Since its opening in 2012 Nova Iskra coworking space has accommodated, nurtured and raised more than four hundred small businesses and watched entrepreneurs grow from one-man-show part-time freelance gig to 40 - people - strong business operations with top client names in their portfolio. But we are not here to do the name-dropping. Except, we are, if you’re interested in learning more about how to achieve a substantial growth, exploit opportunities and finally oil the rusty wheels of your business workflow. Now, we are not saying your business management is bad. We are saying it might work better if you go through mechanics again and assess the state. And we know where to find the right oil.
Embarking on a solo business journey is never a smooth sail at the beginning. But how you reach the calm waters depends on your ability to stir your ship in the right direction. And hold the course.
That’s what Bstorm company did. And the storm in their name has nothing to do with the actual storm they caused when they emerged on the Serbian mobile development market with super cool expert and creative approach they use to walk each client to results they set out to achieve. It has everything to do with brains and hearts. Because they are the kind of brainiacs you call when you want to get the mobile experience for your clients to stand out. And they are the kind of friendly and spirited young hearts you’d want to hire and maintain a professional relationship with. This is their story.
Changing lanes - laying the backdrop for success
They have been with Nova Iskra coworking spaces for two years - first at our Zemun location and now at Dorcol. It’s easy to see how beneficial the coworking journey has been for them, making Bstorm one of Nova Iskra’s most interesting and successful occupants. The creative energy they put in their projects and overall work spills to the physical spaces they rent and it is visible at first glance.
But it wasn’t always like that.
Bstorm started out in a rented apartment - turned office space in the central city zone. They weren’t looking for an impersonal corporate office space, but something more secluded and appealing to their creative workflow so this was the logical solution. But keeping the creative workflow between the teams was not an easy job when employees are confined to separate rooms of the apartment and the verbal communication is mostly limited to small kitchen area posing as the communal space. The formality of the corporate workspace they tried to avoid was only substituted by the formality of a make-shift office space that wasn’t suitable to accommodate 15 plus people.
Moving to Nova Iskra coworking space was the decision they reached unanimously, by voting the best out of several solutions they had previously debated.
Just like at the beginning when they were trying to figure out the best option for settling their business, they again ruled out the office spaces at the corporate buildings as that would once again leave them with the burden of managing administrative and logistical tasks such as cleaning, parking, taking care of office and kitchen supplies and paying separate bills for electricity, heating, water and internet. A coworking space punched all the marks and the hunt for an ideal one had begun. The central city zone was crossed from the list of options mainly because the parking was becoming an unsolvable issue. They visited several coworking spaces in Belgrade and the Zemun location of Nova Iskra coworking spaces emerged at the top of the list, fulfilling all the requirements Bstorm had set out.
It was clear that they were starting a new chapter of their business development but nobody was sure what to expect and how transferring to a space so much different than the one they had gotten used to, would affect the tightly knit business eco system they had built in two years. Many things were at stake, especially the one they cared the most for: preserving and leveling up the good spirit. The Bstorm crew has learned that preserving the good spirit is the best productivity booster. Losing it due to an office space that lacked inspiration and positive vibes was not an option. Even when everybody agreed that letting go of the idea of the traditional office space was a natural thing to do, there was a pinch of doubt when taking such an important step as moving the business to a whole different part of the city, to a space where they would become a part of the community and essentially a part of a new universe.
Because knocking on the coworking door is exactly like that - introducing your business to a whole new universe - not the likes of Marvel or DC - but the one where brain power fires up the wheels of creativity. Where superheroes create but also learn how to market their achievements to the supporting coworking eco system and make stronger bonds through networking. Sometimes those superheroes even wear capes when the opportunity arises. Which is often, because having fun and engaging with your coworkers in a relaxed atmosphere is good for your soul. Bstorm is the shining example.
A successful young company with over twenty employees and a very special office mojo - they managed to assemble a creative and motivated team which delivers high quality products and has 100% client satisfaction. Their story didn’t start at Nova Iskra. But it gained full throttle there and it is not about to stop.
