Interview of the Director of Codepixel to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Montenegro

by Nenad Pejović
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Codepixel currently consists of ten young, educated and talented people, who share knowledge and develop digital products in a homely work atmosphere, with a true team spirit, teamwork and selflessness. These words are used by the founder and executive director Nenad Pejović in the interview for Glasnik to describe his company Codepixel, which develops digital products for local and international clients. In three years of their existence, they have created over 30 web and mobile applications, as well as websites. – The company’s vision is to become a leader in the sector we operate in, by providing clients with outstandingly good services in order to become their trusted partner and encourage their growth in the digital world – says Pejović.

Glasnik: Could you tell us more about the foundation and beginnings of Codepixel, a digital product development agency?

N. Pejović: Codepixel was founded at the end of 2018. However, the very idea of founding a company dates back to the early school days when my business partner Mihailo Raspopović and I dreamed of establishing our own company one day. As the establishment of the company was an impossible mission and a great undertaking at that moment, we decided to start gaining and broadening experience and skills by working as freelancers. At the same time, we enrolled in studies in two different areas, which in a way complement each other, in two different countries – I decided for IT in Podgorica, while Mihailo went to Brussels and studied economics. Shortly after graduation in 2014, I began my professional career, where I continued to improve my position as a software engineer. The idea of founding a company has become clearer and more definite over time, and at the end of 2018 I left my company business and founded Codepixel together with Mihailo. The reason why we even thought about founding our own company primarily lies in the freedom and the possibility to create something on our own. Not necessarily for profit, but just to enjoy that process of creation and learning. On the other hand, our motive and ambition are inextricably linked to the desire to work for the benefit of the society and community in which we live. Soon after the establishment, we engaged another associate and so we started developing digital products for clients in the local market. Today, three years after its founding, our team consists of ten programmers, designers, business analysts and project managers. We are currently export-oriented and mostly cooperate with clients from the European Union, countries in the region and international organizations. With great passion we continue learning new technologies, improving our knowledge and direct further growth and developing both ourselves and our companies.

Glasnik: What is the mission and vision of your company and how many employees are there?

N. Pejović: We are guided by the mission to create value – for our services and products, for our clients and partners, for our teams and our people and for the wider society and community – while building a successful and happy company. We want to achieve this through constant personal and professional development and improvement, as well as by pushing boundaries through everyday work challenges. The company’s vision is to become a leader in the sector we operate in, by providing clients with outstandingly good services in order to become their trusted partner and encourage their growth in the digital world. Guided by innovations and operational excellence, we strive to become recognizable through the success of our products. As I aforementioned, Codepixel currently consists of ten young, educated and talented people, who share knowledge and develop digital products in a homely working atmosphere, with true team spirit, teamwork and selflessness.

Glasnik: What are Codepixel products and what services do you provide to customers? How many projects have you realized in these few years and which is your favourite one (tell us more about it)?

N. Pejović: Codepixel is primarily focused on the development of digital products for local and international clients. So far, we have worked with major brands and international organizations such as, Pimalion, GIZ, UNDP, OSCE, and the like. In three years of our existence, we have developed over 30 web applications, websites and mobile applications. We are extremely proud of each of our projects, because we know how much effort and dedication lies behind each of them, but if we have to single out one, it would be the project “Index Recipes”, which we developed in cooperation with the Croatian brand It is an all-in-one cooking platform which enables visitors and administrators to have advanced search, create, collect and share recipes using a fast and intuitive user interface. Today, three months after the launch of the platform, the application has over half a million visitors per month. In addition, I would like to mention the application we developed in cooperation with the local UNDP office – “Be Safe”, for victims of domestic violence. This SOS platform has been recognized by the UN Women Office in Istanbul and by other regional offices, so we have replicated this model in other countries in the region – Albania and Northern Macedonia. Our services include the full cycle of a digital product development – from design and strategy creation, development to its launching and support.

Glasnik: What do you pay special attention to when developing products for your customers?

N. Pejović: We always look at the broader picture. It all depends on the purpose, mission and vision of the product and the ultimate expectations. We try to find the best balance between technology, customer needs and business goals. Definitely, quality is unquestionable for all our products, however each project has its own priorities. Sometimes it is a user experience which requires detailed usability analysis and user research, and sometimes a complex logic that requires precise choice of technologies and server infrastructure. Our specialty is creating solutions which offer efficiency, provide value, and empower people, organizations, and other companies to achieve their goals.

Glasnik: You are also active in the segment of education. What is STEM education and what is the role of Codepixel in it?

