We had a chance to talk to one of the youngest Croatian entrepreneurs, Albert Gajšak, the owner of the startup Circuitmess who stands behind the very successful MAKERbuino game console…
1. How early your interest in electronics and related areas started? Family, school, alone or all together?
I started to deal with electronics at a very young age – I was about 11 or 12 years old.
It started as a hobby. Prior to that, I played with LEGO cubes and my father decided to push me further to something new by purchasing a small electronics set.
Later, I went to electronics and robot workshops and electronics competitions, various weekend projects … and suddenly, now, I own a company that sells electronic devices (I don’t know how it happened) 😉
2. You made a courageous step when you decided to give up studying electrical engineering and initiated your start-up through the Kickstarter. How are you looking at this today and how much has the company grown since the beginning?
I started the business while still in high school, thanks to Tomislav Car’s investment (http://tomislavcar.com <http://tomislavcar.com/> )
The first Kickstarter campaign for MAKERbuino went crazy before I finished high school and then realized that I couldn’t do two things (college and startup) simultaneously and retaining good quality.
I decided to devote myself to business and “give up” college. My friends and parents were surprised as this wasn’t a move you easily make, especially at the of age 18.
This “guerrilla” company Tomislav and I ran after started work/school has now grown into a self-sustaining startup with seven employees.
3. Do you think that young people today need more courage? You mentioned in some of your earlier interviews that the Croatian youth is a little scared of the risks and failures of making courageous steps. What is the cause of that?
Of course, that is the point of each of the interviews you have read 🙂
I think the upbringing and the environment are the biggest problems. Parents in this part of Europe love to protect their children unnecessarily from mistakes. This leads to the trend where young people live with their parents by the age of 28 and are unable to find a job because they are afraid to get out of their comfort zone.
4. MAKERbuino had an incredible success In the short run. From the Las Vegas fair to co-operation with Amazon and eBay, and it seems that everything is just getting warmed up. What other success you can tell us about, and is there any reward or cooperation that specifically means something to you?
We sold over 6,000 MAKERbuins, for which Forbes wrote twice, the last Kickstarter campaign (which btw ends today when writing this response) has raised over $ 300k in revenue.
5. MAKERbuino is actually an educational gadget. There is no latest technology that we all have in our smartphones, but it is not the intention of the gadget either. Can you tell me more about your vision of MAKERbuino and its distribution, for example, in schools and similar institutions?
Well, you have actually explained it quite well, I have nothing to add. We do not want to compete with PlayStation, we want to educate people in a fun way.
I think that such devices will be needed more and more in educational institutions around the world.
Our products are already being used in various private facilities around the world.
National educational institutions are a bit late, so we did not get some response (in Croatia, but also beyond).
6. STEM areas have just begun to gain importance in Croatia that has been out there abroad for years. Do you have plans to support and bring STEM science closer to younger generations?
Approaching STEM is the point of our products so we promote them (I think that this shortcut appears on the front page several times).
7. On your official site, we can see you have several versions of MAKERbuino with a variety of accessories. Can you shorten us through these products and how do they differ?
MAKERbuino standard kit – the standard set
MAKERBuy kit with tools – set with tools
MAKERbuino multiplayer pack – two standard sets with multiplayer cable
8. You also have your latest product that also has its own Kickstarter campaign – MAKERphone. What are the features of this gadget and for which purpose is it intended? And of course, how is the campaign progressing?
You can find more info here:
9. What are your plans in the near future, personal and business? New gadgets, new fairs, bigger production?
We will remain in the STEM education and STEM electronics production as we see great potential in this growing market. We plan to make variations of our products that will be more accessible to younger audiences and will not require soldering.
10. In the end, do you have a motivational message for all those who want to make a similar step as you did, but are discouraged for a number of reasons?
In case you want to start something, do not wait for the perfect moment as it will never come.
If I was thinking about my (in)competence when starting a start-up, I would never have the chance to turn my hobby into something more.