-month schedule and plan) are submitted to the sponsor, the sponsor will review them (in accordance with the rules and regulations).
Before the review phase, sponsor will help in filling in the paperwork and guide both employer and intern towards a successful application.
Once approved, the sponsor will send the J-1 visa eligibility form (DS-2019 form) to the intern.
In this step, administrative fees have to be paid.
3. Interview at the local USA Embassy and getting the visa.
The intern fills out and presents the form as part of the J-1 visa application at the local USA Embassy.
That is usually done in a two, three day period but can vary from the Embassy to the Embassy.
Once the visa is granted by the US Consulate/Embassy, the intern may enter the United States in J-1 status to start the internship with the employer.
Let me just share a couple of more resources I found that could be useful:
"How to hire an international intern", a blog post from Internmatch (link)
Official FAQ from the U.S. State Department regarding the J-1 visa (link)
A very good and useful FAQ site from one German sponsor (link)
As I mentioned above, there’s a sum of administrative fees (visa fee + administrative fee for the sponsor) as well. The sum ranges from $1000 to $2000. Who pays for them? It varies - both Google and Facebook reimburse those expenses to the interns, but I’m sure that some companies (startups for example) don’t and can’t. Personally, compared with the potential experience gained and the benefits of the internship, the sum is surely not a deal breaker. But, it’s there nevertheless.
As I said, the process isn’t that complicated but it’s demanding - many US companies simply don’t have the resources to deal with the procedure. You can imagine what kind of resources an early stage startup has and what’s in its primary focus (product, product, product!) and how can he afford to spend a week (in total) on this procedure to get an international intern to his team when he has an equally (or slightly less) qualified local intern “right next door”. Even “bigger” companies that don’t have a proper HR department cannot cope with the procedure.
Well, I’m not here to judge, I won’t make any conclusions, it is not my place to say whether or not this procedure for a 3-6 month internship is *really* necessary. But, since the startup world is flexible, fast, constantly changing and evolving, meant to bring communities closer together, share and exchange knowledge and experiences over the globe, I will say that I hope the procedure will change for the better. And if it doesn’t, I hope that this tutorial will help other international interns in their visa quest.
DISCLAIMER - I am fully aware that there are quite a number of *other* visa types (link), but the procedure described above covers my situation - a temporary stay by a student that would return to his home country after the internship ends to continue his studies.
So, almost a week has passed since Tvitomanija ended and nostalgia can still be found in the #tvitomanija hashtags on Twitter. Both Tvitostalgia and hate. Well, haters are everywhere so I won’t be mentioning them. At least not that often. Let’s see what actually happened.
Tvitomanija, a truly regional social media conference, took place at Novi Vinodolski, a small place near the coast in Croatia in a Novi Spa resort. Novi Spa resort is a big, big, huuge resort packed with well equipped apartments and hotel rooms, spreading over a couple of square kilometers, so vast one has to be driven to their apartment in a “golf kart”. Even though I haven’t seen the actual star number the resort has, my guess would be between 4 and 5. And, as a venue for a conference, that means a lot of opportunities for the participants.
When I say “truly regional”, I really mean it. There were over 600 attendees, mostly from Serbia but also from Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. One might argue that getting 500 people to an event that is approximately 600 kilometers away is easy - I would say that it is terribly hard. A lot of hustling and marketing, tweets and TweetUPs, getting everyone’s attention and matching your supply with their demand. Surely one of the factors for getting so many attendees was a really acceptable accommodation and conference price. Hopefully, that won’t change (drastically) in the years to come.
Conference schedule (lectures and panels) was intended so that everybody would benefit - professionals and beginners, amateurs and agencies, bloggers and individuals who use social media for themselves. We heard a couple of great “fights” - print VS social media, TV VS social media, we also heard lectures about entrepreneurship and influence on social media. Even though there were some great case studies (in example from Farmeron’s social media guy) - I hope to hear even more in the years to come. Tackling real problems, being creative and different and spreading your story around is something I look forward to. Anyone can “do social media” - push posts online, organize contests and follow strict FB guidelines, paste memes and bit*h about Mondays while welcoming Weekdays. There are a dozen people/agencies that don’t do (just) that - I want to hear them. I want to hear how they conquered new markets, focused on the demographics no one focused before, new niches and succeeded/failed. Just sayin’.