N. Pejović: The acronym STEM represents several academic disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our company, in cooperation with the NGO Montenegrobotics, founded the non-governmental Foundation “Montenegro Makers“, which aims to launch a robotics league for primary schools with the application of modern concepts of education, in order to modernize the education system in Montenegro. In September 2021, this non-profit Foundation signed a partnership agreement with the Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity (IRIM), which has been implementing STEM education programs for many years, primarily in Croatia but also in the region. The project aims to implement the model of extracurricular education in the field of robotics, but also to bring this knowledge closer to the general population. Members of our team visited Zagreb at the beginning of October and had the opportunity to get acquainted with the methodology used by IRIM in the Croatian Makers League, the largest extracurricular STEM program in the European Union. Through this training, the team of mentors provided us with the knowledge transfer, detailed insight into know-how, and an opportunity to share their experiences gained during the implementation of the project in the neighbouring countries. We are currently in the phase of a pilot program preparation for the first half of the next year, with the ambition for this project to become truly materialized and find support from both the public and private sectors. All of us working in the field of ICT are aware of the necessity to work on education of young people and guidance of children from an early age. This is what we want to do with this project, with the desire for the children who are undergoing this training to continue contributing to our country’s positioning on the innovation map of the world.

Glasnik: How do you assess the situation in the Montenegrin IT sector? What needs to be done in order to prevent IT professionals to seek careers abroad?

N. Pejović: Although certain progress has been evident in the last few years, the situation in the Montenegrin IT sector is far from ideal. Finding staff for any serious position, for management positions or with certain knowledge and skills, requires more and more investments and efforts by companies. That is certainly fine, companies should deal with it, invest in their employees and work hard. However, the state must also play a certain role in this whole story. Where we see their role is in strengthening of the ecosystem as a whole, providing support in terms of education, finances and environment. We believe that the ecosystem desperately needs more people, as well as faster staff training. The first step in the right direction is certainly the creation of the ICT Cortex cluster, a member of which we are. We believe that this type of association of Montenegrin companies will find the necessary support of both domestic and international partners, in order for our economy in this area to be more competitive beyond the borders of Montenegro. Therefore, we believe that at this stage it is most necessary to work on improving education and creating more opportunities for practical experiences, so that individuals are adequately prepared for the labour market in the future. It is also necessary to continuously work on raising the quality of life and harmonizing business with international standards and trends, so that fewer IT professionals seek their chance beyond the borders of Montenegro. Dealing with these issues really prepares us for the moment when our country will become part of a larger labour market which will go together with the expected EU accession, when it will be much more challenging to keep all these people. To prevent this, we need to start working on it now.

Glasnik: Do you expect Montenegro to enter the digital transformation soon and do you see the role of Codepixel in that process?

N. Pejović: Digital transformation is not a simple and fast process, it is something which is being worked on constantly and continuously. We see the digital transformation as a kind of an opportunity to show that we are able to do things the same way as in many Western environments; it is not something we should do, but an imperative for any further progress of our economy and society. This transformation definitely requires certain radical, systemic changes and abandonment of the traditional and conservative way of thinking. First of all, it is the way of functioning of our institutions, but also the way of work of our companies. It is a change which requires the full commitment and full dedication of all actors in the system, and a process in which each of us plays an important role. We can say with certainty that Codepixel is a reliable partner to the state, colleagues from the IT sector, other companies, academia and the innovative community, and that we are ready to join forces with everyone in order to improve the business environment and provide electronic and digital services. We absolutely consider this to be the direction which our country should follow, and which will help us all to be more competitive and more prepared for the European market on the day we become the EU member state.

codepixel team

Glasnik: What are your company’s plans/goals for the next period?

N. Pejović: We are confidently moving forward with the ideas and strategies we currently believe in, while remaining open to and always eager for new ideas and initiatives. We are aware that we can always be better. We take the initiative to improve the team, the company and our community. We are striving for expansion, and it will certainly bring new jobs for young and promising IT professionals. We currently have more than 50 CVs and job applications in our records and we hope to be able to hire some of these people soon. In addition, we participate in the Government’s Vocational Training Program and expect new colleagues as early as January 2022. We plan to hire at least five more people by the end of next year. Investing in people and their education turned to be the right strategy when it comes to our company. Regardless of what is happening in the market and daily turbulences, we have always put our associates and their personal and professional development in the first place, which is something we will continue to do. I would like to emphasize that the co-founder of our company received the scholarship of the US government for this academic year to take the advanced training within the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI) program for the MBA program at the DePaul University in Chicago, and in the spring of 2022 he will be on a one-month professional stay in a company in America, which is engaged in the same activity. Precisely such programs are something that can really bring added value to our companies, primarily in terms of learning and adopting knowledge and experiences from others, but also in terms of networking and making contacts in order to create future business ventures. We continue, of course, with the expansion of our existing and the work on new projects in foreign markets. In addition, we plan to support STEM education and develop our own digital products which will contribute to the improvement of ecosystems. Definitely, in the forthcoming period, our focus will be on the long-term sustainability of the company in order to more successfully grow and develop and contribute to the digital transformation of our country.

Resource: Glasnik broj 10, 2021.

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