COTRUGLI’s support to the entrepreneurial climate is very visible through its MBA programs. During their studies, students learn through case studies and project-based assignments. This multidisciplinary approach prepares students to start and manage their own business, and more importantly, to turn a great business idea into an executable business plan. In such way, the School acts as a business incubator for many great innovations and successful start-ups.
Kenan Kekić, a COTRUGLI Alumni, is one of the examples how the Executive MBA program brought him new career opportunities. He is sharing his story about how he started his company Smart Business Solutions.
COTRUGLI: Kenan, tell us more about yourself and your growing experience during the Executive MBA studies.
Kenan: I’m 45 years old and I have more than 18 years of working experience in different fields such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare and health insurance. During my MBA journey, I have changed the company and increased my income. To better understand this change, I will tell you what my income approximately was. When I just started my EMBA studies, my income was less than 2000 euros per month. Not long after that, I changed the company and started earning more than 3500 euros per month plus additional benefits. Considering the fact that I live and work in Bosnia and Hercegovina, you will understand that, for its standard, it was a big change. I had an excellent position, a very nice salary in an excellent company. But somehow, for me it was not enough. Once again, COTRUGLI changed my life, and it was at the moment when I got the business idea and I got to develop it in the school.
COTRUGLI: Let’s start from the beginning, tell us more about your idea.
Kenan: I graduated from COTRUGLI in November 2019. My journey starts roughly one year before that when I got an email from the school that I need to propose a business idea for the Entrepreneurship module. At that moment I didn’t have it and I didn’t know what I should write about.
One day I was sitting at the school with my colleagues and we started talking about the task we had to submit. We talked about what would be useful, easy to write and finish. One of my colleagues from Bulgaria mentioned telemedicine. It was at this moment I knew this will be my future business. I don’t know how. I just liked the idea and I joined his team. The main idea doesn’t need to be yours at the end. In my case, the idea came from the conversation with people I met during my studies. I wanted to learn more about telemedicine. We have decided that this will be the idea for our business plan. So we started working on it.
COTRUGLI: At the end of the studies, you had an elaborated business plan that was presented in front of the committee. What happened after you got your final grade and graduated?
Kenan: After my graduation I’ve immediately started to look for an IT company that could develop the software. After three failures, I’ve found an excellent IT company and we started to coperate. In January 2020, the world health crisis begun and I saw the opportunity. I started working 10 hours per day on this project, along with the regular job in my former company. In April, I left that company. Just imagine that situation. We were in lockdown, everything collapsed. I quit my job and started my own business in May. From May to September I worked every day between 18 and 20 hours on this project with my team. In September we launched the software for Bosnia and partially for Serbia. In October, I had more than 20 sponsors.
COTRUGLI: That is fascinating. What is your plan for the next period?
Kenan: My plan is to launch new companies in Serbia, Montenegro and Albania by the end of Q1 2021. Also, I found new investors and we will try to launch the project in EU. EU will be huge opportunity, and we will be able to test the model here in Balkans before entering new, demanding markets.
COTRUGLI: That sounds great! Fingers crossed! We’re curious about the finances. Considering that developing a software is expensive, what were your financial resources at the beginning?
Kenan: In the first stage, I invested my own money. It was not enough, so I found a partner, which was easy because I had a comprehensive business plan, with a clear ROI statements. My final exam at COTRUGLI prepared me for this so it was easy to gain investor’s trust. Now I have more than 20 sponsors. The biggest sponsorship is with one insurance company – 10 years long contract worth a lot of money. This resulted in the fact that I’m no longer a start-up, I can now say that I have a successful company.
COTRUGLI: What is telemedicine about? Tell us more about your business model.
Kenan: Telemedicine is about connecting clients with medical needs to doctors. And not just doctors, we are talking about nurses, dentists, etc. Medical staff in general. Clients and healthcare professionals are connected by our software. For instance, if it’s not urgent, you don’t need to go to the dental office, you can satisfy your needs from your home, office, hotel room etc. and that is something unique and different from the previous old-fashioned ways of satisfying medical needs. For now, my business model is focused on B2B, but that can change in the future.