A chat with Miroslav Vrankic of E-Glas and his new advisory board member, Patrick Crehan.
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Frank Boermeester Frank Boermeester - May 29 2012

The main objective of HealthStartup is to match promising entrepreneurs with the people they need to thrive, such as investors, early customers and advisors. We recently chatted to two people who connected at our last HealthStartup event in Antwerp: Miroslav Vrankic, founder of Croation startup E-Glas, and his recently appointed advisory board member, Patrick Crehan from Brussels.

Hello Miroslav, hello Patrick, can you tell us a little about your activities?

Miroslav: E-GLAS is a startup company founded at the Science and Technology Park of the University of Rijeka, Croatia.  The main product of our company is called Servus. It is a voice controlled electronic assistant for people with severe physical disabilities.  With Servus, a disabled person can regain independence by using voice commands. By just talking to Servus a person can control the lights, call someone by phone, control TV, media player, air conditioning, unlock the door, surf the web, etc. You can find more about how Servus works at www.servus-control.com.  Servus was a result of the need to merge our technical skills with something really useful that can change people’s lives for the better.  Currently, Servus is being marketed in Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia with a view to expand to other countries since Servus is supporting most major EU languages.

Patrick: I run a consulting company called CKA that is specialized in managing research and innovation.  I usually try to start by asking clients where they see themselves in 3 to 5 years time or how they expect their organization to grow.  Many clients, even large ones, have not found the time to think about this, so I help them clarify that. Then I can work back from there to help clarify what they need to do in terms of innovation and research. Later we will look at how they can make that happen. This may involve looking at issues related to organization, skills or change management.

Do startups have unique challenges in this area?

Patrick:  The problems of start-ups are very different from those of more mature organizations. First time entrepreneurs can easily be overwhelmed with all that needs to be done.  The focus of founders is often on technology. So it is easy to neglect other aspects of the business or underestimate the time and attention they require. This is where I try to add value.

Miroslav, what prompted you to seek out new advisory board members? 

Miroslav: My background is in engineering and I don’t have a formal business education. So, I decided not to pretend being smart but rather to start looking for help with the “business of growing a business.”
Having smart and experienced people around you really makes a huge difference.

So how did you two meet?

Patrick:  When we were introduced by the HealthStartup team, I was impressed by Miroslav’s product and by him as a person. In particular he seemed determined and well organized with a flexible, open mind.  We had a great first meeting along with Leo Exter from HealthStartup, then we followed up by email and he recently asked me to be on his advisory board. I was delighted to accept and look forward to working with him on a number of issues that hopefully will help him grow.

Miroslav, you presented at a recent HealthStartup event – what did you think?

Miroslav: HealthStartup was an incredibly focused and well thought out event. In a single day it managed to challenge all our concepts and plans for the future. I had a chance to talk with some really brilliant people regarding so many aspects of our business. Before coming to HealthStartup I had a feeling to have a rather solid action plan with all the important details being taken care of. After the HealthStartup, I started rethinking our distribution strategy, promotion channels, product positioning…

What are your next steps in growing your business?

Miroslav: This year we are focused on growing our network of partner companies across the EU. Also, we are planning to strengthen our web presence locally, in each of the targeted EU countries.


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