SWITCHING TO MORE INSPIRING SPACE POWERED UP BSTORM’S PRODUCTIVITY AND CREATIVE FORCE - THEY GREW FROM 15 TO 25 PEOPLE TEAM IN ONLY 2 YEARS
When you want to land the biggest, most challenging clients on the market, your work ethics and dynamics have to be on top of the game and each wheel of the business machine oiled up and running smoothly. Acquiring a client such as The Coca-Cola Company early on in the business development speaks volumes of Bstorms’ ability to fulfill the tasks and answer expectations. It is usually said that clients come and go and that it’s a natural business development process, but how many companies are there which have landed one of the biggest and most demanding clients on the market at the start of their journey, and have been with them ever since? A close, friendly relationship they harbor with The Coca-Cola Company is the one every business strives to achieve. But it is not something that only comes naturally. Bstorm’s business culture and professionalism come from their complete dedication and willingness to go a step further and constantly challenge themselves. In order to maintain and create the quality portfolio, they stick to the “preserving the good spirit” rule. How do they do that, and is it harder to preserve the good spirit in the middle of a stressful and demanding project?
As Ivana Andrejic, account manager and Scrum Master at Bstorm told us: “We’d be working on a very important project that is interesting and really a challenge for the whole crew, and we’d spend hours preparing, going through tasks, making plans so that everything lays out in a perfect way and the client truly gets what they hope for. But the pressure to excel and make something that is not only what client specified, but what exceeds expectations and creates that added value to the project can be very stressful and exhausting. Those are the moments when it is of utmost importance to have inspiring and comfortable corners at work where you can, sort of, depressurize and hit the hold button on everything that potentially suffocates the productivity just so you can recuperate, gather your creative energy and come back with new, fresh ideas and relaxed mind. For us it’s usually a quick round of pool shooting in the gaming area of Dorcol Nova Iskra coworking space, that does the trick, or a spur-of-the-moment videogame tournament for half an hour that really brings out the good mood and fires up the energy of the team! That wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t settle in a space that really lets us be our quirky selves and organize our work dynamics the way we want to.”
Managing the team of 30 plus people means taking care not only of the delivering and following up on tasks, but constantly checking for signs of potential disruptions and dissatisfaction within that team in order to secure the optimal workflow, productivity and overall good atmosphere. The responsibility is huge because once the team spirit drops, the consequences are felt all the way through the working dynamics, just like small earthquake aftershocks. Bad mood resonates far. If a manager, a CEO, is not in the position to provide a stress-relief from the workload within the space where the workload happens - it ends up corrupting the positive atmosphere and creating a grudge on employees faces. In short, the chief manager’s job is as much to provide a meaningful relaxation and put smiles on employees faces, as it is to provide and acquire new clients and develop business solutions. That’s why shooting pool and hanging out, engaging in an activity that’s happening within the work space but has nothing to do with the work itself is so precious. Deadlines, high expectations, long hours and eagerness to impress are all part of the job, but if the manager doesn’t balance it out with positive atmosphere, good vibes and general care for everyone’s well-being, the workflow also suffers and in the end those pressure bubbles start to burst leaving everyone unmotivated and not looking forward to the next task.
Keeping the creativity flowing doesn’t always come easy. As they confess - you can have a brilliant team, full of experts and hardworking people but, honestly speaking, if you don’t constantly motivate their minds and nurture the curiosity, challenge their spirit, you’re as good as if you had an average team of randomly picked applicants from the job ad. All seasoned HRs would emphasize the importance of regular team buildings in order to increase the productivity, establish better professional relationships among team members and secure that the uplifting mood remains strong. But those are not the things that you can do very often and in between those events, the team needs to feel energized and ready to withstand everyday work challenges. That’s why renting a coworking space puts the team members in sort of a privileged position to choose whether they want to engage in an “out of office” activity at the communal area with other members of the coworking community, relax with a colleague from the same team at the game area, drop by and catch the first 10 minutes of an interesting lecture at the event space. With all the possibilities for having fun, learning, mingling and taking part in different activities, it’s easy to understand how highly functional and appealing coworking spaces might be for a company of enthusiastic, technology - driven professionals.
