As part of a hotbed of startup activity in Eastern Europe, Serbia is in a prime position to capitalize on the benefits of Bitcoin by bringing local developments to the international stage. CoinTelegraph’s new edition will keep readers in Serbia and further afield up to date with the most exciting developments from the space, in the classic style that CoinTelegraph is already known for.
“Serbia is in the right place for a dedicated resource for cryptocurrency and FinTech with an international presence,” CoinTelegraph’s Business Development Director Victoria Vaughan said about the launch.
“It’s important to be able to see the big picture, and CoinTelegraph allows the best undiscovered talent to be noticed through our coverage, especially in emerging markets just beginning to experiment.”
CoinTelegraph caught up with CEO Aleksandar Matanović ahead of CoinTelegraph.rs’s first articles this week to get more information about the team, the ethos of the new publication and what we can expect from CoinTelegraph’s latest media outlet.
CoinTelegraph: As an entrepreneur, what made you go into the online media industry and not any other? How did you come up with the idea of writing about cryptocurrency?
Aleksandar Matanović: Long term, we see is as a good business opportunity. Cryptocurrencies will become a mainstream eventually, even in our country, so we want to position ourselves on time. Short term, we see this as a great chance to spread a word about bitcoin and provide people with fresh and relevant information about this new currency and technology.
The media coverage of bitcoin in our country has been at very low level, not many articles have been published in the past couple of years and even those that have been published have mainly be written by people who have no clue about bitcoin. We have been very active in our bitcoin community. We started mining in 2011; in 2012 we opened a local bitcoin exchange (www.ecd.rs). And this year we founded Serbian Bitcoin Association and installed the first bitcoin ATM in Serbia.
About 6 months ago we added a news section to our exchange’s website and we publish there a brief summary of bitcoin news on daily basis. The idea was to help people get informed about bitcoin because we have noticed that many of them, even our customers, had almost no knowledge about it. To this end I was surprised at how simple it was to set up a franchise with CT since we have support at all stages of the publishing process etc. It’s made our lives a lot easier getting things off the ground. Having an intuitive platform will allow us to really focus on content and quality of that content, gearing it to an audience which perhaps hasn’t been all that involved in cryptocurrency before.
CT: Tell us about your team – how you assembled your partners and what they bring to the project.
AM: Our team consists of 3 members: Nikola Cvijović, Aleksandar Ćosić and Aleksandar Matanović. Cvijović is 35 and has been working in IT industry since 2001. He is very friendly and loves to party. Ćosić is 31, ex professional dancer and crazy about football. Matanović is 35, just finishing MSc course in Digital Currencies, enjoys playing racquet sports. Cvijović and Matanović are friends since high school and mined bitcoins together in 2011. In 2012 they started a local bitcoin exchange (www.ecd.rs).
Ćosić joined the team in 2013, taking care of customer support and the news section of www.ecd.rs. He is also a long time friend and besides work, we share the same passion for sports and board games. It is a small, but very dynamic team that has a great time working together and our office is always filled with positive energy.
CT: Gaining a wide yet loyal following can be difficult for an online media resource. What problems have you encountered and how did you overcome these?
AM: Starting something new is always a challenge. No one knows about you, you need a lot of time and patience to build a name and get loyal customers/visitors. Bitcoin technology being so mysterious itself only makes the process harder. Luckily, we got through that tough period with our exchange in the last couple of years.
People were very cautious and scared at the beginning, but we overcame those hurdles by taking good care of our customers. Now, we are well-known and respected members of our local Bitcoin community, so going into media business shouldn’t be that hard because we already have the thing that is crucial for a media resource – people’s trust.
CT: What made you decide to join the CoinTelegraph network rather than strike out on your own? What are the advantages of being a CoinTelegraph franchisee in a major European market such as Serbia?
AM: As I mentioned before, we have already included news section into our website earlier this year. We also had a wish to build a separate website specialized only in news, but we just didn’t have resources for that. That is the main reason we decided to join CoinTelegraph because with them we don’t have to start from the scratch. We have the platform and the technical part taken care of, we have their experience and their reputation as a huge help and we only have to focus on content and reaching the local audience, which is way easier than running the whole thing on our own.
Well, I wouldn’t exactly call Serbia a “major” market! It is a relatively small market, especially when it comes to bitcoins and everything related to it. However, the good thing is that our language is very similar to the languages of several neighbouring countries and since those countries also have a problem with bitcoin media coverage, we expect to be more regional than the national Bitcoin media resource, at least until those countries get their own CoinTelegraph franchise or some other big Bitcoin news portal.
CT: With the Bitcoin market changing so frequently, media outlets are constantly evolving their focus. What do you intend to cover in future other than purely cryptocurrency?
AM: With bitcoin’s and the blockchain’s growing popularity, I guess we won’t be short on material to cover any time soon. The content could be further enriched with interesting fintech news, or even purely financial news (but only the really big ones) and stories about innovative startups.
CT: What advice would you give to those looking to set up a franchised media operation? Is there anything you yourself would have done differently, or mistakes by others in the industry you've been keen to avoid?
AM: I think it is a great way to go for those who don’t have abundant resources to start their own media business from nothing. However, it should be taken very seriously, it’s not like the franchise is going to work on its own just because it is a part of something bigger and it uses its name and resources. There is still a lot of hard work and enthusiasm that needs to be put in to make it successful.
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