Friday, 11 October 2019

Zagreb Company's Devices Provide Savings and ''Smarten Up'' Business

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 11th of October, 2019, in fifteen years, one Zagreb-based company has grown from a small team in an apartment building into a respectable team of experts dedicated to developing and innovating their own Internet of Things (IoT) technology products. They create solutions that are used in automatic energy consumption reading systems.

The Zagreb-based company Holosys boasts more than twenty products used in automatic water and energy readout systems, water and gas infrastructure monitoring and energy efficiency monitoring systems, which are marketed in various infrastructure facilities both here in Croatia and abroad.

The company from Zagreb was started in 2004 by Bojan Grbec, Ivan Lukačević, Zoran Zoričić and Tomislav Lekić, engineers with valuable experience in large systems, which, as director Tomislav Lekić explains, was a great and key combination to launch their own project, celebrating a successful fifteen years of doing business this year.

So far, they have sold their products in more than fifty countries across four continents, and more than 500,000 metres of water and gas consumption worldwide are connected through some of this Zagreb company's systems.

In recent years, they have seen strong revenue growth - in 2014 they had four million kuna in revenue, and last year they reached nine million kuna. They expect to finish 30-40 percent growth this year when compared to 2018. "This is largely the result of our orientation towards foreign markets, where we can see great potential in the future," Lekić said.

But, let's go back to where it all began... The company's creators had, according to the director, valuable experience in manufacturing and development in companies such as RIZ transmitters and Siemens, but they were faced with a new, completely different challenge.

"During the moments of first starting a company, you can manage processes more directly and efficiently, which is both a challenge and a risk. At the very beginning, we worked in a leased space of 36 m2 in an apartment building in Dugave, and today we're located in a leased 800 m2 in the Jankomir business zone, and there are currently 28 of us,'' Lekić recounts as he looks back to his company's beginnings.

In the early years, with the development of some of our own products, much of the revenue came from product development jobs for others. In 2012, they made the strategic decision to invest all of their development into their own products and make a living from them. Even then, they focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), smart energy and water.

"Looking back, I'm proud that we've accomplished many of our goals, some within the deadline, some a little slower.

For example, five years ago we said that within five years we'd develop and produce more than twenty of our own products, and we were able to do that. We intended to increase the number of customers and our sales activities, especially abroad, and we managed to continue in the same direction, which is all the fruit of organic and gradual growth.

The key to successful business in our case was to focus on our own development and manufacturing, identifying trends, and giving up on time in some industries, and instead focusing on IoT and AMR (Automatic Meter Reading).

Often, you have a number of ideas that do look great, but it's important to choose one or two and focus and then come up with the best product possible At one point, we also worked on traffic reporting systems, where we developed great products and got valuable references, but we still decided to focus on another area,'' Lekić explains.

Zagreb's Holosys also offers a complete communication and surveillance IoT solution - from delivering quality and durable sensors to energy and water meters, to delivering a set of devices and antennas to amplify and receive signals, to processing data in software and turning it into meaningful and easy to understand information through business decisions.

"Our products and solutions, whether they be a power readout module, data collection hubs, antenna systems or data processing and analysis software, were created within Holosys.

They're based on their own knowledge and bring numerous benefits to utilities and end-users through cost-effective system maintenance, accurate and timely information on energy and water consumption, and infrastructure damage, preventing major breakdowns and losses such as pipe crashes, " Lekić explains.

The Zagreb-based company offers solutions on technologies that are widely accepted across the world, from the currently most widely accepted wired and wireless M-Bus technology to the ''hot'' and new NB-IoT communications technology that is still very much in its infancy.

"In Croatia, our appliances can be found in all areas, both in plumbing and gas installations, as well as in many public facilities. We market a good portion directly abroad, and our clients are water and gas distributors, construction companies and faithful partners who supply our products and they are installed in Croatia and abroad, primarily in the EU,'' Lekić points out. The company, he adds, nurtures a team spirit and strives for a work culture and careful staffing to select the right people for the team.

"We stand out for our innovation and this is what our employees need to be able to fully identify with. We explore new opportunities every day, whether in code programming, creating technical solutions for devices, or spotting new opportunities in the business development market. Our employees, across all departments, must be prepared to review existing solutions and create new ones daily, and above all to be motivated by the results of the research. Regardless, we're trying and succeeding in being competitive in wages and other benefits, and so far there's been no need to import labour. We have enough quality candidates from the Croatian labour market,'' the company's director claims.

Through these fifteen years of work, there are many projects that they are proud of.

"Some of our devices are in Tahiti, our water consumption reading modules are near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, they're all over Europe, Africa... We've provided services for major infrastructure projects around the world, and our products have been installed in numerous communal areas. When I look at the whole thing, what matters is the proven quality of our products and the positive perception from our customers. They see the concrete benefits - from reading the usage of energy and water in real time, lowering the costs of business, stopping financial losses, being able to properly look into failures...

For example, using our technology can reduce unnecessary energy losses by up to 70 percent. Therefore, we can say that the devices are ecological in function and we believe that this is how we contribute, in a small way, to the preservation of our planet.

This realisation also brings satisfaction through a sense of purpose to the work. We're most proud of the team that we've been able to gather together over the years, both within Holosys and among our partners, and their long-standing trust that we have maintained,'' the director points out.

He also referred to the smart energy industry, which is in a phase of dynamic development due to the increasing need for energy efficiency, and solutions for remote sensing of energy, gas and water consumption are, he says, one of the most important links in this process, due to precision of measurement, simplicity of usage and of course - savings.

"We plan to launch new products in the near future in line with 5G telecom development and in this segment we expect stronger market development. Accordingly, we're positioning ourselves as an innovator and leader in the application of new IoT technologies, such as NB-IoT, which should simplify the reading system. Our solutions are not only easier, faster and more accurate to obtain data, but also to change the way we do business and engage in business processes,'' explains Lekić.

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

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Croatian Dogma Socks Ready to Conquer Foreign Markets

As Novac/Vid Baric writes on the 4th of October, 2019, some Croatian socks, more specifically from the Dogma Socks brand from Samobor, are ready to take on foreign markets.

''The idea came before my departure for the Olympics. I wanted to make sports socks that I'd perform in when in Sochi, and that was relatively easy for me, considering that my family has owned a sock factory for thirty years, which, admittedly, aren't socks for sports, but for everyday life.

I made these socks, took them to the Olympics, and then went on to develop my own brand. I didn't think it would become my business, but I started little by little and now it's more of a serious story,'' stated Morena Makar, who until a few years ago, was the best Croatian snowboarder in the halfpipe discipline. She has a rich World Cup career behind her, as well as a historic placement at the Olympics.

The Makar family sock factory is located in Samobor, where her Dogma socks are made, a brand specialising in running, skiing/snowboarding, hiking, trekking... Morena spent half of her life wearing such socks, snowboarding all over the world, and she therefore knew what do do and how to do it to get a quality and functional sports sock.

These are the first such socks to be made in Croatia, and Makar runs a totally one girl show here. She procures her materials from Switzerland, Spain and Slovenia, designs the product herself, designs its functionality, monitors the production, packages them, advertises them and distributes them, all by herself. Since she started taking the Dogma socks story more seriously, she says, she's managed to sell up to twenty thousand pairs of socks a year, and they can be purchased in Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Romania, in addition to specialised sports stores operating here in Croatia. Dogma socks will also be available on Amazon's popular webshop soon.

''I'm surrounded by socks from dawn til dusk. I dream of them!'' the girl who has already conquered the Croatian market says, and now it's time for Dogma socks to ''introduce themselves'' to foreigners and find their place on foreign markets.

She is aided by some top influencers/athletes she has on her team and who are spreading the word about her products. If everything goes according to plan, the two top snowboarders should perform wearing Croatian Dogma socks at the next Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

''Croatia is a relatively small market for such a product, the focus is now to conquer foreign markets and become a recognisable brand there. It was difficult in the beginning, people are distrustful because they've never heard of us, but over time, that will go away,'' explained Makar, who over the years has collaborated with the heroes from the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS), who help people in need, while wearing Dogma socks.

''HGSS rescuers tried my socks out two years ago. They liked them and I even developed one line specifically for them. We continued our cooperation and this year we decided to make products marked with their logo. I like this story because a percentage of the sales revenue of these socks goes to HGSS and their work, and our products are credible and validated by individuals to whom functional socks matter a lot,'' Makar stated, before continuing on the line of the details of Dogma socks, in which a lot effort and thought has been invested.

''I develop models in collaboration with athletes who test out prototypes and further develop socks with me. In the Dogma family we have athletes, marathoners, triathletes, snowboarders... top athletes from all over the world who know what kind of product they need and what could change in the technology of making socks,'' Makar explains, whose socks, depending on model and purpose, contain various agents, as well as callus neutralisers, they're also made from quick-drying materials.

It's worth mentioning that many of Dogma's models are seam free, which further prevents the possibility of calluses, and there is Aircon technology that regulates the temperature of your feet. When you're cold, they will keep you warm, when you are hot, they will keep you cold. The socks will remain dry and will not moisten your feet.

Skiers, mountaineers and snowboarders, however, wear Dogma socks made of merino wool because it has proven to be the best material for this kind of activity. Socks seem to have become a real science.

Makar agrees, claiming that the importance of proper socks has long been underestimated. Today, many don't see the value of a good, functional sock, and in Croatia everything revolves around the white socks that everyone wants, no matter what they do or what kind of sport they're into.

''We at Dogma are trying to change that,'' Morena Makar replies, adding that she has also been able to develop functional material to prevent odors. These socks were tested by the HGSS guys, too, confirming that it works.

''It's also very important to us that our production doesn't harm the environment. Therefore, our packaging is made from recycled materials and our socks are made with environmentally certified materials. We also try to use as little plastic as possible in our production,'' explains Morena Makar, adding that Dogma, which started with socks, now also produces functional sports T-shirts, as well as various other sports accessories of a functional nature, such as winter hats, sweaters and headgear.

A few years since Sochi took place, the world is richer for Croatia's Dogma socks, socks that Makar claims can really enhance the training of top athletes.

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

Friday, 30 August 2019

Croatian Products on the Shelf in "Orange is the New Black"

Total Croatia News has already written about the appearance of a Croatian island as an example of luxury and a privileged lifestyle in an American TV show. Now numerous Croatian products have been spotted in a different TV show, probably even more popular as it's final season has recently started streaming: Orange Is the New Black.

OK, fair enough, some of the people working for TCN maybe spend too much time watching Netflix. But, when you're watching the final episodes of one of your favourite TV shows of the recent past and something catches your eye in the background, you really need to pause, rewind 10 seconds just to make sure you're seeing it correctly. And I was. (For those not familiar with the show, it follows a group of women in an American federal prison, telling the story of their life in prison, but also the stories of how they ended up there. One of the characters, nicknamed Red, is a Russian lady who works on a Russian market in Queens, where the usual market stuff is happening along with organised crime)

It was Jadro Napolitanke that caught my attention first. Then it was Domaćica, and then I paused and tried to find as many familiar products as possible. And there are a lot, if you grew up in Croatia (or former Yugoslavia) you can probably count over a dozen familiar products on the shelf, including pickles, canned beef, some favourite sweets etc. The set designers for the show have worked hard to get their hands on numerous ex-Yu products (mostly Croatian, though) - hopefully, that's what they wanted their imaginary Russian market to have on its shelves. 

One thing has to be mentioned if we want to be fair: the products on the shelves are in their current, modern packaging. The scenes where they are visible take place in the past, before Red got into prison, probably sometime in the nineties. The designs of most of the products (and they all existed then!) were significantly different back then. Maybe that just goes to show that the contemporary product design of Croatian products is not really as contemporary as we'd like to think it is if it fits perfectly as a background in a scene taking place decades ago!

Which products can you see that aren't listed in the article?

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Croatian Company from Koprivnica Launches ''Magic'' Gluten Free Dessert

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 19th of August, 2019, the Croatian company Sana Delicatessen, based in the continental town of Koprivnica, has launched a brand new product this summer - Magic, which is presented as the only fresh gluten-free dairy dessert on the Croatian market. Although it is best known for hummus, the company also has other trump cards that are winning over buyers even outside of the Croatian market.

"Over the last five years of doing business, we've noticed that more and more parents are choosing desserts and sweets more carefully for their children. Gluten-free products are increasingly popular, which is often unfortunately a necessity (for those with celiac disease) and so we prepared Magic with this idea in mind. Sana Magic sticks come in several flavours, with raspberry pieces, apricot and cocoa and hazelnut, and the first reactions from the market are positive and above our expectations. We're always moving step by step, and so we started with the Croatian market first, and then we're planning to export,'' said Silvija Repić, the director of this Croatian company.

From the very first eight products in the range, they have reached almost 150 products today. According to Repić, Sana is still the most well known for its Sana Hummus spreads, and this subcategory is expanding and becoming interesting to other companies from Croatia and from abroad. She noted that other products, such as Sana's premium spices for HoReCa customers, apple chips with chocolate, tahini, ketchup are soon to be developed properly. Sana's team currently boasts eleven permanent employees.

"New products, a higher number of customers (especially in the HoReCa channel), more delivery points and exports are intensifying the business and requiring job creation. We're also planning to further increase our staff and the pace of that will be determined by our further business success. This year, we've hired one person and we plan another one by the end of the year,'' Repić explained, pointing out that they are intensively seeking new export opportunities to other markets in the region and beyond.

"Sana Hummus is a leader on the Croatian market, and with growth in Slovenia and new products, we have achieved business growth rates of around 30 percent.

Slovenia is still our largest export market with chocolate chips and Hummus spreads and new spreads like Guacamole, MelanSana and Thai Salsa. Since the beginning of the year, we started exporting to Switzerland with a new product under the Bonmahl brand - a mixture of cereals and spices which is a kind of 'superfood'. The sales volume of Bonmahl in Switzerland far exceeds that in Croatia, but when it comes to the development of the Croatian market, we're just getting started,'' Repić noted.

This Croatian company works with almost all major retail and hotel chains, and have found their way to specialised stores.

"Entering new products into the HoReCa sales channel is different, the chefs are usually curious and interested in new products, but HoReCa requires a lot of time, investment and personal access to every customer," Repić explained.

She also pointed out that a small business like Sana must take extreme care of its profitability.

"Continuous investment in new products, markets and employees has resulted in increased sales and increased brand awareness, and each investment has a positive impact on the business," Repić concluded proudly.

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

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.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Paper from Small Croatian Town of Prelog Goes International!

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of August, 2019, since back in 2010, Kaspar Paper (Papir) has been manufacturing a very specific product in its production facility in the small, continental Croatian town of Prelog - sublimation paper that is used for colour transfer for various media.

They are the only manufacturer of this type of paper in the whole of the Republic of Croatia. Their expertise lies in manufacturing for transferring to polyester fabrics. This therefore enters into many worlds; marketing, fashion, sport, the furnishing of interiors, flags, and various posters and pictures. However, the application of this product is much wider, and can be found on rigid materials, on furniture, on skis and on metal surfaces. This wide range continues to grow year by year.

"We use our own development, employ professional and quality people who have been present in this segment for many years, which enables us to provide timely information and follow global trends in the industry. This also enables us to constantly develop our products to provide customers with the necessary quality," Davor Belić, the director of this Croatian company, explained.

Last year, they made more than 50 million kuna on various markets around the world, and their plan is to continue on with this double-digit growth, which they have said has gone smoothly so far. Here in Croatia, they cooperate with several customers, while the majority of the company's production is intended for export, and more than 95 percent of it leaves Croatian territory and goes abroad.

This Croatian company is also present at the world's leading fairs for the digital printing industry, and they strive to enter onto new markets year after year. "This year, we exhibited in Germany, France, Spain, and we're preparing for Mexico in late August, and in October, we're in the United States of America at the Dallas Fair.

In Asia, we have an office in Singapore in charge of the markets of Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, while in Slovenia, we manufacture base raw materials that are further completed in Prelog,'' Belić said.

The company currently employs 35 people, and Belić hopes that this figure will increase further by the end of 2020.

"For the time being, we're ready to respond to all market demands, but if the need arises, of course we will call for a job increase. We're doing well as far as the workforce is concerned, and we try to ensure our employees good working conditions, so that we we attract and retain them,'' he pointed out. In addition, this successful Croatian company has applied for the Internationalisation of small and medium-sized companies, phase two, which is being conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts.

The project, edtitled ''Strengthening Kaspar Paper through performances at foreign fairs'', is worth 1.1 million kuna, and the company received 895,000 kuna in European Union (EU) grants.

"As part of the project, we're planning and preparing, with the approval and signed co-financing contracts, to further increase our presence at leading industry fairs. The materials for FESPA Madrid 2020 are already underway," the director announced.

The experience so far, he stated, indicates that each additional presence brings results for this Croatian company, and with this project, he added, they are embracing new segments and wanting to introduce even more brand new products.

"I'd like to emphasise, instead of talking about concrete figures, that we're in the process of implementing new projects for equipping and development that will enable us to be even more competitive on demanding international markets," Belić pointed out.

Their goal, as they say, is to continue developing quality products, invest in the development, education and further training of employees, and keep up with global industry trends that will allow them to continue to grow and be recognised on the market.

"I'm proud to say that Kaspar Paper has positioned itself among the leading manufacturers of sublimation papers as a worldwide brand and is recognised as such among the leading global brands in the textile industry and beyond. Our aim is to raise that bar to an even higher level in the future," Davor Belić concluded.

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

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Croatian Gin Wins Best in World for First Time in History

The Croatian gin 'Old Pilot's Gin' has been awarded the London Dry Gin Trophy 2019 at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London!

“What can I say, I was literally jumping from joy. Then we checked the official website a few more times because we couldn't believe our eyes. Hold on; we won the best gin trophy in the world! Well, we can't believe it yet!”

Hrvoje Bušić and Tomislav Anadolac have every reason to be excited, for their Old Pilot's Gin has just achieved the biggest success at the prestigious IWSC competition in London, reports on July 31, 2019.

Namely, Bušić and Anadolac are behind a unique gin belonging to the London Dry category, which, on Tuesday, was named the best in the world thanks to the London Dry Gin Trophy 2019. Thus, in addition to a gold medal at the IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition), Old Pilot’s Gin won the trophy for the best London Dry Gin. Jutarnji added that all gold medals re-enter the competition and the best of the best are selected, with the winner being the only one in the world. 

Better yet, this is the first time that a Croatian product has won a distilled trophy at the competition, which has been held since 1969.

However, their success is far from accidental. Although on the market just over a year, in 2018, Old Pilot's Gin was named the best Croatian craft gin, while at this year's San Francisco Spirits Competition they won the gold. The mentioned international competitions are indeed the two most important in the world, and the highest honors earned at them have been affirmed by numerous small distilleries.

The story behind Old Pilot's Gin is even more impressive. Hrvoje and Tomislav met at the Military Pilot Academy some twenty years ago, and have always had a passion for all things distilled. As the gin trend set out to conquer the world, they seriously considered launching their own distillery and well, today, they boast the best in the world. 

The distillery of the symbolic name "Spirit in a Bottle" produces craft gin, which is a fully Croatian product using local flavors such as olive leaves, blueberries from Otočac, sage, lavender, angelica (wild celery) and orange peel. The entire branding and visual identity is the work of Kofein from Zagreb. Their small but very modern distillery is equipped with Dutch technology, which is not surprising since Hrvoje went to the Netherlands to study, where he became a certified distiller.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Magnets and Souvenirs with Austrian Motifs Made in Slavonia

A touch of Slavonia, Croatia in Austria.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 4th of July, 2019, there are many souvenirs that tourists buy during their stay in the Austrian capital of Vienna, such as refrigerator magnets embellished with the most famous Austrian tourist attractions such as the Schönbrunn Palace.

