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Hooray Heroes
Mic Melanšek | Ljubljana, Slovenia
“We are fully digital and we are nimble, so we are well positioned to persevere in difficult situations.”
Mic Melanšek, Hooray Heroes

A company from Slovenia discovered that rapid growth and expansion to new markets was possible during a pandemic—with the right mix of digital capabilities.

“I want a refund.” That’s the last thing most businesses want to hear. But for Mic Melanšek and the team at Hooray Heroes, a personalized children’s books company, it came as a welcome sign of success. Consider the video posted to Facebook by one of his customers, in which a woman demands her money back. “I want a refund,” a woman says in the video, “and I want it for my husband—because you broke him.” The video then cuts to a happily sobbing spouse, Hooray Heroes-designed book in hand.

Mic has a hard time holding back a smile when he tells stories like these. From the beginning, online customer testimonials have been among the most effective tools for Hooray Heroes. In fact, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have always been integral to its ability to spread the word about what it does and sells. 

Hooray Heroes creates personalized books. At first, they were intended for children. A father might go to the Hooray Heroes website and select a book for his daughter. A special gamified process would allow him to select the right features for his child, from hair color to freckles, and add special characters like friends, grandparents, and maybe even himself. It was great for kids—and, as it turned out, adults too. As demand for Hooray Heroes’ products grew, so did requests for couples-themed books that could be given to a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. Many of these customers then began posting emotional videos online as loved ones opened their personalized books.

Hooray Heroes has been digital-first and online-only from the very start. This was driven partly by necessity. Mic, who hails from Slovenia, started with one business partner and hardly any money. But this digital approach was also by choice. Mic notes that his company has nearly as many social media followers online (1.5 million) as the entire population of his homeland (2 million), so he knew that low-cost digital tools were likely to provide the best avenue to get the word out and allow his company to expand to new and much larger markets. He was right. Within a few years, Hooray Heroes expanded across Europe to Germany, France, Italy, and the U.K.—and soon built a strong base of customers overseas too, including the U.S. 

Mic describes the effects of the worst pandemic in a century as was little more than a “speed bump” for his business. “We are fully digital and we are nimble,” Mic explains, “so we are well positioned to persevere in difficult situations.” Google Analytics is among Mic’s favorite tools (in fact, he uses an extra monitor just to monitor the data it provides in real time) and it was the first to lend reassurance that things would be okay during COVID-19. It revealed a spike in traffic on Hooray Heroes’ website that presaged surging demand across the world. “We have always used the full spectrum of Google’s offerings,” Mic says, “Google Ads, Google Shopping Campaigns, Google Search, and Market Finder help us break into new markets and Google Workspace tools like Docs help us collaborate across borders.” 

Hooray Heroes today employs more than 120 people and has more than 250 partners around the globe. Throughout the pandemic, the team kept in touch with a range of tools—from Zoom and Slack to Skype and SMS—as the company recorded an annualized growth figure of 30%. It even expanded into several new countries (thanks to analyses from Market Finder), such as Canada, Australia, Spain and Belgium, with some of its international markets recording growth rates of 100% or more over the past year. Hooray Heroes has expanded so much in fact that its home market of Slovenia today represents just 1% of its total revenue. 

“Despite all of the uncertainties and challenges the pandemic presented, our company found that strong growth was still possible—with the right tools,” Mic says. “Being digitally driven helps us understand our customers, find new markets, and gives us needed flexibility when the unexpected happens.” His team discovered that the products they were selling were perfectly tailored to folks stranded at home and looking for something fun to do to spend time together too. “It made us all really proud to bring so much happiness and connectedness to others at a time when both were so badly needed,” Mic says. “However,” he notes, “we do not yet have a return policy for husbands.”

See their Stories

Cake Cowboy
“There’s no way we would have been able to properly communicate who we are or what we stood for without digital tools, and there’s clearly no way we would have survived the pandemic without them either,”
“While other companies laid off salespeople during COVID-19, we learned how to work in an entirely new way and thus grew our workforce by about 30% instead.”
“While Haltian has always been digitally driven, what the pandemic really taught us was how to make the most out of the tools we already had and add new ones on the fly,”
La Maison des Soeurs Macarons
“Improving digital visibility is what allowed us to save this centuries-old family company. It was simply a matter of survival at first. It is now a vital cornerstone of our business.”
Little Box of Books
“The reality of having a business today is that you can’t not have a robust digital presence, which meant I had to become digitally literate quickly when I decided to open Little Box of Books.”
Lusa Language School
“I loved this business and I didn’t want it to close. I felt this immense weight upon my shoulders because it was on me to ensure that didn’t happen. I also realized that it was in my reach to do something about it.”
Moon Dot
“This one tiny tweak allowed us to dramatically increase our visibility with those who look for products using Google Image search.”
Progetto Quid
“For our young social enterprise, the most important challenge was being able to not just survive COVID-19 but actually emerge stronger,”
“We had zero experience in retail and zero technical skills, what we did have was a range of low-cost digital tools that were easy to use, even for us. We just figured it out.”
“This was a group effort and digital tools made it all so much easier and more affordable than any of us were expecting,”
“We may be the world’s oldest restaurant, but we see the value of these next-generation tools. I have no doubt that we will continue to use more of them heading into the future.”
Emmantina Houses
“Without the use of the online tools, we would be permanently closed right now without a doubt,”
Pott Au Chocolat
“It was such a relief that we made the decision to lean into digital when we did. It provided a solid base to build from in a confusing time. Honestly, I don’t know how we would have managed without it.”

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