The “formal” part was great, the “informal” was even better. Great food, great weather (except for some rain - we got over it quickly), awesome feeling when waking up to see the sea from your doorsteps, cold pools and hot saunas with a must try jacuzzi that was always crowded. Having known Torbica, zhurkas or parties were something I particularly looked forward to. They were mostly great, but, in my opinion, the last one was the best!
Also, people were awesome as well - getting to match Twitter profile pictures with real faces is always a good feeling. The energy and positive attitudes that spread around Novi Vinodolski during those days were something the organizers could really be proud of - Torbica, Mina and Ivana have done a remarkable job joining and matching us all together in such a nice place, giving us the opportunity to learn from each other while having the “social media time of our lives”. Well done once again and see you next year! :)
PS - Obviously, Netokracija was there - Ivan, Marina, Mia, Ivy, Marko and myself were constantly present and have covered the conference from the start to the end in both english and non-english. Check it out! :)
PPS - Regarding the haters, I have to say I do not understand them. I can understand being jealous about not coming to Tvitomanija, I can understand just trolling and wanting to get attention. Apart from just not being able to filter-out the tweets concerning Tvitomanija, I’d say the haters have some serious issues and I look forward to posting both pictures and tweets about the great time we had at Tvitomanija. Let the hatin’ begin! :D
As I mentioned from my last post where I welcomed Dave McClure and the whole #GOAP crew to Croatia, startup atmosphere in Croatia is hot.
To prove my point, I’ll point out one event that, in my opinion, has contributed most and has given a biggest push to the startup community. Don’t get me wrong, "Startup Wednesdays", "Mobile Mondays", "CISEx Fridays", the student competitions and all the other ones that were organised are great and have effected and created the community from the scratch, bringing it together, being that creative spark. We had a lot of lectures, met a bunch of important people, had Credo Ventures for a talk and even the guys from the USA Embassy who gave their support.
But, nothing can top Seedcamp. Seedcamp is the biggest european micro Seed Fund for internet technology companies based in London and founded only 5 years ago. It organizes its events around the globe, helping startups in their initial phase with advice, providing network of mentors and, eventually, even with the investment. Seedcamp visited Croatia last week for the second time and have put Zagreb on the startup map of Europe next to London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Tallinn, Lisbon and Paris. Apart from the direct benefit Seedcamp gives to the teams that get invited (I’ll get to that later), Seedcamp brings along about 40, 50 foreign mentors that mix with about 30, 40 local mentors like Ivan Brezan Brkan from Netokracija, Matija Kopic from Farmeron, Vibor Cipan from UX Passion, Sasa Cvetojevic and Mihovil Barancic from CRANE or Ivo Spigel from Perpetuum Mobile. In that mix, foreign mentors get to know the background of the country, a little about their mentality, the opportunities for the startups and they generally network. That creates contact and opportunities for further visits and even for doing business together. I’ve seen it, it’s not just a cliche.
The process of attending Seedcamp is pretty easy, the team applies and then 20 teams get selected and invited based on a various criteria. During the event, each team has their 3 minute pitch in front of the numerous investors, mentors, sponsors and partners followed by the the 40,50 minute opportunity of talking to some of them individually, sharing their problems and seeking advice and suggestions. Since mentors all have very diversified backgrounds, every team will have all their questions answered regardless of their nature (finance, marketing, technical or other).
Till now, I haven’t had a chance to participate in such an event. I was really impressed with the teams and their ability to pitch. Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, like on a track, one team pitched after the other, 3 minutes, bum, there comes another one. Disciplined, with no delay, perfect. Of course, there were differences between teams and pitches. Some of them came more than ready, having known what exactly were they going to say in those 3 minutes while others were not that well prepared, stuttering, having their PPT presentations done poorly. I noticed one other thing. I understand that most teams have at least two co-founders and that both of them came to the Seedcamp event to pitch. And that’s ok, but I don’t understand the point of having both co-founders “pitch”, both co-founders on stage when in fact only one of them is pitching. Is it a visual thing, does the other co-founder (the one not pitching) give his support in that way, does he just want to be visible, will the pitcher actually do better if he has his compadre standing next to him. Maybe. I don’t know but that’s one thing I found most interesting to see.
