A founder who fled Bosnia as a child learned to code by hand. Here’s how he built his career in tech, selling his first company at age 20 and taking his last company to the stock market.

Epti founder Arli Mujkic, aged around 10, taken in 1996, and 35, taken in 2021.
  • Arli Mujkic was six when his family fled Bosnia for Sweden in 1993.
  • His family couldn’t afford a computer, so he learned to code by copying books.
  • Today, Mujkic is preparing to introduce his start-up company creator to the stock market via a reverse acquisition.

Arli Mujkic was six when his family fled war-torn Bosnia in 1993.

His parents “had to make a quick decision” and took Mujkic and his younger sister by coach to Sweden.

“A lot of people were surprised by the outbreak of the war,” Mujkic told Insider. “I remember this very drastic change from one day to the next. Basically, playing with all my friends and then, from one day to the next, being on a bus full of other people with crying children.

The family left most of their belongings and stayed in two refugee camps before settling in Enköping, a small town near Stockholm.

Mujkic was one of many displaced people to settle in Sweden as a result of the Bosnian war, he said.

The move put him on the path to managing a publicly traded company. Mujkic started coding at the age of seven, built a 3D games engine at the age of 14, had his first outing at age 20, and is now preparing to bring in his business-focused business creator. technology, Epti, to the public in a division of Nasdaq Nordic.

Learning to code was the “silver lining” of his childhood. “It was one of the biggest things Sweden could give me to become the person I am today,” he said.

Mujkic discovered his interest in technology during the after-hours language lessons in the school’s computer room. While waiting to be picked up by his parents, Mujkic played classic games such as “Minesweeper” and “Pac-Man” and became fascinated with how the games worked.

Its only major obstacle, however.

“We came with 50 Deutschmarks (around $ 28 today), we had nothing, we came with zero,” he said of his arrival in Sweden. “I really wanted to learn programming so I did the only thing I could do… I got down to pen and paper.

“I went to the school library, borrowed programming books, printed everything I could, and started coding by hand because that was the only way I could. coding at home because we couldn’t have a computer. “

A game created by Mujkic has become popular among his school friends. When asked how he did it, he showed notebooks filled with handwritten code to his teachers. The school lent him a laptop to take home. “Then I was coding 24/7,” he said.

At 14, Mujkic learned everything from C ++ to Turbo Pascal and Java. He builds his own game engine and meets Sylvain Dupont, a French student a few years his senior. The couple, who met via a chat room, were working on similar projects and decided to join forces to create Truevision3D, which Mujkic describes as his first startup.

Mujkic provided Insider with documents showing he was the company’s developer and lead artist, but said his age limits official ownership. It still works today, but Dupont mainly takes care of updates, Mujkic said.

Mujkic made his first outing at the age of 20. He launched Partybux, a customer acquisition and verification tool, alongside his first year of college, where he felt under-stimulated by the computer course. He then gave up.

He sold Partybux to PSI Spelinvest AB in 2006 as part of an agreement which saw the acquisition of 90% of Partybux for SEK 9 million and a price supplement of 10%. The insider verified the case with evidence provided by Mujkic. The deal didn’t end up making Mujkic rich – he joined the company but ceased its activities in 2008, and he did not get his full compensation.

His latest project is Epti, a venture capitalist set to go public through a reverse takeover.

Mujkic, now 35, wants to help other founders with the infrastructure they needed to get started, based on his own experiences, while building startups and investing outside.

Epti, which has a global team of 200 people, focuses on FinTech, markets, software and services, and has a broader acquisition strategy.

Mujkic expects to be listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market, a division of Nasdaq Nordic, and an alternative exchange for small businesses in Europe, before the end of 2021. Epti will go public through a reverse takeover of the listed software provider to Nasdaq Invajo Technologies AB, one of the Epti portfolio companies. Mujkic, still intending to list Epti on the stock exchange, said the opportunity arose to go public through one of his own holding companies. Epti debuts on December 20.

Since realizing that his early love for code was “a little different”, Mujkic has set himself the goal of achieving as much as possible in life and “to inspire others that anything is possible” .

He now has two daughters and said the eldest, aged five, is learning to code.

“Even though it’s extremely hard, there will be blood, sweat and tears, but never give up. Never surrender… We came to Sweden with nothing, so I was ready to create something, ”he said.

About Eleanor Blackburn

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