Edi Demaj: “Being comfortable is the enemy!”
The man in the photo is Edi Demaj, a 31 year old who lives in Detroit, MI. From the picture he looks as everyone else, a quite normal guy, as you or me. What you do not see from the picture is that Edi is the founder/co-founder of a number of companies, which he has started since he migrated to the United States. The last company he co-founded is Rocket Fiber Internet, but you can find him also as a partner of Gjirafa.com, the biggest Albanian Startup that aims to change the way Albanians surf the internet, or Reozom, a real estate online listing company in USA, or iziSurvey, the online polls startup.
During November 2016, Edi, invited by SECO EP (video) and taking advantage of the launch of the new service of Gjirafa.com, Gjirafa50.com, toured the Balkan Region. Edi arrived in Albania, with the mission to support Accelerators, mentor Startups and speak at Startup Grind. I had the chance to meet and shortly interview Edi on what drives him to be an entrepreneur but also mentor new and young entrepreneurs in the Region.
1. Edi, can you describe yourself in 50 or less words?
I’m an Albanian-American who is passionate about making the internet and everything that lives on and around it better. I believe technology has the power of solving 80% of human problems and I am on a mission to find ways to be part of that 80%. I love creating and building.
2. What led you to this?
Not sure there’s a specific thing that has led me to this. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved building and creating new ideas and finding ways to execute on the ones I considered worth pushing. When I started working in Detroit and became a part of the comeback of Detroit, I realized how life changing it is to work on something you are truly passionate about and believe in. It was at that time that I started making a change from working on something because it’s a job I need, to not working if it’s just a job and only doing it if I truly loved what I was doing and it didn’t feel like work.
3. We have noticed you are very active in Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and other countries in the region. What drives you to contribute in these countries while your life and business is in Detroit now?
I was born in Kosovo and lived there through the horrific war of 1998–99. I’ve seen the people of Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and the Balkans in general suffer and fall behind for decades due to lack of opportunity and vision for the future by their respective leaders. I see a new day now where new generations in the region have incredible ideas and are willing to work tirelessly to make them a reality if given the opportunity. I’m fortunate to be living in America where the culture of entrepreneurship and change is different from the Balkans but it all starts with the people and more specifically, with the new up and coming generations. Wanting change is a starting point not an end. Doing something to bring the change we seek is the key and it’s what motivates me to stay active and hopefully add some value by sharing my experiences both in America and the region.
4. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Dream big and never settle. Being comfortable is the enemy. The minute you get comfortable and feel like you know it all, that’s exactly when you start falling behind. Surround yourself with great people because we are all the average of the people around us, and everything else will follow. Last but not least, there are no shortcuts in life. Entrepreneurship is not Hollywood. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and sacrifice to start, build and grow a business to a place where it has an impact.