It might be easy to imagine the Chinese churning out endless supplies of these small but meaningful little keepsakes, but many are actually made by a Croatian entrepreneur, Zoran Bašić, from Trnjani in Slavonia. In Trnjani, an Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, lie the production plant and the headquarters of Decoupage Repromaterijal Bašić Art, the first Croatian souvenir magnet making factory. For years, this company from Slavonia has been present on the Austrian market, and this entrepreneur has been successful in domestic design, production and placement of souvenirs labelled "Made in Croatia".

It all began when Bašić, who is otherwise a skilled machinist by profession, started to work with the production of wooden jewellery and decorative objects made from wood following many hard years of work in the civil service. He eventually began exhibiting his creations at fairs across Slavonia.

Listening to the needs of the market, this entrepreneur from Slavonia saw an increase in demand in the areas in which he worked, which included room for other personalised products and all kinds of decorations.

Good work can be seen and felt far and wide, and four years ago, this talented Croatian entrepreneur received a request from a Viennese wholesaler for souvenirs who asked him to make some samples of fridge magnets.

After a year, Bašić's products were very successful over on the Austrian market, and now this factory in Slavonia is planning and aiming to place its products on the Croatian market as one of the few companies that offers such decorations with the mark of an original Croatian product.

In addition to excellent quality and innovation, these products are said to be more competitive and more affordable, and even cheaper than the infamous things the Chinese make, which continue to swamp and drown the market.

"The key to the success with the Austrians, where we're dominating, are small series' according to customer's wishes, quick delivery, ie, a fast response to the orders, with the flexibility of modifying the design again according to the customer's wishes.

With us, the customers themselves can participate in creating products that they want to make using our professional help. We produce our products manually according to our own ideas or the ideas of our customers, and the price is always the same, regardless of whether one has ordered a souvenir magnet, or a hundred,'' explained Bašić.

Ninety percent of all of their orders come from women who, as the entrepreneur adds, usually have a whole host of imaginative suggestions to make their own souvenir or, for example, a cake decoration. Considering the significant demand, Bašić's next business step will be to conquer new markets and expand the production plant which is located in Trnjani, Slavonia.

"I can see great potential in the development of decoupage reproduction material on the Croatian market, especially boxes which come in different sizes and shapes, some of which are patterned while most of them are designed according to the wishes and needs of clients who come to us with full confidence,'' concluded the the innovative entrepreneur from Slavonia, Zoran Bašić.

Follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for much more.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Split Company Develops First Supplement for Dogs Based on Bee Products!

May 30, 2019 - The Split company Hedera has developed 100 percent natural dietary supplements for dogs made from bee products - propolis and pollen - under the name Apipet. Such products have not existed on the pet market until now. 

Dalmatinski Portal spoke with 23-year-old Ivan Radić, head of Hedera's marketing department, about the innovative technology behind Apipet and how they decided to bring these unique products to the world.

Producing nutritional supplements made from propolis for dogs. How did the idea come about?

“For over 15 years, the core of our business is food supplements based on bee products (propolis, pollen, and royal jelly) for humans. The owner of Hedera, my father Saša, a chemist, then developed a special innovative technology that allows us to keep bee products in their native form without adding chemicals, alcohols, or any other solvents. Having such a product that has powerful medical effects and no adverse side effects, has allowed us a wide range of applications, so we decided to make Apipet - the only propolis in the world for dogs.

Specifically, the whole line of products based on the technology above was created by my brother Božo, otherwise a gastroenterologist, but very actively involved in the innovation and development of the company. I actually just extended my hand to these two geniuses and I have full responsibility for the success and failure of Apipet with just one job. I have to let every dog owner know about Apipet.”

The product is unique in the world.

"There are no nutritional supplements for dogs based on bee products in the world just because no one has developed a technology that allows the use of chemical resources. Namely, if you use alcohol, it automatically excludes dogs as end-users of the product.

