Thursday, 3 January 2019

Croatia's Master Yachting Sees Revenue Increase After Investments

Croatia's Master Yachting is one of the country's frontrunners when it comes to Croatian nautical tourism, and recent investments, their last one having been in the Lagoon 620 luxury catamaran, have seen their revenue increase.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of January, 2019, Croatia's Master Yachting from Sukošan celebrated twenty years of existence last year, and as its director Darko Obradović says, they are one of the first companies in the nautical tourism sector in Croatia and their biggest advantage is that they're near the two national parks and their bases are close to Zadar.

Today, they have 25 full-time employees, and up to 40 during the tourist season. The company has a fleet of 80 vessels, most of which are the catamarans of the Lagoon brand, as well as a large range of sailboats of at least 35 feet in length, to the latest Oceanis 51.1, and motor boats of various different sizes.

As Croatia's Master Yachting claims, their clients and associates are mostly from European Union countries, and the most sought after vessels are typically catamarans. "They're equipped like luxury apartments which sail, and seven days, which is often for which they're rented, it's possible to sail the routes that include visiting the most attractive places and bays along the Adriatic," says Obradović. The summer season is of course the most popular, and lovers of sailing also appear to enjoy taking to vessels owned by Croatia's Master Yachting in April, May, and in October.

"We're adapting to the market and the demand. Today, when everything is available online, it can be difficult to meet all customer requirements, and owing to that, our concentration is on quality and comfort. The company also operates in the YachtInvest segment, which enables it to buy boats through its own channels, and thus provides the ability to place your vessels under your own "charter managemnet". That means that a start-up investment is justified because the vessel makes a profit during the leasing period, which largely covers all the relevant expenses. In the end, the investor chooses how much he will use for himself and how much will be for commercial lease," explains Obradović.

He also praised the fact that Croatia's Master Yachting is growing in terms of the sale of vessels. Their operating income amounted to almost 23 million kuna in 2017, and according to Obradović's estimates, 2018's results will see revenues of about 50 million kuna.

"We're constantly investing in employee training and process optimisation, while investing heavily in the fleet. The last investment was purchasing a luxury Lagoon 620 catamaran which marked our entrance into the luxury charter, which is the future of nautical tourism because more and more customers require ''all inclusive'' packages.

We believe in our own knowledge of the matter, given our long experience, the number of customers returning to us from year to year, and the in importance of the number and quality of our boats. In the YachtCharter sector, the company has been recognised as the leader in the region," added Obradović.

Croatia's Master Yachting arrived to such a status, as they say, owing to a personalised approach to their clients and "tailor-made" offers, which was made possible thanks to their wide range of vessels.

"The plan is the expansion of our base, ie, the opening of new ones in other regions, and the continuation of investment in new products, namely new vessels, where the niche is the luxury charter," Darko Obradović of Croatia's Master Yachting.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for more. If you're interested solely in sailing in Croatia, give Total Croatia Sailing a follow.


Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Agrokor and Companies to Receive New Names This Year

With the implementation at the Commercial Court in Zagreb, the information that all of Agrokor's future mirror companies, which have thus far been registered as companies under generic names, will officially get new names.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of December, 2018, the new names of companies that will start operating with the completion of Agrokor's creditor settlement are made up of their old names plus an add-on.

For example, Konzum will become Konzum plus following the implementation, Jamnica will become Jamnica plus, Zvijezda will operate as Zvijezda plus, Ledo will be Ledo plus, and so forth. At the transition stage, the headquarters of all of these new companies will be in Zagreb, and upon the completion of the settlement, they will be returned back to the various cities across Croatia in which they currently operate.

Unlike mirror companies, the Agrokor d.d. umbrella company will get a totally new brand name by the end of January and will no longer use the name "Agrokor" at all.

All of these changes are part of the process of implementing Agrokor's creditor settlement, which should be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, Agrokor's extraordinary administration under the leadership of Fabris Peruško and Irene Weber is successfully completing the financial implementation and business restructuring of the company, the results of which are good business results and reports from all major operating companies.

In ten months in 2018, Agrokor's companies had a total revenue of about 20 billion kuna, while operating profit amounted to 1.7 billion kuna. The largest contribution to these positive operating results was given by companies in the food segment, whose operating profit was nearly 70 million kuna higher than the plan, while retail and wholesale companies realised 28.7 million kuna higher operating profit than planned. In the first ten months of this year, Konzum exceeded its projections by as much as 50 percent and realised nearly 430 million kuna in operating profit alone.

On this occasion, Agrokor's extraordinary commissioner Fabris Peruško said, "While 2017 was a year of the painstaking rescue of the collapsed system, 2018 was a positive breakthrough in all respects, from negotiations, the settlement, and validation through international recognition of the [Agrokor's] extraordinary management from the United States and Switzerland, to the excellent performance of the system. 2019 will be a year of even better prospects for all of our companies, employees, and [Agrokor's] new owners.''

Follow our dedicated business page for more.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

EU Funds Aid Croatian Capital Projects In Realisation

Many places in Croatia have been making good use of EU funds, but others need time to catch up. The opportunities provided by accessing the funding has been showcased in one excellent Croatian example, Zaprešić.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 27th of December, 2018, last Friday, Zaprešić was the final host of the Regional EU Funds seminar for this year. The seminars aim to inform the public about the funding opportunities provided by EU funds by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds.

Zaprešić is just one example of good EU funds practice, and this is also backed up somewhat symbolically by the fact that the education seminar about the use of EU funds was held in the Vršilnica building, which was rebuilt with the very welcome help of 4,855,637.50 euro, co-financed by European structural and investment funds.

EU funds are one of the key sources of funding for urban investments and large capital projects across the Republic of Croatia, without which the City of Zaprešić simply could not have realised many projects. As explained by Mayor Zeljko Turk, in the period from 2017 until now, nearly 33 million kuna of contracted funds outside of the city budget have been spent, which have helped to deal with large capital projects, raise the overall quality of life, and accelerate the development cycle of Zaprešić in general. The fact that EU funds are a huge part of Croatia's present and future, was emphasised by the state secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, Velimir Žunac.

"We're the youngest member of the European Union, so we're learning, growing and maturing at the same time, and this government has made significant gains. Back in January 2017 we contracted a mere 9 percent of EU funds, and this year, we'll be at 60 percent, that speak volumes about how successful we are,'' stated Žunac.

The 2017 economy analysis shows that the most prominent economic branches in Zaprešić are trade (23 percent), followed by service activities (16 percent) and professional scientific and technical, construction and manufacturing industries, holding a total of 33 percent.

"The city is doing a lot to improve the infrastructure and conditions for its entrepreneurs, and for this purpose, funds amounting to 6 million kuna have been secured, and this is 100 percent co-financed with European Union money in the entrepreneurial zone in Pojatno, where a completely new road will be built which will attract new businesses and create new jobs,'' said the head of the Zaprešić finance and economic development department, Miljenko Šoštarić.

Satisfied entrepreneurs are the souls of the city, and just how it is to actually be an entrepreneur in Zaprešić, with his own experience of using the EU contribution, is the owner of the Mihaliček company, which employs 50 people with a turnover growth of 10 to 15 percent per year.

"We applied for the tender because the appetities within our company grew, we developed new jobs and got more people. We applied for a crane and a laser machine for installing and processing concrete, and we received 300,000 kuna in non-refundable funds, which was 55 percent of our investment,'' said Stjepan Mihaliček, stating that such a form of contribution to them was relevant because renting or buying used machinery could be at the expense of safety in the workplace. 

''In order to encourage as many entrepreneurs as possible to use EU funds, entrepreneurs may submit their email addresses to receive a newsletter containing all the available information on various financing options, including funding opportunities from EU funds with the aim of developing new business ideas and boosting competitiveness on both domestic and foreign markets,'' explained Šoštarić.

Make sure to stay up to date with our business and politics pages for more information on EU funds, how Croatian companies can make use of them, and for everything going on in the political and business world in Croatia.


Click here for the original article by PD i VL native tim

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Zagreb Company to Place Products on British and Qatari Markets

Thanks to new product lines supported by European Union funds, the Zagreb company Green and More managed to successfully expand its exports and achieve an impressive 40 percent growth this year.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 22nd of December, 2018, Green and More, a Zagreb company which specialises in food and nutritional supplements, has introduced its brand new and expanded product line, backed by prestigious international certifications. They celebrated ten years of their eco work on the Croatian market, and they have been defined as the eco producer which is striving to reach the highest standards, according to Ivana Stavljenić, the Zagreb company's director and co-founder.

The Zagreb company is the producer of the well-known Liquid Sun ecological product, a nutrition supplement made from young green wheat, and their new line of products delivers Green and More RAW cookies, which are also prestigious certificate holders which act as additional value and high-quality tags.

"The cookies are processed by the method of processing raw food at a temperature of up to 40 degrees celsius in order to preserve the nutritive value of its raw material, the closest to what it would be in its natural state, rich in protein and enzymes, minerals and vitamins," Stavljenić explained. The new line of products is available in three flavours of balanced blends of organic fruit, nuts and spices, without sugar, gluten, additives or potentially hamrful pesticides, and they are purely organic.

These products are pistachio/lemon biscuits with refreshing citrus aromas which provide for a special gastro experience, then cookies with the taste of true blueberries and cocoa, and orange cakes as the new dimension of the Zagreb company's chocolate gastro experience. In addition to these new products, the company can boast of new exports, relocating to a new production facility, as well as making use of incentives derived from EU funds.

"When we compare this year with last year, the company has been successful, marking its tenth anniversary on the Croatian market, presenting a new line of products that are carriers of international quality certifications, EU incentives and new exports. When it comes to revenue and sales, we're satisfied with our growth of about 40 percent,'' Stavljenić noted, adding that the Zagreb company's growth is a consequence of expanding the product line, and some recently contracted exports to the German market.

The ability to wthdraw funds from EU funds is of great importance to this Zagreb company. All the money they have withdrawn has not been used for machines and the like, but for the continual improvment of product quality.

"We've got money for new production process certification and for the website, which is important to us because it has a web shop built in. In addition, we've signed up for a bid for internationalisation, which means presentations at foreign fairs in Sweden and in England. I believe that we'll get the chance because we've passed the first phase. So far, we've withdrawn 470,000 kuna from EU funds, and if our bid for internationalisation goes through, that would make it an additional 200,000 kuna because in this project, we put four fairs in the two countries,'' added Stavljenić, stressing that consumers have to be offered more than just the same old story on both Croatian and foreign markets.

"We have been certified for at least the first year, with 85 percent of the grant, which is significant. We hope that with commercialisation and a higher export frequency, which is the intention, that it will be able to continue funding itself," said the director. There are currently six people employed in the company, and due to increased needs, which are mostly seasonal, they hire more part-time workers.

"In line with the expansion of the production program in Croatia and the opening of new export markets, we will increase this figure to match an adequate workload increase," added Stavljenić.

As stated by Stavljenić during the first quarter of 2019, the Zagreb company plans to introduce a line of yet more new products, and their products are expected to emerge on yet more new export markets. In addition to the shelves across the Republic of Croatia and other specialised stores which sell healthy and homemade food, Green and More's products are available through webshops and can be purchased in Germany, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and soon in the United Kingdom and Qatar.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as doing business in Croatia, and the business and investment climate.


Click here for the original article by Lucija Spiljak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 21 December 2018

Koprivnica to Become Location for Future of Pyrotechnics in Croatia

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of December, 2018, as a group, Orion achieves revenue of about 6 million euro and is constantly investing in security, consumer education, and further innovation. Owing to the constant investment and care of their business, Koprivnica is set to get a huge cash injection, and new work positions are set to be opened.

Poslovni Dnevnik talked with Damir Šimunic, the founder and owner of Koprivnica's Orion, about the situation and the development of the market for pyrotechnics in Croatia and the wider region, the business plans of the company, and the latest investment in Podravina.

In which countries is Orion the market leader?

As a company, we've existed for more than twenty years and the word ''leader'' carries with it a huge responsibility. If you think about where the Orion Group does business under that [title], most of it is done in neighbouring countries, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In Croatia, we've established a serious business system based on the professionalism and an innovative approach with pyrotechnics, which today, primarily, is mainly in the entertainment world. Over the years, we've become the leading specialised company for producing and distributing entertainment pyrotechnics, fireworks, and stage effects. As a company, we're oriented towards the development of new products in order to meet the needs of a more demanding market.

How did you manage to break even on Western markets such as Austria or Belgium?

In Croatia, there is a fairly regulated market for pyrotechnics, because we're part of the European Community, but on the western markets the laws are very rigorous and without the required quality [standard] you can't be competitive. Foreign distributors have recognised our product quality as well as our distribution service, so we started working with Austria and Belgium over time. All our pyrotechnics have CE certificates, which is the European standard today, and a prerequisite for sales on the EU market.

Why did you decide to go into the world of pyrotechnics?

Like all kids, I liked pyrotechnics during my childhood and over time, that game turned into work. In those years, especially during the 1990s, the pyrotechnic market was not regulated and as a company we were actively involved in drafting regulations and then developing the market in accordance with those regulations. After that, from a small family business, I managed to create a serious company that employs over 120 people during the sales season and is developing new products that are successfully marketed every year.

When and how did you become the market leader in Croatia?

We started with the sale of pyrotechnics back in 1993, first as a distributor for foreign brands and then as independent importers from China. Of course, there was no serious and well-organised sales system before, because not even the legal regulations were defined, but today, our company has the most selling points in Croatia. According to the number of sales outlets, ie chains we supply, and according to the number of our seasonal sales outlets, popularly known as pyroshops, we've been a distributor since 2009 in Croatia. We've been seriously present in the region since 2006, and in 2012 we took the lead. In Croatia, we supply a total of over 4,000 sales outlets.

If you do, how do you influence the development of the local community?

Like every responsible company, we work very closely with our local community. We're sponsors and donors for many activities and events and we're involved in a large number of humanitarian, cultural, sport and social events both in Croatia and in the region. So, within our capabilities, we help local communities realise their projects.

Is the law on sales in Croatia too high? And what is it like in the rest of the EU?

The law has set rules which apply to everyone. The provisions of the law primarily protect consumers and users. In that, there will always be those who are satisfied and those who are less satisfied with the prescribed rules, but we didn't invent the rules. A major problem is in controlling and enforcing the law due to a short sale period. We have always supported the more transparent [way of doing] business, and as such, a clearer and more concrete law, because only a market of that kind can function properly.

How many sales outlets (pyroshops) do you have in Croatia and beyond?

In Croatia, we have 260 of our own pyroshops and about 100 distributors. In other countries in the region, we have several of our own pyroshops and we serve over 350 sales outlets. But as time passes and given the fact that we're introducing some modern forms of marketing into our system, the story is expanding rapidly and in three years we expect to expand on the regional market.

What are your specialty stores and your distributors' stores?

Specialised pyrotechnic shops must obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior to conduct retail sales of pyrotechnic items. The conditions for such an approval include staff training, fire prevention, security protocols, anti-burglary protection and a variety of other conditions that ensure safe storage and the safe sale of entertainment pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics is fun, but to be able to sell them, we as distributors have to meet a number of legal and safety rules.

How much is your annual income?

Orion as a group earns about 6 million euro in revenue depending on the season and on the market conditions. Of course, as a company, it's in our interest to grow, and every year we're investing additional resources into security, the education of our consumers, as well as the innovations that are indispensable if we want to keep up with modern world trends.

How do your sales go outside of the main season?

Out of the main sales season, that is, from January to November, a smaller part of the range is sold. Mostly specialised [items] for purposes such as naval pyrotechnics and rescue pyrotechnics. There are, of course, party pyrotechnics (confetti, cake fountains, sprays etc.), professional pyrotechnics and special effects that are always sought throughout the year, especially for some festivals, concerts and the like. We also produce a great number of fireworks and stage effects during the tourist season, and there are more and more wedding pyrotechnics which are always attractive.

What innovations in pyrotechnics are you introducing?

We're constantly working on the development and improvement of the safety-technical properties of pyrotechnics so that we can make our customers as safe as possible. We have two recognised patents. A more secure rocket system, a worldwide-recognised patent, followed by a patented security system for firecrackers and innovation called PyroBlock. Pyroblock is the latest technology for box fireworks that we have launched on the market. Now our fireworks are even better and even safer, so that users can enjoy their luxurious effects and our spectacular fireworks.

What are the trends in sales that today's customers look for the most?

As information and education grows alongside the fans of entertainment pyrotechnics, consumer trends and tastes are changing. Once upon a time, firecrackers made up 80 percent of sales, while today they account for less than 40 percent, and consumers are increasingly using our fireworks, rockets, fountains and Roman candles. Naturally, firecrackers will always be popular, but the trends are changing, and interesting new items are always expected from us as the market leaders.

How are you approaching the younger generation - events, collaboration with YouTubers and influencers?

We use all permitted channels for communication with our consumers. Today, we live in the digital age, so we've adapted to this trend which will soon become our strongest communication medium with the youth. Currently, social networking is in fashion, YouTubers and influencers closely monitor what's happening in this product segment. What is in and what is not in is created today by the media of the younger generation who capture everything on their vlogs and videos. Through these channels, we primarily want to act educationally and affirmatively to give the younger generation better quality information with an emphasis placed on security and regulation. Education through entertainment has always been effective, it is today just as it was before. Some things never change.

What are your business plans for the future?

The list of plans is time-consuming and is solely related to the development and production of safer and more quality products. We're an entertainment industry and our goal is to have safe entertainment successfully implemented. This is possible only by investing constantly in infrastructure, technology, equipment, and our expert associates. For this reason, we're able to announce the construction and expansion of the regional distributive centre in Koprivnica, and thus create a new need for workers. The planned value of investment in the distribution center and storage systems amounts to 1.5 million euro, and it will be the future of pyrotechnics in Croatia and in the region. This business policy has provided us with a leading position in the region as consumers have recognised our work and the effort that we invest into our products.

Mišel Jakšić, the mayor of Koprivnica stated that he welcomes every good entrepreneurial idea and investment, and expressed his desire to encourage young people to stay in the city.

"As the Mayor of Koprivnica, I'm proud of the economy of this city that we're increasingly developing every day. The business zones which are expanding, and the entrepreneurial incubator, where more and more young people are ready to start their own businesses, is our vision and desire to provide a decent life for young people The cooperation with Orion as the leader of the fun-pyrotechnic market is exceptional, and every year Orion sponsors our events as a responsible company in the local community. As Mayor of Koprivnica, I will always support all the important, however big or small entrepreneurial endeavors so that our young people remain here in Koprivnica, and so that employment gets as high as possible,'' the mayor concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as doing business in Croatia, and the overall business and investment climate.


Click here for the original article by PD i VL native tim

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Robotics in Croatia: Osijek Startup Has First Croatian Industrial Robot

Robotics in Croatia is a growing trend, with the constant advancement of technology and innovation, Croatia is putting both feet forward when it comes to developing not only robots, but knowledge.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, one Osijek-based startup has successfully developed an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transfer and has since presented it to some major global players, names including Orbico, Atlantic and Tokić are now testing it.

The Osijek startup, Gideon Brothers, has thus developed the first Croatian industrial robot. What it involves is an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transport, within the scope of the ''warehouse of the future'' that is increasingly being used by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, as well as numerous other major logistics and merchants.

It doesn't have a name, at least not for now, but the Croatian autonomous ''robo-warehouse'' has an enviable performance. It can work properly without interruption for 24 hours per day, every day of the year. Its battery allows it to withstand a shift of six hours per piece, and then when the discharged battery is replaced with full one, and the job can continue. It's also fast.

The new step forward in robotics in Croatia, which is also miracle of high technology in itelf, was developed by a team of five doctors of science and 26 experts in the field of hardware and software in Croatia. The robo-warehouse is also a very attractive business product. In less than two years since its inception, this Osijek startup has developed technology which is ten times cheaper and more powerful in collecting its environmental data than the type which is currently the most widely used - the LIDAR driving system.

One example of this are the systems used by Tesla motors in their cars and trucks. Gideon has upgraded LIDAR with its own solution that combines stereo cameras and artificial intelligence (deep learning).

When asked whether the robot has already been seen by some of the biggest global players, such as Amazon and Alibaba, Milan Račić, the co-founder and director of development of Gideon Brothers didn't want to reveal any specific names, while emphasising that they have indeed presented their product "to some of the world's biggest players".

What has been very openly confirmed is that the Osijek startup will target both small and medium-sized companies on a global scale with its product.

"Such robots enable small and medium-sized companies to boost their efficiency and come up to the scale of the same level of competitiveness in transport and logistics which only some of the biggest international companies currently have. Of course, the biggest players are aware of this and they're actively following this technology," Račić says.

Three companies, operating in more than thirty countries and having a massive annual income of over three billion euro, are the first buyers, more specifically, they're the first commercial reference of Gideon's robo-warehouse, which is a major boost not only to this startup in particular but to robotics in Croatia as a whole.

The use of various robotics in Croatia is on the up, and Milan Račić says their product will provide a competitive advantage for Croatian companies and will continue to transform them. Mladen Pejković, senior executive of the Atlantic Group, says that digital transformation is considered an important element for future competitiveness. "That's why we're very excited about the pilot project with Gideon Brothers in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics in our logistics operations," noted Pejković.

"The pace of change will only accelerate in the future, and our partnership with Gideon Brothers will give us tools in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics that will help shape that future," stated Branko Roglić.

Ivan Gadže of the large company Tokić said that in parallel with engaging the best people to help them realise plans to spread to other EU markets, they want to provide their employees with the very best tools to help them achieve this.

"Strategic cooperation with Gideon Brothers is seen as an opportunity to introduce smart automation into our business and we reiterate the success we've achieved in Croatia on the international scene," said Gadže.

Matija Kopić, co-founder and CEO of Gideon Brothers, revealed that along with Milan Račić, his new startup, Gideon Brothers has three other co-founders who have helped significantly in the development of the first Croatian industrial robot. One of those individuals is Josip Cesić, he is one of the authors of the most successful algorithms in the world for simultaneous localisation and mapping, which is based on stereo cameras.

Then comes Edin Kočo, who led in the design and production of robo-warehouse, and had previously designed and manufactured robots for inspection in nuclear power plants. Last but by no means least, the fifth co-founder of Gideon Brothers is Kruno Stražanac, who is a big data expert, extremely knowledgeable in data analysis and technical support.

Kopić stated that he is lucky to live in such an incredible age, because Gideon Brothers has managed to accomplish something that many of the previous theoreticians of robotics could have only dreamed of.

He points out that this success is a result of very strong support from both Croatian and foreign investors. "The support of our investors and clients confirms our conviction that autonomous robots equipped with visual perception will deeply and positively change our society," added Kopić.

In just two years, the Croatian startup Gideon Brothers underwent two rounds of investment. It received 16.3 million kuna or 2.2 million euro in investment from 21 investors.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on robotics in Croatia and much more.


Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Zagreb Company Obtains Handsome Contract from Brussels

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of December, 2018, Eccos, a Zagreb company, has recently received a very valuable contract in Brussels worth about four million euros with the European Commission.

More specifically, according to Krešimir Paić and Silvio Pregelj, the directors and co-owners of Eccos, what we're talking about here is a four-year agreement on the improvement and maintenance of electronic and electromechanical control systems for both human and vehicle access to all eighty of the European Commission's facilities in Brussels. This includes the headquarters of the European Union where all major events take place and the key decisions that decide ''our destiny" regularly occur.

"We're proud of the fact that we recently managed to win in the strongest European tender and that we managed to conclude a four-year contract with the European Commission.

This job is the crown of our efforts to bring Croatian savvy, knowledge and experience to the European Union, under the Croatian name and the Croatian flag, and not just as cooperators of large foreign companies. When it comes to foreign markets, we intend to do more work on integrated value-added electrical engineering in the form of our software and project solutions, since we have enough knowledge, quality, experience and will,'' Paić said.

From the Zagreb company itself, they acknowledge that their decision to bid to the EU tender happened quite randomly, as their business activities are mostly related to Croatia and the wider region. Namely, this job is indirectly being credited to the negative trend of Croatian labour force departure to Western Europe. Recently, they admitted, a colleague who sought a future in a similar company in Belgium recently left the company.

As we remained in a good relationship, we continued to socialise occasionally and in those gatherings we realised that they didn't really do anything better than us and that we ourselves could actually come out with their strength and knowledge in any tender in Europe.

Since Croatia is member of the EU, we decided to take advantage of this and we started to follow the tenders in the EU and one came up which was interesting to us, and in which we ultimately won,'' Krešimir Paić recalls.

He added that this is a project where all their knowledge and creativity will come to fruition, because ultimately, the exact value of the contract will depend on what the contracting authority can offer and actually go ahead and implement. Although it's a multi-million euro job, the Zagreb company says it's more valuable to them because of the references they will acquire through it, rather than simply because of the high value of the actual contract.

Eccos is engaged in the development and the implementation of sophisticated solutions in the field of electrical engineering, information technology and security.

This year, they celebrated their 20th anniversary, and currently have 115 employees, half of whom are graduate engineers, and their annual revenue is at the level of one hundred million kuna. Paić and Pregelj recall that their first jobs were installing alarms in family houses, and their first major job was at the Rijeka Oil Refinery, in which they were engaged in designing complex systems in the field of electrical engineering and technical protection.

Energy is still a significant sector for them and they have, along with an American partner, just developed a project for monitoring various pipelines (gas pipelines, etc) through which they're hoping to boost global interest.

Today, as they explain, there is hardly any company in Croatia with which this Zagreb company hasn't cooperated to some extent or another. Silvio Pregelj points out that they are particularly sought-after when a company wants to integrate more than one system into a complete solution.

"In the development of this system, we're striving to unify information from all peripheral devices and sensors, which are all the more smart. This information is collected through various algorithms and by using artificial intelligence, and in this way the behaviour of the system is adapted to the specific needs of its users. We're developing our own software and hardware solutions that are part of our projects (Epsimax, Orgman and ICMS). Today, our development team has about twenty engineers,'' says Preglej.

They have worked on such solutions in both IKEA department stores in the region, in Zagreb and in Belgrade, and there are almost no airports in this area in which they aren't present. They provide a range of electrical and information services, and they are probably the most recognisable publicly for their smart parking systems.

The product of this Zagreb company is also the systems that are being built in the capital and in a number of other cities across both Croatia and the region, and the latest product is the so called smart kiosk, which can already be seen in the centre of Zagreb.

"The new car parking metres in Zagreb are smart kiosks that, besides dealing with parking charges, also provide information to tourists on the sales of other city services, items etc. We have the strongest partners in the world, and we're complementing our solutions with the Eccos Smart City Entablation Platform, which brings together all the participants involved in the process and offers full and complete reporting,'' says Preglej.

Like most other companies, Eccos say they have noticed a lack of workforce, with particular issues regarding successfully attracting young engineers, but for now at least, the situation for this Zagreb company is not alarming.

"We retain people in the team by fostering quality and open relationships, investing in education, the ability to progress in line with the results achieved and by stimulating quality work and effort.

We offer our people the opportunity to participate in sophisticated projects in Croatia, in the countries of the region, and in the European Union, and to expand their knowledge in software development, the hardware, implementation of complex engineering solutions, project management, and all other aspects of our activities,'' says Krešimir Paić.

For now, the company has a head office in Zagreb and Sarajevo, with offices in Split and Dubrovnik, and the opening of an office in Brussels is underway. Their intent is to become more and more present in western Europe and that the existing ratio of domestic market revenues and exports of 80 to 20 will change in the coming period. In that light, there is no exclusion of the opening of new offices in Europe for this successful Zagreb company.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as on the investment and business climate in Croatia.

If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, stay up to date with Total Zagreb.


Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Zagreb Startups Receive More Than 2 Million Kuna for Development

Croatia's capital has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and not just in terms of Advent in Zagreb and other tourism oriented matters. Zagreb startups are being given developmental help from the City of Zagreb and other bodies, with large non-refundable cash sums being allocated to many.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of December, 2018, the City of Zagreb and the Zagreb Innovation Center (ZICER) have successfully completed the third cycle of the Startup Factory pre-acceleration program. Through the last three years, along with quality education and the support of world-renowned mentors and incentive infrastructure, more than 2 million kuna in non-refundable funds have been awarded to the best Zagreb startups.

The time period just gone was exceptionally positive for the whole of the Zagreb startup community. This year, the City of Zagreb joined its most important projects together for startup entrepreneurship - the pre-acceleration program entitled Startup Factory, and the international startup conference, Zagreb Connect. More than 600 startup enthusiasts gathered at Zagreb Connect, eager to gain and share their knowledge, as well as high-tech ideas.

Discussions between Zagreb startups on pre-seed investments and investments in the early development stages of a startup took place, as did those about the experiences of domestic startups that successfully launched their products on international markets, in addition, future technologies were also discussed. Gradually, the atmosphere at Zagreb Connect became more and more heightened.

The reason for this was the presentation of the finalists of the Startup Factory program which fought for a non-refundable amount of 860,000 kuna, which the City of Zagreb readily provided in the name of further development. The top five teams - OmoLab, Wingo, Stratowave, MAKABI and Zebra Cross - were awarded 160,000 kuna in non-refundable cash, while the best pitch at Zagreb Connect was won by Silver Monitor, which was awarded 60,000 kuna.

38 teams have passed this intense pre-acceleration program so far, while 17 Zagreb startups them have received more than 2 million kuna in grants for the further development of their various projects.

Startup Factory's initiator and the director of ZICER, Frane Šesnić, said:

"The third generation of our pre-acceleration program has successfully come to an end. On December the 5th, five teams received financial support, but what is even more valuable - knowledge, experience, socialising, new contacts, association with the community - that's what all of our finalists carry with them. Every year, we improve the program. The market is rapidly changing, and to succeed on it, we all need to adapt to it, too.

In addition to our powerful internal team, which were crucial to the success of the program, this year we brought the best of the best, some from Croatia and some from abroad, to the first floor of the 12th Pavilion at the Fair (Velesajam). The teams developed through the adoption of the Lean Startup Drill and IBM Design Thinking. Snježana Šlabek and Emir Džanić taught them gemifiction, Marko Kovač taught them business development, and Tina Lee Odinsky Zec taught them about storytelling.

Our teams got together and mingled, learned and were inspired by Luka Abrus, Chris Outa, Jim McGougas, Martin Reent, Tomislav Grubišić, Matija Žulja, and many others. The subject of the legal aspect of doing business was covered by our PwC partners, and the topic of attracting investment was dealt with by the experts from South Central Ventures.

The quality of the program and the overall such preacceleration concept as such has been confirmed by the first and second generation teams who are still continuing to develop through the ZICER Incubation Program, and some of them generate their revenues globally. I'd like to thank all those who, through their selfless work, effort and engagement, have contributed to making all of us able, as a society, through these projects and programs, to keep going forward.''

Seventeen Zagreb startups, more specifically teams, developed through the third generation of the Startup Factory program, and all of their projects are in line with the Smart Specialisation Strategy of the Republic of Croatia (S3).

The Zagreb Connect International Conference, traditionally held at the beginning of advent, surpassed all expectations.

Mirko Jozić, head of the City Office for Economy, Energy and Environmental Protection, spoke about this important startup event and the plans of the City of Zagreb for the further development of Zagreb startups.

"We're keeping track of trends and we're introducing something new every year. I'm happy with this year's Zagreb Connect. We've brought some excellent speakers to Zagreb, and our partner country was Israel.

The excitement for the presentation of our Startup Factory finalists was enormous. We believe in this program and concept, which combines pre-seed investment, education, mentoring, and infrastructure support. That's why we have allocated the most funds so far this year, giving the best startup solutions a cumulative 860,000 kuna in non-refundable funds.

We won't stop there, either! We believe in projects that enable young people to work and develop here in Zagreb. In addition to the ongoing procurement of equipment for six new laboratories to be located in the premises of ZICER at the Zagreb Fair, the expansion of infrastructure capacities intended for the development of innovation and the start-up of entrepreneurship is under preparation.'' concluded Mirko Jozić.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more on Zagreb startups, Croatian companies, products and services, as well as all you need to know on the business and investment climate in Croatia.

If it's just the capital you're interested in, make sure to follow Total Zagreb.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Croatian Dome Producers Export to Finland, Czech Republic, Japan

As Trstenjak writes on the 9th of December, 2018, two Croatian dome producers have managed to conquer the often overlooked world of domes. Yes, domes. From very humble beginnings, they now export their products to countries including Finland, the Czech Republic, and even Japan.

ever noticed that most large events nowadays use some type of dome shaped structures, and not tents? If you've not paid attention to that, you're probably wondering what domes we're talking about. You know those structures that look a bit like oddly shaped balloons? You may have noticed them at Advent in Zagreb or at some concert. Well, they're the domes in question.

Specifically, those currently being used at Advent in Zagreb, eight of them to be more precise, are original domestic products, made by Croatian dome producers. It may come as a surprise, but Croatia boasts one of a dozen serious dome producers in the whole of Europe, and this type of typically entirely overlooked genius exists in a form which allows for easy adaptation to all roles and different event-like circumstances. These domes, as adaptable as they are, can play the role of a concert roof, a bar, an advent stand, and they can also be used for exhibitions at fairs or for glamping among other similar things.

Behind the innovative and interesting product stands the Croatian dome producers, more specifically their company - Domes (Kupole) better than a tent, and the story of the company's name is a short and rather charming one. Marko Matošić and Jakša Borić, the two Croatian dome producers, say that the company should have just been called Domes (Kupole), but they received a rejection to that name, a rather common occurrence on the long and ridiculous road of opening any type of company in Croatia. As they told, they sat across the street from the Commercial Court itself upon rejection and had to quickly think of a new name.

"We wondered what we were, actually, and we concluded that we were better than the tent, and so, that's the name. We figured it sounded a bit stupid and ungainly, but I'm convinced that out of the ten people who noticed it, at least four of them went on Google to search for what it is,'' joked Borić, who ended up as one of two Croatian dome producers from the advertising industry, while Matošić came from the club scene.

That's probably not too far from the truth because being unusual and unique isn't a bad tactic, and both of those words could easily be used to describe their domes. As they describe themselves on their web site, "the geodesic dome is the most stable structure ever imagined, at the same time, the most moderate and the strongest." And definitely better than a tent!

Domes like these are a luxury niche on an otherwise big marketplace, and it isn't that much of a cheap business. There is definitely a future for it despite any obstacles, however, as over the last couple of years, these domes have managed to become the "industry standard".

It's interesting to know just how the two succeeded in recognising the value of that niche at the right time, how they entered into it, how much capital they needed, and are they able to make a real living from it all.

"We worked on a festival at Bundek (popular park in Zagreb), where a dance group from Israel had a gig, they used a similar construction as part of the scenography, but it was made from wood. That's when we saw it for the first time.

The gig they had before coming to Zagreb was somewhere far away and they needed to bring that construction to Croatia, which cost a lot. Their technical director then suggested that he would give us a draft for us to make it [a dome] for them in Zagreb because it would be cheaper than to obtain one from far away. We did this and agreed to it. It was a construction made of wooden sticks that had to be cut and then tied together. But on the day of the show, it started to rain, so we had to cover it up and wrap that structure with the foil. It looked awful, but it worked. They danced and didn't get soaked by the rain, we stood at the side, watched them dancing and that structure, and concluded that it would be nice when done as a type of a tent,'' Borić recounts.

They began to explore and discover that some people are already engaged such business in a pretty serious manner. Then the game started, Matošić added, in which he was initially helped by the knowledge of a now retired professor from the Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering, Zvonimir Žagar, who is a great fan of geodesic domes. He helped them with advice on the first dome, as well as the first prototype. At that time, they did not have nine employees or their own designer like they have today, and they were helped by the professor, and the first dome, named 3v14, left the confines of ideas on paper and became a reality back in 2008.

"The initial investment was about 40,000 kuna, that was all we had and spent it all on the prototype, but that's completely irrelevant in this type of business. That was money we literally took and then threw out of the window. We used it all up on making mistakes, to figure out how it all works. We didn't get any loans, but we made the first dome, we rented out it for a while, and we did it all with great abdication. We didn't pay out any wages, we just always invested in new products. The more there were, the more we made, and then we started to hire the first people. We've grown organically, bit by bit,'' explains Borić.

Matošić added that all of that work was put to good use at the Gričevanje festival during the advent period back in 2011, when Advent in Zagreb was far from developed, which was organised in Zagreb's Upper Town (Gornji Grad) to promote their product. They wanted the main star to be the dome, of course.

"We invested a huge amount, set three domes up, got exhausted and frozen, but people saw the domes. They'd heard of them. Then we got our first clients,'' says Matošić.

"In fact, every gig in which our products appear is worth more than 100 ads, because our customers don't bother with it unless they've seen and felt what it's all about. Nobody is going to spend one hundred thousand kuna because they've seen a picture of a dome,'' adds Borić.

Up until this very day, these two Croatian dome producers have continued to develop new domes of varying dimensions which can be used for a variety of purposes.

One of them on offer is the 2v5 bar, a semi-open dome of 18 square metres with a bar, total length of 17.5 metres, and a dome that can easily be turned into a stage, a bar, a store... The Croatian company have specific domes on offer for various festivals, both the corporate and promotional type, and in its portfolio today, there are more than 20 in different sizes of five, seven, nine, twelve and fourteen metres.

Their selling prices vary depending on the model: some are 50,000 kuna, some 60,000, some are 250,000, some are 280,000. Rent, however, is invoiced per term, and one term consists of four days: from five thousand to thirty thousand kuna, depending also on the dome model in question.

The monthly costs for the Croatian dome producers are extremely high, usually above 100,000 kuna, but they are okay, although sometimes they themselves admit things can be a bit tight. They live well, and their top priority is to reinvest everything they make back into the company to continue on its already very successful path.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as info on the business and investment climate in Croatia.


Click here for the original article by Jasmina Trstenjak for

Monday, 10 December 2018

Croatian Company Develops Artificial Intelligence for Hotel Guests

One Croatian company has developed a type of artificial intelligence purely for hotels, and as of next summer, various hotels belonging to the Jadranka Group will have the brand new system made available for their guests from around the world.

''Alexa, what can I do today?'' a guest of the Lošinj Bellevue Hotel will soon be able to ask.

''You can go and visit Susak and Ilovik, or visit the wellness pool. In the evening, I'd suggest going to the Matsunoki Japanese restaurant,'' Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, will respond.

As Pavic writes on the 10th of December, 2018, no, we're not talking about some dreamlike hotel in the year 2048, but about 2019's tourist season in the hotel accommodation belonging to the Jadranka Group. This Croatian hotel company, will become the first in Croatia, and in the world, to introduce a special type of ''hotel artificial intelligence'' to its accommodation facilities.

"We've created a system of artificial intelligence that will give to each guest, in a given moment, taking into account the enormous amount of data, a prediction of the type of content and services the hotel has that they might be interested in," explained Marko Lukičić, a member of the board of directors of the Jadranka Group, who is also the co-founder of Acquaint, the Croatian company which thought of and then designed this artificial intelligence system, which is solely for hotels.

As has been said, the whole system, which is currently called Amenity Recommender, is fully functional and is currently being tested in five hotels belonging to the Jadranka Group on the island of Lošinj - The Bellevue and the Alhambra, which are both five-star facilities, as well as in Aurora, Vespera, and Punta, each with a four-star rating.

''The plan is to equip the rooms of Hotel Bellevue with Amazon Echo, which are speakers through which the guest can talk to Alexa the virtual assistant, before the next tourist season. She will ''lend'' her voice to our artificial intelligence system. We will also connect the system with the hotel TV system and customer relationship management system (CRM) to be able to communicate with the guest across all channels,'' Lukičić added.

Namely, this hotel artificial intelligence system will be a kind of virtual consultant and tourist guide that will try to predict what the guest wants to see and experience while on holiday. Excursions, restaurants, museums, wellness, diving courses, massages, yacht rentals, etc.

The ''virtual receptionist" will choose three specific recommendations for the guest among the 750 available services, taking into account enormous amounts of available data. Among other things, the age, sex, country of origin of the guest, as well as who they're with on holiday, the room in which they're staying and the which period in which it is will be taken into account to provide the best recommendations. As extensive as that is, that is not all. The system will also ''keep its eye'' on the weather and change the offers recommended should the weather take an unfavourable turn.

''It's important to emphasise the fact that this artificial intelligence deals with anonymous guest information and based on this data, it is not possible to detect the guests' identity. It doesn't accumulate data, it simply processes it,'' explained Lukičić, noting that the rules of the Personal Data Protection Act (GDPR) will be absolutely respected.

The constant advancing of technology has been bringing in the question of just what will happen to staff, human staff, that is, who used to be the ones to perform such tasks. Will they be replaced by artificial intelligence? No, says Lukičić, stating that the intentions behind this innovative invention were never to remove the need for a human touch in this industry.

''The receptionists will have a key supervisory role, and they'll also get acquainted with artificial intelligence with courses. Provided with information, they will be able to offer a more quality service and create an even better experience for the guest,'' added Lukičić.

Otherwise, the whole story came to light just two years ago. Back then, Lukičić, as the responsible person for the digital transformation of the Jadranka Group, was given the opportunity to test his ​​artificial intelligence idea which has been ''seducing'' him continually from back in his student days spent at FER.

"When we began with that whole story, of course, we tried to find an already finished solution. We contacted companies which already have their own artificial intelligence platforms, such as Google, IBM and Microsoft, but we've come to the conclusion that they could only offer us generic intelligence or a chatbot. We needed something much more precise,'' recalls Lukičić. His list of criteria for the hotel system of artificial intelligence was highly specific and seemingly impossible to reach at the time.

"We were looking for a company that had profound expertise in hotel industry, expertise in machine learning and data knowledge, as well as programming, to make us a special type artificial intelligence. As expected, we couldn't find such a company,''

Lukičić realised that in order to truly get their hands on what they needed, they had to set up their own company that would bring all these skills together properly. In other words, start completely from scratch. He readily admitted that after this Croatian company was created, the actual process of developing artificial intelligence was a painstaking one.

''A lot of statistics, linear algebra, learning, programming, studying, and discussion were needed to eventually have a very small number of code lines. And, there you go, the artificial intelligence was born. But with the science-fantasy part of the story, there was also a business story,''

According to Lukičić, besides its futuristic possibilities, artificial intelligence also provides the possibility of raising hotel revenues in a very specific way. Namely, artificial intelligence of this kind requires very little investment and relies solely on customer spending. There is no need to expand accommodation capacities or raise prices, which are the traditional ways in which to raise revenue. The goal, he says, is to increase the overall value of the facilities through subtle content delivery, without aggressive and offputting sales pitches and a bombardment of offers.

''According to our tests, in regard to a four-star luxury hotel on the island of Lošinj, which has very low maintenance costs, the profits after the introduction of artificial intelligence doubled,'' stated Lukičić, noting that the benefit will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of hotel, its existing maintenance costs, as well as any planned investments for the future.

As far as further plans are concerned, Lukičić hopes that by the end of the year, Acquaint, which currently has only six employees, could sign a global agreement to introduce their system to some European and Asian hotels.

''We're already working with Oracle engineers to create a certified interface for our product. That would make Oracle one of our sales channels,'' says Lukičić, referring to the Croatian company's collaboration with a multinational IT company. They are also in contact with Amazon, the largest e-merchant whose voice technology is being used already, but for any type of official co-operation, he will have to open an office across the pond in the United States.

"All this gives us enough arguments to say that what we do makes sense even though we're currently a research and development company and we aren't making any revenue," Lukičić concluded.

Make sure to stay up to date with more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as the business and investment climate in Croatia by following our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages.


Click here for the original article by Filip Pavic for

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