Sunday, 10 November 2019

Young Croat Achieves ''World Skills'' Success, But Under Foreign Flag

As Novac/Matija Boltizar writes on the 10th of November, 2019, Croatia has a world champion in concrete construction. His name is Mateo Grgić, he is just 22 years old, he is a native of Prgomelje, a small town near Bjelovar, and is a carpenter by profession. This talented Croat has experienced great success, but not under the flag of the country of his birth.

This news in itself is amazing owing to a couple of things. First of all, because of something called World Skills, where professionals show off their skills in, well, just about anything.

The first "Olympic Games for occupations" was organised after World War II, and during the last, otherwise the 45th edition, which was held in August in the Russian city of Kazan, featured more than 1,300 competitors from 69 countries.

The second amazing thing, which was referred to in the first sentence of this text, is why almost nobody in all of Croatia knows that for the past two months, the best carpenter in the world is a young Croat. The media space is filled with Croatia's sporting successes, from those planetary popular sports such as football or tennis, down to less popular ones, or perhaps it's better to say those with less attention, like taekwondo or shooting. The news of the victories of Croatian computer scientists and students can be found here and there, but why is there no room given to vocational professions? The answer lies in two facts.

Firstly, Mateo jokes that his skills aren't quite as attractive as Bruno Petković's talents with a football. Secondly, and more importantly, Mateo, a Croat, performed under the Austrian flag at World Skills. We can also say that this young Croat from near Bjelovar is the Jakov Fak among carpenters, that is, he's yet another Croat who achieved world success, but under the flag of another country.

Therefore, this story partly tells the problem of the emigration of young Croats who continue to leave the country to head abroad for better opportunities. Not surprisingly, Mateo's story begins with his passport, as at a mere 14 years old, he left Croatia for Vienna, where his father was already working.

''When I finished elementary school, there was a real crisis going on in Croatia. Everyone was out of work and I was afraid that when I finished high school I would just be going to sign on at the job centre. So I told myself, I'm going to try things out in Austria, and if I don't succeed, I can always come home,'' says Mateo.

He didn't speak German well, but he still enrolled in the ninth grade and successfully completed it, after which he entered a school for carpenters. He was initially recruited by the Austrian state-owned construction company Porr, who took him on to improve as he continued his education.

Namely, in Austria the practice is such that companies take on students who then learn through doing hands on work, and they get paid immediately for it. Mateo was already earning 700 euros a month at the age of 15, and by the end of the third year, his salary had increased to 1,700 euros per month. Thus, as a high school student, he was earning much more than the average Croatian salary, which was the first thing that brought him closer to Austria and thus even further away from Croatia. After that, things only improved.

The firm paid for him to earn his degree as a manager, making him one of the youngest workers to graduate from that school. He then ran smaller construction sites, and is now assistant manager at the currently largest construction site in Austria. He still returns to Croatia, but only to visit his family or for holidays.

While all of that is quite depressing indeed, it's time to say a little more about this young Croat's huge success, which is inevitably a great success for Croatia. Not every country can boast that they bred the best young carpenter on the planet. This year, the honour is shared by two countries.

Mateo performed with Austrian Alexander Krutzler in Kazan in Russia, and they won gold jointly. The two met back in 2016, when they made their first appearance at the World Skills National Championships. They were third then, but two years later the company resubmitted them for the championship. Then they won first place and were as such placed in Russia.

As for World Skills, we referred to it a little earlier on in this article that it's otherwise the Occupation Olympics, and that title really is justified. Expert workers carried their flags at the opening ceremony, with some 45,000 spectators cheering for them at the packed Kazan Arena, the stadium where Brazil and Belgium played in the quarterfinals of the World Cup last summer. Moreover, if you look at the photos from this year's World Skills, you will at first think that this is a high-budget concert or sporting competition that has had millions spent on it.

And now what interests us all - what does the competition for concrete construction actually look like?

