Thursday, 27 May 2021

Summer Business School: A Chance for Entrepreneurs at Step-Ri Science-Technology Park

May 27, 2021 - This June, a five-day Summer Business School organized by Step-Ri Science-Technology Park and the American Embassy in Croatia makes Rijeka the place for entrepreneurs.

Science parks, research parks or technology parks or less intriguingly known as innovation centers, are a purpose-built cluster of office spaces, labs, workrooms, and meeting areas designed to support research and development in science and tech, says Bidwells, one of the UK's most reputable property consultancy companies. Common infrastructures worldwide and in Europe, the biggest city in Kvarner, Rijeka, is no exception in having one.

Step-Ri is a science-technology park, part of the University in Rijeka, and a place where science and economy meet to encourage entrepreneurship based on knowledge and new technologies.

„As one of the leading institutions in Croatia when it comes to entrepreneurship, Step Ri brings the newest knowledge in innovation and management from around the world through interesting education and business consulting. With our knowledge and experience, singlehandedly and with the help of the international network of partners and friends, we create projects and specialized programs to encourage entrepreneurship initiatives for both employed and unemployed, students, and the scientific community. With new services, business models, personal and organizational competencies, we make already successful entrepreneurs more competitive“, says Step-Ri's official website.
One example of such initiatives is the upcoming Summer Business Camp which will take place from June 23-27. And what's more interesting, this five-day program is brought to Step-Ri in collaboration with the American Embassy in Croatia.

„Summer Business Camp brings teams from all Croatia that want to improve or refine their business ideas and solutions through exercises, lectures, and individual coaching, “says Step Ri, promising extraordinary mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and investors.

This year, special attention will be given to the gaming startups, but other industries are also welcome. Regardless of whether you are already an entrepreneur or just aspiring to be one, you are welcome to apply if you have a developed business idea or a functional prototype.

Learning how to bulletproof your idea, experienced entrepreneur as a mentor, a chance to hear directly from investors what are they looking for and how to deliver it, valuable feedback and honest thoughts to accelerate your project, creating new opportunities, meeting other people in the business, and a having a good time- are some of the promises by Step-Ri for those who apply.

But, it would be best if you hurried, as June 6 is very close, and that's the deadline to beat. At least ten teams will be selected after a committee of experts evaluates project applications. Bed and breakfast accommodation for up to two team members, lunch at the venue, local bus tickets for getting to the venue, and a commemorative T-shirt await for those who are selected. And once in, a panel of venture capitalists, business angels, and business people will award the best with Apple iPad Pro (1st prize), Apple iPad Air 4 (2nd prize), and Apple iPad 8 (3rd prize).

Pieces of technologies such as the aforementioned above can certainly come in handy to entrepreneurs, but what about money? The actual finance for your projects?
„Many teams in the past received funding from participating investors and judges. However, nobody but you can answer that! Come and pitch your idea and see how far it will take you!“concludes Step-Ri regarding finance possibilities to turn your vision into a reality.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

For more about education in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Croatian Bellabeat Leaf Urban Named the Best Smart Jewelry in the World

February 8, 2021 – In a recent test of smart jewelry available on the market, conducted by Business Insider, the Croatian Bellabeat Leaf Urban pendant was named the best smart jewelry, and Bellabeat's Leaf Chakra the best smart bracelet in the world.

As Jutarnji list reports, smart jewelry from one of the first and most successful Croatian startups, the company Bellabeat, was rated the best in the world in the Business Insider survey. They rated Bellabeat’s Leaf Urban pendant as the best smart jewelry in the world, as well as Bellabeat's Leaf Chakra as the best smart bracelet in the world.

The startup of Croatian mathematician Sandro Mur and Slovenian artist Urška Sršen, which became a subsidiary of Five River Group, has been breaking into the market again for the last three years and is succeeding.

Fitness tracker as a work of art

In recent years, Bellabeat has been written about mostly in the context of downsizing and business problems. However, three years ago, they got a new investment, as much as 14 million dollars, started attracting new staff, and now they have received the first major confirmation of their progress in product development.

So far, they have sold two million of their products, and their main market is the US.

Bellabeat states that Leaf Urban, also their best-selling product, is a perfect blend of technology and modern design. They have shown that smart jewelry does not have to be ugly or super masculine to be highly technically useful.

"This piece of smart jewelry in the shape of a leaf turns a fitness tracker into a work of art. It can be worn as a bracelet, necklace or brooch, does not disturb the user with an additional screen, its battery lasts up to 6 months and can monitor your activity, stress level, hydration, menstrual cycle, meditation, and sleep. It connects wirelessly to a mobile app," they point out.

