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PostSubject: TIHOMIR PERKOVIC   Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:55 pm

Name: Tihomir Perkovic
Position and company: Founder & CEO — dateyard AG
Period of time in the role: from the start
Twitter ID: @dateyard
Tell us a little about your company.
Dateyard is a Swiss-based startup, offering selected partners a technical solution to run and market their own dating sites. In this setup, dateyard provides all necessary services to run the sites, such as technical infrastructure, maintenance, constant development of the software,  integration and processing of all common payment methods, as well as customer care.
Long story short: talk to us if you want to run a dating site. (Or if you want to have a good time at the shows!)
What is your role?
I’m the founder and CEO and, since we’re a startup, that means I have to cover several roles right now. Due to my strong technical background, my experience in sales and several years in management, I know what it takes to set up a SaaS (Software as a Service) business, what infrastructure is needed, how and who to sell it to and, most importantly, the need to recruit smarter people than me for all key positions!
What is your background in?

I have 16 years of experience in IT and online media. The most important experience was working for the virtual minds group, which I joined in 2005. Through leading several teams within the group, planning and building MMORPGS, online dating and content sites, I gained profound insights into the digital advertising sphere and all the different ways of monetising products.
In 2009 I moved to their subsidiary ADITION technologies – a unified ad serving solution — and therefore gained fresh perspectives, less business-to-customer and more as a vendor of ad-services. I was heavily involved in the company’s development, succeeding in growing it to become one of the leading ad-serving solutions in the German-speaking markets.
However, it had been a long while that I’d wanted a project of my own. So at the end of 2013 I took the leap of faith.
How did you come to work in the online dating industry?
A lot of people called me crazy – and most of them still do – to leave behind eight years in the online media industry to start up in the online dating industry, particularly with all the competition. But from my perspective there is a lot of potential for reliable, scalable and great technology combined with improved service for the partners and users of online dating.
What’s more, I felt confident and ready to start dateyard having accumulated such knowledge at ADITION: having pitched to and consulted with so many major sales houses, publishers, online media agencies and advertisers in DACH, I realised I’d become a very strong figures and performance-oriented person, who knew to put the client first. I felt that I could transfer these strengths from the online media to the online dating industry.
How many are in your team, and how did they come together?
By now we are six. When I started I was looking for exceptional, highly motivated individuals, inside and outside of the industry, who wanted to build a cool and cutting-edge product. Nicole Gerdau-Klimsa is one of these people. I met her at the Internext Show in Las Vegas this year for the first time and we hit it off right away – but back then I was still very scarce about what I was doing. When, some months later, I learnt that she was looking for a new adventure, I was able to convince her to join dateyard. I’m very happy to have her on my team, especially due to her extensive industry background.
How long have you been working on the project?
As my previous position didn’t leave much time for starting the new venture, I had to wait until the end of December 2013 to really get going. But, of course, I was doing a lot of preparation in the year before.
What are the main areas you have been focussing on?
Most important to me was to build stable, secure and scalable technology. Once we’d prepared that, we would be able to focus on our main goal: building a product that easily adapts to different markets and niches. I was also insistent on a constant focus on our KPIs and test results and not on any prejudice, feelings or HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion, highest paid person in the office). Which means we’ve created a product that is easy to experiment with, to test and to adapt fast.
What have the biggest challenges been?
Well, I think there have been quite a few challenges we had to overcome and probably there still are a lot to come. But, up to now, the first major challenge was to get the right people for the right job.
The second challenge was one that is probably quite familiar to anyone in product development, anywhere: keeping focused! It’s tempting to keep going for one more feature – but ultimately we have to stop ourselves committing to a MVP (minimum viable product). That said, I think we’ve done well to focus on our desktop product, publishing the mobile version in a future release. Giving us the opportunity to attract media buyers and partners with a strong focus on desktop traffic, and more time to test in a live environment.
What sets your solution apart from others in the field? Why do you think yours can compete?
We are strongly figures and testing-oriented, everything is being questioned and nothing is set. Our solution is highly localised and provides our partners a lot of tools to get the most out of their traffic. Then there’s the actual product! Our partners are the reason why we do all this and what motivates us. That’s why we have no open registration. We offer our service only to a few selected partners. We want to be the best company for our partners, and we do that by putting them first and listening closely to their ideas. We take the hassle out of running a dating site and make sure our partners can focus on what they’re good at — sending the right traffic to the brands. We at dateyard wouldn’t be able to provide this service if we did mass processing.
When are you launching? How many partners are you launching with?
The soft launch of one brand has already taken place. Step-by-step, more brands will follow. At this stage we have five partners, giving us the opportunity to focus on their needs.
What is your strategy for launch? Which markets are you focussing on, and why?
During the soft launch our main goal was to lay down a smooth, clean start and test small. It was important to get a better feeling for the product in a live environment and also to provide time for making last adjustments. So now we can scale with the partners and traffic and go full force by the end of next month.
For now we’re focusing on Germany, Austria and Switzerland – in that exact order – as we think that we can provide the best solution and services here to begin with. You can only conquer a market if you spend time preparing and getting to know it. As we grow we will move to more countries, but only if we can provide the same high service level we set to be our standard.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Go big or go home!
Visit dateyard here.
October 21, 2014 By Simon Edmunds
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