On our second issue of the Young Influencers Project, we are excited to feature Dominik Tomicevic, co-founder of Memograph. Dominik Tomicevic was according to Forbes UK, one of the 10 under 30 young entrepreneurs and innovators to watch for in 2017.
Born in Zagreb but now based in London, Tomicevic’s vision of the connected world through data took the form of Memograph which he founded in 2016 together with co-founder Marko Budiselić.
The startup is recognized for developing the world’s first in-memory real time transactional and analytical graph database. However, the name Domink Tomicevic is one of familiarity in the tech-savy community, being the Bill Gates`Imagine Cup Winner of 2011 and feature in numerious tech-magazines. He continues to influence the world of technology through data-processing.
How would you explain Memograph to someone who is not tech-savy?
Memograph as a company sells infrastructure license that developers can use to build applications that are really fast and can give much more data insight. Memograph is thus a connective database or data-processing, which you can think of as a form of network that allows you to see the relationships between data points and how they relate to each other.
What inspired you to start your journey of contributing to the field of IT?
The main reason we started Memograph was in order to build graph databases that could be available for developers. We early understood that there was a need for Memograph’s services in the market of data informatics as previous efforts of building graph databases that could be easy for developers proved to be unsuccessful. Therefore, we took inspirations from how the systems of bigger companies were designed and then blended them with the marginality and simplicity that regular draft databases had in the market in order to enable every developer in the world to leverage the power of connected data at any scale for their own use without having to build the underlying infrastructure themselves.
Who are Memograph’s clients and why do you think that Memograph is adding to their business?
A lot of our customers are in the financial services right now because that’s the industry that we are focusing on first. But in general, our market and customers are big global and fortune 500 companies. Regardless, at Memograph we understand that the developer community is our most important market because it is through the that we get adoption and user interaction. Therefore, whenever we built something we always have to keep in mind if it is easy for developers to use and if they can achieve results fast. What is important for Memograph is that even though we continue to strive to think outside of the box, we always need to think about how our results are received in the developer community. We believe that if we don’t have the community, there is no Memograph.
What marketing strategies have you used to advertise and raise awareness on Memograph and its services?
When it comes to marketing we use two approaches. One is an old approach famously used by companies such as Oracle. They historically have used the top-down approach, which entails for example that they have an internal marketing team who visits different organizations and tries to sell Oracles products. And then we have the bottom-Up approach, which became famous at around 2005 or so when open source databases started using this approach. Here, the marketing strategy is focused on spreading the word about your products by targeting developers, then when developers knows about your product and their companies are in need of a similar product, they will immediately think “oh I can use this database to do the job”. And then you will basically upscale, go from the bottom- down – up. At Memograph we try to incorporate the best of both worlds, meaning we do all the trade shows, enterprise events and engage in direct contact from the network outreach and then also use the bottom down up. Meaning you find the decision makers and you tell them that you already using that solution and thus it makes the barrier of entry much lower than if the people of data organization in the lower ranks can vouch for you to be able to sell.
What challenges have you faced in regard to acquiring leads to your business and what have you done or are you doing to overcoming them?
There have been a number of challenges, including funding, which you always have to tackle. When it comes to funding getting the first one is always the hardest part, but there is a different problem getting the second round of investors as there are different KPIs that investors expect you to hit. Investors expect a lot of revenue, however being a start-up, it is hard to get revenue fast, as every interaction takes 12 to 18 months to close a deal, therefore, revenue can get very late. As such, finding someone who really understands the business is important, and that’s a great challenge, because getting someone to invest is like a marriage without the divorce clause, so it is important to find a person that can not only help you financially, but someone who understands how you operate and can support you make the company successful. Other challenges have been in regard to building a team who poses the talent and knowledge of data processing. However, we continue to overcome this challenge, we started with 6 team members and now we are 15 members based in London and Croatia and together we collectively have 9 medals from the informatics Olympia. Our team continues to strive to think outside of the box, which is also pretty challenging because of the amount of research and uncertainty that exist in our roadmap, but this only makes our journey that much more interesting.
What are three business advice that you have learned and wish you knew before?
- Think of a problem that is affecting a lot of people and think of a way to solve the problem and then focus on the problem and work hard on it.
- Think about the customers. As soon as there is some idea on the table of what problem you want to solve for people, try to figure out what the future customers would expect from your solution. Because otherwise you would just build a huge hammer and then you will just start looking for nails, and sometimes it is hard to find the nails.
- Finding mentors who have experience in the field you are interested in and don’t be afraid to pitch your vision and ask for advice.