Eight million people use their app

All ideas for Bellabeat's products came from their creative director Urška Sršen. In a recent interview for Jutarnji list, she said that she has been battling autoimmune diseases since she was a child and that she has learned to control them by managing her lifestyle with enough exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, and stress reduction.

“I realized that technology can be a great tool that can help raise awareness of your own lifestyle and hone healthy habits. That's how Bellabeat came to be. Most of the tools that were on the market until then were not so much adapted to women, i.e., users who are not so much focused exclusively on fitness, but on their lifestyle in general," said Sršen, who once ended up on Forbes' prestigious "30 under 30" list.

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Bellabeat Leaf Urban

The smart water bottle Spring, which enables automatic hydration monitoring, is also in their offer, as well as the Time smartwatch and the new Ivy collection, similar to Leaf, which has additional functions for measuring heart rate and cardio coherence.

In addition to hardware, Bellabeat is increasingly working on its software, which is used by about eight million people. Their app offers more and more personalized content, such as tips related to women’s health and beauty, diet recipes, training plan, guided meditations etc.

Testing and collecting data

This Croatian startup has developed an algorithm that can predict stress resistance on any given day. They claim that if you say that you did not sleep well or that you did not exercise, the algorithm itself will predict that you may be more susceptible to stress that day.

Bellabeat's young team develops this content in collaboration with top wellness instructors. Also, when developing all their products and contents, they consult with medical experts and they test and verify everything.

"I think that in the future, technology will be an increasing factor and contributor to the wellness industry's progress. We want to be a ‘data company’. Technology is our tool, but data is our greatest treasure. Based on that, we can further improve our services, but also work on the development of the wellness market in general," concludes Sršen.

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

Monday, 21 October 2019

Zagreb Woman Begins Startup and Attracts 2 Million Kuna Investment

As Novac/Tena Sarcevic writes on the 21st of October, 2019, she isn't even 33 years old, and in just two years, Dragana Lipovac from Zagreb, has managed to get a company on its feet that has attracted around 300,000 euros in investments. Her startup, Hubbig, has succeeded in what she sees as the main point of such companies - "to shake off the established postulates of certain industries."

The industry where Dragana works is the freight forwarding company. She joined the industry at the age of nineteen and gained eleven years of experience in two companies. She realised that there was room for progress and the simplification of complicated procedures in that business, so she came up with the idea of ​​an application (app) that would solve such boring and bureaucratic hassles. She designed Hubbig and reported it to Startup Factory Zagreb, a startup accelerator program run by Zicer, marking just one of many steps taken by the company to date.

''I didn't think Hubbig would become so successful. I had absolutely no expectationsm'' says the founder of the Zagreb-based company, which today, at least judging by the investments it has managed to attract, has an extremely promising future.

Hubbig is actually a web platform that allows small freight forwarders, and larger ones too, to advertise their transportation services. Hubbig then connects carriers with an importer or exporter seeking a service.

''Let's say that a person works in the procurement of a retail chain and his boss tells him to find a transport truck going from Warsaw to Zagreb. Instead of calling several carriers, a person can simply go to Hubbig, enter what he wants to carry, how heavy his cargo is and from which destination he wants to transport it. When the app determines what is needed, Hubbig eliminates the carriers that aren't able to carry the cargo. Along with the carriers, the price they are looking for is automatically calculated,'' Dragana explained.

Otherwise, in a situation like this, several carriers should be called or contacted first, which will take time. This is precisely the area in which Hubbig is solving problems: the app rolls out complete offers, and the user seeking information immediately gets all the information and the specs about potential shipping.

When the user and the carrier connect via Hubbig, the transport is monitored from the moment the goods are picked up until they are delivered.

''The customers are not so alone, we have customer care, we provide all the necessary information and at any time you can send an email or call and ask about whatever you're interested in,'' said Dragana, explaining that the way her company profits from such a business model is very simple: they get a certain commission for every transport carried out.

The users are mostly from Croatia. - People import things. There are electronic components, toys, granites, textiles, furniture... There are various wholesale companies, but also smaller companies that are similar to those in Croatia in the way they function.

As was said before, the impressive Hubbig project, born in Zagreb, has received a lot of attention already at Startup Factory Zagreb, which was the first competition she applied to. She received media attention and came out as one of the winners, that is, her project was one of those that received financial support. At that time, the company was not yet open. In the same period, she entered the Zagreb Connect competition, where she won second place (which also involved a cash prize) and received a certain amount from the CES.

