‘Positioning is everything’
Slovene entrepreneurs share insights on how to differentiate in product and positioning to grow in saturated markets
CEED Slovenia’s community event hosted three entrepreneurs who with their businesses challenge growth in saturated markets:
- Dušan Olaj, from Duol, which designs, manufactures and install unique and versatile fabric (building) structures,
- Marko Guček, from GoOpti, which offers shared and private airport transfers, and
- Kristjan Magdič, from Paradajz, which produces and markets tomatoes.
At the event the speakers shared their breakthrough stories and how they are transforming their companies.
“If something is not calculable, I will not go in that direction and I will stick with the reliable variant,” is what Dušan Olaj learned from his experience as a professional chess player. For example, and whenever he was confronted with an unusually large opportunity that exceeded the capacity of his company, he followed the principle: “I never let the deal lead me. I always make sure that I am leading the business.” Additionally, he’s decided that Duol must focus on what it does best. He and his team decided to shrink the company from 75 to 20 employees and subcontract all non-essential things. “We know how to design, we know how to sell, we can manage the of tents; but everyone knows how to manufacture them. With a staff of 20 we do more than before with 80 employees, and we provide through subcontractors work for another 250 people.
Olaj warned CEED entrepreneurs about the danger of being in the comfort zone, during and after the growth of the company. The company experienced such a period following their success in countries of the former Soviet Union. “Common sense says that if something is very nice, it cannot last long.” This paranoia fortunately led them beyond Slovenia to the Scandinavia markets and the Middle East, where it is less competitive today where they can extend their business to breakthrough projects in agriculture. How do they work there? Olaj responds, “You have two ears, two eyes and only one mouth – therefore use them in these proportions.”
Marko Guček says that GoOpti had to abandon the business of transportation and concentrate where they were the best – optimization of transportation, using information technology. Instead of being just a provider of transportation, they prefer to divide the market on both sides – on one side, there is the market for transportation, on the other side, the market service providers. This thinking will allow GoOpti to fulfill plans for explosive growth in the next few years, when they will be growing to Italy, Poland, Austria and Germany .
Kristjan Magdič, whose company managed to give tomatoes a personalized name “Lušt”, said that “consumers over the past 20 years do not buy anymore products, but the story and the brand.” The product, the brand and the ‘story’ all add up to the ‘value proposition,’ the communication of which to the consumer requires significant (marketing) investment and a strong knowledge as to who the customer is and what their interests are.