''You walk into a huge seventy-square-foot hall and you have your own space where you work. You get an assignment and all the competitors do the same thing. For everything we had to do, we had 22 hours that were divided into four days, and when you get up on that stage, you don't think about anything else but work,'' says Mateo.

They had all the tools at their disposal and had to do everything by themselves from scratch. Otherwise, one such job requires between 50 and 60 hours for some extremely valuable and skilled workers. Mateo and Alexander did it all in half the time, with a deviation of only 50 millimetres from the design required.

Before Russia, they had been training for five weeks with a trainer. He said they practiced at +40 degrees in July, building nine and a half tonnes of material each time. They also had a fitness program, their own physical therapist, and mental training, all just like real professional athletes. All this effort eventually resulted in the pair winning a gold medal.

''I'll never forget the moment when they declared us the winners. I remember, I just heard ''gold'', turned around and saw my name on the screen. Although there were 50,000 people in the stadium, I didn't see anyone,'' Mateo recalls. There followed a celebration and a return to Austria, where they were greeted as if they were Olympic champions. The company organised a celebration, they were received by the mayor of Vienna, and almost all representatives of the Austrian media sought an interview with the best carpenters in the world, one of which was a Croat who had won under their flag.

Job offers came soon after that. Worldwide companies have openly called Mateo, offering him excellently paid work. There were offers from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but he turned them down. He says that his company is doing well, and they have made everything possible for him. When he returned to his native Prgomelje, his family organised a feast for him, because it isn't every day that a small, continental Croatian village can boast about having ''created'' a world champion.

Only one local newspaper and one Catholic media portal reported that Croatia has a new world champion. And, two months later, Jutarnji list also reported on it, although Mateo says he didn't expect to be the subject of interest of the domestic media. Although he was born a Croat, he, as he himself says, is now Austrian.

''Croatia is my country and nothing would mean more to me than to win gold in its name. And, frankly, I do want to go back home, but first in Croatia, everything has to be the same as in Austria. I'm a Croat, I have Croatian citizenship and I want my children to be Croats, but Austria has allowed me to be everything that I am today. So, while on the one hand I want to go back, on the other I know that it's impossible. Not until the work is as appreciated as it is here,'' says Mateo, who plans to enroll in college to become an engineer next.

''Next year, the European Skills Championships will be held in Graz and I'd like to see Croatian carpenters perform at it. My coach and my company are ready to help Croatia so they can form their own team. We will enable them all so that Croatia can have its representatives in the Championships,'' says Mateo.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Company With Croatian Co-Founder Wins Prestigious Award in Austria

Croatian entrepreneurs are taking the limelight once again with their ideas, innovation and good business sense, but this time, the recognition comes from outside of Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 7th of November, 2019, a startup has designed a tool for digital documentation and communication in the building industry, and one of the people at the top is a Croat.

PlanRadar, which has developed a digital documentation and communication tool in the construction and real estate markets, was awarded the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Austria in the Startup category.

An expert jury awarded PlanRadar one of the most prestigious entrepreneurial awards currently available, assessing growth, future potential, innovation, employee leadership and social responsibility. It is a solution that is used weekly on more than 25,000 projects across 43 countries in total. One of the founders of PlanRadar is Croatian national Bojan Petković.

He recently said as director for Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia that, that although these three countries are their main focus, the company will not neglect others in the region.

Their main market is the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), but PlanRadar has recognised the potential of the Croatian market and plans to develop the application even further.

"PlanRadar enables the construction industry and the real estate market to have digital documentation, manage tasks and deficiencies throughout the project," says Petković. The benefits of PlanRadar have been recognised by large international companies such as Strabag and Hochtief, and in Croatia by the likes of Kamgrad and Abilia.