Aside from that, it sounds good. '100 percent natural' is important because not even a single percent is artificial. Propolis in the bee community serves as a protection from external and internal influences. The bees cover the hive, literally sticking it to the walls, and its function is killing parasites, viruses, bacteria, strengthening the immune system of young bees and preventing disease. Now, if you dissolve propolis in some chemical agent, about 30 percent of its properties are lost and its effectiveness is no longer the same because it decreases. That is why our product is modest, but objectively the best in its category because it remains unchanged - like the hive itself, it is the same in our product.”

What are the effects of propolis for dogs and what do all the products offer?

“They are very similar to humans and other living beings. It kills viruses, bacteria, parasites, acts on the immune system and prevents the development of many diseases. In addition, it raises the immune system, acts on tumor cells, suppresses oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals, and studies even show that it protects from the effects of radiation.

We created five products for the five most common problems that dogs encounter: Apipet Immuno for strong immunity, Apipet Flexi for healthy joints and cartilage, Apipet Gastro for healthy digestion, Apipet Skin for healthy skin and shiny hair, and Apipet Senior for aging dogs.

Each product adds one active ingredient that acts on a specific problem, but of course, the base is propolis and pollen. For example,  Flexi has glucosamine and chondroitin, Gastro has ginger, Skin has biotin, and Senior - green tea and ginger.

And they even worked with the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS).

“Yes, and it was a very successful and instructive cooperation. As I said at the beginning, special technology has enabled us to apply a wide range of applications, so we made a special formula called ApiComplex that can be added to dog food.

We divided the dogs into two groups: the first was fed food containing ApiComplex, while the other was on the same diet only without ApiComplex. Dogs ate the food with ApiComplex for four months, and once a month, they had training when we measured the effects of ApiComplex. Before and after the training session, we examined the dogs, collected their blood and measured the various parameters that eventually showed us the movement of blood sugar, muscle recovery after intensive training, liver health, kidney, etc.

The study concluded that food supplemented with Apicomplex prevents hypoglycemia, that is, a decrease in blood sugar, leading to smaller lactate (a fatty acid that leads to fatigue), reduces muscle damage, improves recovery and generally prevents the intense effort that occurs when searching for people.

The role of dogs in the HGSS service is irreplaceable and their importance in the pursuit of people in distress is really great. I do not even have to say how important it is for HGSS that the dogs are healthy and rested at the height of a task.

In addition to propolis for dogs, they produce dietary supplements based on propolis intended for human beings.

“That's still basically the business basis for us. We started this in 2003 and have since developed nine products for people based on the same technology, which is broadly used. The most famous and long-lasting product is Native Propolis.

So, how do you find their products?

“The products for people are available in almost all pharmacies in Croatia, but also via our website at Apart from Croatia, we are available in Germany, Austria, France, Japan, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The dog products are available through and can be found in Hungary and France, and we hope very quickly in Australia.”

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Monday, 27 May 2019

Croatian Brothers Create Biodegradable Tennis Shoes

As Novac/Mario Pusic writes on the 26th of May, 2019, the story of two Croatian brothers Domagoj (34) and Hrvoje (33) Boljar from Duga Resa is an excellent one for many reasons, and one of them is that they don't need a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone for the presentation of their products. They wear them - on their feet.

Through their company Miret, they developed an eco-tennis brand that is almost completely biodegradable and was started with the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator, the largest European launcher acceleration program that develops solutions which have a positive impact on the climate. These new Croatian tennis shoes are one of the six innovative Croatian projects which will be developed under the leadership of the Zagreb Innovation Center (ZICER) in this program.

The Boljar brothers can thus expect symbolic financial support of 15,000 euros, mentoring and educational support from recognised Croatian and foreign experts, as well as a good opportunity for international networking.

It's no exaggeration when Domagoj and Hrvoje say that they're creating the most fashionable shoes on the planet. They are made of hemp, cotton and various other healthy materials.

Everyone who knew their late father, Josip Joža Boljar, knows of the source from which these two innovative Croatian brothers draw their passion, and the stubbornness of their father is not lacking, either, they say themselves.