So how does a day at Nova Iskra coworking space Dorcol looks like for the Bstorm crew?
Dorcol has been their location for several months now (since September 2019). They were previously renting a whole floor of the Zemun location but when they learned that Iskra was adapting a central city location suitable for bigger teams and companies, they didn’t hesitate and hurried to book their space among the first from the companies currently residing in Dorcol location.
From the early hours of work day, the kitchen starts to buzz like a beehive with coworkers swarming up to make coffee and chitchat is echoing from all sides. During spring and summer, some members of the team prefer to have their morning tea or coffee out at the balcony, nested at the back of the building, overlooking the small yard, comfortably hidden from the morning traffic of Dorcol streets. The real morning rush at the office hasn’t yet started so it’s usually a good time to just go over the emails and prep up for the work day in a relaxing way. Even though the founders of Bstorm traded careers in a startup to move on and build a profitable company, they still like that startup atmosphere, a slight lack of formality and constant free flow of ideas and that is one of the things they grew to appreciate at Nova Iskra coworking spaces. Having a separate office and establishing your own company’s micro climate doesn’t mean that your business is isolated from the vibrant coworking community. And being a part of a bigger community is always a good idea for a company starting its way upward at a competitive market.
As the work day picks up pace it once again becomes important to preserve the team spirit and deliver the best possible output, first as an individual and then as part of the team. Ivana Andrejic, Bstorm’s Scrum Master, told us how teams working closely with one another has a substantially positive effect on the workflow. One of the biggest pros on their list when they were deciding on moving to Nova Iskra workspace was the size of the office space. They had the whole floor at the Zemun location but all teams were occupying the same large office, efficiently designed to gather the employees without giving off that cold open space vibe that many large corporate offices do. Many firms from Zemun still remember Bstorm’s office space as one of the most interesting and inspiring in the whole building. When Dorcol location was still covered in dust and fresh paint, during the renovation, they Bstorm founders actually came to visit and inspect the floor plans, wall separations and general concept of the building, just to get an idea if the new location would work for the team. It turns out that it worked like a charm, combining their wish to go back to the central city location and still have enough space and amenities they were used to at Zemun location.
Ensuring that all teams were at the same space was actually a lesson learned from their early days at the rented office-apartment before they moved to Nova Iskra coworking space. There, the teams were fractioned in different rooms-offices and management was also occupying a separate space. In that way the communication between the teams, collaboration and work processes were confined to closed circles within team members. Being in the same open space allowed separate teams to form better bonds and communicate in an easier, more productive and significant way, thus making work processes flow naturally.
Healthy work culture is... people, people, people!
When a company is fairly young and wants to achieve a substantial growth, attracting new talent and scouting for best additions to the team is not easy. A job interview is usually all about the skills and the ability to perform tasks in the job description, but Bstorm has always looked for individuals who could also contribute and fit in in the “personality and heart” department. Dedication and commitment, the right attitude and proactive approach to work are equally important qualities. Because, it’s a well-known fact that the team is only as strong as its weakest member.
Positivity and friendly atmosphere are not a given. It’s an acquired state of mind that has to be nurtured and protected on any working day in order for every member of the team to feel like they belong, and that they are on the safe ground to express their full potential. Then, what do Bstorm teams do when the fire of negativity or stress and drop in motivation blazes through the office? It’s just like they’d do with any fire. Get rid of it by starving if of oxygen. They do not let an obstacle impact their acquired routine and famous good spirit. A quick session of brainstorming, exchanging of ideas and thoughts on how to solve a problem are done in a friendly and productive atmosphere. Because that is the only way to approach an obstacle and deal with it in a meaningful way. Sometimes even Problem solving starts with people, not the problem. It is one skill that Bstorm promotes in their work culture and it has proven to be successful.
Finding a place. In the city. On the market.
There is no success formula for building a solid business in 5 easy steps. Bstorm’s roadmap to success started with five creative developers who joined their visions to lay the grounds for the business that will become something they can be proud of. And the roadmap Bstorm followed to become one of the most prominent mobile development companies in the Balkan region is exactly the one you’d expect - a hardworking, idea-developing, enthusiasm-filled bunch of creative professionals putting out the original, admiring results. It’ that simple. And yet so hard to achieve.