Apart from that, I was fairly surprised about the approach teams had. Common belief about Seedcamp and fund events is that teams come there simply and only to raise money, to get an investment. That’s what I thought. But, and I can’t say for the other events, but on Seedcamp, teams come not just for the sole purpose of raising money. Some teams even state that during their pitch. Since during the Seedcamp event teams can talk to mentors and gather advice, that is what they’ve come to get. Advice, contacts, suggestions, business and payment model help. That fact brings the whole thing to a totally different level.
You can find the teams that came to Zagreb here. I will just highlight some of them I find interesting. 6sync, a team of two who are developing a hosting management platform whose goal is to cut down the hosting costs. Mash.me, a Kinect web application for video recording with real time motion capturing and effects had a nice, structured and down to earth pitch. Table&Friends, a group dinner reservation system. Anctu, a social search engine with detailed analysis. Publification, a cloud-based ebook in browser reader had an awesome, most energetic pitch. Their pitch was different from all others by far and I’m sure it will be remembered. Last but not least, Shoe Addicts, a lovely photo sharing app for the shoe lovers.
Like I said, I haven’t participated in such an event before so I would really like to thank Carlos and Kirsten from Seedcamp on an opportunity they’ve given me to help organize the event. The whole event was absolutely unbelievable with the informal part at the end that rocked! I am sure everyone who was there will agree!
PS - This song brings me a whole other set of associations now. Along with Austin Powers. :)
In my little country of Croatia that is mostly tourism oriented with not that much production and manufacturing companies and a big consumerism attitude, it is safe to say that startup atmosphere is hot. It has been cooking for a while now and it has reached a temperature of no return. The ingredients are ready and its peak, its boiling point, when the meal will be prepared for serving, is expected to happen in the next year, maybe two. At least, that is my prediction and I really hope I won’t be wrong.
I don’t know when it really started, but I think it is fair to say that the startup community got a pretty good push back in 2010 when the first Seedcamp was organized and the and the teams like Giscloud and Salespod won and were selected by a popular vote. Not much things changed from then but the young tech savvy people saw that successful projects can really be done and that a bright perspective exists. Last year, Farmeron came, along with some of the other top startups such Shoutem. That push gave a lot to the community and consequently led to the organisation of the 2012 Zagreb Seedcamp.
Meanwhile on Twitter, the whole startup community was fighting their war against Poland. Dave McClure, one of the most influential venture capitalist and the founding partner at 500 Startups had a dilemma - where to go next, which country is hotter. He decided to let “the market” sort itself out and let the Twitter audience make his mind up.
Of course, in that moment, all bets were on Poland. Poland with about 38.5 million people against small Croatia with about 4.5 million people. In Twitter numbers, I know that (only) about 20 000 Croats are on Twitter. So, I would assume that at least 250 000 Polish people are on Twitter. We Croats have always fought against the odds.
Having our best Twitter troops mobilized and organised through Netokracija, our leading social media and startup site, we did out best. Numerous tweets, wave after wave, going and flying through the tweetersphere like dry leaves in the wing on the automn night. Countless RTs explaining why Croatia is hotter, describing the pros and letting Dave know what would he expect in Croatia. Mentions were high, I assume Dave’s smartphone mention notification must’ve popped.
Eventually, our President and Minister have also come to the rescue having their official invitation given. Apparently, that was a final blow to the Polish candidacy.
The days have gone and the unbelievable startup week has come to a close. And then BAM! The announcement has come from their blog site - Zagreb, Croatia has been chosen! Seriously!
Well, Twitter exploded, Dave, I’m sure Your smartphone is off by now and going crazy out of notifications. :)
All jokes aside, to Dave McClure and the rest of the team, You are most welcome to Croatia, I am pretty safe to say that we will make sure You have the time of Your life here during Your stay - sea, islands, food, wine, women (and men :D ), music and a rocking startup atmosphere capable of reaching the stars! Welcome!
PS - Being a geek that I am, I have to say that I also contributed to the Twitter war, having sent two tweets Dave favorited. #CroatianMafia won! :)
So, it’s been a while. Again. Since then, I’ve closed a successful project, opened a new one and in the meantime studied for college, started writing for Netokracija and visited Belgrade for the Share Conference.
