Friday, 2 April 2021

Nanobit Founder Alan Sumina Disgusted by Croatian Bureaucracy

April the 2nd, 2021 - Nanobit founder Alan Sumina has made no effort to hide his disgust and frustration with the state of Croatia's draconian love of red tape and slowing down progress, taking to Facebook to voice his feelings.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Nanobit founder Alan Sumina has commented on the slowness of Croatian bureaucracy and a system which appears to seek to actively prevent progress being made in business in this country. He posted a status on Facebook in which he described the process of opening a new company in Croatia. He spent as long as two weeks on the process and still hasn’t solved everything yet. He had to personally go to the counters at various offices, to the notary, to the bank, etc. An endless and mind numbing process those of us who live here know only too well.

Here is Nanobit founder Alan Sumina's Facebook status translated and delivered in full:

"It seems to me that twelve years ago it was easier to open a company here than it is today.

It's truly frightening to what extent the bureaucracy has destroyed this country and the extent to which it continues to destroy it. I'm just trying to open a new company, of course I naively thought that a power of attorney could be given to sort it all out on my behalf, but no, no. One must make a personal pilgrimage to the public notary, to the bank, to FINA, to the office for statistics… Then, ah, you don't need a stamp, but you do still need it, so don't end up just not making a stamp [because you'll still end up needing it], I was told that by the public notary).

Then comes the register of real owners. So, the sole founder needs to be entered into the court register, the matter couldn't be simpler than it is, but that needs to be entered into the register of beneficial owners which is dealt with by no more and no less than that fictional agency called FINA.

Great, I gave the power of attorney to my accountant to do it - but no, no, he can't do that. It has to be done in person. Or go and notarise the power of attorney at the public notary.

And so, as I have been for two weeks now, I'm still touring various counters just to start up a new company.

What's wrong here? Where is the abolition of those stamps? I've opened companies in the United Kingdom, Hungary and Romania. I've never had to stamp anything anywhere. I never had to go around the counters anywhere. This really is ab absolute horror, and it's not that we haven't moved forward, it's that we're actually going backwards!''

For more on Croatian entrepreneurs, doing business in Croatia and more, follow our business section.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Founders of Croatian IT Companies Nanobit and Infobip Win Businessmen of Year Award

December 4, 2020 – Founders of Croatian IT companies Nanobit and Infobip are this year's best businessmen in Croatia. According to the choice of the Večernji list and Poslovni dnevnik readers, the businessmen of the year are Silvio and Roberto Kutić and Izabel Jelenić from Infobip, while according to the choice of the expert jury, this award goes to the founders of Nanobit Alan Sumina and Zoran Vučinić.

As Večernji.hr reports, the fifth selection for "Businessman and Economic Event of the Year" was held today, for the first time in the online edition.

The winners were chosen by the readers of Večernji list and Poslovni dnevnik, who decided to give this recognition to Silvija and Robert Kutić and Izabel Jelenić from the Croatian IT company Infobip, which is the first Croatian unicorn (worth more than a billion dollars).

'IT resistant to COVID'

At Infobip in Vodnjan, they are primarily engaged in mobile communication, and one of their clients is WhatsApp. It was founded in 2006, and the founders then had only two laptops and borrowed money from their parents. This year, a foreign investor invested 200 million dollars in Infobip, and today this company is the leader of the Croatian economy.

"We continue to work in order to develop as much as possible," said Silvio Kutić very briefly and clearly, and expressed satisfaction that he and other colleagues from the sector are a positive example from Croatia. Roberto Kutić added that this is an industry that was lucky because it is resistant to COVID, and Izabel Jelenić concluded that they still stick to their motto - they are just at the beginning and there is much more ahead of them.

Growth and competitiveness

For the best economic event of the year, readers chose the selling Nanobit's stake in the company to the Swedish giant Stillfront, and the founders of that company, Alan Sumina and Zoran Vučinić, were chosen as businessmen of the year by the expert jury. Nanobit is a gaming company that, like Infobip, was founded with only two laptops, but with a lot of will and perseverance.