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

Friday, 18 October 2019

Investment in Tourism: Multi Million Euro Cash Injection for Makarska

When we hear about investment in Croatian tourism, the cash injections usually come from abroad or at least from foreign accounts, but not always. Makarska is just one fine example.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of October, 2019, Mate Jujnović, the owner of Promet Makarska and both the Makarska and Split bus stations, has purchased the company "Romana Apartmans" d.o.o. according to a recent report from Slobodna Dalmacija.

Project manager Marinko Sulić, who has so far sought partners from within Spain's famous "Iberostar", and later on Germany's equally well known "Der Touristik", managed to get the right partner with whom the story should get a safe and secure "happy ending" in no less than Mate Jujnović.

A few months ago, the very well known Dalmatian entrepreneur revealed to Kronika that he wanted to invest an enormous 35 million euros into Makarska, a picturesque, mountainous and extremely popular tourist destination in central Dalmatia, from the sale of some valuable land across the world in New Zealand, and apparently found the so-called ''golden goose'' in the aforementioned "Romana" hotel, which many consider to be the flywheel of tourism throughout not only the City of Makarska, but the heavily frequented Makarska Riviera, too.

As such, on September the 23rd this year, the director of the company ceased to be Robert Sulić, the son of Marinko Sulić.

An eye-watering cash injection of roughly twenty million euros should help Sulić complete the financial structure and come to the end of the grand hotel complex project, worth a massive sixty million euros in total. According to Sulić, the same Makarska facility boasting almost 270 beautiful luxury rooms should open its doors before the next summer tourist season begins, namely as early as May the 9th, 2020.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and travel pages for much more information on both domestic and foreign investments in Croatian tourism.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Croatian Post Acquires Locodels Startup from Zagreb Entrepreneur

Croatian Post (Hrvatska pošta, HP) reported on Thursday that they have acquired the 100 percent share in the company Locodels, owned by the Croatian entrepreneur Stevica Kuharski.

The completion of the sale is expected to happen before the end of November, it is reported. Croatian Post is, however, not revealing the value of the transaction, the Croatian media reported.

You might remember seeing Mr Kuharski's name recently on our site, and that was probably from when we reported on his other business venture and association with the Fil Rouge Capital VC Fund. But, he was well-known in Croatian business circles even before that, and Locodels is probably among his most notable entrepreneurial successes thus far. Often dubbed the "Uber for Packages", Locodels is a company dealing in city deliveries. Most of their customers, their website shows, are small businesses that have the need to have a smaller amount of packages delivered regularly (each day or each week). The deliveries are done by the people who have cars (or other means of transportation), among them students and retirees, as well as professional drivers, such as taxi drivers or even Uber drivers, who are then paid on a per-delivery basis. In addition to Zagreb, Locodels operated in Ljubljana, Vienna, Bratislava, London and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Ivan Čulo, Croatian Post CEO has said that for them, this acquisition represents their entry to the market of the alternative delivery models. He added that they plan to offer the new service mostly to the businesses who might need it.

Stevica Kuharski, the founder of Locodels said that he sees the acquisition as a huge stimulus by the state-owned companies to the startup community in Croatia. He added that this gives great potential for Locodels to keep growing in the future.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Two Croatian Engineers Turn Small Business into Factory with 300 Employees

When they tell you to dream big, the realistic (and perhaps a little pessimistic) little voice in your head tells you to keep it small, that it will never happen, that you won't get that lucky... Especially if you've embarked on a humble business with your friend, and the location of said business is in a Croatian village, and in your garage...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of September, 2019, thirty years ago, two Croatian engineer friends, Frane and Darko, started a modest business in the village of Kalinovac near Đurđevac from their garage. More specifically, they started servicing agricultural machinery.

According to a report from RTL, today they have a factory which boasts an impressive 300 employees, they're one of the largest of their type in all of Europe which produces vehicles and utility equipment, their snowplows, for example, clear snow in Russia. Not only that, but they also produced a Croatian cleaner. A very large vacuum cleaner - the very first Croatian vehicle intended for street cleaning.

