Mate Rimac, 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year: "We Need to Work Together and Value Success"

By 21 March 2018

While petty minds are squabbling over trivial matters in online comment sections, goal-driven Croatian entrepreneurs and investors remain focused on building a better future - one where we just might see Croatia's name on the global map. A report from last night's EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony in Zagreb on March 21, 2018

Lauba House in Zagreb was overflowing with good vibrations last night as the best and brightest of Croatia's private sector gathered at the Ernst&Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony. Croatian entrepreneurs, investors, inventors and other movers and shakers assembled to celebrate progress, growth and innovation at the fourth Croatian edition of the most prestigious global competition recognising entrepreneurial achievements.


The competition saw 36 entrepreneurs from 28 companies, with the award winners selected by an expert judging panel. This year, the jury was headed by Emil Tedeschi, founder and majority owner of Atlantic Group, one of the leading producers and distributors of consumer goods in southeast Europe.


Apart from Tedeschi, the judging panel was composed of the following distinguished members: 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).


Nenad Bakić with wife Rujana and TCN owner Paul Bradbury

While addressing the audience, Tedeschi called the manifestation a phenomenon in its own right, as it promotes something of extraordinary importance for our society: creating a culture of celebrating achievements of others. In a society saturated with negative thoughts and messages, being able to feel, recognise and applaud someone else's success is an outstanding thing, he said.

The entire gathered crowd shared the same sentiment, standing up to applaud the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year: Mate Rimac, owner and CEO of Rimac Automobili who's been making international headlines for years now, owing to his exceptional contributions to the EV industry. As he himself stated in his acceptance speech, he started his entrepreneurial journey in his garage eight years ago - and then went on to build a world-renowned company that keeps raising waves.


Rimac unveiled his highly anticipated Concept Two in Geneva earlier this month - the fastest electric car in the world, boasting an incredible 1914 horsepower and a maximum speed of 412 km/h. And yet, the 30-year-old innovator is not resting on his laurels, instead planning to entice progress and economic growth by bringing other car makers to Croatia. Rimac is living proof there just might be hope for a better Croatia, if we only united to celebrate our visionaries instead of drowning in spiteful remarks.


"Today I learned about companies I'd never heard of before, and I can't believe the things that are currently being done in Croatia. I even feel slightly embarrassed it was us who got selected, instead of people who have been working their entire lives, creating excellent job positions in places I would never think it imaginable, dedicating their lives to that", Rimac humbly remarked during his speech. "We all need to work together, support each other and value success. This is why I think [manifestations] of this type are a great way to show there are people in Croatia who are doing things of quality", concluded Rimac as he accepted his award. 

Rimac is now set to represent Croatia in Monaco: the 2018 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced at the award ceremony in Monte Carlo in June. With such a line of impressive achievements to his name, he's certainly a strong contender - are we looking at a chance for Croatia to finally be no.1?


Photo credit: TCN, Nenad Bakić