Usually I am doing gastro interviews with entrepreneurs but now that restaurants are closed, I had to improvise. While some people are completely knocked down by the threat of the Coronavirus, others stand up and work harder than ever before.
I saw some of Jan’s posts on LinkedIn and remembered that we met several times at the IBMC parties I used to organize before we all went into lock-down. It is my pleasure to introduce you to: Jan de Jong.
”Why on Earth would somebody move from the Netherlands to Croatia? That is a question people often ask me. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jan de Jong, 35 years old, born and raised in the Netherlands. I moved to Croatia when I just turned 22 years old. The original plan was to come to Croatia for just one year, but then I fell in love – with the country, the people and with Slavica de Jong, my wife.
In case you did the math, I have been living in Croatia for over 13 years now. I am enjoying a quiet life, in a small town just outside of Split, enjoying the view over the city, the sea and islands. Kind of boring, right? Not really.
These days, like most people, I am working from home – where I live with my wife and our 4 children. During these times, being at home so much, family life is thriving. Usually I am less at home. With offices in Zagreb & Belgrade, I am mostly on the road 3 days a week. But let me take you down the memory lane and share with you how it all started.
In 2007, a few months after arriving in Split, I founded my first company, called M+ Group. Having a lot of experience working in Dutch contact centers, I saw an opportunity to open one of the first companies in Croatia that would be specialized in providing contact center services and offer Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services. Nowadays, M+ Group – market leader in the region – is a group of companies employing thousands of people across the region and has a listing on the Zagreb Stock Exchange.
In 2016, at age 31, I made my exit from my first company, M+ Group, when we employed some 400 people. Seeing the way this company has developed over the past 13 years, turning into one of the largest employers in the region still makes me feel proud today.
Right after my exit, I wanted to start my next new business. It had to be connected to marketing, something that we could grow into something big, something without (too much) local competition – something new and refreshing for this region. That new business turned out to be Webpower Adria.
Webpower Adria, with offices in Zagreb and Belgrade, is specialized in email marketing & marketing automation and supports many companies from different industries with sending newsletters, SMS, Viber messages and Live Chat.
Like many other companies, Webpower Adria has also seen a sharp decline in revenue, but this was all campaign-based revenue. At the same time, at Webpower Adria we have seen our number of clients sharply increase with some 25% over the past few weeks – because today’s circumstances made that more companies want to send newsletters and communicate with their customers through digital channels.
Knowing that many companies had to close their doors to their customers, we wanted to enable as many companies possible to chat with their visitors online. That is why we expanded our service portfolio by introducing Webpower Live Chat. In order to support as many companies possible, we are making our solution available free of charge for the upcoming 3 months. No small print, this is our gift to those companies.
Aside from expanding our service portfolio, we initiated a large scale #BuyLocal campaign, which has been covered by many media. It all started with one LinkedIn post, where I swore to hire one full time person in Zagreb for every 25 companies that would switch their email marketing budgets from MailChimp to Webpower Adria.
The response to this #BuyLocal campaign has been overwhelming. Dozens of companies have reached out to us with the message that they would be glad to support a Zagreb based company, rather than a global giant with millions of clients. With support from Croatian companies, we are confident that we can continue to develop our company and hire more staff – even during unprecedented times like these.
Being a father of 4 children, through my entrepreneurial endeavors, I made it my mission that our children and the children of Croatia don’t have to move abroad to find happiness and opportunities, but that they can find that right here – in Croatia.”
Ul. grada Vukovara 284, 10000, Zagreb
Tel: 01 6463 398
Author: Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for Poor People, a corresponding member of the “Hire me Jan de Jong” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a Gastro Snob, but above all a human.