In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA and recorded LIVE at the Prosper Virtual Show 2020, Jana Krekic discusses founding a global Ecommerce translations empire, YLT Translations and she shares her life’s journey into eCommerce.
Getting your e-commerce business into the global marketplace can be a tricky proposition given the barrier of language. But there are companies out there who can help you scale and grow your business into the global empire you’re always envisaged. Yoni Mazor from PrimeTalk discusses how to utilize language skills and translation in your e-commerce endeavors.
In today’s interview, PrimeTalk sits down at the Prosper Virtual Show with Jana Krekic, the founder and CEO of YLT Translations, a translation company that helps Amazon sellers expand into new markets in thirteen different countries. YLT has helped many companies grow their online businesses by using a personalized, tailored approach, which always puts the customer first.
Jana Krekic talks about her beginnings as a budding concert pianist in Belgrade to her decision to start her own company based on her love of languages. If you’re an Amazon seller who wants to expand into new marketplaces but you’re stumped by the language barrier, then this episode is for you!
Visit YLT Translations for more information.
Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. We’re actually talking to you live from the Prosper show, the Prosper Virtual show. It’s really, really exciting. Today we’re having a special guest. We’re having Jana Krekic. And Jana is essentially the founder and CEO of YLT Translations, which helps many, many Amazon sellers worldwide. You know, make, creating listings in multiple languages and setting them up nicely, so they’re fully optimized for selling, Jana, welcome to the show.
Jana Krekic 0:35
Hi, Yoni. Thank you so much for having me on. Let’s pretend that we are in Las Vegas right now.
Yoni Mazor 0:40
Easy to pretend, easy to pretend. A lot of good folks, a lot of good vibes. I already met so many sellers. They’re reaching out from all over the place. So it’s fun. It’s fun. I wish this whole pandemic will end as soon as possible. So we can meet physically, everybody, and have the good old times again. But in the meantime, we’re going to focus on you, Jana. So today, today’s episode is going to deal all about you. You’re gonna share with us who you are, where you came from, where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school, how did you begin your professional career? So I guess without further ado, let’s start from the top. Where are you from? Or where were you born?
Jana Krekic 1:12
Yeah. So I’m born and raised in Belgrade. In Serbia. It’s a really small country, southeast Europe. And whenever people ask me like, wow, Is it cold, like during the winter? I’m like, Okay, I think people think I’m from Siberia, which is up north, like close to Russia. But it’s likely five hours by plane from there. So we’re basically closer to Greece than we are close to Russia. Right?
Yoni Mazor 1:36
And Greece is pretty warm, right? So it’s pretty good.
Jana Krekic 1:36
It’s, I mean, there’s like four seasons. It’s very warm during summer. We have autumn it’s like
Yoni Mazor 1:43
Do you guys have a beach at all?
Jana Krekic 1:44
No, unfortunately not. No.
Yoni Mazor 1:46
So you’re surrounded, like Switzerland, surrounded inside of Europe enclave?
Jana Krekic 1:50
Exactly. Like we used to have like a beach. Well, it was like a big Yugoslavia and but Croatia to the seaside. So you know they are there. They’re the fancy ones, where Beyonce and Jeff Bezos stay when they were in Croatia. But no, in Serbia, we don’t have anything like it. We just have beautiful nature, that’s it.
Yoni Mazor 2:06
That’s awesome. You’re born and raised there. And you went to high school there as well?
Jana Krekic 2:11
Yeah, I went to high school there as well. But like ever since I was a kid, like my parents really wanted me to, you know, to learn languages. And I went to a British kindergarten. I was surrounded by little British kids. And that’s how actually… I started learning English. And I used to speak until I went to the States for the first time during high school because my aunt lives in Florida, I used to speak with a British accent. And then once I landed on Florida, I was just like, Hell no, I’m gonna like speak like them.
Yoni Mazor 2:41
You gotta catch up on your Americana real quick. I’ll share with you a little bit… I’ll share with you. It’s funny, you mentioned that you had an English accent like British, because my wife is originally from Russia. When she first came to the States, she had a very British accent because I guess the schooling that they had there, were fairly quickly she had to work on her Americana. So I guess you guys experienced the same thing. Which is pretty cool. Go ahead, sorry.