Who says our garbage must be cleaned up by foreign machines? Croatia now has its first street cleaner manufactured in the small, unassuming village of Kalinovac near Đurđevac.

"The maximum speed in this operating mode is twelve kilometres per hour. There are cameras. The front camera serves to see what we're vacuuming and what garbage is underneath, and the rear camera to see where we're going," explained Miroslav, a production employee.

"It's very nice to drive it. There's no noise inside, there's a radio, air conditioning, no worries even when you work all day, and it's nice to work in it," added his colleague.

This Croatian invention caught the eye of some Norwegian partners who came to Kalinovac for another job, so they decided to buy it.

"This vehicle is interesting to us because it has a newer look and is more comfortable for the driver. It has a higher roof for the driver. When compared to the competition, they're also cheaper than the others," said Vidar Jansen, a product manager from Norway.

The company will of course offer it to various Croatian cities, but it will clean mostly European metropolises - as this company exports eighty percent of its revenue.

The starting price of the first Croatian cleaner is 80,000 euros for the basic equipment package, of course, the better the equipment, the more expensive the cleaner is.

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

Thursday, 5 September 2019

VIDEO: Mate Rimac's Company Releases Two New E-Bikes onto Market

Mate Rimac is one of the more famous and much more positive entrepreneurial stories from Croatia. While setting up a business here is no easy feat, regardless of what you're doing, Mate Rimac's inspiring story of a curious child-turned-adult who never gave up despite the infamous red tape of the Croatian state is enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

Echoing the great Nikola Tesla and having firmly placed Croatia on the map for something else other than tourism, sunshine and the Adriatic sea, Rimac's innovative ideas go from strength to strength. From incredible vehicles like the C_One and C_Two to Greyp bikes and more, this Croatian entrepreneur from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been a light in the dark for potential investment from the automotive industry in Croatia.

Providing the Croatian Government with his step by step guide to attractive investment from an industry, such as the automotive one, which has all but bypassed Croatia for fear of the endless and draconian bureaucracy and dreadful investment stories, this extremely talented man never stops.

His company, (which isn't the famed Rimac Automobili this time) doesn't stop either, and it has now launched two more brand new e-bicycles onto the market.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Goran Jungvirth writes on the 4th of September, 2019, at this year's EUROBIKE Friedrichshafen Show (September 4-7) Mate Rimac's company Greyp Bikes unveiled two new e-bikes.

''GreypG5 is finally out'', the company stated on social media, boasting that the e-bike was made up of some of the absolute best parts from the cycling world.

At the aforementioned German trade show, they also introduced a ''limited edition'' GreypG6X model that was ''made up of only the finest parts'', which include Öhlins forks and rear shock absorbers, carbon wheels and Magura brakes, as well as wireless seat positioning - Greyp's so-called  ''#smartass technology''.

"And they say there is no such thing as a #hyperbike ...", the company wrote sarcastically.

Watch a video of Rimac's Greyp Bikes here:

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for more information on Mate Rimac's incredible business ventures and Croatian-made products.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Two Young Men Open 3D Printing Filament Drive, Unique in Croatia

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 5th of August, 2019, in the height of the tourist season, more specifically in mid-July, in the small Petrijanec municipality just north of Varaždin County and on the border with Medjimurje (Croatia) and neighbouring Slovenia, two young men decided to open a facility to produce filaments for 3D (three-dimensional) printers. They are the only ones to do so in all of Croatia.

Valentino Jovan and David Lukaček are both 28 years of age and are good friends, the first of the two is an expert in mechanical engineering, and the second graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, and has years of experience in manufacturing electrical companies and mechanical engineering companies under his belt.

Encouraged, as they stated, by the lack of certain products and services and the desire to develop their own original solutions here in Croatia, they founded the company last June, called DiV Plastic (the pair's initials) and set off down that proverbial road.

