by Zuzana Ziaranova, Tatra banka |

In the first of three interviews, Juraj Holub, marketing director of Slido, talks about ambitions, future plans and how Slido acquires clients.

Slido, an application created in Slovakia makes events more interactive and has become a favourite international tool for conferences in the course of a few years. Its founders came to London as backpackers to subsequently conquer the USA, Asia and Australia. Meanwhile, even Elon Musk, famous inventor and visionary, answers questions people send via the Slido application, for example during this year´s SXSW in Austin. Slido has been cooperating with Tatra banka cooperating since 2014.

Juraj Holub, Slido marketing director

What were the expectations and visions at the beginning? Could you ever imagine that Slido would go straight from a small Slovak startup to a successful tool with an international reputation?

Innovations are to a great extent about good timing. It is like surfing: you cannot stand up too early because you will go under the water with your surfboard, nor can you stand up too late because the wave will catch you inside. You have to catch the right moment to stand up and ride the wave. We reacted to a rising wave and caught the right moment.

On the other hand, we had international ambitions from the very beginning. We all accepted Peťo Komorník’s vision. It was an ambition to build a company that would go beyond the borders of our region. In our first years we tried Prague, sometime later, literally with a sleeping bag, we attempted to succeed in London, where our colleague Peťo Krajnak set up our international base. Then the rest of the world followed: USA, Asia and Australia.

How would you evaluate the first years of Slido?

To launch a startup is like jumping off a cliff and constructing an aircraft while being in a headlong dive to the ground. Before you can take the altitude and plot the course, you must construct your aircraft while falling down. The best thing is that you learn by doing. So the first years have been only about learning, trying and surviving. At the beginning, one does not know what one does not know. Step by step you learn it and with it your starting illusions crumble away. Every one of us tackled building a company for the first time!

Companies worldwide are currently subscribing. How do you acquire clients?

The more conferences use Slido, the more participants have an opportunity to experience it. When they later organize their own event or meeting they often choose Slido and use it due to their initial experience. It results in the snowball effect. We understood the dynamics at the beginning so we tried to build a partnership with strategic conferences and events.

Which markets are you aiming for now?

London is strategic for us because it is the center for companies organizing conferences around the world. The U.S. is our biggest market and our biggest challenge as well. Singapore in Asia because it is a crossing point for business in that region.

You keep improving and innovating Slido. What are the next steps? What can we look forward to?

The structure of our client base changes and step-by-step we have been moving from external conferences to companies using us for communication with their employees. It also influences product development.

We have been working on integrations with growing communication platforms such as Slack. We are going to launch the IDEAS function which will allow a more efficient collection of employees’ ideas. At the same time, we remain committed to our core functionality, live questions and voting, something we are continuously improving so that the user has the best possible experience.

What do you consider to be your main competitive advantage?

From the beginning we have stuck to three principles that, as a part of our DNA, are reflected in our approach to both customers and ourselves. They are the following: We Care, Simply Clever and Don’t Stop.

The first principle simply reflects our approach to customers. We care about them and do our best so that their event comes off well. The second one is about finding simple product and communication solutions. The third is about our commitment to constant improvement.

We try to live by these rules; we believe that our customers appreciate it.

Stay tuned for the next interview with Juraj Holub, when he gives insights into “How to run a successful startup”