Targeting Balkan: Why Music Social Platform Vibendo Is Niche Focused

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Drasko Stojanovic, CEO of Vibendo, spoke to us about dealing with competitors like Spotify and Facebook, explaining why a niche focus might be key to success.

How would you describe Vibendo in a few words?

Vibendo is a new music social network which connects artists and users in a unique way. We make music streaming more social, more emotional and more Balkan.

What inspired you to create social music network? How did it all start?

It started during a lunch with three co-workers, all of us are from the Balkan region. We came to the conclusion that a lot of artists from the region are missing on major streaming platforms, although they – partially – get more clicks on YouTube than bigger, international artists. So, little availability paired with high attraction lead us to go with this opportunity.

The initial idea was a “normal” streaming platform called “Maricy” but as we were working on the idea, my colleagues started to get doubts and one after the other left the startup until I was the last one standing. Instead of continuing to work on Maricy, I decided to start from scratch and came up with the concept of Vibendo. It was the first time the idea of a social music network occurred to me – and it was like everyone says: you get an idea and cannot get it out of your head. It’s hard to say what exactly inspired me to go with Vibendo but it probably was the wish to connect Balkan in a new modern way.

What can you tell us about the development process of Vibendo?

We’re still in development and the Beta version will be released in the next one or two months. Additional features and apps are planned for later this year.

I’m not a developer or a designer, so you can imagine the faces of our developers when I presented them with the vision I have for Vibendo. But exactly this fresh and non-experienced thinking combined with the experience and creativity of the dev team leads to new solutions which, so far, aren’t available on the market and equip us with advantages.

You have an exclusive focus on Balkan music. How come? How do you think that benefits your overall business plan?

Besides that I’m from the Balkan there are several other factors which make me very sure that this is a big market opportunity. Balkan artists are badly represented and limited in availability on the major streaming platforms. This makes it hard for users to find all their favorite artists, be able to listen to all their songs and find similar artists outside the country level.

Another big point which confirms my thoughts is that Balkan artists are generating millions of clicks on YouTube but on streaming platforms they get maximal 10% of attention compared to YouTube. And, a little known cultural fact, Balkan people can’t live without their music.

With companies like Spotify and Deezer on the market, the competition appears to be fierce. What makes Vibendo stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator apart from the focus on the Balkan region?

One of the key differences is that we have a lot of social aspects on our platforms like a timeline, direct messages, and status posting which brings us to several other competitors like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. In this way, we are probably in one of the worst situations a startup can be in. However, this might also be a strength since we are not limited to the social or musical aspect only.

On top, we are focusing only on one market while our competitors are trying to be globally available so they are missing the depths of the single markets. Spotify, for example, is missing out on about 50% of our focused countries. On the other side, while our social network competitors are working with stories, we want to introduce a so-called “Moment Catcher”. We think that we give too little attention to the value of special moments which become memorable. Everyone travels down memory lane when they hear a specific song that reminds us of our first kiss or heartbreak. With Moment Catcher we aim to make people relive these moments and cherish them.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

Well, there are many as we’re only at the beginning of our journey. The hardest one, however, certainly is the acquisition of labels. For them, it’s hard to trust a nobody with no background in the music industry with their songs for our Beta. Still, I’m convinced we’ll overcome this challenge and start more cooperations soon.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Vibendo?

There were several, I call them magical moments, but the most memorable one was starring on the screen for at least five minutes, seeing the platform for the first time. It was then I realized my vision has become tangible – in every detailed aspect. My development team really outdid themselves – and we’ll keep that pace up.

If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – what would it be?

More support and commitment from governments in each country. Although some countries are establishing a great startup culture, there are still too many who struggle or simply don’t care.

This support and commitment must come in different ways, from spending a specific amount per year on startups to building the infrastructure and environment in a way that it’s easier to just start. Still, there is a lot of bureaucratic effort required to establish a company. I feel that with decreased legal costs, free internet access, low(er) priced offices, more programs, and rewards for founding companies much more could be achieved.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Patience is the key. On most days, you’ll not make a huge step forward and that’s ok. Each and every step will get you further toward your goal. There’s no shortcut to overnight success.





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