"The best feeling is when we create something new of value while trying to contribute to our community," Valentino Jovan, one of two CEOs and business partners, told Poslovni Dnevnik. David Lukaček even returned to Croatia from living over in Germany to start the project and took all of that responsibility and risk with him.

There are four employees in this company from Northern Croatia in total, and they make filaments, which is their main, however not their only activity.

"The filaments are actually ''ink'' for 3D printers. It's a plastic wire that is made from several types of material depending on the properties you want ,and in many different colours, they come in various variations, we initially turned to the production of filaments, which are technical materials, but we also have another nine materials available to us in cooperation with our partners from Slovenia. By the end of the year, we plan to expand the production of filaments to three more materials,'' explained Jovan.

DiV Plastic, therefore, is developing and applying new technologies in the growing 3D printing segment, with the goal of doing the same by recycling waste plastics.

''The filaments we manufacture are from original new plastics. In terms of recycling, we've reoriented our products mainly for agricultural applications, and we plan to convert a lot of recycled plastics that would end up in landfills into usable products. Our goals are to process a minimum of 5-7 tonnes of recycled plastic per year, hopefully by the end of 2020,'' Jovan points out.

An important question remains, given the fact that this company from the north of Croatia is the only one in the whole of Croatia to engage in this type of business - Just what is the market for that type of printing like in Croatia?

''At the very beginning, I started 3D printing three years ago when there were only a few dozen 3D printers. This has been changing rapidly over the last year, with printers becoming cheaper and more accessible to businesses, hobbyists, students, schools, and associations. We collaborate with schools, technical science associations, hobbyists... More and more companies are realising the benefits of 3D printing for prototyping, patterns, gadgets... and so our cooperation with them is increasing,'' explained the young director.

Their current portfolio contains 3D modelling, 3D printing, document production and designs specifically requested by their increasing number of customers.

They're also thinking of expanding, and they have pointed out the fact that they are preparing more interesting products and services. For now, their focus is primarily on Croatia's market, but as soon as they are ready to explore opportunities abroad, they will take that chance.

In spring, the young men underwent a mentoring program for beginner entrepreneurs, and the president of the Croatian Network of Business Angels, Davorin Štetner, praised them. As he told Poslovni Dnevnik back at the time, he was impressed by the quality and creativity of DiV Plastics, which he believes will soon be ready for business angel investment.

"I'd like to thank Mr. Davorin for his business-related advice. It has been enjoyable and he has been helpful on the mentoring program, and I hope we will continue our collaboration," said Jovan, also giving a snapshot of the state of the domestic startup scene.

"It's mostly IT companies. I think the Croatian startup scene is relatively good in terms of circumstances. We lack the skilled staff, from engineers to marketing experts, we lack the hardware factories so that newly developed products don't have to go and be made in China or somewhere else abroad,'' said Valentino Jovan. As new entrepreneurs, they have already encountered the neuralgic points of Croatia's draconian system.

"We were most troubled by the lack of information and a lot of half-true or totally wrong information. It is difficult for us to find out all of the conditions we need to satisfy, what documentation is required. Young entrepreneurs are left to study and read manuals and find out laws and to decide what applies to them or not.

When it comes to production, especially newer technologies, you're just left to do it yourself. The second biggest obstacle is finding proper business spaces, from the beginning, we were looking for one suitable for our type of production, and only recently we were able to move in, and it's been almost a year.

For young entrepreneurs, offices are generally available, which is great if you're an IT company, but as soon as you have machines you need to have in function, then there are problems. Most of these premises don't have adequate access, proper installations... " Jovan warned.

Fortunately, they managed to get a meeting with Željko Posavec from their municipality, who quickly recognised the needs of young ambitious entrepreneurs.

''We received 55,000 kuna in support from HZZ and this is really important for all young entrepreneurs to be able to really get started in the beginning. We are also entitled to certain benefits because we employ mostly young people under the age of 30,'' the founders of this company from Northern Croatia state.