Jana Krekic 2:59
It’s exactly, exactly like so in schools, you would actually learn you know, English, you know, British, like the British accent. So it’s very weird that somebody from Serbia, like go from this part of Europe to kind of embracing the American accent, you know, without like traveling there. So I was always fascinated with languages and I actually went to high school in Belgrade. But I went to two different high schools. I went to regular high school then I went to the musical high school. So basically from, 8 am to 2 pm I’ll be in my regular high school and from 3 pm to 8 pm. I’ll be in my musical High School. And I really love that I was always like…
Yoni Mazor 3:37
You played an instrument or you were singing songs?
Jana Krekic 3:40
No, I suck at singing. It’s so I’m like, that’s I was wanting to be like Adelle or something. But like, I was a really good performer. I was playing the piano for 15 years. And I was actually really gifted because I went through my high school just like, you know, I finished it in two years. So when I was 16, I actually graduated from high school. The musical high school.
Yoni Mazor 4:04
Did you start with a teacher for 15 years piano?
Jana Krekic 4:07
Yeah, it was. I mean, I went to the elementary musical school and musical High School. So actually, like, my whole life, I’ve been going to like, you know, like, two schools at the same time. But I always enjoyed it. I always had like energy to do multiple stuff. Like my parents didn’t even have the, you know, the energy to be like, you know, what’s next for you? Yeah, I went like figure skating. I like studied a little bit of German when I was a kid. So I was wanting to do more and more and more different things. And
Yoni Mazor 4:40
I have to ask you this though. Right now in your house, do you have a piano or a keyboard?
Jana Krekic 4:45
Right now I don’t have the piano. The piano is at my parent’s place. It’s like a big concert piano. So I absolutely…once I move to a bigger apartment, I definitely want to have the piano over.
Yoni Mazor 4:56
That’s what happened with mine. Same thing I want to share with you this. So I took piano for six years. But I played for many years because I was a part of a band growing up. So when I first came to America for many years I was in an apartment, I didn’t have space. So my piano was in my parent’s place. But my dream was when I get my house, I get my piano. And I finally did, I was very, very, very happy. So I wish you the same to get it very quickly.
Jana Krekic 5:17
Thank you so much. That’s probably one of the best wishes somebody could have wished me so thank you so much for that.
Yoni Mazor 5:22
Creates a lot of joy, a lot of positivity in the house, so it’s really good.
Jana Krekic 5:26
Absolutely. That’s something that will fulfill me in my life until I get kids. Exactly. So that’s like, one of the most important things in my life was, you know, playing the piano because I went, I went to do competitions, I had solo concerts, you know, I was a well-respected pianist for, for my age, I was like 15, and like doing all of that, at that point, because I had a really good ear to hearing for music and for languages apart from singing, I just decided, you know, like, maybe I should give it a go. And I should try and pursue my music career. But the problem is, it was that you know, I was very, very young, like, at that point, the most important thing for me was to get drunk and go out with my friends. And on the other hand, you would have to practice for six and seven hours, which I regularly did, but at one point, I’m like, Do I really want to do this in my life? And but in the end, as I decided to, to go to the musical conservatory when I was 17. And I got in, but like, and you know, but after six months, I was just like, I don’t really want to do this in my life, you know. And at that point, I only had the piano in my life. And I was being so well organized, because I was going to two different schools at the same time for my whole life, which helped me a lot later in life, especially, you know, with business and everything else. So like, the worst thing for me is when I have a full day, without anything, like free time, during the whole day, and only one thing to do, because I will never do that one thing because I have too much spare time. I like when I have like 15 impossible deadlines during the day. That is what I feel comfortable with. And that is why I’ve created for myself.
Yoni Mazor 7:09
So what year did you, I mean, how old are you when you discover this? 17. You realized you realize your style, you realize your forum, and where did it take you next? So what do you, I guess you went to university in Belgrade or?
