Croatia's Foreign Entrepreneurs: Felix, from Chile Back to His Croatian Roots

By 13 June 2018

June 13, 2018 - Continuing our look at foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in Croatia, today we meet Felix who swapped Chile for his second home - Croatia. 

1. First and foremost, why Croatia?

I am Chilean-Croatian, and for me, Croatia is my second home. I feel a huge love for Croatia, especially for the Dalmatian coast and the island of Brac. My paternal family was all Croatian and Croatian descendants from the island of Brac, and specifically Ložišća.

As a child I was always very close to the Croatian colony in Punta Arenas, I studied at the Croatian School of Punta Arenas and played sports at the Croatian Sokol Club of Punta Arenas.

INTRO YOUR BUSINESS, what is it you do?

I have two ventures, the first is Croatia Gourmet Box ( - Facebook: @croatiagourmet). What we do is send Croatian products to different places around the world, wherever they ask and wherever Croatian mail can go. The main objective is to promote small producers with their products and send out classic Croatian products.

CGB caja 1

The other project which was born in Croatia, but is being developed from Spain, is PASVUKLifestyle, which is a compound word: dog-wolf. It is a brand of accessories and motivational clothing, through the powerful phrase "NEVER GIVE UP".

 We are selling through the Amazon platform throughout Europe (or more precisely where Amazon delivers) and personally, I am very excited. We have had sales in the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Hollan, and Italy. We have also sent to South America, and in the short term, the idea is to reach the North American market with the same format.

Pulsera Silicona Motivacion Crossfit Running Pasvuk HR 2

Now, I split my time between Split and Alicante, Spain, since my wife is specializing in Spain as a Data Protection Officer (

2. Tell us about some of the differences of your expectations of running a business in Croatia and the reality.

There is always a difference between what one expects and reality. I have come from Argentina, Chile and now Spain, and had my ventures there, so I have a clear and global vision. What I can tell you is that no place is perfect, in all places you will find obstacles.

In Croatia, they must improve many things especially the bureaucracy, which will create a more conducive environment for the entrepreneur, such as large cities and state policies, which must be clear that entrepreneurship is the engine to boost the economy.

3. What (if any) bureaucratical issues have you encountered and how did you overcome them (i.e. any advice to the would-be entrepreneur?)

There is always something, and it is part of the idiosyncrasies that remains of an obsolete system, little by little it will change, the entrance to the EU helps to open the eyes of how the entrepreneurial ecosystem should be treated from the role of the state.

4. How is your product or business perceived in the Croatian market?

Croatia Gourmet Box is aimed at Croatian descendants around the world, but for small producers, it is well valued. Thanks to our promotion, a product of Kastel Kambelovac, was discovered and now sells to Austria.

camiseta ecologica Pasvuk lifestyle gris oscura Never give up

And Pasvuk Lifestyle (Facebook: @PasvukLifestyle), is being recognized little by little as a Croatian brand, which draws attention especially because of the name PASVUK and its motto NEVER GIVE UP or NIKADA NE ODUSTAJ.

5. What were the opinions of your friends and community, were they supportive of your idea, or…?

There are always different opinions, mostly positive, but when you are an entrepreneur, you know how the hand comes, so go ahead, and instead pivot with your idea or project.

But the main thing is that I see a huge potential in Croatia, and especially in Split. The location is strategic, there is good weather, better and better connections, it is in the middle of Europe, it is the entrance to the East. Why not dream of a Silicon Coast...?

6. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in business in Croatia?

There is a lack of flexibility to solve some issues, and I reiterate that the state must create a more dynamic and updated business environment. A lot could be done, but I insist the state is a fundamental gear for the development of an entrepreneurial pole.

20170820 123846

As a Croat, I had a lot of support from the State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia (Državni ured za Hrvate izvan Republike Hrvatske), from Miss Marija Matek, about Croaticum, paperwork and my children’s school. 

7. If you knew then, what you know now, would you have come?

Yes, in any case, this is a beautiful country, and the truth is that when you have entrepreneurial skin, you can deal with it. The issue is when you want to start for the first time, then is more complicated and it is a test of fire. As you can see I have high hopes that everything will be better in Croatia.

People in Croatia complain that young people are leaving the country to look for new horizons. I think it is very good that they look for new experiences elsewhere. We must take advantage of this situation, like the young Hindus or Chinese who are going to study in the USA and return with knowledge. What is necessary is to encourage them to return, to bring new ideas and new energy to the country.

8. What are 3 things you love about Croatia?

The sea, sun, islands and one more: the tranquillity.

9. What are 3 things you would like to see improved in the business climate in Croatia?

Less bureaucracy, an improved environment to undertake, a State more involved and more updated on this issue.

Felix Sapunar Pasvuk Lifestyle

10. How is it working with Croatians in terms of a business mentality?

There is everything, in Zagreb, for example, you have a more open mentality, here on the coast, still missing a more global mentality.

11. Advice for foreign entrepreneurs thinking of coming to Croatia?

As I was saying, when you've started somewhere else it's one thing, but when you do it for the first time it's another thing. My advice is to be patient, breathe deeply and enjoy this beautiful land, while you start your project…Polako..polako