Their results are, for the time being, better than expected, with total revenues of 121,791 kuna last year, a profit of several thousand kuna.

''We expect multiple revenue increases this year due to increased business volume. We're pleased with the situation and the development, and we hope to continue this steady growth in revenue as we have done so far,'' concluded DiV Plastic's CEO, Valentino Jovan.

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

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Mate Rimac Among 4 Most Successful Young Slavic Entrepreneurs

Mate Rimac is by far Croatia's most popular success story. Rimac, born in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a shining star who has faced down the red tape and draconian anti-entrepreneur policies of the outdated Croatian state and managed to succeed beyond his own wildest dreams.

The founder and CEO of the celebrated Rimac Automobili, the factory of which is located in Sveta Nedjelja, just outside Zagreb, has enjoyed large investment from major firms in the automotive industry, including the likes of Porsche. In addition, he has succeeded in drawing the attention of would-be investors in the automotive industry back to Croatia, a country which had previously been almost entirely bypassed because of its infamous and bizarre love for bureaucratic processes and endless, senseless paperwork.

Mate Rimac proposed measures needed to attract the car industry to Croatia to the Croatian Government, who are of course more than ten steps behind this innovative and exceptionally talented entrepreneur, and the hope is that upon acting on Rimac's valuable advice, the days of the need for your mother's birth certificate translated and apostilled and then inspected and stamped by a state employed uhljeb just to be able to start a company will one day be over.

It seems that Mate Rimac is continuing to impress, and on the world stage. As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of July, 2019, Rimac Automobili's founder Mate Rimac has found himself rightfully placed on the list of the most successful young entrepreneurs and future billionaires in Eastern Europe by the popular portal Slavorum.

Mate Rimac has thus found himself in the talented company of Branko Milutinović from Serbia, the founder of Nordeus, a mobile gaming development company that is considered one of the fastest growing in all of Europe. In addition to innovation, Milutinović is also known for his humanitarian work throughout Serbia.

In addition, there is Bulgaria's Konstantin Rangelov, and his company Dronamic allows air transport of products up to 350 kilograms in a short period of time.

Last on the list is Rostislav Knap from Poland, who as a great expert in finance and business launched the company CallPage, an online service that monitors user behaviour and activities on websites.

According to Slavorum, the business done by these entrepreneurs is always on the up and they could soon become big global players.

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

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Ministry of Economy Awards Croatian Entrepreneurs With Contracts

As Lea Balenovic/Novac writes on the 3rd of June, 2019, the Croatian Ministry of Economy recently awarded Croatian entrepreneurs twenty contracts totalling an enormous 85 million kuna. To be more specific, these are contracts funded by non-refundable EU funds for which the tenders were announced at the end of last year.

The aim of these tenders, as Minister of Economy Darko Horvat explained, is to "increase production and exports and create jobs, as well as to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises through the presentation of their products and services on the international market".

One of the companies that which will use these opportunities for job creation and business optimisation is certainly the Croatian company IT-Graf, which deals with printing, and which has plans to invest almost 15 million kuna. Non-refundable EU funds in the amount of 6.6 million kuna were awarded to that particular Zagreb-based company.

"We'll all invest in new machines and modernisation, ie, the automation of printers, with the goal of going to foreign markets and exporting, and our sophisticated products will mean we need high quality staff and we will open about twenty new work positions,'' stated Tomislav Ivičinec, Managing Director at IT-Graf, who doesn't have any issues with the lack of a workforce in Croatia or finding workers because, as he himself said, "you just need to pay the man and then there's no problem".

In addition to this Croatian company, Hangar 18 has also received funds to increase its overall international competitiveness, which is due to its permanent investments remains "a permanent guest of such events", according to Damir Kralj, the director of the company.