With portfolio now filled with impressive names from Serbian and international market (from Deloitte, Red Star Belgrade to their cooperation with The Coca-Cola Company on multiple projects), Bstorm team has the right amount of experience and know-how on the subject of delivering the A game and at the same time balancing the challenges that come with it.
When five friends met at a startup they worked at and decided that it was time to embark on a solo journey in 2015, they surely hoped for, but could never really imagine that their vision would become so successful. The commitment they invested early on in each new project paid off and, in a way, set them up and prepared them better than anything for future challenges.
“Average is insufficient.”
That is one of Bstorm’s taglines. And average is definitely not the word you’d use to describe Bstorm.
How do they approach a new project?
Their main idea is to start from the scratch, build up the idea and follow the client every step of the way. As they say, they walk with client hand in hand through every phase of the project so that the final solution is not only “the job done” but the starting idea made better and visibly improved at each key point. That’s why, for Bstorm team, it’s vital that they are included in the whole process of developing a project, not only technically but creatively.
Team cooperation and team spirit are at the heart of Bstorm’s ability to deliver the best results. Primarily, because at Bstorm, there’s always some kind of testing or experiment going on with teams closely working together, inspecting, supervising or just observing the other members showcase their work. Even though they develop mobile apps, their work really comprises of many different fields from user experience research, technical execution, development process to forming a creative direction. In most of the cases, they work with a client from day one of the concept all the way to a wholesome product ready to hit the App store or Google Play store, or both.
When the main work is done, they don’t provide your usual go-to support package. Bstorm takes pride in doing more than regular support of their products - their work doesn’t stop. The teams continue to follow the user flow, work on innovating ideas that might shape the future and enhance the value of the original product. That kind of approach to all their projects sets them apart and guarantees a solid position on the densely populated mobile development market.
One of the projects that grew out to be the most challenging and at the same time the most exciting on their portfolio is the SimplyTastly app developed for The Coca-Cola Company Company.
It’s a UGC app that contains thousands of recipes from the most influential Serbian food bloggers. The app is free and available for iOS and Android devices. What separates this project from the others on the market is a unique way that Bstorm approached the development of the app. They tested how brain neurons react and did a lot of research in the field of EEG (electroencephalography or EEG is used in medicine to determine the electrical activity of brain).
Bstorm tested out different options on how this method can be applied to mobile developing and how artificial intelligence can improve mobile user’s experience on a certain app. This project brought out the best of the whole team and they are proud to have created something that is not only a whole new level of app development on the domestic market but also a project that really sparked motivation and united the team around one big exciting idea. They hope to continue working on such amazing projects in the future and look forward to further testing the possibilities of artificial intelligence in their domain of work. In the meantime, SimplyTastly app has become one of the most successful and loved among The Coca-Cola Company digital campaigns and projects in the region.
Another prominent Bstorm’s client is Red Star Belgrade - a top football club from Serbia. Working with such client comes with huge responsibility because it’s not only about the technology and well-crafted solutions. A project like this brings on the table a whole new dimension apart from the technical excellence in execution - the emotional significance that the Red Star Belgrade brand has in the hearts of the consumers and fans. Learning as much as they can about the client, being proactive and forward in proposing ideas and solutions, but keeping the client’s needs a priority - that is the winning formula for a challenging project like this. And the results of this formula? Red Star Belgrade app (FK Crvena Zvezda) has 4.8 rating on Apple store and Google Play store respectively. It’s clear that Bstorm managed to truly strike the right cord in the hearts of Red Star fans.
Among their notable projects is certainly “Čuvam te“ (I’m keeping you safe) app. The association “Drug nije meta” (A friend is not a target) decided to launch the “Čuvam te” mobile application to protect children and enable their parents to help them in situations where the child is in danger. The idea was that this easy- to-use app sends information to the persons you love - with one click on a red button and to allow parents to move fast and help their child if he/she is in dangerous situation. With just one click children can inform their parents that they are not ok and that they need their help. Parents than receive text message from their child informing them about dangerous situation. Children sometimes don’t know how to describe where they are, and because of this, application also sends the child’s exact location.