"I am especially pleased to see in whose company we are today. Neither Infinum, nor Infobip, nor Rimac Automobili, nor we did not exist 10-15 years ago or we were so small that we were not interesting to anyone. And today we are representatives not only of the IT industry but of the economy in Croatia in general. Moreover, we show that this is the 'healthiest' part of the Croatian industry that can grow at a rapid pace and be competitive in the global market," said Alan Sumina.

Nanobit made their first million on a fitness app and then started developing games. Today, after 12 years, it has 125 highly educated employees and their games are played monthly by more than 10 million active players worldwide.

"The gaming industry in Croatia is just beginning to develop and although it has experienced great changes in recent years, many times they have experienced it a bit frivolously. If nothing else, now at least that dilemma has been removed and the value of companies like Nanobit has been confirmed, but apart from us, there are many other companies and I think that in the next few years some of them will achieve greater success than us," said Alan Sumina.

Helping the private sector

For the economic event of the year, renowned journalists and editors who cover the economy, as well as leading economists and scientists from the field of economics, who formed the expert jury, evaluated the state aid for job preservation.

This year, the Croatian government will direct about 10 billion kunas to preserve jobs, which was one of the first and most concrete state measures aimed at companies and employees. One or more months of support were used by more than a hundred thousand employers for almost 600 thousand workers, and if there were no measures, tens of thousands of people would lose their jobs.

Andrej Plenković stated that they reacted quickly and decisively in this crisis. They showed how much state intervention was necessary in these circumstances, to help the private sector in the first place, and they will continue with the measures.

Building big world brands in Croatia

Mate Rimac, the founder of Rimac cars, Tomislav Car from Infinum, and Marin Pucar, the President of the Management Board of Podravka, were also nominated in the category for the businessman of the year. In the category of the economic event of the year, Croatia's entry into the European exchange rate mechanism, the growth of Infobip into the category of the unicorn, and the agreement on a new EU financial envelope were also in competition.

Although 2020 was full of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, there were many achievements and inspirational stories.

"When it comes to this competition, we can conclude that this is a year in which there has been a big turn in the selection of the 'most successful'. These are no longer companies that started in the former state or the 90s. This is a year marked by 'some new kids', kids who started businesses with only two laptops, and today have multinational companies whose revenues are dizzying billions," said the editor-in-chief of Večernji list Dražen Klarić.

He concluded that 2020 showed that there are new, inspiring, and young entrepreneurs who are ready to invest here and build big world brands from Croatia.

To read more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Croatian Nanobit's Sale to Swedish Stillfront Will Continue Growth

The sale of the Croatian Nanobit to the Swedish Stillfront Group, which went for a price of almost one billion kuna, is in the competition of the economic venture of the year, ie the acquisition of the year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Tanja Ivancic writes on the 17th of November, 2020, the Croatian Nanobit was built for a full twelve years by two of its founders, Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic, in order to reach the moment when it was necessary to decide whether to sell it or not. To briefly recall, they started out with a fitness app, then spotting space for growth in the gaming sector.

Until then, gaming was reserved for professionals, and what they realised was that everyone else wanted to play, optionally, just for fun. It was this segment that they then decided to cover because ''casual'' pastime games were few and far between and they were poorly made. Thus, the Croatian Nanobit has grown into a prestigious company in the mobile game market.

In twelve years, the Croatian Nanobit has grown to 125 highly educated employees, their games have been downloaded more than 145 million times in total, and are played by more than 10 million active players worldwide on a monthly basis.

What crowned their success is their extremely successful sale for almost one billion kuna to the Swedish Stillfront Group.

Namely, the Swedish Stillfront, whose headquarters are in Stockholm and which is publicly listed on the Nasdaq First North Premier Growth Market, will pay 100 million US dollars in the first tranche for 78 percent of Nanobit shares, and after two years will buy the rest of Nanobit at a price that will depend on the movement of profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of Nanobit in the financial years 2021 and 2022.

The right move at the right time

The total amount Stillfront will pay at the end of the transaction will be up to 148 million dollars. The company, founded back in 2010, has so far had 14 gaming studios in Germany, Malta, Ireland, Sweden, Romania, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, the United States, Austria, Vietnam and now here in Croatia.

Their active portfolio includes 40 games mostly from three areas, strategy, simulation and action role play. When asked why they decided to sell, and not to further their own independent development, Alan and Zoran answered: ''The industry in which we operate is very rough when it comes to competition and there is indeed a real struggle in the global market. It's currently rapidly consolidating and the choice was to join those who will develop the company further or be left on our own against them all. We believe that this was the best we could have done and at the right time, and the situation with the coronavirus crisis also worked to contribute to this move. "

They say from the Croatian Nanobit that they didn't fall for the first offer and that they had at least a few bidders every year. What was almost crucial for them was that the company stays here in Croatia and as such the high autonomy in decision-making remains here too. That's what they achieved. By joining the Stillfront group, Nanobit will gain additional momentum that will allow them to continue growing, developing new ambitious plans and projects.

They're looking forward to cooperating with others within Stillfront, which, they say, will further accelerate the development of both the Croatian Nanobit and the Swedish Stillfront Group, and Nanobit's employees will have the opportunity to work with some of the best in the world, say Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic.

When they say ''cooperate'', they mean that Nanobit's employees have the opportunity to grow and develop themselves, because about 95 percent of their employees have been there since day one and have learned and mastered everything they know at Nanobit.

Since five percent of Nanobit's shares are in the hands of the company's employees, another 20 Nanobit employees will become richer for a large amount of money with this transaction and the move of the founders of Nanobit. They have realised their options on contracts and sold their shares, and conditionally speaking, some of them will become millionaires when the purchase of the entire Nanobit is completed.

It's also worth mentioning, as was announced by the new Swedish owners, in the first half of 2020, Nanobit recorded a rapid increase in revenue to 236 million kuna with an operating profit of 44 million kuna. By the end of the year, they say, the Croatian studio is aiming for revenue of around 460 million kuna in total.

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Background of Croatian Company Nanobit's Sale to Swedes

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of September, 2020, the story of the Croatian company Nanobit and its two founders, Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic, can be ranked among the most successful Croatian stories in the last five years. It started, as is often the case with IT startups - "romantically", without any capital, with only two computers, but with the idea and the will to gain global success in a very competitive industry - the mobile game industry.

The Croatian company Nanobit's founders have been building the company for a full 12 years now and have grown to 125 highly educated employees, their games have been downloaded more than 145 million times in total, and are played by more than 10 million active players worldwide on a monthly basis. And what has crowned their success is an extremely successful sale or, in startup terms, "exit". They sold the company for almost a billion kuna to the Swedish Stillfront group, which has 14 more gaming studios in its portfolio.

Namely, Stillfront, whose headquarters are in Stockholm and which is publicly listed on the Nasdaq First North Premier Growth Market, will pay 100 million US dollars in the first tranche for 78 percent of the Croatian company Nanobit's shares, and after two years, they'll buy the rest of Nanobit at a price that will depend on the movement of profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of Nanobit in the financial years of 2021 and 2022.

When asked why they decided to sell and not to further their independent development, Alan and Zoran answered for Vecernji list:

''The industry in which we operate is very fierce when it comes to competition and there's a real struggle on the global market. It's currently rapidly consolidating and the choice was to join those who will develop the company or stay alone against everyone.

True, we may have once had the idea that we will be the ones to buy other gaming companies, but we should be realistic considering that it's almost impossible to realise this operationally from Croatia, primarily because there is not enough capital. For such a thing we had to start things up in another country, for example, like our customer, in Sweden. As a Croatian company, even if we were listed on the Swedish stock exchange, we wouldn't get such visibility as we are now when we're a component of a Swedish company. It's much harder to do all this from Croatia because companies need a lot more capital for acquisitions, so we believe that this was the best we could do in the right timeframe, and the situation with the coronavirus crisis also contributed to this move,'' Nanobit's founders say, adding that they didn't just fall for the first offer they got and that they had at least a few bidders every year.