''Overall, this amounted to around 200,000 kuna, which was a great incentive for me to start my own business. That's what I did, and then I started building the platform,'' she stated as she recalls the period of two years ago.

For a person who was just starting out in entrepreneurship, she said, it seemed like a massive sum of money, but she invested all that money in the first five or six months of work alone.

''Of course, we had revenue, so it wasn't too chaotic, but there was still a lot to be invested in development, mostly in the IT dimension of the project. I started looking for extra investments, which I actually got extremely quickly, within three or four months, only to wait longer for it to be done. We got the money from the investments in about a year,'' she explained.

She was helped by her longtime friend Monika Mikac, who is now the co-owner of the company.

''We agreed that I'd give her a share in the company in return for giving me a lot of advice and attracting two investors. Admittedly, it's wrong to say that she attracted investors, they were attracted by the idea and the traffic Hubbig generated in 2018. There were, of course, negotiations with investors, which lasted several months, and due diligence took place. But relatively quickly, we agreed on everything. These are people who invest a lot in startups and aren't worried about their money, and on the other hand, they trust in everyone they invest in,'' said Dragana about Frank Kanayet Yepes, a Colombian who was the first investor in Rimac Automobili, and Ivan Glavaš, who is the founder of blockchain startup Forebit.

''We raised money there, which helped us greatly in our development. In the meantime, we also received a 200,000 kuna loan from Zicer and around 1.3 million kuna from EU funds. In a month, we will be celebrating two years of Hubbig's existence, and I calculated that we raised 300,000 euros in total. We're small, but we've received awards because it is assumed that we will soon become big. We could become competitors to big players. We have the technology that will allow us to do that,'' the Zagreb entrepreneur says.

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

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

What is it like to Work in One of the Top Croatian Startups?

Although the Croatian economic situation isn't the most promising one in the world and you’ll encounter and many young people are leaving the country in search of better future, not everything is as bad as the news might suggest.

Croatia is full of young, driven, educated and ambitious individuals who want to create something for themselves in their own country by founding startups.

On a very long list of successful Croatian startups, TalentLyft, is a name you should remember. It was recently recognised as the best Croatian startup by Global Startup Awards. EU-Startups, the leading online publication with a focus on startups in Europe, has also found TalentLyft to be the most promising Croatian startup you should look out for in 2019 and beyond.

Founded in 2015 in Zagreb by two developers, Mario Buntić and Nikola Biondić, TalentLyft is a startup that developed a recruiting software that modernises and simplifies the recruiting process, in other words, it is a recruiting tool that helps companies find, attract and hire the best talent. It offers both recruitment and marketing solutions to attract the best candidates, and an applicant tracking system to solve post-application problems such as effective candidate communication, a database with all the applicants and their profiles, candidate assessment kits and scorecards, and interview scheduling all in one place.

Today, TalentLyft boasts thirteen full time employees and is currently located at Technopark (venue for startups at Velesajam).

In a brief interview with Total Croatia News, they revealed that startup life in Croatia isn't easy. There are many barriers to overcome in order to enter the market and start a business, starting from bureaucratic conundrums to finding capital investors, which is difficult to do in this environment. There is not much support for small firms and startups, so you’re very much on your own. Instead of focusing on new, promising sectors such as IT, the Croatian Government still invests in outdated industries.

Times and job markets are changing, and so should their investments.

‘’There's always a solid chance that your product will fail,'' they say. The startup life is risky, challenging and uncertain and requires a lot of hard work, devotion, persistence and compromise. However, despite, or exactly because of that, working in a startup offers a unique chance for personal and professional skill development and career advancement. When you are a small startup, you need to deliver a game changing solution and product in order to compete with the big guys. The only way to do that is by having all of your employees constantly learn new things, experiment and innovate.

‘’Since TalentLyft is a small group, every employees’ opinion is important; changes are embraced rapidly making us more agile’’, they state.

They are also proud of the fact that they're working with latest technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, emphasising the fact that their employees’ knowledge needs to be up to date and that you can lose good people if they’re stuck working with old technologies.

‘’Yes it’s the employees’ responsibility to keep learning, but it’s our responsibility to provide them with the tools necessary for that,'' they state from this Croatian startup.

They love the fact that they are a small team because it means there's a better connection: ‘’You know everyone by their name, you work hard together, you share your struggles and the laughs, and you get the chance to build something from the ground up.’’

