Mistral was founded by a very peculiar geek who is one of the most devoted, honest, and genuine people you will ever meet. Here is a glimpse into his IT background and life story.
and Ops guru
My first encounter with a proper computer happened at the time I was a fifth grader in Ljubljana where I spent many of my childhood years. I didn’t get to use it as much as I’d like back then.
It wasn’t until FIFA97 came and QBASIC was a hit (which I never quite understood) that I got my hands on the computer properly. You scribble some numbers, mainly 10, 20, 30 in combination with English words which I already knew back then: START, END, IF, GOTO, etc, to end up with a result in Kelvins for an entry of value in Celsius. Bearing in mind I was a good mathematician and I could have calculated those values easily myself, I could not understand why someone would find it more interesting to work on that instead of playing FIFA97?
My secondary school education went along similar lines. The fact that I was exposed to Pentium II computers in Behram-bay mosque in Tuzla, contributed to gaming skills. Half Life I was my ultimate favourite.
A few days after completing high school, I decided to change my future plans. Instead of studying Economics in Malaysia, I decided to enroll in to FIT in Mostar as recommended by a friend. The fact that applications for Malaysia were being sent months in advance and only a few students managed to gain a place, that my father pulled all his connections to help me get a scholarship certainly did not help my new plan. I had to sit in front of my father and tell him a great new plan (there was none really!) The only “argument” I had for passing on Malaysia and choosing Mostar was my then-girlfriend now wife. It turned out that this was the only argument my father was willing to accept. Anything else would be in vain.
My first computer was a 256MB RAM, 2.4 Ghz Pentium 4 processor, 17’’ CRT monitor and a Joystick which I do not recall the name of but its price was higher than the price of the processor. During my education at FIT I was introduced to Visual Studio. It didn’t take long before .NET became my forte.
My first proper job in programming (after three jobs doing graphic design) was in DevLogic. I think I was their first official employee. It may also be worth mentioning talks with API, CompuSight or GRM which all failed for various reasons.
Due to my “love” of Sarajevo, a year later I decided to return to Gračanica where I lived and worked as a freelancer for the next 3 years (with the current owner of Softray Solutions), until mysterious ways led me to Sanin, who became my mentor and is now my business partner at Mistral. We first worked together on the VAR Dynamics project and later decided on a new story called Mistral.
All major decisions need to be carefully thought through. Sanin had his own ways of checking who I was, where I was from, so he sent his father to “inspect”. Unfortunately for him, that day Gračanica was simply too beautiful so I used it to my advantage and presented myself in the best light.
My methods were different, and in moments when I was wracking my brains whether this partnership would be a step in the right direction, a crucial trip happened. Coming back to Tuzla on a night bus from Pula (a 12 hour long journey), we stopped in Zagreb to wait for passengers whose flight to Sarajevo had been cancelled. It was around midnight. A man sat next to me, and for the rest of our journey, he wouldn’t stop talking. I was clearly pointing to the fact I needed sleep, but to no avail. Now I am really happy he was a chatterbox, as the moment I mentioned I was into programming he gave me lots of valuable information which helped me confidently decide to turn on the path I have been travelling for almost 5 years. During that long chat he was praising many Bosnian-Herzegovinians who live and work in Atlanta (where he also lived), who succeeded, and are hard workers and whom he much valued as people. When he mentioned Sanin as one of those people, I interpreted it as a definite “sign” that this man was sent to me; he also explained what jetlag was in much detail.
All of you who know Sanin and me, our partnership seems a bit weird because of our great differences, but I think that is the best thing in it all. Different ideas, different views, different paths leading to a common goal. But at the end of the day, our audacity, persistence and stubbornness are the same. And, as we are proving it all together, great things can be achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles
As a business leader, Mersed expresses his support for advancing equality between women and men any chance he gets, both in words and in action. Mistral has one of the highest rates of female employees in the country among IT companies. In this pdf document, see the 7 step that you can take to advance and empower women like Mistral.
Bizz wizz with an eye
on the future
I started programming when I was 10 or 11, I can’t remember. It was on my friend’s C64 (Commodore forever!) that I saw this likeness of magic where text one types comes alive in things the machine does. I was hooked. In elementary school in Alpachino I tailed older kids while they typed away on Orao, a computer 100% produced in our former homeland.
One time, I watched over the shoulder of an older student for hours while he typed in hundreds of lines of code. Key point: we didn’t have ANY external s torage devices at that time. So when his program would freeze (often), he would reach in the back and “reset” it. After watching him do that a few times, I reached behind the keyboard trying to help and promptly flicked the on/off switch instead of the reset button (“what’s the difference?”). He was not happy, but I ran pretty fast for my age.
Around that time I was writing some machine code on my C64, and it was probably the coolest thing I have ever done. You know, you could register a callback which gets called when the ray of electrons in the TV’s CRT hits a certain line on the screen. Oh the possibilities! 1Mhz processor. 64KB of RAM.
I got into II Gymnasium, which back then was tailored for “smart” kids (I have a thing or two to say about my generation), specializing in maths and “computers”. There I spent 3rd and 4th grade studying NOTHING while I was “developing” a payroll application for the school (read, played Tetris). Bonus question: who of you know what’s the highest possible score in original Tetris?
Did I mention we programmed in Pascal and I remember VIVIDLY when Borland came out with a “visual” IDE (40×25 characters) where you didn’t have to exit the editor to perform the compile. Good ol’ times. It was MS DOS based of course.
I “kicked off” the war years by joining the “IT” unit Gigi (current Head of education in Mistral), myself, and some other guys created out of thin air putting together PCs from a mountain of spare parts found somewhere. I saw the light when on the 5th re-read of the C++ book Object Oriented Programming just clicked for me.
I did some cool programs at that time, but if I tell you about them, I’d have to kill you. Once in the States I picked up where I had stopped when I decided that full time combat was more interesting than programming. First came COM, then DCOM, C O M+ and of course .NET.
Soon after, I started creating bigger projects, running bigger teams, and inevitably ended up working with developers from the Far East. Went to India many times; great food, programmers not so much. I just knew it had to be possible to do this better. And I knew WE (Bosnians) can do it better. We are smart, we don’t idolize authority, we speak up, and we are driven when put in the right context.
Out of pure INAT I decided to give it a shot, had the luck to partner up with Mersed,
and we have been proving the world and ourselves ever since that we can do this
better or at least as good as anyone. In the process we have striven to create the best
possible work environment for all our employees since, in the end, they are all that matter.