Slovenian startup 45HC won the first award during the biggest Business Angels and Startups European Conference that took place last week in Zagreb. Superfounders’ team talked to Mr. Syed Bashar, director of strategy and business development at 45HC. In this interview he is speaking about 45HC and the challenges that they faced making this company a successful story, but also gives great advise for the startups in the region and in what way they should act in order to bring their dream to reality.
Dear Mr. Syed, can you tell us more about 45HC? What is the story behind this company?
45HC.com is the brainchild of our CEO Stefan Kukman. Stefan has worked in the logistics industry for the past 10 years. In his role as Kuhne Nagel’s National Sales Manager in Slovenia, he noticed the major challenges faced by small to medium sized enterprises when it comes to booking a container from Asia. The lengthy process of calling an agent, sending them multiple emails to just wait for quotes is a pure waste of time for SME’s. Stefan and the team came together to tackle this problem and created 45hc.com with the primary goal of making container booking easy for anyone and specially SME’s. Anyone can book a container within minutes on 45hc.com without any prior logistics experience.
You simply enter from where you are importing in Asia to your warehouse or business address here in Europe. You then select the number and type of container you require and you are done. Our system displays the best prices and route options for your order. It also offers you options of transit time. Perhaps you are price sensitive and time is not an issue then you can also choose another route and lower your price. Hundreds of combinations are possible. Our intelligent, ‘Cloud-route’, system offers your the best choices from the various combinations.
And then you just click, ‘Book Now’ and you are done!
During the EBAN Winter University Conference it was mentions that most of the startups have problems with finding the right business partner and getting out on the market… What were the challenges that 45HC faced and how you dealt with it?
For startups it is always a problem to find the correct partners and getting out on the marker. During our early days, we were approached by several individuals who had money to offer but they did not understand what 45HC.com was truly about. We stayed patient and waited for the right moment. However, it must be noted that we couldn’t just sit around and wait. We pitched as much as we could, we connected with several hundred companies, VCs, investors and individuals. You just have to put yourself out there. It’s just like dating, if you are trying to find the perfect partner, you just have to be out there and let them know you are available.
We had a set of goals we wanted to achieve, our KPI’s however, as a startup, we had to be flexible and adapt quickly. Several startups often lose focus on their own business as they get too busy trying to raise money. I think in a startup you start and then you must keep going up, not start and stop and wait.
“Finding the right business partner is just like dating. You just have to put yourself out there. if you are trying to find the perfect partner, you just have to be out there and let them know you are available. “
What is next that we should expect from the 45HC’s team?
We are working hard every single day to bring our product to more and more users. Our recent partnership with INTTRA, the electronic transaction platform and information provider at the center of the ocean industry helps us immensely. We are currently hiring sales associates in Germany, Austria and Hungary to expand our business to these markets. We wish to establish ourselves as the market leader in container shipping for the digital age, in Europe. We do have plans of entering the US market in the future.
These events and competitions are showing that the startup scene here in the region is on the rise. How would you estimate the startup ecosystem at the moment in Slovenia and in the region?
The startup ecosystem in Slovenia, Croatia and the region is fantastic. Compared to even a few years back, the region is booming with startups. Not only are these startups some basic ideas, but they are real game changers, some have fantastic potential to become unicorns, while others are really solving a problem or just making life better.
I really love the startup scene and always happy to help anyone with my advice or expertise.
“There is no real short cut to success. You need to do your homework before you dive into doing something. If you re just doing it to call yourself a CEO, don’t!
What would you advise the young entrepreneurs that are trying to take their ideas to reality? Is there are pattern to success?
Although, I am a growth hacker, I would say there is no real short cut to success. You have to work hard, you hard work weekends, you have to work early mornings and late nights. You need to do your homework before you dive into doing something. I have seen several young entrepreneurs get very excited too quickly and invest their savings or other finances. It is important to identify a true niche or a real pain problem before just doing something on a whim. You need solve a problem or improve life or just make a better world with your startup. If you re just doing it to call yourself a CEO, don’t! When you do have a good idea, don’t look back, keep your head down and keep hustling. All the best!