Jana Krekic 7:22
I went back and I finished the regular high school with my friends. And then at the end of high school, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. And I like people just like, you know, they were 18, they’re like, I’m going to be a lawyer, I’m going to be an economist, I’m going to be this or that. And I was like, I don’t know what I’m going to be. Can I have some more time? But like in Serbia, like it’s usual, like, I know like in the States, and then in Europe, people take like a year off to travel and you know, explore. But in Serbia, that’s not the case. And so I knew that I had to do something with my life. And then like, I was like back to, you know, back to the drawing board, like so what am I good at? Languages, you know, music, and I was like, Okay, so I’m not going to study English. I’m not going to study like German or something that it’s known to, you know, to mankind. And then one day, I was watching a TV show about Norway. Now at that point, like, there was like, 15 years ago, and like, people just knew it was very cold, you know, and nobody was even traveling. There was not…
Yoni Mazor 8:15
What did you discover about Norway in 2005? What did you discover about Norway that made you come and say, this is something for me, you know?
Jana Krekic 8:22
You’re right. So I was watching the beautiful nature of the fjords. And I was like, Wow, this is so breathtaking. It’s an amazing country. And I was like, God, it’s so expensive to live there, there must be a good job opportunity if I could learn the language, which probably nobody knows there’s around like 5 million Norwegians over there. And I’m like, I could learn the language and try to move there and to live there. Because I always wanted to live abroad in my life. And I’m like, I’m just gonna, you know, create a better life. And with that thought, I decided I’m gonna do and like give it a shot for the Norwegian, which nobody ever heard in my life. Like, I remember, I listened to some rap music in Norwegian just to like, hear the, you know, the language, which turned out to be like this crazy dialect nobody even speaks so…
Yoni Mazor 9:12
Skol. What’s skol mean? Skol? That’s cheers. Yeah, I know that at least.
Jana Krekic 9:18
Yeah. Well, that’s good. That’s the essential
Yoni Mazor 9:21
I’m trying to cheer you for your decision in Norwegian. Score, you know, skol!
Jana Krekic 9:24
Skol. Yeah. And you know how you say hi, they say, hey, so, you know…
Yoni Mazor 9:28
That’s easy, yeah. How do you say Norway in Norwegian?
Jana Krekic 9:32
Yoni Mazor 9:33
Jana Krekic 9:34
Yoni Mazor 9:35
Norge. Yeah. It’s a pretty cool language. I like it. I’m watching Lillehammer, full disclosure, Netflix Lillehammer. Great show. I’m picking out Norwegian, happens to be the Jana has the whole Norway store, which is awesome to me. I really understand what you’re saying. Okay, so you decided you’re going to learn Norwegian, where did you study Norwegian? In Norway or back home?
Jana Krekic 9:53
No, actually, like, you know, first of all, like, you know, it was such a disastrous decision to like, tell my parents I wanted to study Norwegian out of all languages. No. My dad is an engineer. My dad is an economist. Like my grandparents went to university so I was kind of disappointed to choose to do that.
Yoni Mazor 10:12
They were shocked. They’re old-fashioned. They expected something, you said, Nope, whatever you expected, scrap it up. The completely new world I’m gonna open up for myself, but that is foreign to you. But I expect you to wish me luck somehow, you know?
Jana Krekic 10:24
Exactly. And they were like, No, of course, we wish you the best. And then I heard them like backtalking with some friends of theirs being like, she’s going nuts. She’s gonna do this Norwegian, like, she’s insane. And I told them, I was like, Look, I have a plan. And it’s gonna work, trust me. And this is what I told them. They’re like, whatever. But I think they were kind of hoping that like after the freshman year that I would just change my mind and like, transfer to another language or maybe go to a different university or something. But that didn’t happen, you know. And also my friends, they were all shocked. You know, I was a really good student.
Yoni Mazor 10:57
So everybody kind of got the shock effect, what actually happened? You studied in Belgrade or you moved outside? What was the station?