''There were various providers, from those related to this business to those who have nothing in common with Nanobit whatsoever. We chose the Swedish company because we estimated that we'd continue to work and develop with them, have knowledge and cooperation with all their components, or with 14 other gaming studios or specifically with 800 quality employees and experts in this field,'' added the founders of the successful Croatian company Nanobit.

What was almost crucial for them was that the company stays in Croatia and has high autonomy in decision-making, ie that everything stays more or less as it was before, with Nanobit's employees getting the opportunity for personal development that ultimately directly affects the company's results.

''During the negotiations with the Swedes, some new bidders appeared who offered us even more money. However, what our goal was is that the company still exists as it is, that it has its headquarters in Croatia and that its employees are safe and taken care of in the best way with the new owner,'' say Alan and Zoran, who will surely remain at the helm of the Nanobit for another two years and continue to work, although their contract doesn't stipulate that they must remain at the helm of the company.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

Unleash the Croatian Entrepreneur & Follow Infobip, Rimac, Nanobit, Infinum

September 18, 2020 - The recent successes of Infobit, Riimac Automobili, Nanobit and Infinum show the potential of the Croatian private sector. Time to unleash the Croatian entrepreneur?

Even though we have only physically met once, one of my favourite people to follow on social media in Croatia is serial entrepreneur Andrija Colak. Co-founder of Croatia's most successful franchise (Surf'n'Fries - now in 5 continents), as well as the innovative smart umbrella, Kisha (which he cheekily sent to President Putin after the World Cup Final to avoid any presidents or prime ministers getting wet due to unexpected rainfall in the future), Andrija kindly agreed to a TCN interview last year in which I asked him about the positive aspects of doing business in Croatia:

In terms of positives... well if you are up for an adventure you have come to the right place :-) Or... if you really want to test your concept and it survives in Croatia, you can conquer the world! hahah! Actually, I'm not joking.

Successful entrepreneurs here tell me that they have succeeded here not because of Croatia, but DESPITE Croatia. So many others have given up with the bureaucracy, high taxes and nepotism, take their concepts abroad and succeed there. 

But some decide to stay and try their luck here - after all, you cannot beat the Croatian lifestyle. 

I sometimes feel that I live in two countries in Croatia. The first Croatia is the same one which is familiar to all its residents, with the worsening economic situation, polarising politics, constant complaining, corruption, and negative mindset. No wonder people are emigrating. 

But the other Croatia is a totally different place, one where only positivity exists, and where I have decided to spend an increasing amount of my time and energy.

The Croatia of the Croatian entrepreneur. 

Despite the obstacles and the negative stigma attached to entrepreneurs in Croatia, these forward-thinking individuals are quietly achieving miracles DESPITE Croatia. One only wonders what could be achieved with the system supporting their efforts. Two stunning announcements in the last 24 hours are the latest in a series of great news from the Croatian entrepreneurial world, and they give a glimpse of what Croatia 2.0 can deliver to this country. And the thousands of jobs that have been created as a direct result of the business ideas of just a few individuals in a country which is in economic crisis is quite staggering. Indeed Rimac Automobili announced last week that it has hired an additional 150 workers during the pandemic, as tens of millions of jobs were being lost worldwide. Just over a decade ago, Rimac was one man in a garage. Today, the company is closing in on 1,000 employees.  

Here are just four things that have happened in the last few weeks, the first two in the last 24 hours (all are links to TCN articles with full details. 

