Interview with the Program Director of Spark.me, Vladimir Vulic
I came across Vladimir´s trail blazing activities for the first time in 2012, when I started seeing some of my favourite off-the-beaten path places of Montenegro on Foursquare, entered by his non-governmental organization Digitalizuj.me. Yesss, I thought, the backcountry is starting to get noticed!
And then came Spark.me. The friendly, open, innovative vibes of the event completely convinced me of the need to bring closer together its start-up power and thought leadership energy with the unpolitical, educational mission and all-year networking opportunities of our young Travel Massive chapter. A perfect match.
Vladimir Vulic is the Program Director of Spark.me conference. He is a management, innovation, and social media consultant. Co-founder of NGO Digitalizuj.me. Has 12 years of experience teaching Strategic Management at the University of Montenegro. Two-time TEDx speaker. Keynote speaker in 20 countries across 4 continents, from Peru to Taiwan.
Here´s the news:
Spark.me is coming of age – 2019 in its 7th year, and the 3rd year partnering with Travel Massive MNE. What´s in it for travel & tourism insiders?
1) Beyond Borders, Live.
Spark.me 2018, organised by Domain.ME, attracted 580 people from 28 countries – business, technology and innovation leaders, marketers, startups, and, of course, travel & tourism insiders. Our conference focuses on a variety of tech-related topics that range from branding and social media to innovation and entrepreneurship. What all of these topics have in common is that they are presented by some of the world’s most influential thinkers and brands who are pushing the boundaries in their respective fields. So far, Spark.me participants were able to hear from an expert on place branding, destination marketing, and city innovation, as well as influencers who are working with brands and can show the other side of the story.
We are moving! Why Porto Montenegro in Tivat?
2) Amazing Location.
Located in the central part of the Bay of Kotor, Tivat is at the heart of Montenegro’s coastal tourism industry. The vibrant town caters to a bustling nautical community, offering a wealth of restaurants, bars and numerous nearby coves, ideal for summer cruises of the Tivat Riviera. Previously a historic naval base, Porto Montenegro’s reincarnated as the Mediterranean’s leading luxury yacht homeport and marina village. The village attracts a vibrant year-round international crowd, with an events scene that extends to conferences, exhibitions, and cultural events. It also proved to be a great host to the Hackathon organised by Digitalizuj.me and Logate in May 2018. And it certainly doesn´t hurt to be on Forbes´ list of The 19 Best Places To Travel In 2019!
Why is Spark.me different and what has changed over the years?
3) Spark.me is Sharing and Caring.
We grew from a meeting point for a couple of dozen of tech enthusiasts and geeks to a must-visit tech and marketing event for the Balkan region and beyond. The mission of Spark.me from the very beginning was to improve the quality of life for people in Southeast Europe by raising awareness about the possibilities Internet and new technologies offer. Our mission hasn’t changed, but the scale of things obviously has. :) Through this growth process, we worked hard to keep what makes us special – the care for the conference, speakers, and our community. Spark.me was NOT designed to be the biggest conference in this part of the world, but to be the most intimate one. We pay special attention to every detail, and we are focused on making Spark.me an unforgettable conference experience for our attendees. At the same time, this is what makes being part of the team so rewarding. :)
When designing the program, what are your criteria to select the top line-up of speakers?
4) Speakers Beyond Presenters.
Spark.me prides itself on having a carefully curated agenda, where every speaker is handpicked. When selecting the speakers, we use the following criteria:
- Is the person a world-renowned thinker or an influencer?
- Is the person a great speaker? Being a great thinker does not automatically make you an engaging speaker!
- Does the person support Spark.me’s mission? Does it help us push the boundaries?
- Is the person as excited about speaking at Spark.me as we are? Having an approachable speaker makes all the difference when it comes to the conference atmosphere.
- Has the person already delivered a talk in this region? We strive for novel and exclusive speakers!
- Is the person willing to speak “pro bono”? Since Spark.me is a part of the CSR program of Domain.ME, we cannot offer speaking fees.
This all ensures we are a right fit for them as well, and they have a great time in Montenegro!
You have been working hard to position Spark.me as the center of gravity for startups when it comes to the Balkan region?
5) Innovation Rules.
Yes! Spark.me Startup Competition is an integral part of the conference, and an important driver of the development of startup ecosystem in the region. The competition is focused on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow, and team diversity; every year it gathers 10 best new startups from this part of the world. Being a part of Spark.me competition enables startup founders to have access to a network of mentors, investors, industry experts, and serial entrepreneurs. The winning team gets a unique opportunity to present its project to leading investors and media at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. With over 10,000 attendees and 400+ media outlets, Disrupt SF is the place to find new customers, get media attention, and meet future investors, which allowed our previous competition winners to make valuable connections, and help them grow.
For the 2019 Spark.me – what´s in sight and which date to save?
6) There Is More Than the Conference.
Organising Spark.me is not an ad-hoc project where we gather a few weeks before the event, and then everything magically gets done. Curating the Spark.me program has become a year-round process for the whole team – we always track more than 200 speakers. Preparations for Spark.me 2019 have started even before this year’s conference was completed. And yes, we already have some speakers confirmed for next year!
We would like to keep things under wraps for now, so we won’t be sharing any names, but please save the date – May 25-26, 2019 – Saturday and Sunday! :) Warm welcome to explore Montenegro, visit the amazing mountains, enjoy the sandy beaches, and join us for an unforgettable weekend of learning and networking – blaze the trail!
Ready? Get your ticket here: https://en.xing-events.com/SparkMe2019.html
Reason #7) – This promotion will give you 30€ off the price of the Super Early Bird ticket, bringing it down from 100€ to 70€. Please use promotional code: SparkMe70
Follow Spark.me 2019, Travel Massive, Tivat/Montenegro and Vladimir here: