Saturday, 10 August 2019

Split's Tromont Invests 25 Million Kuna, Expands Production

As Novac/Jozo Vrdoljak/ writes on the 9th of August, 2019, Tromont, a Split-based company, has just completed the expansion of its manufacturing facility. Now that it has obtained an operating license for the new production hall, it is moving to manufacturing parts for the rail industry, more specifically components for train manufacturers.

The investment in the new 3,400-square-foot production facility, as Tromont's CEO Ivan Parčina points out, is worth approximately 25 million kuna. Last year, Tromont invested 9 million kuna into its existing manufacturing facility, built back in 2012, with 35 percent of that amount being withdrawn from European Union funds. The bulk of that investment was related to the purchase of machinery and equipment. For the new hall, however, Tromont did not have the option of withdrawing European money.

''With the new facility, we have enabled the expansion of production and the acquisition of new projects in our component production segment for the rail industry. These are components and parts that are intended for train manufacturers and are also installed in trams. We manufacture various metal parts, train air conditioning and ventilation parts, for one manufacturer we produce the roofs and the sides of the train, cable trays, secondary metal parts, load-bearing parts for trains, control cabinets, control panels, wagon body parts... We plan to hire 25 new workers before the end of the year,'' explained Ivan Parčina.

''Most of the products are intended for export, mainly to Germany and Switzerland. We produce a small part for Končar. We mainly work for Stadler, Siemens, Bombardier Transportation... We also have significant cooperation with train system manufacturers, such as Knorr-Bremse, which is one of the larger suppliers of train and locomotive manufacturers,'' Tromont's CEO continued.

In its production facility in the Čaporica business zone, opened in 2012 on an adjacent parcel, Tromont produces metal parts and electrical cabinets. 80 workers work there.

''In addition to products for the railway industry, from this facility we also market products for the needs of our core business, and part of the production is placed on the Croatian market,'' Parčina revealed.

Tromont, like other Croatian companies, is finding it increasingly difficult to find a qualified, skilled workforce, but they aren't surrendering to such issues, Parčina says, but is instead trying to attract them in different ways.

Last year, this Split-based company generated revenue of around 210 million kuna. At the moment, it employs 230 workers, 30 of whom are from abroad.

''Last year was challenging. The construction sector is recovering somewhat. We're facing various challenges such as labour shortages and rising labour costs. The Croatian Government should see wages raised,'' Parčin warned, adding that they have about a dozen workers from Nepal and the rest are from Ukraine and Croatia's immediate region.

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Friday, 9 August 2019

Croatian Companies: Is Infobip Worth More Than One Billion USD?

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of August, 2019, there have been stories of this Croatian company being funded with investment capital, especially since its formal global headquarters are in London, but this has always been strongly denied by Infobip. However, they have now confirmed that they were constantly receiving offers from various corporations for takeovers.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Infobip is changing its investment policy. This Croatian startup, founded by Silvio Kutić, Roberto Kutić and Izabel Jelenić, no longer hides the fact that it is interested in investment, and the main topic of concern in the industry is whether or not Infobip is worth more than one billion US dollars already.

Although there are those who are firmly convinced in that, the fact is that this still remains entirely unknown. Several people have claimed that Infobip is already worth more than one billion US dollars, but nobody wants to speak publicly about it.

It would be logical for investors to be the ones to answer this question, as in the case of Rimac Automobili after its last investment. Mate Rimac said at the time: "... as far as ownership is concerned, I now hold 47.7 percent. The Chinese Camel group holds 14 percent, Hyundai holds 11 percent, Porsche holds 10 percent, Kia holds 2.7 percent, and the rest are smaller shares which investors so far from 2012 and 2013 hold.''

From this, it can be calculated that Hyundai and Kia invested their 80 million euros into Rimac's company with a valuation of 584 million euros, or 4.3 billion kuna. In other words, investors have confirmed that Rimac's company is halfway to becoming a startup worth at least one billion US dollars in market value. In Croatia, so far, at least publicly, there are no startups which carry such value.

A number of other Croatian startups which have good foundations and could one day reach such high valuations. The latest in the series is ReversingLabs, which just won the Black Unicorn Award in Las Vegas, this company isn't worth one billion US dollars, but its business moves do reveal what the plan is for this high-tech company from Zagreb.

There is a lot of ambition in many Croatian startups, such as Tolar and Zizoo, as well as Agrivi, Altpro, Bulb Technologies, Electrocoin, Include, Gideon Brothers, Nanobit, Oradian, Photomath (and Microlink), Visage Technologies and Zipato.

The above list is certainly not complete, nor does it mean that all of their aspirations will be realised at the same time. But, for the development of the Croatian startup ecosystem, the next turning point will be the emergence of the first Croatian company to be worth one billion US dollars. After Microsoft bought the Estonian startup Skype for a dizzying 8.5 billion dollars, a lot has changed in that country, and with it, much more has now become possible.

Skype's founders and co-founders now have the capital and knowledge to be able to transfer that over into Estonia's local ecosystem and further accelerate its development to the point that the whole country has started to look more digital, making the Estonians the champions of the whole of the EU in that regard today.

From this perspective, it is good that a Croatian company worth one billion US dollars will finally emerge, regardless of whether it is Rimac Automobili or Infobip. While Rimac is steadily climbing towards this goal through genuine investor interest, Infobip is in a slightly different position. After all, two of the three founders are brothers (the Kutićs), but they are working to alter the ''family'' perception in the wider public. 

According to Silvio Kutić, who, in addition to being the co-founder, is also the CEO of this Croatian company, nfobip also transferred ten percent of its shares to its employees.

In addition, and they didn't want to announce which companies they were talking about, Infobip has partnered with almost every major internet company in the world, from Facebook and Uber and beyond. Infobip also has several times the revenue of Rimac Automobili.

This Croatian company has grown by 30 percent for two consecutive years, and on top of all that, it has been favoured to become the prime competitor by all business indicators by America's Twilio.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Croatian companies, Croatian products and services and doing business in Croatia.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Labin Company With 20 Employees Works With Clients Around World

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 24th of July, 2019, work in this Labin company has grown to twenty employees in four years, and we still do not function as a classical business system, but rather as a family gathering around the same job, says director and owner of Lloyds Design, Domagoj Ostović.

Today, Lloyds Design is one of the best Istrian IT companies, and has its headquarters in Labin, a city of rich mining and industrial traditions that have shaped and defined the identity of Labin for a long time, Milan Pavlović writes for Glas Istre.

And although the mines have long been closed or turned into a tourist attraction, and large industrial systems disappeared during the period of transition, Labin's identity has survived and is likely to remain as the strongest symbol of the city for a long time.

However, it is really at a purely symbolic level now, because for a very long time now, Labin hasn't lived from mining or any particular type of big industry. The new times belong to some new, innovative entrepreneurs and their stories and experiences that slowly but steadily lead their own way into an increasingly demanding business world. At the same time, they lay the foundations for Labin's new, alternative identity that will make it recognisable to new generations and the modern world.

One of those entrepreneurial stories is that of Bjelovar native Domagoj Ostović, whose love and entrepreneurial spirit led him directly to the eastern coast of the peninsula, where he started work over a decade ago. That move and that hard work saw one of the most successful Istrian IT companies emerge from nothing.

He started by designing a school paper and then posters for various Rijeka student parties, and after completing his studies, he was employed at a tourist agency in Opatija where he was in charge of the digital part of the business and where he first became acquainted with HTML and CSS programming languages.

Labin's Lloyds Design Studio, a company specialising in web design, development, software development and mobile applications, came from the first independent business which Domagoj entered into after his decision to leave his work in the travel agency and move permanently to beautiful Istria back in 2012.

The Labin company has grown over the last few years, having drawn its roots from work that Domagoj isn't proud of himself, and now employs twenty people and deals with clients from across the globe.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Croatian Software Company Seeks Employees Through Summer School

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 16th of July, 2019, several days ago, a summer school started at a Croatian software company, Agency04, which is based in Zagreb, to which 582 candidates applied.

Via a selection process, 36 of them were chosen by this Croatian company and will be learning about developing a Java application using the Spring Boot Framework for the next five weeks, where they will eventually obtain a certificate, and can also apply for employment right there at Agency04.

As explained by this Croatian company which is running a summer school for the second year now, attendees will work on specific examples from Java and Spring Frameworks and see how business applications work in practice. They are divided into small teams of six people, and each team comes with two mentors.

"On the last day of the school, a hackathon is held, during which these teams compete, and at the end, the attendees receive certification and employment opportunities within our company. After we held last year's summer school, four people gained employment with us, and we'll continue on with this practice this year,'' they state from the company.

Otherwise, this Croatian company is made up of software exprerts, and the company manages to generate more than sixty percent of its revenue on the United States and Western European markets, with special emphasis on earnings made in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, where they work for companies such as Strabag and ELCA, XebiaLabs and A1.

When it comes to new markets, this Croatian company is continuing to look close to home in Europe, with the British, Scandinavian, and Benelux countries being attractive to them. Their income, as they say, grew from an already very impressive 6.95 million kuna back in 2017, to 13.5 million kuna last year.