The startup life is for those who embrace challenges, seek new ways of doing things, and question the status quo.

‘’When you manage to gather together a group of people like that, every day feels like an adventure and there is no challenge you can’t tackle in the end.’’

Let's hope we'll see more examples like this across Croatia in the near future.

Follow our dedicated business page for more information on Croatian startups, Croatian companies, products and services, and doing business and investing in Croatia.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Croatia's Nocturiglow Begins Creating ''Low Tech'' Products for Elderly

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of April, 2019, Croatia's Nocturiglow is currently the biggest startup ''surprise'' in the Republic of Croatia. The story of this startup, which won best pitch at the first Investors Conference @ Algebra Lab, has accelerated beyond all possible expectations.

The Nocturiglow team has developed a low-tech care product for the elderly and infirm which has the same name as the company itself, for those who struggle to get up to go to the bathroom to urinate, or for those who simply cannot for whatever reason. The only, conditionally speaking that is, "technological" thing that Nocturiglow's ''bowl'' possesses is that it has fluorescent elements which make it glow in the dark, which is why it's easy to locate and use during the night. There is a female and a male version.

Nocturiglow's Ivan Babić politely declined to show an image of the design of Nocturiglow's new product, because he is currently in the process of having this intellectual property protected for sale on the EU market.

"We're completely low tech. That was our whole goal, because our competition doesn't focus on quality and user experience, and that's why we think we have room for success," Babić says. He added that Nocturiglow will develop other care products aimed at the older generation in the future, and they will also incorporate sensors, which of course means adding more technology.

Like most millenials today, unsatisfied with the potential income and opportunities that he could accomplish with a master's degree in logistics and management here in Croatia, he was looking for a stroke of luck which would take him down a different path, and so he left Croatia. For three years, he worked as a carer for people with disabilities over in Germany, a job which helped him arrive to this idea in the first place.

"When the STEP-RI startup incubator issued a tender, I applied, I resigned from my job in Germany and came back to Croatia to develop my own business," Babić says. In the past six months, he has made a prototype on his computer with his partner Sara Gunjača and his designer, Ivo Blažinčić.

Now he is preparing to create the very first functional prototype. His plan is to make fifty copies to be shared by test users. Previously, this type of thing was tested through surveys among employees of private and public healthcare institutions.

"We have also noticed that our product is not only good for patients but also for healthcare institutions, because it facilitates jobs for caregivers, as well as insurance companies," added Babić.

He noted that he wants to start selling Nocturiglow's brand new product through his own web store by the beginning of 2020, while the ''attacking'' the EU market through Amazon. He also wants to develop sales to various  healthcare institutions. He has even been in talks with an American company, a partner of Kickstarter, about production. Currently, however, investors haven't come knocking at his door, yet.

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

 

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

Monday, 1 April 2019

Croatian Company to Enter Big Final in Krakow Competition

AMPnet is the best Croatian startup, and it's going to the big final in Krakow, Poland.

As VLM/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of April, 2019, AMPnet's platform focuses on energy cooperatives, an alternative model of sales for electrical energy and the financing of renewable energy sources. Mislav Javor from AMPnet pointed out that the product is now finished, and how their very first clients are knocking at their door.

With the winning project, AMPnet IO d.o.o. was proclaimed as the best Croatian startup this year between nine finalists at the national final of the PowerUp! competition held within the framework of the LEAP Summit, and organised by Invento Capital Partners in Zagreb.

The winning Croatian team will be presented at the Grand Final in Krakow, Poland on May the 21st, where they will compete for large cash prizes of 50,000, 10,000 and 5,000 euros, while the best project will be offered an additional investment of 150,000 euros as well as participation in the prestigious accelerator EIT InnoEnergy Highway, which helps in the transformation of startups, from their early stages of development right up to becoming a successful business venture.

Energy in a new way!

''We're very pleased with this competition organised by Innoenergy together with Invento Capital Partners. We believe that all of the teams have very high quality products, but we're happy that even with such a strong competition, the jury decided on us. We have been developing this product for two years and this victory is one of the moments that confirms that we're on the right track,'' said Javor.

''The PowerUp! competition by Innoenergy's winner, AMPnet, is a team that has a scalable product. Until now, they've shown that they have certain shifts in the market, they have contacts with potential buyers and have managed to attract investors. So, they only need an additional boost to reach the stage from which they can expand across Europe, and hopefully ultimately to the United States,'' said jury member Stevica Kuharski (Fil Rouge Capital).