I won’t be writing about projects or studying, this post will be about attending the Share Conference in Belgrade, impressions about the whole trip, people I met and shared (see what I did there :P ) a weekend with.
So, a couple of weeks ago Ivan, editor of Netokracija, asked me if I wanted to come with’em to the Share Conference. I knew that the Share conference is a three day conference and one of the biggest conferences in the region and I have been thinking about attending it by myself, on my own but as it’s rather far and since I had no company, I settled with not going. So, when asked, without even thinking about it - I said yes!
Weeks went by and our departure came closer and closer and so the excitement grew. Before the trip, I prepared myself, circled the lectures I wanted to see, Googled the lecturers that seemed interesting. On the departure day, the plan was that Ivan and Marina would pick me up at 17 o’clock with a van that was driven by a Serbian guy going to Belgrade. Haha, funny thing - the guy wasn’t familiar with Zagreb at all so, as he had to collect about a half a dozen people, they picked me at about 18,30 cca … During that time, I contacted Ivan about 2,3 times and he kept assuring me that they were coming. Since April Fools’ day passed, I wasn’t sure if he’s trolling me or not. Eventually, they picked me up and we set off.
I haven’t been to Belgrade before so I was rather surprised to see whole lotta people on the streets at 23h as we entered the city. The city was vivid and fast food stands were full. My first impression was "WOW! Belgrade is huge!". I wasn’t wrong.
We came to the apartment and then I met the rest of the team. Tihana@taroofie, a huge jazz fan that doesn’t like metal, Ivana@ivanavie, a lovely girl in love with a Texan, Nikola@nikolaplejic, the developer (nothing more to add there :) ). I already knew Marina@marinshe, a passionate art photographer and Ivan@ivanbrezakbrkan, editor of Netokracija. As we came in, they already had the drinks ready. Apparently, we ruined their plan of going out, so they brought the party home. It worked out great for me. :D
The apartment was situated in the New Belgrade area with a nice view from the balcony. I can’t specify what we were actually looking at, but I know we saw a big Pet Shop and a railway. All in all, the apartment was really nice and cosy. Tihana would beg to differ since she thought I slept on the floor when in fact I slept on a double inflatable bed (one of those that people use in summer on the beach, just really, really nicer).
So, the next day, we went to the Conference. Even though the Conference started at noon, we came at about 13, 14h, got in, got our wristbands and listened to a couple of lectures. At this point, I have to emphasize something. As I prepared for the Conference, everyone that attended it last year told me that Share was like no other conference. That it was different by far. Boy, were they right.
The first lecture I attended was by Aubrey de Grey from the Sense foundation. He’s a guy, about 150 years old with a beard half a meter long, who claimed that a person who’ll live up to 150 years has already been born. Dafuq did I just hear?! The next lecture was from Elisabeth Stark, a lecturer from Stanford who was influential in stopping SOPA. I don’t want to be a player-hater, but I thought it was going to be a great lecture, her sharing some inside information and stuff. Maybe she had a bad day, I honestly don’t know, but the lecture was poor. It was a retrospective of a whole fight. As simple as that. I haven’t heard a single new thing. And yes, she read from the slides the whole time. I was rather disappointed so … when disappointed, go for a drink and have something to eat. That’s what we did. On the exit, we ran into Barbara@barbaraslade who was wearing her usual arty, unique dress. With her, you just never know what she will wear the next time you see her but you do know for sure that she will surprise the hell out of you! Had a nice little chat and hug and went on separated ways.
On our way to eat, we met Alen@topssy who recommended a Japanese-Chinese restaurant. Yes, yes, I know - Japanese-Chinese in Belgrade?! Yes, it was just around the corner, we here hungry and there was no time to lose. Even though I’ve seen Alen before on a number of occasions on #Tweetups, I’ve met him for the first time. With a rock ‘n’ roll clothing style and big earrings, I could’ve swore he was a lead singer in a successful band. I wasn’t that wrong - after leaving the cult Radio101 station in Zagreb, he created a first online radio station in Croatia Radio808. We ate, some adored the sushi, some were afraid of it (right Tihana?) but all in all - it was a great meal.
