5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration, if you want to succeed that’s roughly the measure you need to use. And this week we caught up with a young lady from Dubrovnik who followed this golden rule to produce a rather ingenious product. By observing the situation around her she had a light bulb moment, the Hello Dubrovnik hand fan.
Ana Matušić is the brains behind this Dubrovnik idea and by chatting to her we saw not only how the fan came to life but the sheer determination you need to run a small business in Croatia “Once I really decide to do something then there is no giving up and no stopping. It’s like having tunnel vision. Whatever comes from the outside doesn’t alter my course,” said Ana with a smile.
How did you come up with the idea of the fan? It seems such a simple idea but I’m sure it wasn’t so easy to realise.
Two years ago when I was on a Croatian island it was just incredibly hot almost 40 degrees. And at that time there was a huge forest fire in Split and as I was on the island of Vis all the ash and smoke was blowing directly towards us. I was sitting in a café bar and looking at all the people around me who were wafting and waving everything and anything, from menus to mobile phones, just to keep the smoke and the heat out of their faces. That was my light bulb moment.
I thought what if I made a hand fan and put adverts on it, its practical and useful. So I came back home and immediately told my family about the idea and they were very supportive. At times when I felt like giving up on the idea they would always push me and motivate me to finish it.
Ana in her hometown - Photo Ivan Vuka Vukovic
Ideas are 5 percent; realization is 95 percent. How long did it take you from having the idea to actually making the hand fan?
It probably took me around 5 months, not too long really. But I would say that I managed to finish it so quickly because I have a very determined approach. Once I really decide to do something then there is no giving up and no stopping. It’s like having tunnel vision. Whatever comes from the outside doesn’t alter my course. I think I probably got this characteristic from my grandmother or my mother. I was always taught as a young child that when you are dedicated to something then be dedicated and make sure you finish it.
I also am a passionate person, and when I find something to do that I love then I throw myself completely into the project. I eat, sleep and dream about the idea.
There were days in the process that I was working 12 to 14 hours a day, and then I would go to bed and continue to think about how to make it happen. Brainstorming whilst sleeping. In fact, I got the name for the company and the fan in the middle of the night and immediately phone my friend in Zagreb who has a marketing company. As soon as I said the name Hello Dubrovnik he stopped me and said that’s the one. Often the first idea is the best idea.
The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, with a Hello Dubrovnik hand fan - Photo Vedran Levi
What advice would you give to either like-minded entrepreneurs in Croatia?
Apart from being completely determined and dedicated you need to surround yourself with experts. Always have a person you can call to give you advice and a push in the right direction. But also believe in yourself and your own abilities. When I was making the fan I was constantly on the phone with people in various industries, from the marketing world to printers. I finished a PR and Marketing university in Zagreb so I even called my old professors for some advice. I also worked on myself by attending different seminars and congresses just to upgrade my knowledge.
Dubrovnik hand fan - Photo Miho Skvrce
You mentioned you finished PR and marketing, tell us something about your background
I was born and bred in Dubrovnik and then finished university in Zagreb. In fact, I have a good work ethic as I have been working since I was 16 years-old. I always found something to do, mainly summer jobs. After finishing university, I came back to Dubrovnik and started working in a company in the film industry. And then with all the money I had saved doing the summer jobs, and then the full-time job I decided to go to Canada, to Toronto, where I lived for a year. I wasn’t a holiday. I wanted to work. I knew nobody there really. But the experience I gained there was priceless. I basically wanted to put myself into the fire and see how I reacted. Of course there were tough times but I learned so many lessons.
What would you say is the biggest lesson you learned in Canada?
How to be independent. I found my abilities and I learned how to take care of myself. Living in Dubrovnik, which is a really small city, it is really easy to be narrow-minded but if you expand yourself, if you go and explore the you will discover amazing things. I got a whole new mind-set on working. In just three weeks I found a job and completely threw myself 100 percent into the work. The pride of accomplishing something lives with me today.
Once you got the idea of the fan what were some of the main difficult bumps along the road before it was actually on the market?
As I have mentioned I have a background in marketing so that certainly helped. So the side of marketing wasn’t so tricky. My main issue was to design adverts that would actually fit and look good on an odd shaped fan. I sat down with my graphic designer and we spent hours and hours working out the best design. And then the next difficult step was the print shop. I wanted quality in first place, so just finding the right printers took me weeks. Finally, I found one in Zagreb and they really did a great job. Of course I didn’t leave anything to chance.
So I jumped on a plane and went to Zagreb where I spent days and days, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, at the printers to get everything just the way I wanted. If you want to get something done in Croatia, you have to be persistent. Many, many people just give up. At the moment when you feel like giving up you have to dig deep and find more energy. Distribution of the fans also need lots of thinking out. To cover all the main points of the city and not just the Old City. The hand fan is free of charge and I would urge your readers to take then and use them.
Keeping cool in the Dubrovnik summer - Photo Ivan Vuka Vukovic