''I'm truly delighted with the number of quality projects. This was one of the competitions where members of the jury had a difficult job choosing a project that would represent Croatia at the Grand Final in Krakow. What we can do, as a local partner of Innoenergy in Croatia, is to insist that many more of these projects are funded by Innoenergy, regardless of them having not been chosen today. The AMPnet project itself, and the team behind the project, demonstrated the highest degree of readiness, project development and market entrance possibilities,'' said Dalibor Marijanović, founder and partner of Invento Capital Partners, the local HUB in charge of supporting the aforementioned competition in Croatia.

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

 

Click here for the original article by VLM for Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 4 March 2019

Lack of Workforce Obstacle to Continued Development of Croatia

As Adriano Milovan/Novac.hr writes on the 4th of March, 2019, the situation on the Croatian labour market is all the more alarming: despite the significant number of registered unemployed people, there are numerous activities for which a labour force must be imported. With regard to the further trends on the labour market, as well as the challenges that Croatia is facing in terms of a digital revolution, Novac sat down and talked to the leading man of the consulting house of the EC in Croatia, Berislav Horvat. Berislav Horvat has good knowledge of the trends on the labour market, as well as on entrepreneurial scenes across Croatia.

We're approaching the 6th anniversary of EU membership and the 28th anniversary of independence. While we have achieved our main political goals as a country, it's a general belief that we've left it a bit late when coming up with an economic plan. How do you assess the current development of entrepreneurship in Croatia, especially compared to the countries we're usually compared to?

Unfortunately, we have not yet completed the transition process. On the other hand, our entrepreneurs don't yet enjoy the status in our society that they enjoy in other transition countries. In our country, entrepreneurs are still looked at with skepticism, they're still the black sheep in a way, and realistically, they don't deserve such a status. The EC has therefore launched the ''EC entrepreneur of the year'' program, through which we want to show that there are also successful entrepreneurial stories in Croatia.

I personally think that the situation in Croatia and the attitude towards entrepreneurs in the last five years has changed significantly. In that sense, it's enough to say that five years ago in Croatia, practically nobody spoke about startups, funding, and so on. Moreover, these terms weren't even being used. Nowadays, the situation is different: we're talking about that, we look at who started a startup, who invested what, what entrepreneurial incubator was used and the like... So, the focus of the public is slowly changing and turning towards entrepreneurship, but it's not as fast as we'd like it to be.

Exactly. We do have all this Croatia today, but there's still very little of it. Even the many start-up companies belong to ''emergency entrepreneurship'', ie, they're not a real statement of the desire to start a business in order to engage in entrepreneurship, but are driven for the sake of employment...

I think there's far more entrepreneurship in Croatia than we can see. Media attention loves to highlight the negatives and it's difficult for some of the entrepreneurs to become a star in such a situation.

In Estonia, for example, it's different. Their stars were also once football players, athletes, and starlets, but they systematically worked to change that. Today, after twenty or more years, Estonia's main stars are entrepreneurs, which, of course, doesn't mean that their media doesn't highlight lifestyle [sections] and that jet set type people aren't stars. There's enough space for everyone.

But we have not yet reached that level. In our public domain, the best still don't dominate [the scene], those who have created something from nothing and succeeded in life with their own work and effort. We've gone too deeply into the negativity and now we can't get out of it, even in the conditions that in recent years the situation with the economy is much better, as is evidenced by the growth in income and profit of companies. That's why we have the impression that everything is bad, and that's just not the case. You can be successful in Croatia.

When you talk to clients, especially those from overseas who want to invest and start a business here, what do they complain about most?

The main problem over the last few years is the lack of workforce. Mass emigration from Croatia resulted in a shortage of workers. Before that, you could feel a lack of workforce in tourism, hospitality and construction, and now that's the case in almost all sectors. This will surely be a major obstacle to the further development of Croatia. An example is the construction industry, which even for a secure job constructing something, you can no longer find people to do it.

Once, our main problem was unemployment, and now it's a shortage of workers. According to some estimates, even among those who are officially registered as unemployed, there are only actually 10,000 to 15,000 who really are unemployed, while others have remained registered as such for other reasons.

On the other hand, this year we've got a quota of 65,000 foreign workers we can import. This is the record for now, and it's quite certain that this quota, and thus the number of foreign workers in Croatia will grow in the next few years.

Apart from tourism and construction, which sectors lack a workforce the most?

