When he was very little, technology expert and most successful young entrepreneur of 2009 Danny Mekić wanted to become a fireman or a policeman. Another one of his options was being a paramedic.
“But things went very differently. When I was fifteen, I traded my childhood dreams for entrepreneurship. Even in high school – where I picked the ‘broad’ dual programme of Nature & Technology plus advanced biology – I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’. Then, when I founded my own company, I discovered I needed Economics — that wasn’t included in my programme. It’s very important to make the right educational choices, but it’s even more important to accept that you’re going to make mistakes too, and to realise it’s not the end of the world when you do.
High school drop-out
I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but for me it was the right decision to quit high school during my fifth year. My school had a special programme for sports aces, but didn’t have one for entrepreneurs with a rapidly growing company and three employees already. My decision to quit school eventually resulted in being invited by the Ministers of Education and Economic Affairs, to join an advisory board with the purpose of promoting entrepreneurship among school students. I’m proud to have had the privilege of contributing to that during the past years, because students starting their own companies have been getting more and more attention.
Everything at once
A few years later, via a 21+ entrance exam, I got into the Honours Bachelor Jurisprudence at the University of Amsterdam, where I took up courses from different subjects as well. Because if you only know what the law says, you still don’t know very much in this increasingly complex society. Meanwhile, I also went to my office every day, learning from practical experience: how do I hire people, what is a performance interview, how do salaries work, and what is marketing, really? That’s when I discovered you don’t need to know everything, and that it’s more important to just go ahead and try things. A lot of people unlearn experimenting, while experimenting and trying things are exactly what can help you to do better than other people. While studying and running my company, I was asked to become a lecturer at the university and I worked two days a week at a law firm. All those activities really made my college subject come to life.
In 2009 I was mentioned in magazines like Elsevier, Quote and Sprout — the latter calling me ‘most successful young entrepreneur’. After that, I got a huge number of phone calls from major organisations asking me to come brainstorm with them, and I thought that was fascinating: getting a close look at and joining the conversation about innovation and technology. I was asked by Exact to collaborate with their team on developing an online accounting package, and later by a local police force to help shape their online strategy. While I was working on all those things, my company – with ten employees at this point – kept going too.
Theoretical and practical knowledge
Life is a giant candy store, full of people you can learn so much from. Other people’s knowledge and experience has brought me where I am today. My dream is to bring the digital world into companies, to implement innovations and see the happy faces of their customers and staff. Besides that, I also regularly give lectures for students and starting entrepreneurs as well as the higher-ups of major companies. As for education: school teaches you very little about very many different things. The most important thing is that your brains are trained so they can soak up more knowledge, experience and memories again later. Education is not an end in itself. It’s part of who we are: a species that keeps developing a bit more every day. The better you are at doing that, the more valuable you can be to the world. And the more you’ll be appreciated. And the more interesting people you’ll meet. And the more you’ll become you.”
Find something that makes you want to get up earlier in the morning than you do now. Technology, innovation, my staff and my customers have made me want to set my alarm clock to wake me one or two hours earlier. That means two to four weeks of ‘extra’ time every year that I can spend on reading books, travelling or meeting interesting people. No matter what path you choose, no matter what profession you end up in: the number of hours you’re willing to invest in it is the main factor determining how much you’ll achieve.
This interview was published today in a special about future jobs of the Dutch newspaper ‘Telegraaf’