''We're dealing with information technology and mobile technology, ie, we produce smartphones, TVs and all of their accessories, and we'll use this 950,000 kuna to present our products at the Barcelona fair,'' said Kralj, adding that Hangar 18 is planning to build a new factory in Koprivnica in which an additional fifteen to twenty people will be employed.

With the help of these tools, Neon Bjorn, a Zagreb-based company offering a software solution for travel agencies, as well as for travelers who prefer to organise their own travel plans, has the opportunity to internationalise their business and product presentation. As explained by the director of this Croatian company, Vesna Kota, "it helps in the overall process and shortens the time involved in travel organisation".

''With the allocated 433,000 kuna, we'll place our product on foreign markets and sell it in far-off locations. We're expanding to Cape Town, Dubai and Beijing and in European destinations such as Barcelona and London, and the solution is available to tourists who wish to visit destinations both in Croatia and those outside of it,'' Kota explained, adding that their desire "to bring more tourists to Croatia''.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for much more on Croatian companies, Croatian products and services and the measures put in place to aid Croatian entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Mate Rimac Discusses Kia, Hyundai, Company Revenue and More

Celebrated Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac discusses Rimac Automobili's new partnership with Hyundai and Kia Motors, how he plans to give a certain percentage of the company to its employees, revenue, the future, and more.

As Jutarnji list/Gordana Grgas writes on the 14th of May, 2019, after it was announced that the Hyundai and Kia Motors had decided to invest a massive 600 million kuna in capital into Rimac Automobili, Mate Rimac announced in an interview for Jutarnji list that he would give seven percent of the company to his employees, from the cleaners to the directors.

We're bringing you the English translation of that interview here.

Why has Rimac Automobili entered into a partnership with Hyundai?

"We've been in contact with them for a couple of years and have been cooperating with them for a few years. They sent a strong delegation to us and, as soon as they saw the company, as soon as they saw what we were doing, they decided to invest immediately. In October last year they gave us an offer and we entered into negotiations. To have a partnership with such a company is very important for us. When looking at comparisons, they have a revenue of 250 billion euros, which is four times more than the Croatian GDP, and we're also working directly with the administration. Euisun Chung, who was there upon signing the contract, is the executive vice president, the grandson of Hyundai's founder, who's now taking over the firm from his father.

We're quick, small and innovative, we see and create the future and that's very interesting to them, this is hugely important for us because, on the one hand, we've got the Volkswagen Group and Porsche, and then we've got Hyundai and Kia on the other, and we've been so busy with work with these companies that we don't know where we're going!

The best thing is that they're not just buyers of our products but also shareholders, therefore it's in their interest that the company succeeds. They will help us build faster in areas where we may have some weaknesses, for example in industrialisation, in the transition from small-scale to large serial production.

Today, we're dealing with very complex systems for large car manufacturers, power systems, batteries, electronics, etc., we've achieved all that very quickly, but we need strategic partnerships. It's very difficult, especially moving from small to large series. We need money to help the company achieve its goals. We invest a lot, we're constantly expanding our plants, we employ more than 500 people, more than 300 engineers... We're not like the others, we're not wired money from the state but we get our money on the international market, and there's nowhere better to find money than with a company that really understands what you're doing, which is a partner and also a buyer,'' stated Mate Rimac.

What's the ownership structure of Rimac Automobili like now? You said you wouldn't remain the majority owner...

"Now I have .. (looks at his phone) Just a second, I have all of that in a document..."

Do you not know what your share is now? Does that not matter to you?

''Well, that's not important to me. People don't really understand that. I'm killing myself with this job and I'd be the happiest man in the world if there was someone who could run the company better than me, so I could just do what I like doing, the technical part of things. Now I'm the executive and technical director, and now I hold 47.7 percent, the Chinese camel group holds 14 percent, Hyundai has 11 percent, Porsche has 10 percent, Kia has 2.7 percent, and the remaining shares belong to the investors from 2012 and 2013.''

Are the employees among the co-owners?

"No, but we're working on that now, all of the employees will get a share, up until now, the ESOP was not worth it for them because of the tax. They'll probably get seven percent, from the cleaners to the directors, but not everyone will get the same share.''

How much is Rimac Automobili worth now?

"More than 500 million euros."

Why did not you not get to capital through an IPO, on the stock market?

''A lot of technology companies are now doing IPOs and they're actually losing money, they still have no stable and profitable business. Let's say Lyft, Uber or Snapchat... I don't want that. I want to make an IPO when the company's numbers are at that level. The company's potential is huge, and we have now used a piece of it and it's a shame to go out out onto the stock market with this company's situation. In 3-4-5 years, it will be at a completely different level. Besides, we have good access to capital outside of the stock market, we've got that luxury.''

How much was Rimac Automobili's income last year?

''I wouldn't go into income, there are no final reports yet. That's not our focus either, but a long-term trend. Here's an example - the car that we're developing for Hyundai now goes into serial production in 2023 only. Those are the cycles of our projects and to us, as well as to our shareholders, it's really neither here nor there what the financial outcome will be for this year or for next year, we're building a long-term story.''

Are you making a profit or are you still in the minus?

''We were still in the minus last year because we invested a lot. It's important to note that this minus comes from shareholder money, and everyone agrees that it's the company's plan.''

What will you specifically use this 600 million kuna for?

''For many things. This is part of our C investment round, and we'll still have investors in this round for another 70 million euros, but we don't know who that will be for now, but they will probably be financial investors. One of the things we will invest in is building our campus, our development and research centre and our factory, and another company expansion, employing a lot of people and equipping the company. For the transition to serial production, it's necessary to equip our production plants, test our products, develop them right up to the end, certify them... It's a big thing.''

Where will the new campus be? And what will be there?

''We're planning a campus for 2000 people because we want to have a longer-term solution. The headquarters of the company will also be there, as well as the development and research centre, production, testing, there'll be a hotel for guests and employees coming from elsewhere, kindergartens for employees' kids, restaurants, food production, hairdressers, sports facilities... I want it all to be integrated there.''

Where will this be located and when will you embark on construction?

''Near Zagreb. The location hasn't yet been agreed, we're look at a few of them, we're negotiating. Construction should start early next year.''

I guess the campus will be a little special in the aesthetic sense.

''Nine international and several Croatian architectural studies are currently working on suggestions for conceptual solutions for the campus. Among them was Lord Foster (British architect Norman Foster), we had a meeting the other day. He worked on Apple's campus and many other world-famous buildings. Everyone is so excited about this project and offering some great suggestions. They tell me that there's no such thing anywhere else, the combination I want - the campus being open to the public, the care for the employees and the connection with nature.''

The serial production of your C-Two has been announced for next year. Where are you going to do this?

''We got a hall in Veliko Trgovišće (Krapina-Zagorje County). The C-Two prototypes are still being done in Sveta Nedelja, and when we finish them, we'll move the manufacturing of the prototypes to Veliko Trgovišće. We already produce the batteries and the power systems there because we're out of space here. We're now there in five buildings and we were looking for something a bit closer to Sveta Nedelja, but there was just nothing there. Since there is no industry in Croatia, there's not much out there to rent. So now we're in Veliko Trgovišće, and we have centres in Split and in Osijek.''

Why did you open them there, so scattered apart?

''We grew so quickly over the last year. We now have fifteen engineers in Split, and about ten in Osijek, ane they're now our competence centres - in Split, we do our own automotive software development tool operation, and we deal with our high voltage chargers in Osijek.''

The prime minister has never been in your facility?

''No, never. To make it clearer, I don't ask for anything from the government. All I do is to urge the government to do the right thing to bring the car industry to Croatia. I have proved that it's possible.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Mate Rimac, Rimac Automobili, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, production and business in Croatia and much, much more.


Click here for the original interview/article by Gordana Grgas for Jutarnji list

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