Startup interview

Dušan Heric
/22.5.2014, Author: Stanislava Vabšek
Founder and CEO of Poligram, developing and marketing the tracking system Trak8 and application Farm register. Doctor of science, farmer and father of 4 children.
What was your path from the doctorate and an opportunity for an academic career to founding your own company?
After a PhD in image information segmentation on the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Maribor, where I had been employed as a young researcher, my first job outside the academic sphere had been in the company EMA from Celje. I worked on the development of the system for tracking vessels. Even though we had a good and healthy relationship, I somehow knew I wasn’t going to last more than a year.
Why didn’t you last in that job?
Besides spending the entire time wondering if I really want to be doing this, I wasn’t happy with the daily drive from Maribor to Celje. Similar reasons were also why I turned down an offer for a researcher job in Austria. But even before my PhD, it was clear to me that I wasn’t interested in an academic career, because I’m an entirely applicative guy. I like to develop new products and give them life, then gladly work on getting them to succeed on the market. This is why entrepreneurship was actually the only suitable path for me.
Do you come from an entrepreneurial family?
Yes, my parents had a restaurant. But this isn’t the reason why I myself am an entrepreneur today.
What keeps you in entrepreneurship?
Independence, freedom. There is a lot of freedom in entrepreneurship. I do what makes me happy and even though I can’t say it is my hobby, this work fulfils me.
In order to succeed in entrepreneurship, you need certain characteristics. Which of them would you point out in yourself?
I’ll start with the other side of the coin. Control and inhibition. I like to be sure. I like to check things several times and thoroughly before I start something new. And that is probably a fairly big disadvantage for our company. However, I also know how to think very analytically, I connect things quickly, and I know how to well establish a genuine relationship with people I recognize as the right partners. I also find it very important to hold to what I say and promise. I’m a man of my word.
Do you have any role models in your business? How do you perfect yourself professionally?
A role model, if I can call him that, is an American computer scientist Alan Kay. Go look at some of his stuff, so you know where Steve Jobs drew his ideas from (laughter). I read scientific publications that are linked to my primary area of expertise, but that’s about it. I go to various business meet-ups, which also help broaden my horizons. After all, comprehensive personal growth isn’t only connected to entrepreneurship. Family is the key and the foundation. If you don’t have your family’s support, I don’t think you can be successful.
What has been your biggest success so far?
Personally, it was definitely the fact that I built a family. I’m 36 years old and have four children, aged from one to eight years. Professionally, we wish to further grow as a company and come to the stage where we will be truly recognizable in a certain market segment. Recognisability will also be followed by success.
How do you coordinate your personal and professional life?
Poligram is a family company. I take care of development and sales, my wife of finances, staff and administration. The family and business sphere is fairly interwoven for us, we don’t have a strict dividing line. If something needs to be done during the weekend, for example, I am not going to say no just because it’s Sunday.
What about hobbies and free time?
We also have a farm alongside the company. Field, forest and meadows, but we don’t breed animals. Our family spends a lot of time in nature, we often go for a two- to three-hour walk. We lack time for anything more.  

   Supportive environment

Member: Venture Factory, Business incubator of University of Maribor
Venture Factory, member of RAZ:UM, is an important element in the system of business support in the north eastern Slovenia focused on supporting innovative ideas of professors, young researchers and students from University of Maribor with the aim to develop succesful spin-off businesses. More...

Author of content: Stanislava Vabšek,
Communications and PR Start:up Slovenija
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Founder of startup
Innovative product
application Farm register
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