Mërgim Cahani: We Have Just Started to Scratch the Iceberg Tip – So Much Ahead of Us
By Rudina HOXHA
Soon after Gjirafa.com was selected one of the 13 tech European companies invited to join the 4th edition of “Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley” (SEC2SV), the Founder and CEO of gjirafa.com, Mërgim Cahani sat with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA to tell us what does this milestone means to his company.
“We actually have some tremendous growth numbers. When we look at it this way, then our selection is neither a coincidence nor a surprise – rather a result of Gjirafa’s team work and dedication, and a contribution of our partners, clients, users, and investors – again it takes all the stakeholders involved to achieve exponential growth rate. We are grateful for that,” Cahani told to Follow Business Albania.
He stated that all this is a great sign, and a networking opportunity for Gjirafa. “We have been growing exponentially for the past three years, and being globally noticed, it always feels great,” the Kosovo entrepreneur said.
The 13 companies, mostly from 8 different countries – Albania, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain, will expose themselves to an intense week (Sep.9-14, 2018) of concentrated business development in the Silicon Valley to help them in their US expansion efforts, including a showcase to investors on September 11th during European Innovation Day (EID) at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
Gjirafa, Inc., established in 2013, is the fastest growing Internet Services company in the Balkans. Gjirafa is an OTT media services and an e-commerce platform for the Balkans built on top of an Albanian language specialized search engine. All the products of Gjirafa.com are all growing in Albania and Kosovo; GjirafaMall however is one product that currently is present only in Kosovo and soon to be in Albania and Macedonia.
- Congrats for having Gjirafa chosen among the 13 start-ups of Europe. How would you describe this milestone for your company?
Thank you, and congrats to all Albanians also, as Gjirafa is a company with a vision to build the Internet Economy for Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and the region. It is a company built from zero to where we are now (in Kosovo and Albania), with state-of-the-art technology and a team of persistent entrepreneurs. As a milestone, I think it is a great sign, and a networking opportunity for us; we have been growing exponentially for the past three years, and being globally noticed, it always feels great. On the other hand, we think that we have just started to scratch the tip of the iceberg – so much more to do and there is much ahead of us.
- Were you surprised by it?
Well, surprised as in being happy about it, then definitely yes. These selected companies are the top EU Scaleups (companies that are growing very fast), and we actually have some tremendous growth numbers. When we look at it this way, then this is not a coincidence nor a surprise – rather a result of Gjirafa’s team work and dedication, and a contribution of our partners, clients, users, and investors – again it takes all the stakeholders involved to achieve exponential growth rate. We are grateful for that.
- In your view, what makes Gjirafa.com so competitive as to be ranked among the 13 tech European companies to join (SEC2SV) in Silicon Valley?
In simple terms is our growth rate. When diving in deeper in detail, then it is a combination of: Gjirafa team, which creates world class technology and nourish outstanding relations with partners and clients, and very importantly users/the market who always has and continues to embrace our technology and services.
- What do you expect from the IV edition of European Start-ups in Silicon Valley? Do you think this event will be a hub for Gjirafa?
European Startups to Silicon Valley, organized by Mind The Europe and the EU commission and EU Parliament, in their past editions have shown a great potential for EU tech companies to develop highly valuable networking connections, with some of the world leading companies and people. We look forward to be in the mix with the people who are defining and creating the future of our world.
- Gjirafa has got attention right now. How has this company progressed so far? What is its position in the Kosovo and Albania market?
Thank you . We lead the market in terms of video content OTT as well as e-commerce in the region in terms of inventory and sales, while we have the largest market share online marketing platform (Gjirafa AdNetwork) for Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. Our market approach is holistic in strategy, where we focus in the region as oppose to a particular country. We differentiate our services through Albanian NLP, as we globally lead this area through our Gjirafa R&D, an initiative from day one when we started the company. Part of this work can be seen in International peer-reviewed scientific journals.
All our products, Search, classified, bus schedule (gjirafa.com), business directory and maps (gjirafa.biz), electronics e-commerce (gjirafa50.al and gjirafa50.com), online marketing platform (gj.al/AdNetwork) are all growing in Albania and Kosovo; GjirafaMall however is one product that currently is present only in Kosovo and soon to be in Albania and Macedonia.
- How do you see the future of technology in Gjirafa?
As modest and humble as Gjirafa culture is, from technology perspective we already are world class competitive. In terms of future, we are now focusing on AI – something that I am unable to disclose as of yet.
- How can more people embrace Gjirafa?
There are different perspectives to do so.
From users perspective, talk to us, let us know what you like and what you don’t, and even what you think you need. Many global players have ignored our region, and Gjirafa is here to fill in that gap. We are unable to do everything, but we will always listen and seriously take into account all the feedback before we decide how to progress.
From partner perspective, companies and people who are in industries where we could cooperate, I would say reach out to us as we are constantly interested to partner with dedicated and highly focused businesses and people. We understand and accept that cannot be done alone. Value added of working together, we have seen, that it produces a multiple added value as oppose to sum effect.
News Source: Rudina HOXHA