Jana Krekic 11:02
After that, I studied in Belgrade. And surprisingly, so Belgrade has got, they won the prize of being like the best Scandinavian department for languages outside of Scandinavia. Yes. So it’s like a Scandinavian department. And that was amazing. We had like, all the best professors coming from Norway, like the tempo was like, so so fast, that like, after their freshman year, I went to spend my summer in Norway, and I could be fluent in Norwegian, which is absolutely insane. After a year…
Yoni Mazor 11:33
One year you’re basically able, you’re able to adopt the language and utilize it?
Jana Krekic 11:37
Exactly. I could read books, I could just talk to everyone. It was insane. And I was just like, shocked by like, what you can do in a year. Yeah, it was. And it was just really, you know…
Yoni Mazor 11:47
So this is what year? Is it 2006 already?
Jana Krekic 11:50
Yeah, it was 2006. And I was like, um…yeah, 2004, this is when actually I’d…so 16 years ago. So 2005, I was ready, you know, to speak Norwegian. And then I started learning German as well. And so I was being fluent in German, but after like, two, two and a half years, it was not that, you know, little, but it was really good. And then I kind of started planning my thing. Like, how is this like, let’s search for jobs in Norway, blah, blah. And then what happened is like that, the head professor from our department, he got into a very big argument with basically the university in Oslo and they canceled their scholarship for this year. And that happened to me because they would…
Yoni Mazor 12:31
Hold on, so you were supposed to go to Norway, with a scholarship and due to politics, essentially, got canceled?
Jana Krekic 12:39
Yeah. Yup, due to politics it got canceled. And till the end of my, my bachelor’s degree, we didn’t get any scholarship or anything. And that’s unfortunately what happened. And but I traveled to Norway, like, you know, by myself, I wanted to explore to find, like, every possible opportunity. And I really, like well, used every single, you know, way to just the brush up my Norwegian, and to be the best, you know, language tutor ever. At that point, I started like teaching a little bit, you know, random people, like the friends from Belgarde who wanted to move there. Because Norway is very interesting, because it’s a very rich country, but they don’t have a big population. And they don’t have a lot of highly qualified people, a lot of people over there, they don’t go to university, they’re not highly experienced and highly qualified. So Norway has, unfortunately, to import, like, you know, Chief operations for oil companies, doctors, medical staff, they lack all of it. And so that opened a really good opportunity for a lot of people from Europe to go and travel there and to work and earn, like three times more salary.
Yoni Mazor 13:44
And so let me get this straight, let me get this straight. So essentially, Norway, it’s a pretty small population country, but it’s very wealthy. So due to lack of human capital, as well as we call it, where you need very highly skilled people, they have a shortage, they open up jobs and opportunities for people for the best brains and talent from all over the world to come up. So you found an opportunity, especially for European people, to be able to help them learn Norwegian and penetrate, into, you know, the industries in Norway, and, you know, succeed over there. So that was kind of the flow of the track you’re going into?
Jana Krekic 14:17
Yes, I was just like, I’m gonna try this, like with people from Serbia and like, see how it goes.
Yoni Mazor 14:23
So you started the first circle with Serbian people?
Jana Krekic 14:25
Yes, the first circle, Serbian people. And it was, at that point, I was just happy that I could help someone. And I’m like, Oh, my God, I changed this person’s life. And that was so rewarding for me. And at first, I just wanted to try so I can see if I can succeed in this or not, it was not for the money. It was actually for my pleasure to see if I could actually, you know, transmit what I’ve learned to other people.
Yoni Mazor 14:48
So essentially, you find the direction. You laid a track and you said, this is going and going well, so you helped a few people. What was the next station? Because we have to eventually get to YLT, I want to get there.
Jana Krekic 14:58
Yeah. Like, yeah, and then after that, like I got a job at this like a call center, it was a Danish outsource company for Belgrade. And they asked me, you know if I could just work for them, and I’m like, I don’t know Danish, I know Norwegian. They’re like, you can speak Norwegian, and then you know, we will learn Danish.
Yoni Mazor 15:17
If you can speak Norwegian, you can learn Danish, you’re hired.