In the second half of the nineties, when the textile, leather and footwear industry came together seamlessly, Joža decided to produce shoes. This decision was the right one and worked out fine, and ten years later, under his brand Mr. Joseph, he had a plant with 100 employees who produced 100,000 pairs of shoes per year, sold them in 22 stores all over Croatia and exported them all the way to Scandinavia. As excellent as this story is, sometimes things are happen in life that nobody can influence; the market was flooded with cheap Chinese products, there was a crisis, and long-established entrepreneur Josip Boljar entured a hard time and eventually died in 2015. These two brothers grew up with their father's factory, so there was no way they were going to leave it even during the worst of times.

"There was no family pressure for us to take over one day. And before we graduated from university, with me doing economy of entrepreneurship, and Hrvoje doing industrial design, I knew I would one day run the company and my brother would create new products. We inherited that from our parents, so there's this need to create something new, something useful and tangible.

My father was an electrical engineer who went into making shoes after having made machines. Working in his company wasn't something that was ''pre-programmed'' for us, but we both ended up there. However, the company's stability was sluggish, we were trying to save it by turning to the production of luxury tennis shoes, which was, back then, not something on the Croatian market or abroad.

We've created our own brand, Jots, we developed products for top European brands for buyers Croatia, Italy, Holland and France, all with the knowledge and the machines we had and the great people who kept following us. But then it just happened to take off,'' the Croatian brothers state.

You don't surrender in life when things get hard, but only when something makes no sense anymore. And these two brothers think that their eco-tennis shoes do make a lot of sense, and it's never really been easy for them anyway.

Behind the proverbial storm which pushed their core business ever forward, five years ago, they began to develop their eco-tennis shoes, and they knew they were doing the right thing.

The first 100 pairs were quickly grabbed by tourists in Split without any advertising as long as four years ago, and they continued to develop and offer their products through their webshop at

"I'm just persistent, Hrvoje is crazy and persistent. He had dreamed about this shoe before he even had the opportunity to get the materials he needed. They'd say we're producing garbage and that they don't want to participate in it. But we had to live on something. I stepped forward and fought with the problems and let him go and develop things in peace. He went to the extreme, wanted to make a shoe for which there's no mold.''

Nobody had ever done so, so this inventive Croatian duo couldn't even get their hands on any materials to make ecological footwear. Someone had to prepare it especially for them. They have a dozen major suppliers who helped them out, but not one of them is from Croatia.

''People were asking us whether or not the shoes will just fall to bits on their feet. Yes, the composition of the material is like that of a shepherd's pie, but no, they won't fall apart. We use certified suppliers, for example, a New Zealand wool processed in eco-colours with the most rigorous ecological certifications.''

Much later on, the EIT Climate-KIC competition was announced by their acquaintance Marko Capek, probably the most prominent and most controversial Croatian anti-plastic fighter, who worked in the UN after completing his energy studies during which he studied renewable energy sources.

"Our innovation is in the concept, ideas and materials and we no longer think about manufacturing, even though we've dreamed of that, but we'll use service production, what we used to do for others. We have great producers in Croatia and we hope that production will continue to take place in Croatia. What we need is stability,'' they state, adding that they do need a serious investor, and that they don't want for their project to simply remain a small and somewhat ''romantic'' one.

They will look for such an investor abroad, but they aren't even thinking of leaving Croatia, because, as they rightly say, no honey and milk is flowing through the rivers anywhere.

"A colleague told me after presenting the product to go to Sweden. If anyone knows how hard it is to work in Croatia, then I know, but I won't move because I like living here. Will we open an office in Berlin or America? I don't know, but we want to stay here. You're lying in bed tonight and you wonder how you'll pay for your electricity tomorrow and you think it would be best to move to New Zealand. You wake up in the morning and keep making shoes. Wherever you go, you are still here, wherever you go, nothing will change if you don't change it,'' concluded Domagoj Boljar.

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Click here for the original/full article by Mario Pusic for Novac/Jutarnji

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