Swedish Gaming Giant Takes Over Zagreb Company Nanobit for Almost One Billion Kuna

Car Magazine: Rimac Automobili to Takeover Bugatti

Infobip: Croatian Company Raises 200 Million US Dollars for Investment

Porsche Digital Croatia Plans to Employ 100 Experts in Next 3 Years in Infinum Partnership

The eco-system of Croatian entrepreneurial excellence is growing, and I come across this excellence daily in my second Croatia. A meeting last week at Human, for example, who earlier this year beat Google at the prestigious Webby awards, considered the Oscars of the industry. In December I was in Berlin to se Bagatin Clinic collect the award for best international cosmetic surgery clinic 2019. And one only has to spend a short time with Nenad and Rujana Bakic and their STEM revolution and exciting partnership with Google.org to know that the seeds of the future are being sown extremely well. 

crop-hrvatska.jpg

Fresh from his successful initiative to introduce the digital nomad visa to Croatia, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to Croatia's economic numbers, Dutchman Jan de Jong and partner Jerko Trgolic are turning their attention to agriculture, with an initial project to grow tomatoes in northern Croatia, using Dutch technology and Croatian land and labour. The first phase will create 72 jobs in an economically depressed part of northern Croatia.

So many seeds, some of which have blossomed such as Rimac, Nanobit and Infobip, and SO many more that could do the same if they were getting the support they deserve rather than punishing taxation and bureaucracy. I have no idea how many jobs Rimac, Infobit, Nanobit and Infinum have created alone, but it is in the thousands. Imagine if the system was conducive to allowing other such ideas and concepts grow in Croatia - how many more tens and hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created? 

Last year, I met an American consultant for the medical tourism industry at a conference in Zagreb, and we talked about what needed to happen for this Croatian industry to progress (an industry with huge - here I go saying the hated 'P' word again - potential). He told me that the role of government was to provide the legislative framework for the industry to thrive, perhaps bring some financing, but most importantly, then get the hell out of the way

For many years, I bought into the story that Croatia was an economic basket case, with no prospects for employment, and that the emigration was inevitable. But in this second Croatia, the world of the Croatian entrepreneur, the situation is completely different, and the opportunity is there, even more so if we can unleash the Croatian entrepreneur to fulfil his or her true potential. 

And we have a very good precedent of how quickly and effectively change can be introduced. An open letter to the Prime Minister from a Dutchman on LinkedIn on July 11 asking for the introduction of a digital nomad visa started a process which resulted with the prime minister tweeting his plans to introduce the visa just 44 days later, with an amendment to the Foreigner's Act introduced to Parliament the following day. Things are moving smoothly behind the scenes, and my understanding is that this legislation should be in place by January 1. 

Croatia a bureaucratic country? It clearly doesn't have to be. 

Unleash the Croatian entrepreneur, and watch many more seeds like Rimac, Nanobit and Infobip start to bloom all over the country. 

Learn more about foreign entrepreneurs making a success of life in Croatia

Friday, 18 September 2020

Swedish Gaming Giant Takes Over Zagreb Company Nanobit for Almost One Billion Kuna

September 18, 2020 - Stillfront Group has acquired Zagreb company Nanobit for at least $100 million (or 1 billion kuna). 

Index.hr reports that Nanobit has become part of the Swedish Stillfront Group, one of the world's leading gaming companies in the free-to-play segment. The transaction will be conducted in two tranches, with Stillfront initially buying a 78% stake for $100 million. After two years, Stillfront will buy the rest of the stake in Nanobit at a price that will depend on Nanobit's earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation (EBITDA) in 2021 2022. The total amount Stillfront will pay at the end of the transaction will be up to $148 million, adjusted for the cash balance.

Stillfront is a leading free-to-play company that brings together 14 gaming studios around the world. It employs more than 800 people, and its main markets are the US, Germany, the Middle East and North Africa, and France and Canada. Headquartered in Stockholm, the company is publicly listed on the Nasdaq First North Premier Growth Market. Their rich portfolio of games is characterized by loyal users and games currently for many years.

Nanobit was founded 12 years ago in Zagreb by Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic without capital, without an office, and with only two computers. Today, Nanobit is present with its games in more than 150 countries worldwide, employs 125 highly educated employees, and is one of the most desirable Croatian employers. Nanobit games have been downloaded more than 145 million times in total, and are played by over 10 million active players from all continents of the world monthly. The most popular games are My Story, Hollywood Story, and Tabou Stories.

