“People are great and opportunities are endless”, Djordje said

Maybe you caught our story so far, admittedly an unusual one - of Djordje, Head of Sales in a Serbian tech company HOOLOOVOO, looking for a colleague in Sweden to work with us from there. If you haven't, here it is - link.

Some smart people saw right through us and called it a “disarming humility” campaign, but really, Djordje was the one looking for someone, and we only thought it was the best way to go. We do have big Swedish clients and the cooperation is going great, but still, in Sweden, we're nowhere on the map. “Humility” and being sincere seemed not only a fine idea, but also the only meaningful approach. 

True, the end product was an ad featuring Djordje personally, photo session and all. This time, for this blog, we simply talked to him. Our Brand Dev team wanted to know how things are going, are we close to hiring someone, are new clients coming, what kind of projects are we looking for and what kinds of clients should be looking for us… So we thought, well, this is actually an interview. And here it is.

Djordje was a perfect model - highly efficient and dedicated, always positive and ever so patient. So being a model requires a similar skill set as being a salesperson.

HOOLOOVOO is hiring a salesperson to work with you, to be based in Sweden. Were the expectations high?

When we started this, we really did not know what to expect. There are a couple of reasons behind it: firstly, this is not a classic hiring campaign where the company publishes a job ad on some platform and gets 90% of the candidates in the first ten days. This was more of an awareness campaign with hiring as its main topic, and we have been receiving applications for a longer period. Secondly, we are not a known company in Sweden, and coming from another region of Europe, we could not predict how attractive we were gonna be. As it turned out, we were attractive to the right people.

“Openness and adaptability are the key factors, not the exact previous experience."

What were the reactions like? Found anyone?

The messages that we have been receiving were absolutely positive and the main impression is that we reached out to the people by our openness and transparency. The fact that we are an unknown company in Sweden was actually a great professional challenge for the candidates who reached out. As a result, we had interviews with a small number of around 10 people, but they were all quality candidates. We talked to some of them online, and with others onsite in Stockholm. The process of getting our sales person in Sweden ends soon  🙂

What kind of people fit the challenge? 

When you look for someone who is going to sell very complex services, such as IT consulting, you need to understand what kind of character and profile you need. In such a situation, I am pretty sure that openness and adaptability are the key factors that will decide whether you're gonna succeed or not. The environment, company culture, procedures, what we are actually selling, our expertise, our position at the market, or better to say, our “no position”… We needed to be open also, not just the candidates. We were not necessarily looking for someone whose previous experience perfectly matched the services we currently offer. Instead, we tried to find the best possible character that would fit within our organization, who is ready to jump into something completely different. We are still building the entire sales story, which means that foundations are under construction, and we basically need someone to help us with that, too. 

"Building true partnerships the right way, with the right partners on the right projects"

What will that person be selling? 

We are selling our expertise in Data and AI tools (more here - link), the way we work, our understanding of the importance of seniority on the projects, the two-way street of long-term partnerships… And I will personally be very happy to share all that with my new colleague in sales.

Travelling is great. Sweden is absolutely beautiful. We have friends there, and always have a great time. Coming back home to Serbia is great, too. The last photo shows Djordje thinking about finding some help in Sweden.

What kind of clients would you be a perfect fit for?

Over the last ten years, through our cooperation with our existing Swedish partners, we have been building an expertise that can very much fit with different industries. There's a “Dream Client” page on our website (here - link), so people can take a look. More or less, all the industries that are Data driven, that have online payment components, that work with KYC, AML, frontend and backend of course, can be a good fit for us, and we for them. Since the generative AI hype started, we have been focusing on AI and its adoption within our company, by boosting what we call an AI-forward culture. As part of that process, we developed HAIP, our internal AI tool which is a mix of different models, highly customizable, fully safe and encrypted. 

“Why Sweden? It's not rocket science - we built our company through partnerships with Swedish companies”

The other part of the story, equally important, is the kind of partnerships we are looking for. It's definitely long-term. Maybe to start from something smaller and build on it through the quality of our delivery. Most IT companies like us would probably say “give me as many clients as you can”, but we are a bit different in that sense. Priority for us always was, and always will be quality, not quantity. So, in order to achieve that, we are not looking for tens of new clients per year. Instead, we seek to build true partnerships the right way, with the right partners on the right projects.

Why only Sweden?

It’s actually not only Sweden, but Sweden is our main focus. For obvious reasons, it's not rocket science - we built our company through partnerships with Swedish companies, we understand the Swedish and Nordic culture, needs, characteristics, and of course, we have great references from that market. I would say that the Nordic region is our market, and Sweden is the main focus. Of course, that does not mean that we are not open to companies from the DACH region, Benelux, UK/US, or any other region in the world. After all, we got a couple of clients from our own region and recently one from Ireland.

Recently, in our backyard in Belgrade, we hosted some great people from the Nordic Business Alliance, an organization promoting and strengthening the network and cooperation between Nordic companies in Serbia. The topic was AI - what the hype is all about, the technology's potentials and risks, and how it can help businesses 🙂

Is your tech pre-sales team defined? Who's in the crew?

The tech pre-sales team is one of the foundations of the sales department we are working on. In order to make the proper discovery phase, research of the potential projects, and industry verticals, to be better prepared for the meetings, a tech pre-sales team is mandatory. Currently, our tech team, especially Luka, our CTO, is helping us a lot. However, they are constrained by ongoing projects. To establish a structured pre-sales team with a clear mandate and implemented processes, having a fully onboarded, tailor-made team would be a game changer. HAIP, our internal AI tool I mentioned earlier, is also helping. It can be an excellent assistant when I participate in technical meetings, but having a person with the right background and understanding is much better for navigating the discovery process.

The truth about AI is that it is not a solution for everything - it's a tool just like any other, and you can use it to make things easier if you know how.

You're presenting at top tech conferences in Stockholm. How's that going? 

From my perspective, conferences are one of the most important channels when it comes to go-to-market strategy and brand awareness. Without being present and showcasing who we are and our fields of expertise to the wider audience, the brand recognition process takes much more time and effort.

“We managed to present our culture and our people, have fun and book some useful meetings”

We chose two targeted conferences this spring in Stockholm, one was the Data Innovation Summit, and the other was the Stockholm Tech Show. As we are working a lot with Data and around Data, a specialized conference in that field was an obvious choice. On the other hand, Tech Show was a tech fair with different audiences and focus, so both were an opportunity to present ourselves with a focus on our expertise, but also what we are doing with AI and how we can help companies to better understand and adopt it. 

As a single company coming from the Balkans as an exhibitor, we have been a meeting point for all the visitors coming from our region. At times, we had a Balkan party at our booth 🙂 

Conferences. An important part of the job. And fun.

Our satisfaction with these two conferences could hardly be higher, as we managed to make lots of interesting contacts, present HOOLOOVOO, our culture and our people, have a lot of fun, and book some very useful meetings. 

“People are great and business opportunities are endless.”

What's next? 

Next is to onboard our new colleague from Sweden and to be present on the ground even more, starting this September. Positioning HOOLOOVOO as a respectable IT company in Scandinavia is our main objective and that is actually half of the job acquiring a new client. I personally feel great when I am in the Nordics, even though I am coming from a much warmer region. People are great and business opportunities are endless. 

Thank you, Djordje! This is awesome.

As we were proofreading this interview (actually we asked HAIP, the tool we mentioned, to do it for us), the news broke that a deal was struck with a candidate in Sweden. Starting September 1st, HOOLOOVOO will have a team member there. More on that - some other time 🙂

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