Jana Krekic 15:19
Yeah, sorta, I mean, but you have to learn Danish. Like Swedish and Norwegian are quite similar, but Danish is way different. And so I started working on this call center under a fake name. So my name is Heidi Larson, not Jana, no, it was Heidi Larson. And I just pretend I was in Copenhagen, working for this, but it was my first job. It was super well paid for Serbian, you know, salary conditions. And I was like, over the moon of happiness. And at one point, I moved to Chicago because my ex-boyfriend lived there. And of course, I could not live off the salary from this Danish company, this company was in a startup mode, there were like four of us. And there was like only a call center, which is very important, which is going to lead to the YLT later. And then I moved to Chicago. And then I understood that I could not live off my so-called Danish, Serbian salary. And I started just browsing stuff like this is the first moment when the freelancer.com started, like, you know, working, had only a couple of people. And I decided I’m going to like put an ad and also content like stock oil, look oil. I already know what companies were big in Norway, and I started offering services like teaching their corporate clients, teaching Norwegian to them. I was certified and I was cheaper than Berlitz or any other schools.
Yoni Mazor 16:30
Hold on, let me get this straight. You basically relocated your life from Serbia to Chicago, because you had a partner over there. And so you’re getting paid to live in the United States? Your Danish salary was not enough. So you kept that job where you’re in a calling center for, you know, a Danish company, but you said, you know, what, let me try to find other clients, essentially, that I can help with languages and increase my income.
Jana Krekic 16:53
Right, exactly. And so at that point, I had like, over 40 students, and they were all like, top-notch, like, like, executives or spinal surgeons, or, you know, they were, like, really amazing people to work with. It was absolutely unbelievable who I got in contact with, and I still treasure some of the contacts to this day, you know, like, they, you know, they write like, how are you, happy birthday, and you know, and so on, send Christmas cards, and it’s really beautiful. And but at that point, the Danish company started growing and growing and growing. And at one point, they turned out, it turned into like, the leading e-commerce in northern Europe. And
Yoni Mazor 17:32
So you’re doing, you’re working a calling center for a Danish company, but that’s not the company? The company itself was an e-commerce company?
Jana Krekic 17:39
It was an e-commerce company, right.
Yoni Mazor 17:41
What year did you get in there?
Jana Krekic 17:43
Yoni Mazor 17:47
So 2008 and along the year, they were growing because e-commerce as we all know, that’s what we all hear. And we’re in the Prosper show live. You know, it was growing. So you start with this company, and but itself, the company itself was growing so much that I guess it brought them up more opportunities for you to grow with them?
Jana Krekic 18:03
Yeah, absolutely. And, my boss was like, we have to have you here in Copenhagen and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, really…
Yoni Mazor 18:11
So they told you to get out of Chicago and come to Copenhagen?
Jana Krekic 18:13
Yes. And like, they’re like, they said, like, we’re gonna let you keep your name, you’re not gonna be Heidi Larsen anymore.
Yoni Mazor 18:18
And get your real name back! We’ll call you Jana.
Jana Krekic 18:21
I was finally “Best regards, Jana Krekic”, you know. It’s not like, I know, I got to keep an eye and they promoted me and like, and I don’t know, like, I stayed at the company for about eight years. And at the end of, you know, the, like, last three years, I was the Chief Operations Officer for the whole company. They had 400 employees that were the leading e-commerce webshop in the whole of Europe, I traveled for work. They sent me to Russia to build a Finnish branch of the business all by myself. And like, in six months. I did some unbelievable things. And then, you know, this is how I learned everything.
Yoni Mazor 18:59
You were there from 2008 until when? Until which year?
Jana Krekic 19:00
2008 until 2016.
Yoni Mazor 19:03
Oh, so 8 years you were there. Full growth, full power and e-commerce. And you started with customer support, I guess, customer service calling center, and then all the way up to business development, global expansion, you know, expanded into Russia itself. That’s unbelievable. You did it in what, six months you said in St. Petersburg? Yeah, it was probably a challenging, tough experience. But nevertheless, you did it. And what, what happened in 2016? what transpired? What was the next station?
Jana Krekic 19:30
So the company grew very, very big. I did basically like I was very happy to get hired when it was just a startup. So I got to go through like all the departments. We did, we did SEO before it was called SEO, like so many crazy things. And at the end, like I was like, okay, so I did so