In a world where remote work has become the norm, Nenad Milanovic and his software engineering company COING are leading the way.
With a focus on customer satisfaction and a suite of business tools that includes Clockify, Pumble, and Plaky, COING has managed to overcome obstacles and become a unicorn company. In this exclusive interview, Nenad shares his insights on company culture, employee happiness, and the future of remote work.
He also provides valuable advice for budding entrepreneurs and discusses his plans for the future development of COING’s products. Get ready to learn from a true visionary in the tech industry!
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Nenad Milanovic: Hi,
My name is Nenad Milanovic, an entrepreneur with 15 years of managerial experience in engineering and software development. I am also the Founder and CEO of COING, a software engineering company based in California and Europe. With my team at COING we have designed, developed and launched Clockify, free time tracking software, Pumble, free team chat software and Plaky, a free project management tool.
Since going live, Clockify has appeared on lists of best time tracking apps and today has a reputation to be best time tracking software in the world. The most prominent users of Clockify are HP and American Express, and we now have more than 5 million users.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, services, or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Nenad Milanovic: Our company makes a business software suite that comprises 3 products: Clockify, Pumble, and Plaky.
What differentiates us from our competitors is the fact that we offer core functionalities completely free of charge without hidden costs (for all our products). This means that we don’t sell or share our customers’ data with anyone (we’re aware that the tech industry is, unfortunately, infamous for doing this).
Aside from that, we’re completely customer-centric — we listen to our customers’ needs. Besides, the proof is in the pudding — our customer satisfaction score is an impressive 96.6% with almost 6,000 positively rated tickets.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Nenad Milanovic: I’d like to highlight two great achievements from last year.
Namely, we launched the third app in our arsenal of business tools — Plaky, project management software. I’m happy to say that it’s already gaining traction each day.
Another thing I’d like to single out as an amazing achievement is the fact that we became a unicorn company in 2022. This means we managed to overcome all the obstacles that the current global situation has put before us and achieve great success.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Nenad Milanovic: It all starts with recruitment. Namely, cultural fit is crucial in our recruitment process. We employ people who share our values, which ensures that they will fit in more easily and be more satisfied in the workplace.
Aside from that, it’s paramount that our new colleagues be independent and proactive so we don’t have to micromanage them. We don’t monitor how much time our employees spend on their computers. Instead, we’re performance-oriented and trust that our colleagues will do a great job.
As a remote-first company, we also take great pride in the ways we socially integrate our employees, especially our new colleagues. We have a tried and tested method of onboarding them, regular weekly check-ins with the HR team during the first two months, as well as work buddy systems to help them adjust.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Nenad Milanovic: I wish someone had told me how important it is to consider the method of distribution when considering the business model. Namely, I noticed that, when I focused on business models that rely on product-led growth or distribution that is less outbound, things worked out for my company and me.
So, I would advise all the people who, like me, think they are not good enough in outbound distribution, to focus on product-led distribution. I wish someone had told me that when I started my business journey.
In the next quarter, we’re planning to focus on the further development of our three products — Clockify, Pumble, and Plaky. We have large enough roadmaps for all our products to hire more people who’ll work with us towards our goals.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Nenad Milanovic: By pure chance, the major transition to remote work when the pandemic hit went in our favor since we offer tools for remote (and hybrid) work.
As far as the future is concerned, provided there are no major technological breakthroughs, I expect work organizations to gravitate toward a hybrid work model.
I don’t believe it’s possible for all kinds of businesses to achieve maximum productivity in a remote work environment. However, it all depends on individual circumstances.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Nenad Milanovic: Since macroeconomic trends aren’t favorable at the moment, employers have to operate within their financial capabilities. That means some will have to make tough decisions about cuts.
Also, it will be much more difficult for companies to put their ideas into practice and experiment because they simply won’t have enough resources to try things out, and it will become even more difficult to secure the funds.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Nenad Milanovic: In my opinion, leaders sometimes tend to overlook the needs of their workforce, which are often unique to their circumstances, and simply follow trends.
I must stress how important it is not to blindly follow business and leadership trends. Put simply, you should tailor your approach to your employees to your workforce’ unique needs and situation in your company.
Embrace open communication and consider who your employees are, what their background is, and, most importantly, what they need. For example, a company’s workforce in developed countries will have entirely different requirements than that in developing countries, where poverty is rampant.
In other words, you need to put your ego aside and actively and deeply listen to your employees.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Nenad Milanovic: At the beginning of the pandemic, during the lockdown, people didn’t have much to do, so they focused on work. Ergo, they were more productive.
When the anti-COVID-19 measures loosened up, there was a small drop in productivity. People were finally able to do other things — they did not have to just dedicate themselves to work. Now that the situation with the pandemic has deescalated, we’ll see the true colors of remote work — how it functions when things are back to normal.
As far as lessons learned and advice for the readers, it’s important to say that management has a lot to do with the company’s success, especially in remote and hybrid environments.
Namely, quality management that deals with output-based metrics is much better equipped to handle a post-pandemic workforce.
In contrast, micromanagers and those concerned with facetime metrics will certainly deal with a lot of challenges. They probably won’t like their productivity outcome either.
Another thing I’d like to point out is that financial discipline is crucial. Because of the current negative macroeconomic conditions, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to find investors and funds. So, I’d advise spending within your means and not splurging.
Long story short, hire for cultural fit, don’t micromanage, give your employees autonomy, and be financially disciplined.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Nenad Milanovic: Since we have extensive roadmaps for all our products, we’ll be more than happy if we manage to fulfill all of them and realize our plans for each of our products.
Aside from that, we hope to continue to grow as a company and raise brand awareness. We’re on the right track.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Nenad Milanovic for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Nenad Milanovic or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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