"We plan to employ a hundred employees in the next twelve months, so we have nine open positions for which we're looking for staff, precisely because of the workforce, we choose projects that are technically excellent so that it's a pleasure to participate in them.

Our clients are 75 percent overseas clients, and in turn are world leaders in their respective branches. We provide good conditions for work and life, and when you have an excellent team, then it's easier to attract customers as well,'' they say from Agency04.

Follow our dedicated business page for more information on Croatian companies and much more.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Just How Interesting are Companies with Seats in Croatia to Investors?

As Novac/Viktor Vresnik writes on the 15th of July, 2019, Axel Kalinowski, director of the London Stock Exchange for Central and Southern Europe, has been working hard for years with representatives of Croatia's market as part of his task of building a bridge between the new Europe and London as the centre of global financial and capital flow.

Novac and Kalinowski talked at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, where he was Deloitte's main guest at a capital market conference.

The Croatian market is very small, even if we look at it together with the Slovenian market. Does it make sense to have a local stock market in such a market?

''This is a question that is constantly being repeated, and can be put everywhere in Europe. Every European country today has its own stock market. Some have more of them, such as Germany, where there are seven, though, despite the size of the market, the capital market culture is in fact not significantly developed.

Our idea is to concentrate activity and regulation in one place. It's a job I've been dealing with for a while. European and even Croatian companies don't compete solely on local markets, they're also struggling for their place on the regional and global markets.

The lack of strategic capability for access to funds on a large capital market can be considered a handicap compared to the companies whose access to that is secured, which are therefore far more liquid and ready for investment exploits. Europe must do everything in its power to make it easier for its companies to access money sources.

These aren't just capital markets, there are also a variety of alternative funding methods that diversify the traditional ways of collecting money. Europe is too bank-oriented. Banks are, of course, important, but when they become the main source of capital, then that becomes dangerous.''

London is a huge market, one of the largest in the world, and the most important in Europe. Can it keep hold of that position after Brexit?

"It depends on what sort of Brexit we have in the end. Only then will we understand how close our relationship will be.

The London Stock Exchange has always been very closely connected with the continental part of Europe. We're a very European organisation, we are the owners of the Italian Stock Exchange, parts of the French market... I think Brexit will ultimately not prove crucial to our business. The London Stock Exchange is over 200 years old, older than the very first idea of ​​the European Union.

It has always been one of the world's largest markets. If London loses out on the EU's political map, it doesn't mean that it will come out of the market. Europeans will then use the London Stock Exchange as one of the overseas markets on which their companies are listed. Such a separation is probably a mistake, but I don't think that it will harm the position of London as a global capital and finance centre in the end.''

Could Brexit actually be good for London because it puts a strong market in the position of being on neutral ground?

"We already have the opportunity to see some companies which list their shares in London, even though they're already on one of the world's major stock exchanges. We mustn't forget that today, money plays a big role on the market, money from the Middle East, from Asia... for them, London has always been a neutral point, unburdened by European political turmoil. In the long run, Brexit could really boost London towards the position of an actual global market. It's difficult to foresee what the situation will be in the short term. Anything can happen in that respect.''

Does Trump's chaotic US economic policy help you there?

''There's no doubt that his sentences often have an impact on the US market, and everything that affects the US market then has a global impact. We've noticed that the interests of North American companies for the London Stock Exchange have become significantly higher over the last few years.

I don't think that's just because of politics, I think it's more about structural issues. The London market is more neutral, internationalisation is more mature when talking about medium and small businesses. The American market is huge, but it's oriented towards the largest corporations like Google, Facebook, Amazon... If you're small, you can quickly get sucked up there. The London market is not marked by these megatranslations, but it has the most stable flow of money in both large and small companies. The ecosystem in London is far more sophisticated and more lively than that of New York. We offer a better environment for middle business, and they have recognised that fact.''

What exactly is your job as the head of the Eastern European Division of the LSE?

''Today, around 2,200 companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange and they come from 110 different countries.

We're trying to strengthen our presence in areas where we don't think we've fully exploited the potential and where there are opportunities for companies to better understand what the capital market is. We think that this part of the world, Middle, Eastern and Southern Europe, isn't yet sufficiently serviced.

The market culture here lags behind other parts of Europe. We're trying to build a bridge that will link local companies to global investors. That's my role. To help companies understand the role, as well as the capability of capital markets, as well as numerous other, alternative business financing opportunities. Break the fear of ''big'' London, which people who sit far from the centre sometimes make out is a big, weird, dangerous place, full of predatory banks and institutions.''

The London market has strict rules, many companies fail, nor do they want to play under those rules...

''Yes, the rules are firm and have been being applied like that for a long time now, but I think the fear of such an approach on the continent is exaggerated. London is, above all, a place of great networking and exchange of ideas. It's a meeting point.''

Which markets have you recognised as the most developed in the part of Europe for which you're in charge?

''It's an exciting region, a region that, at growth rates, suggests a potential that is bigger than the one in old Europe, where the lowest growth rate is still considered good today.

That's why new Europe is more interesting to investors than old Europe is I think the people from this region suffer from the prejudice that the global investor community is't interested in it. That's wrong.

That is wrong here in Croatia, too, where many aren't interested in London investors as they're based in Croatia. It's true that companies in the vicinity of Croatia have recognised the opportunity use the London market very successfully. Romania has an excellent privatiaation program, and their privatisation agency is listed on the London Stock Exchange. There are a large number of large, formerly state-owned companies which are listed on the exchanges in Bucharest and in London. Slovenia has recently listed the new Ljubljana bank in London, which we consider to have been a success, as well as the selling off of Serbian bonds at historically low interest rates...''

Two large Croatian companies, Pliva and Zaba, left the London Stock Exchange because it did not pay for them to be there...

''This has happened a long time ago, today things are different, the stock market offers far more opportunities than it did before and we're more open to different types of companies.

There are several different segments of the market with different standards. AIM, a market oriented towards small and medium-sized companies, has very simple standards today, all of which aare aligned with the needs of the investor.

There is no minimum threshold for listing, and given the fact that we're talking about new companies here, we don't investigate their financial history. Even on the regular market today, we have a split into two segments. The standard segment follows the rules of the EU, which apply to most European markets, and even in Croatia, only the premium segment applies the specific rules of the United Kingdom which, I would say, are at a more strict level than the continental ones are.

However, this regulation is based on good business practice, which is significantly different from that of the US, where strict rules must absolutely be followed. Our philosophy is different. If you don't abide by any of the rules that have been set, you must be given the opportunity to explain why that is. If that's acceptable to investors and regulators, then it can be adopted.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on doing business in Croatia, investing and investment in Croatia, working in Croatia, Croatia's alignment with the EU's business rules, and much more.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Orbico's Branko Roglić: Our Aim is to Become Leading Distributor in Europe

Orbico's owner Branko Roglić has become the majority owner of Interbrands, Romania's largest consumer goods distributor.

As Novac/Adriano Milovan writes on the 8th of July, 2019, as they have explained from Orbico, after having agreed with Cyprus' Holson and taken over 25 percent of Interbrand back in January, at the end of last week, on July the 4th, the second phase of the takeover of this large Romanian distributor was completed, during which Croatia's Orbico purchased an additional 35 percent of the company, thus becoming the majority owner of Interbrands.

The takeover of an additional stake in Interbrands was preceded by the approval of the competent body and the fulfillment of other sales contract terms, which were signed back in January, according to this company from Croatia's statement. In the take over of sixty percent of Interbrands, we know that Orbico had to set aside about forty million euros.

''We will restructure the company and strengthen its position on the Romanian market, which is the second largest market among the new EU members,'' Branko Roglić, the owner and chairman of the Orbico Supervisory Board stated.

Roglić pointed out that he is satisfied with taking over Interbrands, as Orbico has now become the leading distributor of consumer goods in Romania. Interbrands is one of Orbica's leading distributors of numerous global brands in Romania, including Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Procter & Gamble, Coty, Danone, Duracell, Fater, Nestle and many others. The annual revenues of Interbrands amount to about 200 million euro, its EBITDA is around EUR 10 million, and according to Orbico's data, about 2,000 workers are employed there.

This company from Croatia would, in agreement with the former owner of Interbrands, take over the remaining forty percent of the company over the next three years, becoming the sole owner of the Romanian company. Until then, a minority partner will hold a minority stake of forty percent.

Orbico operates in twenty European countries, of which Poland and Romania now occupy an important place. According to the company's data, it employs some 8,000 people and earns about two billion euros in revenue. The goal of Croatia's Orbico is to become the leading distributor in Europe.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Croatian Brand Aqua Launches New Startas Tennis Shoe Line

One Croatian brand has launched something new, and it's from Vukovar with love.

As Sasa Paparella/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of July, 2019, the popular Croatian summer lifestyle brand Aqua has launched a brand new line of much loved Startas tennis shoes designed by Alica Pancer. The attractive new tennis shoes from Aqua come in blue and white, with a recognisable stripe pattern, and are of course made in Vukovar.

As of last year, the new owner of the Croatian company Aqua is the well known Split-based company Uje, and its director Leopold Botteri has strengthened the company's cooperation with numerous Croatian designers. Alica Pancer has also designed a significant selection of their new products - including travel and linen bags, water bottles, beach towels, and more. Aleksandra Dojčinović has added her signature to a women's beach collection, while the Mireldy studio has developed a new motif for a children's collection.

The Croatian brand Aqua, which always develops aesthetically pleasing products, was created by Žuva and Gordan Kolar. Aqua maritime was founded by the two back in early 2002, and this Croatian company soon established an impressive sales network of its own, as well as successful franchise stores in as many as forty different locations across the Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Austria, Slovenia, Canada, Ukrainian Odessa, Russian Sochi, and earlier on in Australia and South Africa.

Back at the beginning of 2010, this respected Croatian company recapitalised via the Nexus Alpha venture capital fund, which bought the Kozmo drug store from Agrokor earlier on. Aqua maritime had up to thirty million kuna of annual income, employing seventy people. Last year's revenue fell to 16.2 million kuna, and unfortunately the number of employees was halved.

In recent years, Aqua has been operating with a minus. In 2017, the company's overall losses amounted to a massive 5.3 million kuna, after which the company was sold to the owners of Split's Uje, which also has a diversified network of stores along the Adriatic coast.

For images, visit Aqua Maritime's Facebook page or their website.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle, business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Croatian companies, Croatian products and services, and much more.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Croatian Technology Companies Aren't as Young as They Appear

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 27th of June, 2019, given the fact that we're currently living in the fast-paced era of start-ups, the growth of technology companies in Croatia may seem surprising. However, these companies aren't as young as they might first appear, and the most famous Croatian "start-up" is actually a company which is completing its first decade of operations.

Mate Rimac's company Rimac Automobili was founded in 2009, and today it boasts more than 500 employees. That same year, the secretive Satoshi Nakamoto conceived what we now know today as Bitcoin, Trump's forerunner, Barack Obama, became the president of the United States of America, and astronomers discovered GJ 1214 b, the first exoplanet on which there is water, and thus the first place in the universe which isn't the earth, but has virtually identical conditions for the development of life as we know it.

Rimac's company, therefore, had time and opportunities to grow to the size it now is today, but there are many Croatian technology companies that are older, and some are bigger than Rimac Automobili, which is undoubtedly the most famous.

The biggest Croatian computer game maker, Nanobit, was founded back in 2008, the year when the financial crisis hit Croatia hard, and this year, it celebrates eleven years of successful and profitable business. Furthermore, the largest Croatian software company, which is also the company with the most end-users, over seven billion of them to be more precise - is Infobip. This Croatian company has become popular in the view of the wider public over the last two to three years, but that didn't all happen overnight as it sometimes might seem when reading about it.

Infobip was actually initially founded back in late 2006, the same year that Italy won the World Cup in Germany, and when Nintendo launched the Wii console onto the market. Infobip is celebrating its thirteenth year of business this year.

Silvio Kutić, the co-founder and director of Infobip, says that today, that Croatian company has 63 offices across the world and employs more than 1,700 workers, but that his vision is even more ambitious than before.

"We're focused on continuing to grow as a Centre for Excellence in Engineering, and in the next two years, we'll employ more than 2,000 engineers globally, and in particular, we're particularly focused on the project that we're calling the Vodnjan Tech City over the next couple of years," stated Kutić.

He says that Vodnjan is a town of about 3,700 inhabitants, and that they want to raise the population of the city by a futher ten percent in the next five years. They want to do this by bringing engineers from all over the world to work and live in the Croatian town of Vodnjan, create new values, ​​and create even more new innovative technology solutions. All this is taking place in Istria, which otherwise relies heavily on tourism, in the headquarters of the company, where it all began more than ten years ago.

"I'd like to emphasise the fact that Infobip operates in the world of high technology, where extremely fast changes are always taking place. Any IT company, even if it isn't in the center of innovation... if it doesn't create new values, it may fail tomorrow, regardless of any of its long-term plans. I want Infobip to be a long-term successful company and to remain independent. What we're building today, we're build for the distsnt future too, and to create for many more decades ahead,'' noted Kutić.

Thankfully, he's not alone in holding such ambitious views. The largest mobile application manufacturer in the Republic of Croatia, Infinum, was founded back in 2005. That same year, YouTube was launched, the first super jumbo jet Airbus A380 was launched, and the first ever case of a man having been successfully cured of the dreadful HIV was proven.

For the Croatian company Infinum, which builds most of its work globally, it means that next year it will celebrate a decade and a half of hard yet successful work. Tomislav Car, the co-founder and director of Infinum, said that in the first six years of existence, the company was made up only of its two founders. At that time, they had just completed their studies at FER.

"After that, we brought in new partners, we strengthened our team, we started to grow, and as such we've grown to 210 employees in the last eight years," said Car, adding that their overall goal is to make sure Infinum remains an independent company for many years. "We love doing what we do and it's going well for us, but most importantly, we think we're creating a good story and a positive impact on the society around us," said Car.

He says that Infinum will surely change, reorganise and become something different in the coming period, as it has had to until this point, but that's just part of the challenge of creating and developing such a company.

King ICT, one of the largest system integrators in Croatia, which celebrated twenty years of business last year, know just what such transformations typically look like. It's similar to the Croatian company with the highest award for innovation at the international level, Zagreb's Citus, which is also celebrating two decades of business this year. However, there are a number of Croatian technology companies that are even older.

The software company with the largest number of employees in Croatia, IN2 group, was established back in 1992. For a long time, the largest Croatian software exporter was Span, which was founded in 1993. Zagreb's Altpro, one 22 of the world's most significant companies which deal with rail transport technologies, is celebrating a quarter of a century of doing business this year, while the M SAN Group, the largest IT company in all of Croatia, will celebrate that same birthday next year.

That's not all, in Croatia, there are even older domestic technology giants. Combis, the largest system integrator in Croatia today, is part of the Croatian Telecom (Hrvatski Telekom)  group, and the next big celebration for that company is 30 years of doing business, as it was founded back in 1990. In that same year, the company Rasco, the only Croatian company that manufactures cars on a serial basis and had developed its own electric vehicle, was founded.

Back in the now distant 1990, the very first McDonald's in Russia was opened, the largest digital rights organisation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, was launched, and a match between Dinamo Zagreb and Crvena Zvezda took place at Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium. What happened at that match became infamous, and signaled just what was set to errupt in the following years in Croatia and the rest of the region. Ivan Franičević, the co-owner and director of Rasco says that he's proud that his company is now close to celebrating its 30th birthday. He emphasised the fact that from the outset, the founders of Rasco had a vision to create "a strong technological company that produces advanced, globally competitive products within our region".

"This creates opportunities for the development, growth and the advancement of a new generation employees, and such a vision doesn't come with an expiration date, because it's based on creating opportunities for highly educated professionals who come from this area and who want to continue to live here live," said Franičević.

"We don't want to remain alone in that, but we certainly want to be around for a long time," Franičević emphasised. The launching of Croatian start-ups continues to rise, and this trend will likely accelerate, but it is evident that today there are many Croatian technology companies that have successfully outpaced their start-up roots, and are now thinking of some new challenges.

Tomislav Car from Infinum says that today, the biggest challenges are because of the rapid growth, employment and the maintenance of high quality. "When we were smaller. we had more employment problems, now it's much easier for us, but we still have our main focus on maintaining quality as we grow," said Car.

Silvio Kutić from Infobip says that it's still somewhat unbelievable to him that he managed to create such a global story from here in Croatia, and that today his company's biggest challenge is at the global level.

"Infobip currently has one major competitor, a Silicon Valley company, worth 20 billion dollars, it's surrounded by talent from around the world and is today's strongest IT company. Although Infobip is number one in the world by the number of transactions and the number of people who using our platform, we're second in terms of revenue, for now,'' Kutić said, adding that Infobip's employees, their expertise, and their devotion to their work have made it possible for this Croatian company get to where it is today.

He says they have managed to create and nurture a special culture in a company "where everyone has a chance to make mistakes, try new things, learn from them, and progress."

"At Infobip, employees have the opportunity to work on global projects with the world's largest companies and thus work to shape today's communication," said Kutić.

He added that today, it's a challenge to attract talent, given the fact that this Croatian company is obviously not located in the center of the Silicon Valley in the USA. "Our CPAA (Communication Platform as a Service) industry is very large, it's extremely specific, the products are complex, it's changing rapidly and throughout the years it has been challenging to hire people with the expertise we need," Kutić said, noting the fact that they have designed programs such as the Infobip Academy in Vodnjan and the Learning & Development department, which now has about ten people in it.

Ivan Franičević from Rasco says that the biggest challenge for them is to make sure they don't accidentally ''eat themselves'' during their quick growth as a company.

"With accelerated growth, there's always a danger that the organisation and its mode of operation can't be followed, that the company, along with all of its growth, becomes ineffective in terms of its internal organisation and processes, thus destroying its competitive advantage, which is also the basis of its growth," said Franičević.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on Croatian companies, Croatian start-ups, Croatian products and services, Croatian investments and much more.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

1000 More Companies Opened in 2018 Than 2017 in Croatia

As Novac/ writes on the 26th of June, 2019, after recently analysing the positive trends of the Croatian company scene on the basis of the data of the Ministry of Economy and other competent bodies, and finding that the largest number of Croatia's company owners are based in island towns and the largest growth has been recorded by the City of Dubrovnik, let's look at the situation with entrepreneurs.

The number of newly established companies in Croatia, likely to the surprise of many, is continually growing, in 2018, as many as 14,267 of them were founded, which is almost one thousand more than were found back in 2017.

The situation and trends have been analysed by city, that is - this time - the commercial court settlements in which the companies were founded. The data received from the Croatian Ministry of Justice shows that the largest number of companies last year, after Zagreb, were registered in Split - 1,680, then Rijeka - 1,348 and Pazin - 1,155, followed by Osijek - 1,123, Varaždin - 9,73, Zadar 7,30 and Bjelovar - 3,81.

In Zadar and Bjelovar alone, the largest growth in the number of newly established companies in the past year was recorded, 14.4 percent and 12.7 percent. Third comes the number of newly established companies in Split - 10.8 percent, followed by Zagreb, Osijek, Varaždin, Pazin, and then by Rijeka.

The Mayor of Zadar, Branko Dukić, pointed out that the fact that is now the third year in a row in which all economic indicators in the area of ​​the City of Zadar have been continually and significantly increasing, and today, Zadar is said to be a city of dynamic and agile entrepreneurship.

''The number of newly established companies, as well as newly employed people, as well as revenues, especially those from overseas sales, have all been growing. All of this suggests that most of Zadar's businesses, with their products and services, and primarily long-term business planning, have managed to respond to the challenges of the economic crisis and today, their development is based on solid ground.

They also demonstrate the ability to adjust and showcase their readiness to compete on the European market, which is confirmed by the high growth in exports of goods and services. It's great that growth is recorded by different branches of the economy - not just tourism and trade, but also manufacturing, transportation, and storage and construction,'' Dukić stated.

He noted that this year, they completed an investment worth more than six million kuna, secured by European Union funds, to redesign the existing entrepreneurial incubator and equip it with brand new facilities and equipment.

''We've invested in a coworking space, computer labs and conference halls, 3D labs, photovoltaic plants, various pieces of IK equipment and software, as well as a lounge bar for users, a meeting space... A new specialised incubator for high value added services is being prepared, and services and support for start-ups and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs who are developing innovative products are being provided, as well as access to knowledge-based and innovation-based entrepreneurship. For that, we've secured somewhat over 22 million kuna through the ITU mechanism,'' said a proud Dukić.

The City of Zadar, with EU funds, in partnership with Croatia's Chamber of Commerce (HGK), also redid ''COIN Zadar'', in a move worth a massive 5.1 million kuna. This is the very first Zadar-based coworking scene, and it has significantly eased up the launch of its own work, particularly in the independent activities of various ICT related professions.

In cooperation with Zadar University and with thanks to the funds of the cross-border cooperation project, they invested about 320,000 kuna in the design and equipping of the Space Code Hub. It is intended for students, IT entrepreneurs, and other similar target groups.

Recently, the construction of a 24.4 million euro Creative Industries Centre primarily focused on the audiovisual industry and the IT industry has also begun. Dukić added that Zadar is systematically investing in its young people through various scholarships for pupils and students.

''Investing in science, knowledge and professional skills is the only guarantee of successful entrepreneurship, economic growth, and professional development,'' concluded Dukić.

The second largest recorded growth in the number of registered companies in Croatia is in the continental town of Bjelovar, which isn't really all that surprising given their tax free model and the number of privileges Dario Hrebak and his city administration introduced to boost the local economy.

In just two years, Deputy Mayor Igor Brajdić said, Bjelovar's pro-entrepreneur initiatives spurred 240 entrepreneurs and company owners who invested a massive eight million kuna into Bjelovar's business development, while the town subsidised investment with three million kuna.

''The positive trend of growth of newly established companies is a reflection of mutual dialogue and understanding between businessmen and the representatives of the local authorities, as well as the positive investment climate created in Bjelovar.

The synergy between the city administration and businessmen is also reflected in the fact that Bjelovar is one of the most quickest cities to issue building permits. We also encourage innovation, so we organised the Best Startup Award for the second consecutive year, and the winner of the competition deserves 100,000 kuna and its business starts or expands in Bjelovar,'' he added.

''The city administration operates proactively and is at the service of the economy and citizens of Bjelovar, which has resulted in an increase in the number of entrepreneurs and company owners, and ultimately the number of employees,'' emphasised Brajdić.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Croatian Brand Rajska Rajčica Expanding But Struggling with Labour Shortage

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 23rd of June, 2019, In Kerestinec, near Sveta Nedjelja, in the modern greenhouses belonging to the Croatian company Rajska rajčica, the best type of tomato variety is produced and sold under the company's director Zvonimir Belić and 74 hardworking employees.

The Rajska brand operates within the Zarja Group, it is the largest tomato producer in the Republic of Croatia, and not long ago it changed its name after more than ten years in a new business move and in the scope of rebranding. Annually, Rajska produces three million packs of tomatoes which are currently sold in Croatia, it also exports 25 percent of its tomatoes to neighbouring Slovenia, and preparations for exports to Serbia and plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina are now also in progress.

In 2018, revenues amounted to about 17 million kuna and net profit amounted to 1.3 million kuna, while they expect growth of sixty percent for 2019. When it comes to these outstanding results, it isn't just the product and the quality of work involved which are responsible, this Croatian company's rebranding, in which around 700,000 kuna was invested, is also the key to their success. This includes costs such as creating new packaging and accompanying promotional activities. Rajska's rebranding was stimulated by the expansion of their capacity, which included an increase in their greenhouse area of ​​2.5 hectares.

"As we're the largest producer of special types of tomatoes in Croatia, and we cultivate a specific production method where we don't use pesticides and herbicides, we wanted to create a brand that will clearly showcase our specialties.

In this endeavor, we turned to the Fabular branding agency which thought up the name Rajska (eng: heavenly) and helped us to send out the message that we're cultivating tomatoes full of flavour with a natural process without sprays with our very packaging, and we're sure that this whole story will attract new customers and delight our already existing ones. The indicators we've had so far are promising and rebranding has been a great move for us,'' Zvonimir Belić stated.

Croatian Rajska tomatoes are otherwise the only licensed producer of special sorts of tomato varieties in Croatia's immediate region. Rajska's most charming specialty is that they are assisted by 10,000 bumble bees when the tomatoes are growing, and the tomato variety they grow is among the best in the world.

"We decided to produce these tomatoes because they're the best and the most tasty. The delight of visitors when they enter our greenhouse gives us the most satisfaction. They tell us that you literally get the impression that you've stepped in to heaven for all of the senses. The scent of our tomatoes takes them back to their childhood and we're proud of the fact that our products are a symbol of a healthy, home-grown diet that we all should try to get back to,'' he added.

However, the challenge facing this business is the same one facing most of types of industry in Croatia - the lack of a qualified workforce.

"At present, we have 74 workers, and we need to increase that number by another twenty percent, but finding people is a big challenge for us. Until 2016, there was no problem, but in recent months, it's extremely difficult to find new workers because there are no locals. As we've increased our capacity by one hundred percent, we have less skilled workers so we'll have no choice but to turn to the foreign labour market. We're aware that our competitiveness on the market depends primarily on the quality of the people we employ and that's why we always try to provide the best possible conditions for our employees,'' Belić stated.

The process of training and educating new workers lasts about three months, so that at the very beginning, according to the director of this Croatian company, there's a real need to properly invest in employees.

"We want to give every employee a chance for development and progress, and this approach has been rewarding to us and we've got people who have been with us for years, we're particularly proud of them and we're delighted that they're a part of our story and success. There are open quotas for foreign workers in the agricultural sector, but importing workers involes considerable costs for accommodation, education, and more, as well as the time needed to adapt.

Of course, the simplest solution is to employ local people, we've always made them our priority, but as there aren't any, we were forced to look at other options. We're currently working on the import of our first [foreign] workers, and there are no problems with getting them their permits because we're using the services of a foreign employment agency,'' Belić explained.

''We've also come across the long-known problem of importing low quality tomatoes and lowering prices that endanger Croatian producers with bad product declarations. Some products clearly state the country where the products are packaged, but not where the food was produced or grown, so customers can't identify what is and isn't a Croatian product, and some don't even have a quality mark,'' Belić said.

In the near future, as they have stated from this Croatian company, they are planning to expand to other markets and recruit an additional workforce, and their most important and long-term goal is to provide their faithful and new customers with continuous quality and freshness of their products, with an awareness placed on the benefits of healthy eating and the importance of ecological sustainability.

"These are the principles and standards that we won't give up on. Rajska tomatoes aren't just tomatoes, they're also part of a global effort to return to nature and to local, healthy nutrition," concluded Zvonimir Belić.

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