Oveit founder Mike Dragan started a “global company focusing on live experiences technology, both virtual and in-person.”
Mike Dragan founded Oveit in 2016 “with the goal of improving how brands deliver live experiences to their customers and now serves over 3000 customers across 4 continents.”
In 2020, Mike Dragan launched Streams.live, a “live commerce software that is transforming retail.”
Mike Dragan has spent more than 15 years “in building digital products, with a focus on digital shopping.” He has also “worked with some of the largest consumer brands in the world, advising on their digital go to market strategy.”
He also holds a degree in International Economics and a degree in Computer Science.
According to Mike Dragan, Oveit stands out because they can “make seemingly impossible things happen.”
Likewise, Mike Dragan says that bootstrapping mght not work in a “very fast paced, innovative industry such as software tech.” In fact, boostrapping in the industry “basically shortens your vision.”
Mike Dragan transformed their “whole company trajectory” in “less than 1 year” thanks to this philosophy.
They ended up getting “larger customers and made our existing customers’ lives even better.” Then, Mike Dragan scaled his company “throughout the world,” which “made it easier for us to start global partnerships.”
I think what makes us stand out is our ability to make seemingly impossible things happen. Mike Dragan, Oveit
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Mike Dragan: I think what makes us stand out is our ability to make seemingly impossible things happen.
The first time I noticed that was on that deserted island, in the middle of the Danube river.
No technology in sight, no internet, no electricity but people were tapping small chips and payments were made.
At a very small scale we created a sustainable economy operated solely on a local system. That was 4 years ago, and it still sounds like magic.
People were using our tech without noticing it.
They were living an amazing experience in a wonderful community that was exchanging value in a way that was not possible before.
The second time I noticed that was at the end of 2020. We were in a large, now empty, showroom of the Renault Group.
Their sales have dropped even though people wanted to buy cars. They couldn’t. Dealerships were closed and no one dared open them in fear of infecting customers or staff.
No car was sold live before. We didn’t know if it was possible.
We tested our live shopping product with smaller items in the fashion and beauty space. But cars? That was nuts.
As per our usual or mission was seemingly impossible and on tight timeframe. We had 2 weeks to prepare for a live session of car selling.
Ideally, some cars would be purchased in the three days the session was running.
We got to work and set up a studio in place. Actors were hired and trained on how to present the cars. The first day came.
In the first 10 minutes of the live session, we knew we had a winner.
Every minute we were adding server after server to keep up with the demand. Tens of thousands of visitors joined the session.
Asking questions, they got to know the cars better. They clicked and purchased. Cars were sold in matters of seconds.
I’ve worked in digital retail for more than 15 years and that was like nothing I’ve witnessed before.
We then knew the world was changing and we were a part of this change.
Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Mike Dragan: Don’t raise, grow organically. Bootstrap.
This might work for other industries, but in a very fast paced, innovative industry such as software tech, bootstrapping basically shortens your vision.
We’ve started as a bootstrapped startup, funded by me and my cofounder.
We worked in the event management space for some time, doing ticketing software, slowly growing, until we raised our first (small) seed round.
That moment gave us some months of runway.
You would think that made us slack off a bit but no, it gave us perspective and made it easier to understand what we should (and most importantly what we shouldn’t) do.
In less than 1 year our whole company trajectory was transformed.
We got larger customers and made our existing customers lives even better, we scaled throughout the world and this made it easier for us to start global partnerships.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Mike Dragan: Let’s first define success. If we were to compare ourselves to the likes of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, we might seem like not much of success.
I think much of what we call success in our current society has to do with two things: wealth and fame.
Basically if you have those, you are successful. The scales might differ and they constantly adapt to the new reality.
If you’re worth $10 million you might see success as having $100 million in your bank account.
If you’ve been on national television, you might think success is having global coverage and so on.
The way I think of success is being able to build useful things for as much of our fellow humans as possible, adding value to the world instead of extracting it and generally being better today than you were yesterday.
When the pandemic hit, we knew that this would affect a lot of the world in many, many ways.
We had a tool that was used in live environments and events and we knew that many of the people involved in these industries would be affected.
We’ve asked ourselves — what would it take for us to build something that would help our customers thrive in these complicated times.
We built the live shopping tool based on what we saw at live events.
Our live shopping tool was used in festivals and large venues to connect customers to local vendors.
We wanted to move this to digital and help as many vendors recover from the pandemic.
When we saw this was working and people were connecting with one another and exchanging value, while having fun, we knew this was something that made us even more useful than prior to the pandemic.
Now this is our main goal — making sure people connect and exchange value and experiences, even if they can’t connect in physically.
You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself to get 8 hours of sleep a day.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Mike Dragan: Sleep. Eat healthy. Walk or work out. Enjoy time with family and friends. These are the best things that help me stay sane and productive.
I think it’s really important for people to realize we are not very much different from one another.
You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself to get 8 hours of sleep a day.
How can you build a healthy organization if you are not keeping your most prized possession (your body) healthy and productive?
Our technology has evolved dramatically in the past hundred years or so but our bodies and brains are still in the same place they were tens of thousands of years ago.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Mike Dragan: They don’t talk to their customers.
Maybe it’s just a fear of being proven wrong but discussing your ideas with others is not a top priority for many starting founders and CEOs but it’s present in almost all successful founders.
Maybe the tools to understand the market change at scale but they all connect to their audience.
The way to avoid this mistake is to just go out and discuss with your customers, prospects and basically anyone that would listen to your pitch.
You will start to see the patterns. Set a goal of discussing with at least 6 customers per week. That’s one more than the workdays you might have.
This experience will be great afterwards as your marketing messages will mirror exactly what you heard were the problems and the solutions.
Managing is hard. If done right. Mike Dragan
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Mike Dragan: I would say that the most underestimated aspect is managing people. It’s so hard and so delicate.
Most business courses of books simplify human beings to simple automatons.
We are not machines, we are the apex of billions of years of evolution.
Each and every one of us is a complex system of biochemical reactions that results, amazingly, in intelligence.
For all we know we might be the only planet that holds sentient, intelligent beings.
We still claim that an MBA or a prestigious university or some fancy course will teach you everything there is to know about helping other fellow humans to achieve their full potential.
Managing is hard. If done right.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Mike Dragan: I think brain cancer can be cured. It’s an awful disease and it comes in many forms. It can affect anyone of us from the youngest to the oldest.
I am planning on starting some efforts in raising funds for research nonprofits that work on brain cancer research.
I think that combining our recent advancements in biology/immunotherapy and data science we can actually create cures for all sorts of diseases.
My focus in terms of philanthropy is on helping find a cure for most if not all forms of brain cancer.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
I tweet at @mihaidragan and I’m on LinkedIn.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Mike Dragan: It was a pleasure sharing my thoughts. Thank you for the invitation!