This project was supported by the Ministry of trade, tourism and telecommunications of Serbia and for Bstorm it was an opportunity to apply their best skills on such an important social issue, to participate and contribute to child safety awareness.
Being able to pull projects like this, go further when it comes to meeting the clients’ needs, is a true testament of the team spirit and community that they nurture in the company. A cliché about management and the employees being one big happy family might be an overly-used and meaningless phrase, unattainable in reality, but observing a regular work day at Bstorm really calls for that analogy.
And as they say, the family that eats together stays together.
A home away from home
Many employees’ favourite spot at Zemun location was the big roof top balcony, overlooking the quiet Zemun neighborhood, where they would all sit and have lunch together if the weather allowed. Zemun is part of Belgrade known for its exquisite fish restaurant but also small eateries serving fresh sea food. The team would order a fish take-away and have a healthy lunch at the balcony, accompanied often by a glass of white wine. Because why not. When the atmosphere at work is relaxed and non-formal, people tend to be more productive and efficient.
Now, at Dorcol Nova Iskra location, the balcony is once again a place for socializing and an after-hours beer with other members of the coworking space, only this time, the balcony overlooks the old Dorcol quarts. The new Nova Iskra Dorcol at Cara Urosa street also houses - “Branc” bar and restaurant within its premises and many members find this to be one of the greatest perks of this location. For Bstorm employees this is very convenient because the restaurant is at the same building and they don’t need to spend much time anymore on Slack, messaging each other about what to have for lunch or who will make the order. Branc restaurant also works great when they host workshops or other events at Nova Iskra Dorcol event space - they can take clients for lunch or early dinner without wasting time on walking or commuting far away from the office.
Moving to the new central location of Nova Iskra coworking spaces has proven to be a great decision because now the employees from different parts of the city can reach the office more easily and after the work is done, it’s a great opportunity to dive into the city’s evening events or catch up with friends at the center of the city without the need to commute.
The move also reflected positively on their relationships with clients. At the previous apartment office space they rented, the meetings with clients would most often take place at their client’s office because there was not enough space to host a number of people at the office without disturbing the peace and routine of the employees not taking part at that particular meeting. That is why Nova Iskra’s large meeting rooms were a life-saver and now the things have turned in a way that most meetings with clients are taking place at Bstorm’s office or at one of the meeting rooms available at Dorcol location. For a company like Bstorm, that deals with digital world and user experience, large whiteboards and monitors are essential in order for them to showcase their work and present it to their prospect clients in the best possible way. They also have big whiteboards at the office floor that they currently rent and they’ve been irreplaceable tool in everyday office life. As Ivana Andrejic, Bstorm’s Scrum Master, happily said: “As the scrum master, I just love the size of our whiteboards! They are very important for my job because I can write up and organize tasks for the teams in a clear and well-defined way for everyone to effortlessly follow.
You only get what you give
- work, brainstorm, grow and don’t forget to pet the cat -
Bstorm is a community of creative, mostly young, individuals that are always on the lookout for every new opportunity and technological hype that comes on the horizon. Keeping an open mind and embracing the novelties in the ever- changing technological landscape is a constant state of mind for the teams and management. They follow closely the movements of the domestic market and how even small brands are accepting the imminent need to incorporate digital and mobile aspect in their business plans.
Being a part of the global change on the IT market and closely monitoring what big companies, game-changers and world-class players in the field of mobile and web developing are doing is equally important as being a part of the local IT coworking community and having the opportunity to share ideas, join events, exchange valuable insights and even daily administrative troubles with other members of Nova Iskra coworking is vital for small and medium sized companies.
Once they entered the lively coworking scene, Bstorm has not only become a valuable member of the community but created rewarding opportunities through networking. They cooperated with Rent24, one of the main investors of Nova Iskra workspaces Zemun and Dorcol and acquired new international clients with whom they are currently working on an interesting project ReiJets.
