Q&A: Milan Vrekic, 2012 FuEL Award Winner

Written by Frank Condron

Age: 28

Company: TitanFile

Location: Halifax

Full profile of Milan Vrekic

What do you think was the smartest single thing you did to get your business to the point it is at now.

Hire smart people, give them all the resources they need and get out of their way. At TitanFile there are not different sets of rules or criteria for engineers, community managers, sales people, and designers. Some details are different—like, designers show us some of their work before coming in for an interview. But the actual interview process is fundamentally the same no matter who we’re talking to. We ask ourselves “With the bar this high, would I be hired today?” That’s a good question. The answer might be no, but that’s actually awesome for us, and we all celebrate if it’s true because it means we’re growing correctly.

Can you think of something you might have done differently, or a decision you would change, that would have made it easier to get your business to this point?

We waited too long to start hiring our first employees. We wanted to wait until we had enough revenue to be able to provide people with a pleasurable work environment. But, ironically, it turned out that people don’t care about those things if they are passionate about the actual work they’re doing. Sure, everyone likes free snacks at the office but they would show up for work just as eager if we didn’t have those things. Waiting too long to make the first hires caused us to move much slower than we wanted in the marketplace.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing your business right now?

Staying focused on your core business sounds easy but it’s not. Occasionally, we start talking with a would-be partner or a large potential client who is not in our target market and have to turn down decent revenue streams in order to keep the focus and vision consistent and coherent. Those are some difficult decisions to make. It is always easy to say “Sure, let’s customize the product for this one client, just this one time only,” but these things add up and send the wrong message through the entire company.

How optimistic are you about the Canadian economy in the next 12 months? What makes you optimistic/pessimistic?

I am quite optimistic. There is almost as much seed financing today for startups in Canada as there was prior to the “.com” crash, and this time investors are more mature and so is the market. We have an office in Waterloo and I see a new startup coming out of the Communitech accelerator literally every day.

Do you think the rewards of being an entrepreneur outweigh the investment you make in time and effort to run your own business? What are those rewards for you?

Knowing that someone is able to pay their mortgage because of the work you did and company you started is the biggest reward an entrepreneur can get. It makes all the sleepless nights and missed dates worth it.

Return to “The Next Generation: Canada’s Top Young Entrepreneurs, 2012”

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