StartUs Presents: Silos

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We interviewed Aleksandar Sabo, CEO of Silos, a startup that helps agricultural enterprises manage their tasks. Find out how the idea developed & where it will go!

Describe Silos in 50 or less words.

Silos by Agro Mreza is a simple-to-use software based solution for complicated problems that agricultural enterprises are dealing with in their everyday business processes. It basically solves the problem of purchasing agricultural products and it allows easy management of goods in warehouses. In this way, the cooperatives have an all time access to their business and thanks to the automation of certain tasks, the productivity itself is being increased.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

While I was working at other companies engaged in software development, I was being busy trying to separate my free time in order to work on my own projects, until I decided to devote myself entirely to it. I made this decision by simply wanting to be able to tailor the working time and space according to my own measures, while enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with being your own boss.

In 7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

What we want for people working in agricultural enterprises, is to make their lives easier, by allowing them to do their job more easily. We envision that the production of agricultural products will be a satisfaction for both sides, through enabling producers and buyers to cooperate in a better way. Silos also contains features which serve for tracking the quality in terms of whether the product is really organic, whether it has a certain percentage of protein and other quality indicators. We practically want to see producers being able to discern which sack of flour came from which field. So, our ultimate aim is directed towards reaching the high quality of food.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

Since our customers are very demanding and important as such, we measure our success by the level of their satisfaction and the number of those who keep working with us. The encouraging fact is that no one has given up on us so far – and we are happy about that. Along the way we strive to stay approachable to them and to listen their needs in order to validate the existing features of our product and consider adding new ones. When it comes to attracting new customers, we rely on their recommendations – in this regard, the word of mouth is what does all the work us.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the Silos like you imagined it in the beginning?

Yes, we pivoted in the very beginning, since we started developing our product for only one company, according to the specific manner in which they are working. As soon as the other client appeared, right after the official release, we realized that there are still a lot of features to be changed and added as well. What we were not aware of at the first stage of development, was that the companies from this branch are working in the same way, yet differently and with specific needs. As we got in touch with new potential clients, our product was incrementally changing and building itself into what it is now. The initial idea was to build a software that is going to be used for purchasing the agricultural products only. The pivot came with making decision to build it up with additional options. Thus we went into the broader story, keeping in mind that our clients need a comprehensive solution, that will enable them to keep everything in one place by executing all at once.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

We are bootstrapping from working on outsourcing projects along this one. Silos itself is not sustainable yet. Opportunities such as local funds and venture capitals, were appealing, but not enough for us. The investments that we would have meant more are lying within “smart money”. Going towards the future challenges, we will endeavor ourselves to build a wider network of contacts or corporate partners from the agricultural branch, who would work with us on improving and adapting Silos, in order to gain the traction from the European and global market.

What do you look for in team members?

We simply expect them to know their job. To perceive the problems as challenges to grow with them. Responsibility will eventually cover the results.

Why would a talent join your team?

Because we are pioneers in an unexplored market of agro startups. Everything about us is new and nascent. What makes the difference is that our customers are being more present. We are engaged on servicing their needs on daily basis. Sometimes we even help them on the site. This is what makes working with us a dynamic and open-minded experience.

What have you gained from failure?

The main failure was that, at first, we did not manage to properly identify our early adopters. Those who are in agricultural business for years, who are showing resistance to technology and aversion from the sellers, came out to be a dead end for us. As soon as we changed our course towards those who are making their first steps in this business, the whole thing started to move. They are still in a lack of knowledge, when it comes to legislation and business processes, so we also decided to provide them consultancy services as a kind of added value.

The moment we managed to identify them, we started to sell. You simply need to listen and understand. This is why I’m not a fan of those who interpret that famous worn-out Ford’s saying “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”, in a way that the customers sometimes simply don’t know what they want. If you ask me, Ford did listen, and he hooked on the word “faster”.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Set off as soon as possible and go straight to market. Get rid of that intrusive and fictional fear that somebody else is going to steal your idea. Talk to people about your idea instead and use that essential feedback for building up your product. Don’t lose sight by working on product development only, you need to devote enough time and effort to the customer and business development as well.

It happens usually that we dream and think about where we want to go, without having a map to help us get there. A lot of startups out there, treat their dreams and goals like this. Eventually, this turns out to be the reason they fail. So, one thing is certain: you need to have a plan.



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