Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Made in Croatia: First Truffle Gin Launched, 100 Euro Bottles Do Well

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 12th of November, 2019, ''underground mushrooms aren't going to put food on the table or raise children,'' is a sentence that spouses Radmila and Goran Karlić heard often when they decided to leave their jobs and devote themselves to truffle farming in Paladini near Buzet on the Istrian peninsula, a northern area of Croatia.

Way back in 1994, they initially founded Karlić truffles - The company through which they are now engaged in the purchase and the sale of truffles with their children, and the processing and sales of their products in shops, restaurants and even on foreign markets, as Ivana Karlić, the youngest member of the family, says.

''They said that we were crazy!''

This year, the Karlić family marketed gin with white truffles, the very first in the entire world. Ivan Karlić, Ivana's brother, came up with the idea, who is described as a creator and a big fan of truffles, so he dedicated that to combining them with every dish. The idea originated from a big love of gin and truffles, and was created in collaboration with the Aura distillery, who also work with other traditional types of beverages.

"People like gin, it's becoming more popular so the conclusion was - why not? We worked on it for several months, we made 222 limited bottles, the price of one is about 100 euros. Three months ago, they were put on the market, there are maybe 20 bottles left. People have recognised the value of product and we get a lot of praise and orders from all over the world,'' explains the young truffle enthusiast.

Since that gin turned out to be a great idea, they have already started collecting the finest truffle specimens, which must be perfectly round for gin, in order to produce a limited edition gin next year. The first in the world also offered a unique truffle hunt in which guests can participate, and Radmila Karlić came up with that idea which adds a whole other, more personal element to the entire thing.

''I'm delighted that we have such an innovative offer for our guests, and they're delighted. We have guests from New York who have returned five times for the tour, and their 15-year-old child dreams of working with truffles one day,'' says Ivana.

If guests decide to take part in the adventure, they can also stay at Villa Olive, surrounded by olive trees, for which the Karlić family won the Tourist Flower Award this year in the category of best accommodation for an active holiday.

Through play, Ivana and Ivan slowly learned the business and became much better acquainted with the black and white underground mushrooms.

"The price of truffles wasn't high back then, so we needed to find as many as possible to earn something. Asparagus and other mushrooms were harvested, but our efforts were directed by the truffles,'' Ivana tells us.

Twelve years ago, they planted the first truffle plantation in Croatia with 2,700 oak trees and some hazelnuts, and every day they watered the trees - the cost of which was high because they were made in a laboratory - irrigated and pruned. It was a big and risky experiment.

"After six years of waiting, my brother went for a walk with the dogs and found the first truffle, smaller than a tennis ball. When he brought it home, we were overjoyed because at the time everyone was telling us we were crazy. It was the first truffle found on a plantation in Croatia,'' Ivana explained.

They even get orders all the way from Singapore.

Black truffles grow all year round in the hills, there are more of them and their price is lower. Winter white truffles grow in the lowlands from September to late December or early January, and its price is very high because it is a delicacy that grows in two areas in the world - in Croatia and Italy.

The Karlić family annually remove a large amount from the plantation in Buzet, right next to the forest, which is the original site, they then sell and market them in restaurants across Croatia.

Exports have been particularly successful, selling truffles through distributors across Europe, in countries like Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, but the orders come from much further away from our continent too, including from Singapore.

Truffella, the world's first truffle chocolate spread in the world which has been being marketed since back in 2016, stands out in with its colourful product offering.

''Mixing mushrooms and chocolate is a demanding and risky business, but it's still our best-selling product. As for this season, it's not been brilliant, but it's not been bad either, there will always be truffles. The Istrian forests are suitable for agriculture, the locals take care of them, they're not polluted and no concreting is allowed; we stick together as a community. That's why we're glad when someone plants a plantation and succeeds,'' concludes Ivana Karlić.

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

Monday, 4 November 2019

Production of Lika Products Grows, More EU Protection Coming?

The EU-level protection of škripavac cheese will doubtlessly put a spring back in the step of the sixteen cheese producers who produce this product in Lika-Senj County. As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of November, 2019, after lamb and potatoes, Lika could soon gain a third EU-protected product - škripavac cheese.

As revealed by Ivana Starčević, who is the head of the Lika Local Action Group (LAG), the initiative was initially launched four years ago by several associations and is being implemented as part of the Integra Lika 2020 project.

"Because there's a market for this type of high-quality product, protection is a logical step in order to raise production to a higher level, price the product and brand this region as an area offering high quality food. The duration of the EU-level procedure will depend on the time it takes to check documentation and any need for adaptation to European Commission requirements,'' explained Starčević.

As she explained, in addition to the mark for sales growth and better placement, promotion and work on recognition of this local product are crucial. According to information obtained from Agrovelebit, the producer of the first  Lika product to receive protection at the EU level - Lika potatoes - demand has grown precisely due to publicity and that is currently outstripping supply.

At LAG Lika, they believe that their experience so far will help them position the cheese on both the national and EU markets. In the wider area, this particular type of cheese is produced by sixteen registered cheese makers.

"The marketing of products from here has intensified with the establishment of the Lika Coop Cooperative, which markets domestic products to stores and souvenir shops at Plitvice Lakes National Park and to the Lika Quality certified sales points,'' Starčević stated.

OPG Miškulin from Smiljan, otherwise Nikola Tesla's hometown, produces traditional local cheeses as well as numerous other products from the region.

"Protecting škripavac cheese at the EU level for small traditional producers like us means a lot. With all the investment that we have to increase production and placement, this puts an extra spring in our step. We've acquired new cows from Austria, and thanks to more milk, we have also increased our škripavac production. We've completed the construction of a new barn, and we're planning to apply for the Lika Quality label,'' said Marina Miškulin, the owner of the aforementioned Smiljan-based OPG.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for much more.

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 Jutarnji.hr 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.

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