Marinko joined Covideo in 2009 during the company’s time at the Purdue Research Park. With a passion for business and technology, Marinko enjoys helping companies utilize technology to deliver a better customer experience and increase sales. Read the interview to see what he has to say about opening a Covideo office in Europe and what is his advice for startups to succeed.
COVIDEO: You’ve been with Covideo since 2009. How much has changed since then?
Our core values have stayed the same but from the company growth perspective, we have grown exponentially and continue to do so. From expanding our offices in Indianapolis to opening an office in Europe, to the many new, friendly faces we have on our team, to our ever growing customer base since the early days and new products we have built. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry we’re in!
COVIDEO: Do you remember your first thoughts about video communication when you joined Covideo? Back then, did you think it would become this popular?
One of the main reasons I joined Covideo as a startup was because I strongly believed in the team and the technology we were offering. In 2009, video was still a nice option to have, but many people were afraid to be in front of the camera recording personalized videos. We have really created the market for personalized video, and we never gave up on our focus to bring personalized touch to business communication using the power of video. Since then, the technology capabilities from internet speeds, to the shift towards mobile, to all the new technologies have changed and improved which makes it so easy for anyone to capture a video and share it. I am very excited about the future and the opportunities ahead of us.
COVIDEO: When you’re explaining to people why they should utilize video, what benefits do you like to point out?
People buy from people they trust. In this day and age where our attention span is getting smaller and smaller and where people prefer video over other communication mediums, the need to stand out from your competitors is getting greater every day. Have you ever seen or met a person that’s excited about reading a long text email? Eliminate the miscommunication and start building trust by using videos to get your message seen and heard. Record and send a personalized video to introduce yourself to a potential customer, send a ‘Thank you’ video and ask for a referral, summarize your product and your company in a short video, use screen capture to explain detailed information to your customers and walk them through the required process. These are just some of the possible ways of using video, and the possibilities are truly endless.
COVIDEO: What’s the first reaction when people are introduced to Covideo?
They get excited about how truly easy it is to capture and share videos. For the longest time, there was this impression that doing video is cumbersome, complicated, expensive, and only for the big companies. Personalized videos are leveling the playing field for companies of all sizes and giving a chance to business professionals to show their passion for what they do and build trust with their customers and prospects.
COVIDEO: At the start of 2017, you opened up a European office in Zagreb, Croatia. How did you come up with this idea?
The more I kept coming back from the USA to Croatia to visit family and friends the last few years, the more I kept hearing how bad the things are and how all the young people are leaving the country to find jobs in other European countries. Two situations stood out during those visits that made me decide that I needed to do something to help rather than to look from the sidelines. The first instance was the taxi ride to the airport during which the driver and I had a conversation, and he said to me “It’s going to take people like you who were educated overseas to come back home and change things”. That sentence stayed with me as I went back to the USA. The next situation was while we were in Zadar at the Sea Organ and there was a group of young people sitting nearby and talking between themselves. One of them said “It’s easy for people that live outside Croatia. They can eat and drink anything they want”. That’s when I knew I had to do something and create opportunities for the hard-working, deserving people in Croatia so that they don’t lose hope and leave the country.
And here we are, a little more than a year later, with our office in Zagreb and a growing team. As I said during my speech at our Croatian Diaspora conference in Chicago, Croatia and Croatian people have the skills and knowledge, we just have to help and create opportunities.
COVIDEO: How would you describe Covideo’s company culture? Which qualities you wish to see in your European office?
It’s more of a family atmosphere. We spend a lot of time when hiring new members to make sure they fit the company culture. Our people love what they do and it shows. Whether it’s a customer calling for help or a co-worker asking for feedback, our team is always happy to help. While there are some cultural differences between the US and Croatia, my goal is to have a similar atmosphere as in our US office but with our Croatian touch, making us a unique employer in Croatia. American business mentality with the Croatian touch.
COVIDEO: Managing people is and always will be a challenge. Are there any managers you look up to?
I have learned from different people in my career, from when I first started working in high school to now. The good and the bad, but I think it’s important that as a manager you have your own style on how you approach people and to make sure they know you care about them. For me, it’s never that they work for me, but rather they work with me. We’re all in this together.
COVIDEO: Do you have a favorite business book you would recommend to our readers?
I read different books and look forward to reading and finding out different perspectives especially in the business world from the people that have been there and done it, whether starting a company, scaling a customer base, a new approach to selling or building a company culture. One of my favorite books so far has to be Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of zappos.com. It’s a great book, and I would recommend it to anyone.
COVIDEO: Which three qualities do you think a good manager should have?
I think first and foremost; you have to be a leader. Being a leader is not easy, but you have to commit yourself to lead your team efficiently and be there for them. I have seen people that once they get promoted or have employees reporting to them, they change and all of a sudden feel like they are above the rest. To me, that’s a big no in leadership style. You have to find the best people possible and allow them to do what they do best. Don’t micromanage people. Set priorities with your team and encourage them to execute them while being there for any assistance and guidance needed. Allow their ideas and suggestions to be heard and build trust with them, and in return they will be dedicated employees who want to see the company succeed.
I think another quality you must have are the communication skills. It’s how you speak with your employees that goes a long way. You also have to be a good listener and take time to hear their feedback and suggestions. People want to feel appreciated and feel like they belong in the organization. If you’re just giving out orders to others of what to do, most of the time it doesn’t work out long term. People leave and find elsewhere to be happy.
Character and honesty are always at the top of the list. You want your employees to be trustworthy and have the best interest in mind when representing your company. If your employees can’t trust you, they will not want to work for you.
COVIDEO: When talking about the future, where do you see Covideo in 2, 3 years from now?
It’s an exciting time for our company and our team as we continue to grow. Having a product that many companies across different industries can use and need, is giving us an unlimited potential to continue growing and innovating. I am excited about all the innovations that our development team is working on and continuing to deliver products that are changing the way people communicate. I see ourselves pushing the limits with innovation as well as integrating our technology into the existing platform. Whether using Covideo as a standalone platform or within existing platforms such as Gmail or a CRM, our technology will enable more people to deliver a better customer experience.
COVIDEO: Do you think that video communication will become more and more popular with businesses?
Absolutely. If a business professional that’s in a customer facing position is not already using video, they strongly need to consider it and get started soon. The demand for video and video usage will only continue to rise and being onboard will help you deliver a better customer experience. Don’t be left behind with all the technological advancements. People love video so why not deliver them the information using the medium they prefer and show them why they should choose you over your competitors.
COVIDEO: What would be your advice for startups which are trying to succeed in today’s world?
I was speaking with Jason Price, President of Covideo, recently about this topic. What I am noticing with many startups is that they get caught up in the fundraising environment that they lose focus on their product and proving that there’s a need for it on the market. At times, they think they need an additional feature or the product to be perfect before they can show it to potential customers. Even when they raise money, they burn through it fast without a sight on how they will start generating revenue. Many of them want to be the next unicorn, but the reality is that those are few and far between. Focus on building out your product, proving a need for it, and getting paid customers. Move fast and adopt the lean startup methodology.
With some of the startups in Croatia, I have noticed this sense of needing to be in the Silicon Valley in order to feel like they have made it or to be on the radar of potential investors. The reality is that startup and startup ecosystems are happening all across the States, from the Midwest, to the East Coast, Southwest, and many others. They are happening across Europe, Asia, South America. Just the money you would spend on the office lease in the Silicon Valley will take away from the budget you can put towards hiring developers and team members to move fast and get your product to the market. Don’t let the “keeping up with the Joneses’” get in the way of what really matters…building out the next great product and the positive contribution to society.
Check the video about Marinko here:
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