Meet The Team Casual Fridays: Tin Dizdarevic

Tin Dizdarevic recently joined Zemanta to head up the company’s marketing efforts. With many years of experience working with tech startups as well as an interesting culinary past, Tin is tackling the task of mixing the Slovenian and American ingredients that make up Zemanta into something that users – old and new – will enjoy.

Where did you come from?
I was born in Ljubljana. I grew up part of the time in Ljubljana, and part of the time in Belgrade. Started high school in Vienna and then finished it here in New York, on Long Island. I went to college in Boston at Northeastern University, and while I was there I already started working for a number of internet startups. So I always had this pull to work with startups, because they always seemed so interesting and dynamic. A highlight was working at Enliven, a pioneer in interactive advertising for the web, where we worked on some fun campaigns with advertising agencies and brands. After the first internet bubble burst, I decided to switch to cooking, left Boston and returned to New York and went to culinary school. I worked in restaurants for a little over good 4 years — three years here in New York and then a year and a half in Charleston, SC, which was an awesome experience. But then I decided to leave Charleston to, once again, come back to New York, where I switched back to technology. I had my own startup that dealt with food and technology for a bit and that’s really kind of up to where we get to Zemanta.

When did you join Zemanta and what do you think you bring to the company?
I met Bostjan, our CEO, through a mutual friend last Fall in NY. So even though I’m Slovenian –  or part-Slovenian (Slovenian, Croatian and Bosnian) – I didn’t know Bostjan or anyone at Zemanta from before. I started helping out in February, and it evolved to where I started full-time just a few weeks ago. Having seen the whole internet environment go through a couple of cycles, I think I bring a grounded, pragmatic approach of how to do things.

What projects are you working on at Zemanta at the moment?
We are trying to get more users to use our tool, so I’m spending time and putting a strategy together around that and how we can get in front of new users, how we can get existing users to use us more, and get users that have used Zemanta in the past to come back.

Can you tell me what other blogs you just like personally?

I usually stick with the standards. For car stuff, I use Jalopnik and Autoblog, for Apple related news, I use MacRumors and Apple Insider. An oldie but goodie on modern design front that I peruse is MoCo Loco. A guilty pleasure is NY Shitty, a Brooklyn based blog that started out as an ode to urban dog poop epidemic and now covers all sorts of going ons in North Brooklyn.

You grew up in Slovenia, part of your life, and then you also grew up part of your life in America; considering that Zemanta is kind of a Slovenian-American partnership, how do you feel like you are able to bridge the gap between the two?
I think it’s not as much a cultural thing as it is kind of a traditional work issue where you have a company that is very developer-focused having to deal with sales and marketing. It’s more about balancing the concerns of a startup, and also dealing with the fact that we’re physically removed; sales and marketing is here in New York and developers are out in Slovenia. We have a very smart group of people working at Zemanta; the Ljubljana team works tirelessly on developing a better, stronger Zemanta and is very involved in helping out sales and business development in developing the most effective tools for our users and the sales team here in New York is doing a great job in finding new partners for Zemanta so we have a very deadly combination.

What are Zemanta’s greatest strengths?
I think one of the coolest things about the Zemanta plug-in is that the user can improve upon the tool. It’s flexible enough that the users can really fine-tune the tool to work better for them via their own sources and ways to control the widget. On an ongoing basis, we’re also working on adding more amazing content  so that there is a better selection of relevant content that bloggers can use.

Team Google or Team Apple? Explain?

I use a MacBook Pro and an iPhone both for work and play, but on the other hand heavily use many of the Google services from GMail to Google Docs and Google Reader. Apple designs beautiful, functional products and Google is revolutionizing access to information via their tools.

You mentioned there were a number of years when you were working with food, but you seemed to have abandoned it…
I spent some good years cooking in restaurants with some amazing people and under the tutelage of some great chefs like Akhtar Nawab and Tom Colicchio but decided to leave it behind since I was much more effective on the business front. I stay close to food and keep up on the news but these days, I rather cook at home for people that I love, and people that I know will enjoy the food.

Do you ever cook for the people at Zemanta? Or will you?
Sure! We’ll definitely do a little cookout Zemanta-style soon.

So now that it’s on record, everybody will be waiting for food!
Sounds good! I’m ready!

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