The world's most influential media have ranked Nanobit on the list of fastest-growing companies in Europe for many years. This year alone, Nanobit has localized its games in as many as six new languages, namely German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese, and standard English, thus penetrating more than 15 new markets.

Today, Zagreb is the global center of one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, points out Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic from Nanobit.

"The mobile gaming industry is growing rapidly and globalizing, and if we want to remain No. 1, we must move forward. By joining the Stillfront Group, Nanobit gains additional momentum that will allow us to continue growing and developing new ambitious plans and projects. It is quite natural, given that we are in a position to choose a strategic partner, to choose the one that fits into our culture and long-term vision. All those qualities that we nurture internally - entrepreneurial spirit, independence, and innovation - we saw in the Stillfront Group's leadership.

We look forward to working with other successful studios within Stillfront, which will further accelerate the development of both Nanobit and Stillfront Group, and our employees will have the opportunity to work with the best in the world," said Alan Sumina and Zoran Vucinic.

Nanobit will continue to operate as before but is now owned by the Stillfront Group. The headquarters remain in Zagreb, and the company will continue to implement ambitious development plans in the future.

"By acquiring a talented team at Nanobit, Stillfront is expanding into the narrative lifestyle gaming genre, further strengthening its gaming portfolio and increasing reach with a gaming audience. Over the past 12 years, Alan and Zoran, together with their team at Nanobit, have built an impressive gaming studio with a solid niche in the exciting genre of lifestyle games. We look forward to working with them to take the company to the next level. The core gaming portfolio has achieved impressive growth over the past year. We see strong growth potential in the future, including promising new games in development," said Jörgen Larsson, CEO of Stillfront.

The sale is expected to be finalized by September 30, 2020. 

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Monday, 8 June 2020

1.5 Million People Download Croatian Gaming Studio Nanobit's Game

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on thr 5th of June, 2020, Nanobit's games have been downloaded more than 130 million times in total, and are being played by over 10 million active players from across all continents of the world on a monthly basis.

Nanobit, a Croatian gaming studio from Zagreb, which creates lifestyle, casual and narrative games, is becoming increasingly popular in the Arab world. Nanobit's Hollywood Story game recorded great results just three months after its initial launch. So far, it has been downloaded by more than a million and a half players from as many as seventeen countries in the Arab world, and in many of them it remains among the top three games in both Apple and Google Play store rankings.

Nanobit decided to enter the Arab mobile game market in partnership with the leading game publisher in the MENA region, the Jordanian Tamatem. It is a region that includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

Hollywood Story is, due to the specifics of the market, linguistically and culturally adapted to the Arab world, and the game in this area is known as Fashion Queen. It is a game with a fun character through which the player builds their character who goes on to become a Hollywood star. The fact that Nanobit's game in Arab countries has become the ultimate hit has been confirmed by the visit of Queen Rania of Jordan to the centre of Tamatem, where she tested the possibilities of the game first hand - and she was thrilled with it.

"We're pleased with these results. The Arab market, although specific in many ways, has a huge amount of potential, we're so encouraged by the success of this project, with our partner Tamatem, we're already working on new projects. This success is primarily the result of the joint work of all of our colleagues at Nanobit,'' said Filip Cindric, Business Development Manager at Nanobit.

The success in the markets of the Arab world is a new confirmation of the success of this Zagreb-based gaming studio, which was included in the list of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe by the prestigious Financial Times (FT).

Make sure to follow Made in Croatia for more Croatian innovation.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Rimac and Nanobit among 500 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe, Infinum Close Behind

Europe’s economy is recovering, slowly but surely, and joining those currently developing fast are three Croatian companies

Monday, 14 December 2015

First Croatian IT Company to Launch International TV Advertising Campaign

Nanobit ready for the world stage.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Croatian Success Story in the IT Industry

One more success story from the Croatian IT industry. 

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