Alexander Tvaradze: “When you gain a certain amount of life experience, you realize that starting from scratch is one of best decisions you can make in your life.”
Today’s guest of our “From Ground Up” column is our fellow countryman Alexander Tvaradze, CEO of Advanced Technology Solutions in Serbia.
Alexander, what exactly does your company do?
We design and implement applied IT solutions that help people maintain a high standard of living, ensure their security and foster the development of small and medium businesses. This is what we currently offer on the Serbian market. Applied technologies are, essentially, systems that help make the lives of people better and safer.
How difficult was it to start your own business abroad?
I can’t speak for other countries, but it didn’t take us much time to get started in Serbia – around two months in total. However, I should give credit to our partner who quickly took care of the paperwork and the current situation in Serbia, which favors entrepreneurs.
What problems do you face most of all?
The biggest one is the readiness of the market. That is, we enter a market with something new, and it turns out that people are not ready to accept this or don’t realize that a familiar thing can be “smart”. The second problem is that businesses tend to be rather inert.
How did it all start? How did you come up with an idea to start a business in Serbia in the first turn?
One of my partners invited me to visit him in Serbia and that’s where I met Marco, my business partner. Then I went to Serbia on vacation for a few days and spent some time evaluating the general business environment there. It looked like the country that had gone through a war and European sanctions was steadily moving toward European integration and was quite attractive from the business perspective: a large market with free access to all of Europe.
The country is now seeing a huge influx of investors who are interested in this market. By the way, Serbia tightly cooperates with Azerbaijan in such fields as construction and technology. A lot of people come here to work. Which is more, Serbian companies were actively involved in some of the most recent construction projects in Azerbaijan.
Was there any risk or doubts about this business?
There is always risk in any business. Especially if you are entering a completely new market and this market is not quite ready for this. That’s exactly why our goal is not to sell something quickly and then flee. Our ultimate goal is to settle for long and change certain social stereotypes, if you like. We want to show people that there is no need for queues at banks, no need to waste time like that, that they can use our technologies to make their lives and the lives of other people easier and better.
What factor contributed mostly to your success so far?
I think it’s the team’s knowledge of the market. We also have a great PR manager, who has already organized a few interviews, including one with a local TV station.
Was it hard to start from ground up?
No, I guess. People often come and complain how hard life is and how everything and everyone are not letting them achieve something.
There is this very good phrase: “You can always see stars from the bottom of a well.” So what’s good about a clean slate? You can do anything with it.
The only complexity here is that you’ve got such a vast expanse to apply your energy to that you start thinking:
“So what should I do with it? Should I paint it, draw a sketch or maybe do something else?”
When you gain a certain amount of life experience, you realize that starting from scratch is one of best decisions you can make in your life.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?
Just go ahead and do it! No matter how it pans out, you’ll figure it out later. Getting started and doing is what really matters!
Who supported you in your beginning?
I guess it was the very thought of having taken an entire team of people on this journey and that I was responsible for these people now.
Are you ever going to work with your countrymen (Azerbaijani market)?
There is certain interest in our products here, but there are also some things that are characteristic of the Azerbaijani market. We have already made some offers to a few partners and clients, so the ball is on their side now.
(c) Gunel Tagiyeva