From the idea to start-up
We talked to Darko Luković, CPO of City Expert, about what it takes to come up with a perfect idea for a start-up, what it takes to succeed and how to never give up.
1. How did you come up with an idea for City Expert?
While I was still a student at the Faculty of Mathematics, I moved a lot. I came up with the idea of City Expert after personal struggles to find the right place to live. Just the thought of browsing through property ads was frustrating because almost all ads had blurry images and incomplete information. On top of that, when they had some info, it was usually just sugarcoating and pointing out the best features of the property. There were a lot of unpleasant surprises at the viewings. Not to mention that they were a complete waste of time.
I started researching other markets and saw that there are similar problems everywhere. That got me thinking - why wouldn't we come up with something that would simplify the entire process of property hunting?
The initial thought was to introduce an innovative service that will use modern technology and make the entire process of property hunting easier, while the idea arose from a personal need.
2. How long did it take to work on the initial concept and what were the first challenges that you had to overcome?
It took us three months to have the first version of the product. It was crucial to form the right team, the team that shares the vision of revolutionizing the real estate market.
At the same time, we worked on validating our idea, researching the legal aspect of it, creating and testing the process in real time, and making the initial version of the website. The method of forming the initial concept really depends on the niche you're working in, so given the fact that the process of renting an apartment doesn't end on the website, we needed to work very hard.
The greatest challenge we encountered was definitely gathering the team as fast as possible, well at least as fast as our ideation process was. We were focused on ideas that were a little bit outside-of-the-box. Of course, funding the project was the key factor and a very important task at the beginning of the process.
3. Were you aware that City Expert will become the first online real estate agency?
I was aware that we were going to change the way people search for properties for rent or sale. Online business model came as a product of transition from a traditional model. The traditional model helped us to experience the market and detect all its flaws. It compromised transparency that was very important to us. Along with improving the search process, by switching to an online real estate model, we became scalable, and we opened up opportunities for global success.
4. What kind of advice you have for people who have an idea but didn't realize it yet?
The first step every entrepreneur needs to take is to validate the idea. No matter how good or cool your idea is if it doesn't solve a problem users won't like it. You come up with new ideas to offer better solutions to common problems people have, that's just how it works.
The second step is to form a team, and that is the biggest challenge. It is essential to find partners, coworkers, and friends that you can go with through any challenge. If you stand the test of rise and fall, you will know that you have a great team around you.
The third step is to create a product that solves a problem that users not only like, but love! You need to meet their expectations and to build a product that will become a necessary part of their lives.
The most important action here is execution. You need to focus on the realization of planned activities, be armed with patience and lead your team in the right direction.
One of the key factors for success is to match your product to your market's needs. Also, if you want to build a multimillion start-up, then you need to find a market large enough to support your appetites.
Quite often I hear people complaining that they can't start up their business because they have another job or they don't have the money to finance their project. The advice I always give to everyone is to spare some time on validating the idea and seek funding. In the beginning, you can ask your friends and family, but also angel investors, and then later look for VC. It rarely happens that business reached great success without any funding. Also, one of the biggest myths about entrepreneurship is that it's impossible to get funding.
Learn something new every day and increase your chances for success by getting new skills. Meet new people, find those with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and discuss your ideas even with those who don't have a business idea of their own. They might be the one who will help you develop your idea.
Finally, I would like to point out one of the most important tips for young startups - be persistent! The secret recipe for success is to never give up.