Definitely the IT sector. Practically every IT company I know would hire 100 developers tomorrow because there's a lot of work. Most of them work on foreign markets, where the demand is higher than the supply.

Do you expect bigger waves of emigration from Croatia? Let us not forget that next year the doors of to the Austrian labour market, the last in the EU [to keep restrictions on Croatian workers] will open...

Emigration will still continue. True, Austria could attract a part of our workforce because it's close and workers will be able to come and go virtually from weekend to weekend. So, emigration will continue, but there will be returns, especially as salaries in Croatia are rising. Estimates for the future are difficult to give, but it's clear that the shortage of workforce will remain the number one issue for Croatia in the next few years.

How do we solve the problem of the lack of workforce?

We will have to turn to the import of labour, in the long term. But let's not forget that because of this shortage of labour in Croatia, there's a rise in wages, which means that some of the Croats who have left will come back in time. They will simply begin to calculate whether it's worth living abroad or here. Let's be realistic, many of our emigrants, especially those who are paid less, don't live in the best conditions in the countries they've moved to, so we already have cases where people are returning. The salary increase in Croatia will bring back some of those who left the country.

There is also the problem of education, the programs of which should be adapted to the needs of the labour market, just as enrollment quotas should be.

What could the state do to reduce emigration and boost returns?

The state could intervene in tax policy measures. Further reductions in personal income tax and the abolition of the highest tax rate would greatly help people increase their net salaries. This would lead to less people leaving and some former emigrants returning.

But, how usefeul are such efforts when taking into account the state of public finances, especially the pension and health system?

These measures can be implemented, but the only way to do that is to reduce the spending of the state, on both a central and a local level. This implies reforms. There is also a need to increase the base of people who pay taxes, or more people bring to the labour market.

Now the situation is almost ideal for some action to be taken: in the real sector there is a lack of people, and in the public there is a surplus of employees. The economy is growing, and the government is stable, so there should not be many problems and the solution is obvious. So, we just have to implement the reforms we're talking about. This is a historical moment that this government has and it must use it.

The world is undergoing a new digital revolution, but we're lagging behind. Moreover, we're still dealing with ''classic'' industries. What are the perspectives open to us?

Digitisation opens up a large area, and a large number of companies that are opening in Croatia are IT companies, so we can't say that we're not following trends in the digital world. Existing, already established Croatian companies invest heavily in digitisation. For many Croatian companies, the EC helps in the introduction of software robotisation. While, for example, Gideon Brothers produced real autonomous robots, which instead of forklifts drive pallets by warehouse, and our domestic companies, such as Atlantica, Orbica and Tokić, are already piloting projects with this new technology. Or, let's say, Mate Rimac, our EC entrepreneur of the year, who, besides producing cars, works hard on the development of the use of digital technologies, and all this is happening in Croatia.

You are in contact with investors. What is the current interest in Croatia from investors?

We are a world leader in auditing and consulting services. We have 270,000 employees worldwide, and in Croatia there are more than 220. Among our clients, we have a lot of investors who want to invest here, especially private equity funds. Still, the problem is that they are looking for big investments, those of 20 or 30 million euros, and there aren't many like that in Croatia. In the case of Croatia, it would probably have helped us to have venture capital funds, which would aid startups. Otherwise, HBOR and EIF have recently launched a venture capital program, which is good for entrepreneurship development in Croatia, but, it's also necessary to have a network of business angels, venture capital funds and private equity funds, so that the system can accommodate and enable funding at all stages of entrepreneurship development.

How does the digital revolution reflect on the EC?

The EC is doing a lot of work on digitalisation. We have digitised our internal talent management system and now we have ''click'' solutions. Numerous processes have been robotised. One digital marketing company joined us last year, so now we have a rounded service - from tips to accessing a buyer, to the performance of the app or website. Customers want less advice, they're now seeking complete solutions, and we can offer them that now. This also allows us to work on innovations. We're also investing hundreds of millions of dollars in audit tools and technology so we can carry out EC digital audits worldwide. I can say that a lot has changed since I started doing this job sixteen years ago!

Make sureto stay up to date by following our dedicated business page.

 

Click here for the original article/interview by Adriano Milovan for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Robotics in Croatia: Osijek Startup Has First Croatian Industrial Robot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Zagreb Startups Receive More Than 2 Million Kuna for Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Zagreb-Made System to Prevent Bike Theft Among Central European Startup Elite

The Zagreb startup has created a so-called parking capsule that locks the bike and protects all of its main parts.

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