Interview with Nenad Nikolin, a serial entrepreneur who recently returned from the Gitex conference held in Dubai (UAE) and EXPO 2020
Nenad is the founder and director of companies Fractal Dimension and CCS Solutions, but also the start-ups Green Mask, Couch Coach, Moje Vino [My Wine], Moja Vizit Karta [My Business Card] and S&N Winehouse. He is business advisor to around dozen start-ups from Serbia and Turkmenistan over recent years, with these enterprises having succeeded in raising initial investments for their operations totalling 620,000 euros.
Could you relay some of your impressions following your visit to the Gitex conference?
This was my first time attending the Gitex conference in Dubai, and it reminded me very much of similar conferences that I attend regularly, such as MWC, 4YFN, TechCrunch and others. However, what certainly characterises Gitex are the visitors, who are incredibly curious and prepared to spend a long time in conversation with exhibitors and innovators, in order to educate themselves and learn about the latest technological achievements. I was particularly proud of the fact that, for the first time, I had an opportunity to see the extremely well-conceived and implemented appearance of Serbian companies and start-ups. I would single out in particular the victory of our start-up Joberty, which was the pride of the entire Serbian delegation at Gitex and we all cheered for it enthusiastically.
Do Serbian companies have the knowhow and capacity to enter and compete on the UAE market?
The UAE market is very significant and large in its own right, and our companies are already operating there successfully, but it seems that our public hasn’t been made sufficiently aware of that fact. Walking along the Dubai seafront, you can’t help but notice the Smart Palms, which represent the latest application of IoT technology and were realised by a team of experts from Belgrade. So, we have the knowhow and capacity, but I would say that we lack the initiative needed to complete the success, and for us to also achieve successful results not only on the territory of the UAE, but also elsewhere in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Dubai and the UAE are extremely important markets for us in and of themselves, but also represent the first stop to contracting business on the markets of the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
You also had an opportunity to visit EXPO 2020 and the Serbian pavilion. How would you rate our performance?
I don’t know if anyone else has already called EXPO 2020 a world wonder of the 21st century. If they haven’t, then I’ll be the first. EXPO 2020, at which almost all countries of the world are represented, has been conceived and implemented in such a way that it leaves you breathless, during every minute that you spend there. The ideas and innovations through which nations and states are striving to convey and present their traditions and cultures are the greatest value to have been achieved, while the fusion of music, culture and art, combined with technology, is the thing that fascinates. Serbia’s appearance has been excellently conceived, and our pavilion isn’t just the base for Serbian entrepreneurs in Dubai, but rather is very well attended, having recorded more than 300,000 visitors over the period of a month and a half.
Did you manage to hold business meetings in Dubai?
Yes, we had meetings every day, both at Gitex and at the Serbia Business Hub, which was formed at the initiative and with the support of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and which – next to the Serbia pavilion at EXPO 2020 – represented our second home during our stay in Dubai. I would certainly single out the meetings with representatives of Dubai South, as well as those with the representatives of EXPO 2020, who showed great interest in our Green Mask product.