Laidi Ferruni talks for the first time…

2015-12-16

Even though Albanian tech & web startups go back to the beginnings of the 2000s, the startup scene in the country started to change when 123.al first came out. This company and it’s founder, Laidi Ferruni, has been a real inspiration to the entire Albanian startup generation of the late 2000s and beginning of the new decade. For this reason I have decided to ask him to present himself and the projects he is working on now.

Describe yourself in 50 words or less

I’m an entrepreneur with passion for building and marketing technologies that impact human life on an every day basis.

Laidi Ferruni, what are you currently working on?

Currently I’m mainly working on a project called Quibli, which is a software platform helping local service businesses sell online, keep track of their customers, sales, analytics, memberships and much more. Our focus is to become the primary communication platform between customers and local service businesses in Ireland and the UK.

On the side, I’m still working on my existing companies such as 123.al and my web consultancy services.

What led you to this?

At 13, my mom heard someone chatter about teens around the world making millions online. As a teenager, money was the only attractive prospect and more than enough to keep me looking for a job. As I grew, the mission and purpose became more important than money, and ever since my passion for technology, internet and building products that matter, has only grown more each day.

As for my entrepreneurial spirit, it routes back to my seven year of self, when I bought mountain tea from my dad and sold it in packs for a good margin at the local food market.

What drives you?

To see innovative ideas shape into functional businesses or products that impact people’s lives every day. The sensation you gain from creating a function that helps people improve something concrete in their life every day and see it in action, is unmatched by any other sensation.

The sense of achieving financial freedom by doing what you love, is also very important. I would do what I do even if I didn’t make money, but having the freedom to know that you can provide for yourself, your family and people you care about, is without question a big stimulus.

Describe your typical day from waking up to going to bed

There is no typical day for me. Generally, I’m not a much of an organized person. One day I go to sleep at 5am or don’t sleep at all, one day I wake up at 7am and the other at 12pm. I do have a sense of agenda though when I’m working on important campaigns and when my team requires my absolute focus.

Having my own businesses gives me the freedom to choose the time when I get to work, but almost always, I spend 8 hours a day to work on my projects and businesses at the very least. 20% of my time goes to me working in my existing businesses, 40% goes to my new projects (like Quibli) and the other 40% goes to meetings and talking to clients or my team.

As a distraction, I like to spend time with friends and people with whom I can exchange ideas and meaningful conversations, or simply people I care about. I travel and do sports whenever I can.

In 7 years from now: Where do you see yourself?

I see myself as a successful entrepreneur with a global impact. As the founder and CEO of a very influential worldwide business, an investor for new innovative startups in markets such as Albania and Kosovo and as an influential and recognized leader who creates social as well as entrepreneurial impact.

Tell us about your best idea and worst execution

My best executed idea so far is Quibli and the platform behind it, which will also be available in Albania and help thousands of local service businesses use innovative tools to communicate and interact with the online crowd.

The worst execution relates to all the great ideas that are sitting in my drawer. Those ideas that have potential but I never got past the design stage.

Tell us about your worst idea and best execution

My worst idea would probably be coming up with a sophisticated financial model for my company that would allow me to make efficient use of the cash available, including that of the partners – a move which grows the company but destroys a lot of relations with business partners. As a very non-experienced entrepreneur at the time I quickly found out that you should never play with money, especially other people’s money, it’s the same as playing with fire.

Our best execution relates to 123.al. Entering a market like Albania where nobody was buying things online was very challenging. It was due to extreme dedication and focus that we were able as a team to educate an entire country to order online, as well as to give birth to a new industry in Albania.

What trends would you bet your money on? And how will they influence every-day life?

This greatly differentiates by the market we’re focusing on. Since the question is specific, I will be specific. For developing markets like Albania and surrounding countries, I see a big trend on modelling what’s successful from developed markets like the US and Europe. In our current state the safest bet for practical innovation in Albania is modeling – we don’t have to re-invent the wheel, we just have to see what works outside and adapt it to fit our routines and specific market behavior. When it comes to Albania I would bet money on extraordinary teams who know how to execute rather than just great ideas.

For more developed markets like Europe and US, there is a clear need to innovate, since there is already a great number of startups out there. As a general trend, I see a bright future for the integration of health and technology, cyber security because of the ongoing hyper expansion of digital startups and the need to protect data, a huge increase for the on-demand economy, as well as more types of innovations regarding education.

All of this integrations and industries will dramatically change the way we take care of our mind and bodies, assets, the way we work and get paid, as well as the way we educate ourselves.

What are the best incentive and the worst problem your vision has from your country?

The worst problem is definitely still the low usage of (credit) cards to purchase items online. Despite improvements, credit and debit card usage is still very low when it comes to online payments. The incentive on the other hand is that there is a huge opportunity for rising startups in all types of industries. There is innovation to be made literally everywhere and for everything, be that government software innovation, consumer products or B2B startups. There is no greater time for young or old Albanian startuppers to start great new businesses of the future. I also see a great trend of Albanian startups that target worldwide markets. Our cost efficient living and workforce gives us an advantage over startups based in developed countries, where they pay 1000€ or more just for rent.

What seemed to be the most important thing in the world when you were 10 years old?

Having fun.

Who is your hero and why?

I don’t have a hero, but there are people that I respect a lot and model success from. I deeply respect my parents, and everything they taught me in life.

Success wise, Tony Robbins has helped me greatly to take care of the psychology behind myself, which as they say is 80% of success, and understanding how to lead and move other people. I look up to people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckenberg, Brian Chesky and other similar people who have built incredible things and have challenged everything we know and made it better. I also learn from a lot of smart people every day who have spent significant times of their life mastering specific fields.

What advice would you give first time entrepreneurs?

Learn fast, be humble, don’t get discouraged by failure, and don’t become cocky from success, they both bite you very hard. Move fast, fail as much as you can (until you win), but always have a parachute. If you want to have a healthy business, learn to understand your finances.

 

The interview was initially published by Vasken Spiru for StartUS Magazine in December 2015, and edited further for Digjitale.com