To many, Miami is a globally recognized destination for fun, beach vacations and culture, but for rising entrepreneur Marko Gojanovic, Miami would be the birthplace of a prolific career. Though at a young age, he saw himself pursuing tennis professionally, his path would surely pivot into a career in hospitality and high-end luxury Miami real estate. Though it has taken him more than 10 years to get where he is today, he’s grateful for the journey, taking everything in stride, learning as much as he can and always reaching for more.
With an innate sense of charisma and business acumen, today Gojanovic is one of the hospitality industry’s leading trailblazers with his most recent venture being Joia Beach at Jungle Island, a luxury restaurant and beach club in Miami that opened in 2020 alongside partners Chris Paciello and Mio Daniloivc. But in the last year, the Miami magnate has expanded his repertoire into the world of real estate as he’s joined the renowned ONE Sotheby’s International Realty group. With his hustle mentality, Gojanovic’s perspective has always been tilted toward finding opportunity.
We recently sat down with Marko to discuss his career as a growing entrepreneur, what keeps him motivated and what he’s looking forward to next.
Q: Congratulations on the debut of Joia Beach! To be able to successfully launch a restaurant and hospitality business in the midst of the pandemic is remarkable. What was it like to go through that process and to what do you owe the success of Joia Beach?
Thank you very much. It was definitely a challenging time for everyone including us. Right when we were about to open in March the pandemic hit and there was of course a lot of uncertainty. Finally, when we planned to open at the end of June, it was very difficult to get a full staff during a pandemic and it took us a good month to get the support and team we needed to operate properly. Covid restrictions and curfews also made it challenging, but on the other hand since we are an outdoor venue, we were one of the few places allowed to operate. Slowly, restrictions started loosening up and we were able to ramp up the business.
We owe the early success of Joia to our whole team who overcame challenges and did whatever it took to move forward and provide good service and product during challenging times. Our team is a group of rock stars from the partners, to our Chef, our management and operations team, marketing, and staff. I owe the opportunity to Chris Paciello and Mio Danilovic who began this project and created the vision over 3 years ago and brought me in when I moved back from Los Angeles.
Q: How would you describe your journey as an entrepreneur and professional?
I would describe it as a constant enjoyable struggle, it is hard every day and you are in control of your destiny. There are obstacles, setbacks, and often disappointments, but if you have a purpose and desire then you are able to withstand the negatives and keep pushing forward. You have to be a student of the game and set an example at the same time.
Q: Your journey as a professional has been nothing short of inspiring and transformative. From a professional tennis player to couch surfing to launching one of the hottest destinations in Miami and working for an elite real estate group, where do you find your drive and motivation for success?
I have always dreamed big and have been inspired by others. I grew up in a household where both parents went above and beyond so it was instilled in me. Almost all my relatives were professional athletes so I was training and competing at a high level from early on. After my tennis career, I entered in the south beach world of hospitality and even though I moved up quickly in this new career, I was always surrounded by super successful people and I always wanted to achieve a high level of success so I had to work extra hard to catch up since most of my life was geared towards a tennis career.
Now it’s about becoming better each day and going after goals and dreams. I know the kind of life I want and nothing will stop me.
Q: Between your work in nightlife and hospitality with the launch of your new Miami restaurant and beach club Joia Beach and working as an agent for the illustrious ONE Sotheby’s International Realty group, how do you find balance between two vastly different industries?
They actually go hand in hand fairly well it’s just a matter of time balance. I have to figure out ways to create more time by waking up earlier, working later, and being more efficient with my time. At Joia I meet amazing people that are all buying and selling real estate and on the other hand I can also take clients and entertain them at Joia. It’s about being professional in both industries and providing added value.
Q: How, if at all, do you find that they’re related?
They are very related, as you want to provide the best customer/client service in both. You want the customers when they come to Joia to get a great experience to make them want to come back and also tell their friends.
In real estate you want to provide them with expertise and value along professional customer service. Also, through hospitality is where I built my whole network and now it’s a matter of really becoming great in the real estate business since most of my network is all buying and selling luxury real estate. I’m new in the game but eager to learn.
Q: Though real estate and hospitality are different, what is it about each industry that you are passionate about?
My favorite part about hospitality is giving the customer or your friends a one-of-a-kind experience. Going a little bit out of your way to accommodate or make things smoother and more enjoyable goes a long way. I would always like to hear when someone from out-of-town leaves Miami with the best memories. A lot can go wrong in hospitality in terms of the customer experience so being able to deliver a memorable moment is what makes the difference.
In real estate, for most people, they are buying or selling their biggest asset so to be able to help them with the transaction in the most professional way is super important. I’m passionate about helping clients their dream home or investment and them being happy about their decision knowing they got the best deal at that time.
Q: What would you say has attributed to your ability to procure and/or create incredible business opportunities for yourself?
Setting high goals and taking risks. I try to get better each day and learn new things. I will go after opportunities if they are presented to me and I’m definitely not afraid to try something new even if it leads to failure.
Q: One thing that stands out among your diverse portfolio of experience is your knack for networking and connecting with people. How did you acquire this skill and how has it helped you professionally?
This skill came though hospitality. When I started in the business I absolutely loved to party and when you are hosting the parties you are constantly meeting all kinds of people. And through that you are always connecting people and friends around the world to other great people and then once I started understanding how networking can lead to more business than I did it with a purpose.
It has helped me tremendously professionally because I have a lot of access and I am able to have the most successful and affluent people in the world as people I consider mentors and friends. I love learning from them.
Q: What are some daily rituals you have that help you stay motivated and focused on your goals?
Every morning I wake up early around 6 am and do my morning routine which is drinking lemon water then taking a cold shower then 15 mins of meditation then journaling which includes my goals, gratitude, and daily targets. Being organized has helped me a lot since I started journaling compared to how I was in the past.
I work out around 7:30am six days a week while I listen to motivational talks and mixes on my headphones.
I try to read two books a month and I listen to audio books or learning material while I drive. Feeding your brain constantly with information and positivity helps create a winning mindset.
At the end of the day, I go back to the journal and reflect on my day and plan the next.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Perhaps a mentality or guiding principle that has helped you throughout your journey.
My advice would be to constantly learn and read, keep track of your goals and daily targets, have mentors, and be around the people that inspire you. You are the average of your 5 best friends.
Q: Looking ahead at the New Year, what goals do you have?
The goals are always about improving daily and becoming better at whatever I am doing. The result of becoming a better person and working hard reflect on your businesses. Being happy is the most important goal and to see my family and travel more. Everything else falls into place.
Photography by: World Red Eye