”We’ve pushed the boundaries again with the N10 model, we’ll soon have an ”all view screen”. We have a partner in China listening to the direction in which we’re going with new technologies.”
As Tanja Ivancic/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of August, 2018, for the second time, Noa’s smartphone has been pronounced the Best Buy mobile phone. We’re talking about the new NOA Element N10 smart phone, and last year’s title was also awarded to the H10le model.
This award has been given by the world-wide EISA organisation which traditionally evaluates electronic devices across a variety of categories, and Best Buy Smartphone is one of the titles that all world-class smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei, Sony and LG, want to win. Therefore, it’s no small matter to actually manage to overcome such long-standing giants, which the Koprivnica company Hangar 18, the producer of Noa’s mobile phones, has succeeded in doing. Business, titles, and partnership with the Chinese was discussed by Mario Kralj, the owner and co-founder of the company.
How much is this title worth?
It’s worth a lot because it confirms the fact that NOA is developing in the right direction. The niche in which we have developed is “affordable premium”. They fall into the middle price range with the added value of new technologies from high-price A brands.
How can you explain Noa’s success? You said that your goal was not to be the first, but the best.
Yes, I believe we’re keeping track of the trends, in spite of the small quantities we order, but thanks to the good relationship with the Chinese component manufacturers, we manage to get it and then offer it to the market as well. Not many people know that after the iPhone, there was another brand that featured a two-camera device and an Amoled screen, which was, back then, only in a lot of expensive devices. Immediately, then, the whole industry went in that direction. After the new trend, when it comes to the size of the 18:9 screen on the Samsung S8, we were second with our N8 device. Now, with the N10, we’ve shifted the boundaries of design with a 96 megapixel camera. And soon, we’ll have an “all view screen”, the construction of which has already been done.
One of your most valuable advantages is your service support.
That’s right, that’s the first thing we did, as well as the hardest thing we did, but it’s also our great advantage. Our service support and premium care gives the possibility to our customers, and few of them know this, have a budget outside of warranty repairs in the value of the retail price set for Noa, so that’s certainly our added value.
How long does the process from evaluation to realisation on the market last? How fast are you really?
Our speed is given to us with the concept we set up three years ago. Different teams work on different product stages. So, as soon as a new product comes out on the market, we’re in the final stages of the design and the construction of a new one in the same price range.
At one time, Deloitte also said you were the fastest growing company. Does that reflect on your revenues and profits? By how much have you grown since your foundation?
In seven years, we’ve grown by more than 50 percent with each year. We have 15 different models of mobile phones and tablets under the Noa brand. Almost 700,000 devices have been sold so far, and in addition to them, we have sold 10,000 smart TVs, which are amongst a number of our gadgets with which we also work in conjunction with Chinese component manufacturers. We’re present in eight EU countries and in Russia, and by the end of the year we’re planning to increase that number to 12 markets.
You recently returned from China, where you’ve gone into strategic cooperation with the Coose group. What does Noa and Hangar 18 get out of it?
We’re gaining a strategic partner in developing new technologies, which is paying attention to the direction in which our brand goes. Imagine that you know the direction of technology, the prices, and the concept of the market you’re targeting, and now you have the ability to make such a product in advance. Just what a target customer needs at the right time and in the right place in comparison to the competition. It’s well known that most mobile phone and gadget components are supplied in China. Now you are additionally secure in getting hold of the parts and getting an additional reference. We’ve gained additional security and stability in procurement, quality, and availability of the components that are essential to our new products.
However, although Coose is your reference, it’s ended up also being the national football team to have provided you with recognisability in China.
True, for years we’ve been trying to explain to the world what Croatia is. We’re known for Nikola Tesla, Penkala, the tie, Marco Polo, but what football has done was so indescribable. Now wherever we appear, they all know about us. They have learned everything from the war we had to go through to gain our country, to the display of unity and persistence our team has shown at the World Cup. The football team has created the greatest possible promotion of our country, our people, and our products. To the point that when I had the opportunity to speak at the opening of the Coose Research Centre, I got an incredible applause at the very mention of the country from which I come. Yes, football has really done a lot in terms of business recognisability, and thus contributed to confidence.
Football has handled the business marketing out there in the world, and what about here at home? How do you rate domestic opportunities?
The situation is different in our country. We still don’t have enough confidence, as if we don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t believe we can do something of quality and good for the whole world.
Let’s go back to Hangar 18 and plans. Noa bounced off as a brand, while the process of separating it into a separate company is ongoing.
Right. Noa is now going its own way and stands out from Hangar 18, but it remains a Croatian brand.
You have also mentioned the seclusion of Megastore as a company.
Megastore is currently the largest multibrand IT chain in Croatia with 16 stores and gaming arenas within them. The core business is retailing IT and gaming equipment, computers and laptops, smartphones and related equipment.
How do you generally evaluate the business environment in Croatia, and how do you view the chances of the IT sector in the future?
The environment is pretty much uninterested in any progress and the creating of a positive climate for company development and employment, which would keep our people in the country. The chances are enormous, as despite the lack of understanding of the environment, many companies don’t know how to grab opportunities for themselves.
You’re the founder and director of Hangar 18 in Koprivnica. How much are you able to expand yourselves, do you expect investments, are there interested parties?
We have several ways of expanding. The main sales are Noa products which are currently made up of mobile phones, televisions, tablets and all of their accessories. We’re in the process of doing investment studies and we’re in the beginnings of seeking strategic partners and investors. We’ve got interested people, so it’s up to us to choose which direction we’ll go in, and what partners we’ll pick from those who make their interest known.