Giikly - Introducing positive changes in education through information technology
Graduates at the Faculty of Information Technology in Mostar, Amra Buljubašić and Samir Šupčić, used the technologies that are available to us every day to developed edutainment applications (education + entertainment) used on mobile and tablet devices. This way, the young duo helps younger generations to master the challenging content in a fun and playful way, transforming problems into interesting challenges.
787: What is "Giikly" and how did you come up with the idea of developing edutainment applications and similar projects?
Giikly is a company that creates software platforms which link education and entertainment. Our goal is to awaken curiosity and creativity in the users. The idea to do these activities was created after the initial success of our student project called "Chemicalium".
This is an educational application that explains chemistry basics through animations and 3D models. Using NFC technology it gives users the opportunity to exchange chemical elements between the phones in order to make a chemical compound. This app took us to a prestigious student competition at Microsoft's "Imagine Cup" in Seattle, where we won the Avanade Audience Award. We came to the idea of signing up for the aforementioned competition by attending the Microsoft B&H presentation. The representatives of this company hold this type of the presentation each year to students in B&H.
787: When did the personal interest in programming start and what was the way leading you to Imagine Cup competition like?
For Samir, the story began with him accidentally entering the Faculty of Information Technology in Mostar. He discovered his great talent by developing games in the first year of his studies and by participating in the Coding Challenge competition at the Faculty where he won numerous awards. That was the time when he, together with his colleague, tried to reach “Imagine Cup” competition in America for the first time with the “Epy Solution” app.
I discovered my passion for computing while I was still in high school, so I entered FIT in Mostar. During the study I also participated in the FIT Coding Challenge competition, winning second place once, and twice the first place in developing the mobile applications.
Through our education, the two of us became friends, and in the third year, with two other colleagues, we decided to give the Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition another try. This time we succeeded, because we came to the finals.
787: How did you realize/decide that the idea is profitable enough to build your own company?
We started our company with the passion to offer the market our own vision of how modern education could be, both in classrooms and at home. Of course, it includes technologies that are available to us every day (computers and smart phones). We funded the development of our applications and projects by outsourcing our skills to clients abroad; by working on the development of applications, web sites and other projects that are required by our clients. Recommendations and our success on the Microsoft's competition have led us to our customers so far.
787: Giikly is currently incubated within INTERA Technological Park. How much does that type of a business environment help you, and would you recommend this concept to other entrepreneurs, primarily those in Mostar, and then across B&H?
INTERA Technological Park is a special environment that helps its entrepreneurs with every step in their challenges; from assisting in writing their first business plans, consulting with the most prestigious consultants in the region, business educations to what is important for every start-up - financial stimulus grants. I strongly recommend this environment.
787: Is there an anecdote or a particularly challenging situation in the Giikly’s past work that you would like to share?
What we particularly remember is the development of the visual identity of the company – the logo, choosing the colors we want to use, the development of our first business cards, etc. This period was marked with enthusiasm and happiness.
787: Tell us more about that process and how you chose the name Giikly!
What we immediately agreed at the beginning was that we would symbolically use 2 colors that are complementary to each other, as we are to each other as founders. Each of us has its own virtues, which the other one does not possess, so we complement each other in work. That's why after a while we decided to choose complementarity between red and green, but we wanted to make this combination a bit more modern and fresh. We chose from this wheel the pink and the opposite shade of green that correspond to each other's numbers. We knew we had to carefully choose these colors in order to establish a harmony in our visual identity and present our values. That's why we watched a couple of useful tutorials at Pluralsight, and we transferred that knowledge to the development of our website.
Another challenge was to create a mascot that would be integrated in our applications in the future and painted on our business cards. That's why we went for the little nice monsters, as you can see.
This process lasted for about 2 months, until we came to the results we were satisfied with. We brainstormed every day. We were enthusiastically adding and remodeling ideas that would come to our minds and then we transferred it all to our office, too. We decorated it with these two colors, to make sure we feel this creativity every time we work.
As for the name, we wanted a name that reflects our passion, but also creativity and originality.
Giikly is a derivative of the word "Geek", which means “nerd”, but we replaced two letters "ee" with two letters "ii", which look like two people.
787: How effective are edutainment apps?
Until now, we have only tested our apps in primary schools, where we were surprised by the app's influence on the students. It happened exactly as we assumed it would - kids understood the material way quicker when they used what they were interested in - apps on mobile devices. For them it was a game where they learned what was set as a goal. These applications are often used in classes in Western countries.
787: Do you intend to introduce these applications to our market? Are big investments needed for it?
Our applications will also be available in B&H, but we expect a much smaller response than in the countries where these educational applications are used every day. No big investment is needed. Over the time, more and more people have smartphones, and we hope that teachers’ awareness will rise to that level, where they will dare to introduce this learning method in our schools as well.
787: At the moment, what is your biggest business concern and motivation to work?
The biggest business concern is to harmonize the outsourcing of our skills with work on our own project. We often do not manage to do as much as we want to. That is why we intend to hire several young people and expand our team in the next 6 months.
The greatest motivation for work is certainly the freedom of creativity and the development of our ideas. It is a very nice feeling not to be limited in this regard.
787: In your opinion, what are the skills that entrepreneurs in B&H should develop more?
The biggest challenge that every entrepreneur faces is how to provide sufficient financial income while at the same time trying to develop their project. Also, every smart entrepreneur develops his marketing skills, and he makes sure to successfully present his company and product.
Networking is something that shouldn’t be ignored either. It is important to develop good relations with partners that are complementary to your work and your company.
787: What are Giikly's plans for future?
Giikly is currently establishing a partnership with a company in Boston, so we can jointly develop the vision we share and reach the market that is interesting to us - in this case, the US market.
More information on interesting Giikly activities and projects can be found on the website www.giikly.com. We wish them to continue their breakthrough on the foreign markets and to keep their originality and creativity that has been with them since the day one.
Authors: Dalila Hasić & Sanela Pripo