Being full, we returned to the apartment. The party started, music repertoire was unlimited from YouTube, combined with Pervan and RWJ parodies. We truly had an awesome time. And then we went out to the Kulturni Centar. There, I met Nebojsa@eniac, who was out host for the night. I have heard for him before (who hasn’t?!), I knew he was the man for digital and social media marketing in Serbia, but I was really impressed at how down-to-earth he was. Really polite, straightforward guy, doing his stuff he does best. Knowing how geeky we all were, when we got the Kulturni Centar, he put up a Internet hotspot from his phone. Needless to say, everyone check-in, Instagram pics were upload instantly. It’s hard to explain Kulturni Centar. It’s situated by the river and contains the main building (where the bar is - the bar was constantly full!) and the yard outside with tables and chairs. We were outside, talking and having a good time. Due to the constant crowd at the bar, alcohol didn’t affect us - there was no alcohol. We had a lesson learned for the next day. :D
As it was a long night, the morning came late as well. We skipped breakfast, met with Nebojsa and went straight to lunch to the Srpska kafana. Meat! Pljeskavica, filled vesalica, white vesalica, karadordev steak along with french fries and sopska salad. If you don’t know those, google it up ASAP! Eventually, a cup of Turkish coffee was served. Sun was shining and it was time to relax. At that time, I also met Vladimir@vladimirvulic who is the guy for the social media marketing and startups in Montenegro. Or so I was told. Decent chap.
After lunch, since we were at a conference, we went to listen to some lectures including a lecture from Vuk Cosic on NeoArt, a new form of art. The night was coming, so Tihana, Ivana, Nikola and me went for a walk through Belgrade. Since the elections were coming up, there was a big gathering of the Serbian National party (or whatever-dafuq they’re called). We realized that only moments before coming to the main square and were instructed to stay silent. For obvious reasons. Seeing people, even children, old and young, male and female walk in front of me and being instructed to stay silent, I felt like Frodo walking through Mordor. I can understand that there was a war and everything, but hey! it was 15 years ago - snap out of it already!
Anyway, all went well, we went for a walk through the city, got back to the apartment and another party night could begin. YouTube music on max, we were ready. Unlike the night before and the one-hour-long waiting in front of the bar, this time we were prepared - we took a putna (sorry English speaking people, I won’t translate this one) with us. No time to lose now. Marina, Ivana and Ivan were tired, so Tihana, Nikola and I went alone to the Tube. The dance floor awaited, music was great and dancing started!
There, @AhFrida (dammit, I don’t know her real name) awaited us. Now, as I was told before - @AhFrida is a sort of a female Twitter legend from Serbia. Everyone knows about her, but not much of them have actually seen her. Even less of them have actually met her. Well, guess what - I’ve met her. And have even talked to her! She even shook my hand. It was the moment of the whole weekend. :D
Visiting Belgrade just wouldn’t be the same without visiting the rafts (splavovi). Like an after-party thing, at 3 in the morning - the 20/44 raft was ours. Music at the loudest, we stayed by the fence and talked and run the evening to a close. The next morning, we caught a train home and 8 hours later arrived back in Zagreb.
Conclusion: The intention of this blog post was not to comment (too much) on the (quality of) lectures, it was to share my impressions as a first timer on such an event. Even though the atmosphere was pretty much hipster-like (everyone had those Ray Ban glasses, myself included (look at the pictures!)) with quite a dose of a young alternative rebellious look that echoed "*uck the system", everyone was having their Macbooks and iPhones ready to trigger those pictures and have the status updates delivered to Facebook/Twitter in real time.
Networking was awesome, I met a tone of people with whom I tend to stay in (virtual) touch. I’m sorry if I missed to mention some people above. Food and party atmosphere was damn awesome, the extent of waiter courtesy is just unbelievable and the food is too delicious at a very, very good price! To conclude, even though I have to admit that the lectures were not my particular cup of tea, I cannot say that I won’t be coming next year to Share. As I was warned before, Share is different than anything else! ;-)
PS - A kind advise: don’t ever use the train Belgrade-Zagreb, it’s not worth it. 8 hour ride now, what used to be a 4 hour ride 30 years ago. It says it all.