Bstorm’s management team are regular at Nova Iskra Tech Breakfast, a monthly event where professionals from different walks of tech world hold a brief lecture focused on entrepreneurship, business ideas and interesting projects. The goal is to spark networking, exchange experiences and get to know other members of the community or people interested in cooperation, investment opportunities or just eager to keep track with the newest trends and tendencies. Bstorm is not only among the regular participants of Tech Breakfast event, but also the lecturers. In December 2019, Stefan Salatic, cofounder and CTO of Bstorm presented the company’s main projects and approach to business, but also shared some important advice on how IT entrepreneurs should perceive failures and why success comes naturally when you are absolutely committed to giving your best to a project, no matter how small or unimportant it might be.
Tech Breakfasts and other similar events and workshops are held at the big event space at the Dorćol location and it is one of the advantages emphasized by Bstorm and other members of coworking community when it comes to this location. The event space is completely isolated from the working areas and designed to host up to 150 guests. The whole space is equipped with all the necessary technical equipment and a cinema-like seating area with attractive and playful design, creating warm and friendly atmosphere. This is especially significant because Bstorm cooperates with many international clients and often organize workshops for clients and partners that last for several days. Hosting them in the familiar environment, just few floors down from their office allows the team and the guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, and to present their work in a professional and convenient way.
This multifunctionality of Nova Iskra coworking spaces is the main reason why they crossed off the list conventional office spaces. Being able to successfully cover all areas of business development and operational needs is what any young company strives to achieve. What Bstorm team members especially appreciate is the right balance in the design. There is just the right number of “corners” where people can isolate and be alone, chill out and separate from the work table and computer (and other people if needed), but also enough of communal space to hang out, share a laugh and mingle. That is a precious perk of coworking spaces that brings together the best of both worlds through design and overall ambiance.
Even though the universal impression is that developers are generally introvert and not very fond of socializing at their workplace, Bstorm seems to prove the opposite. During the whole time they’ve been renting offices at Nova iskra, it would not be exaggerated to say that they’ve mostly been the stars of the coworking community. Which is not really surprising, considering that they took Nova Iskra’s “pet friendly” policy rather serious. The list of the pets they had since the start of their coworking adventure is not modest. There was a fish aquarium, a parrot named Beni, and his female friend named Brena and the famous resident of Nova Iskra Zemun location - a snow-white cat named Iskra (everybody’s favourite furry friend and Instagram likes generator with David Bowie eyes). Cool Christmas parties, game tournaments and various other events they held, showed what approachable, fun and friendly team of coworkers they truly are. And it doesn’t come as a surprise that the same kind of openness, positivity and proactive approach is visible in their work and consequently, their preparedness to fight the obstacles and defy challenges.
Considering their story so far, what is the next move for Bstorm regarding growth and expectations in Nova Iskra coworking space? All employees along with the management are firm in their belief that the current Dorcol location is the place where they would like to stay. As they expect their teams to grow larger and consequently need more space, the option they would prefer is to just rent additional floor at the same location because in this stage of business development it’s only natural that the company continues to grow and attract new people. Having an inspiring, stylish and at the same time highly functional working space as the backdrop for all they plan to achieve is an important part of their vision for the future.
It's not what the future holds, it’s what you put into its hands
Starting from a bold vision of five friends and slowly growing to become a prosperous and sought-after company, Bstorm is really the golden example of how dedication coupled with determination and good people management, nested in the vibrant and positive setting can produce admirable results. In just over 4 years from founding, they expanded their team and successfully instilled the importance of cultivating good team spirit, creating a stress - free work environment as far as it is possible, and above all, finding the quality work - fun balance that fuels the creativity and efficiency.
Opting to settle their business in Nova Iskra coworking space Dorcol is not just another smart decision of Bstorm team, but rather carefully crafted, well- thought out business move that proved to be beneficial and confirming the company’s mission statement which says that nothing is impossible if you work hard to get it.
But first, you have to nest your team at the right place, find your oasis and set the camp.
If you don’t know how or where, Nova Iskra coworking spaces might be a good start. Schedule a tour. Feel the pulse of the coworking community. And your business might also pick up the beat of success.