Hope for Hrvatska: EY Entrepreneur of the Year Returns for 5th Edition

By 23 March 2019

March 22, 2019 - Croatia's increasingly influential entrepreneurial class will come together for the 5th time next week to celebrate the EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Just over a year ago, I had a phone call from the new Varteks CEO Nenad Bakic. He was coming to Varazdin for meetings and wanted to catch up over a coffee.

We talked about various issues related to TCN, Varteks and doing business in Croatia, and then he said:

"I want to show you a different side of Croatia. Hold on." And he spoke rapidly into his phone and arranged a seat for me at the Gala Dinner for the 4th EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

"Come and enjoy. And see a very different Croatia to the one you see day to day."

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Boy, was he right. In all my years in Croatia, I had never been in a room with so much positive energy, so many movers and shakers from Croatia and its diaspora. 

Here was the cream of the entrepreneurial class, who were succeeding in Croatia through sheer determination and hard work, usually in spite of government assistance not because of it. 

And they were here to celebrate their own heroes, men and women who were bringing positive change through their entrepreneurship. People like Bakic - you can learn more about the digital transformation of sleeping giant Varteks in my interview with him in Varazdin this week. 

Some video highlights of the event last year above. 

The judging panel last year comprised the following distinguished members: Emil Tedeschi, founder and majority owner of Atlantic Group, one of the leading producers and distributors of consumer goods in southeast Europe; Nenad Bakić, entrepreneur and investor of the IRIM - Croatian Makers fame, entrepreneur; and investor Saša Cvetojević, EBRD Regional Director Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, and Lajoš Žager, PhD, the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business in Zagreb. The remaining three judges are all former winners of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Alan Sumina, founder and co-owner of Nanobit (2014), Đuro Horvat, founder and owner of Tehnix (2015), and Marko Pipunić, founder and owner of Žito (2016).

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(Varteks Unlimited - TCN at last year's event with Nenad and Rujana Bakic)

Last year's winner will be a hard act to follow - the one and only Mate Rimac, whose Rimac Automobili is setting the standards in electric vehicle technology. You can see Rimac's acceptance speech below and read more about last year's event in this TCN report.

This year's edition will take place once more at Lauba in Zagreb, a guaranteed night of positivity and hope for Hrvatska. This year's finalists have not yet been announced, but with such a rich vein of Croatian entrepreneurial spirit currently flowing, there will no doubt be a very worthy winner. TCN will be there to bring you a full report.