Sunday, 3 July 2022

Fit for a Queen: US Travel Channel Lists Nin Beach Among Most Beautiful

July the 3rd, 2022 - Croatian beaches are no strangers to magazines and portals listing them as among the most beautiful in the world, and while the Central Dalmatian island of Brac's well known Zlatni rat (Golden horn) beach is often getting the most limelight, one Nin beach, the Queen's beach (Kraljicina plaza) has caught the eye of the Americans.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a very interesting old legend is tied to the name of the aforementioned Nin beach, given that the sheer beauty of this long beach attracted the wife of the first Croatian king Tomislav, Jelena. When the pair came to Nin, they spent many warm family moments on this Nin beach, where Jelena discovered the benefits of its healing mud.

The long stretch of beach and calm shallow waters are perfect for family trips with children and those who want to enjoy a more tropical atmosphere on a beach quite unlike those typically found along the rugged and dramatic Croatian coastline. There are amusement parks for children and restaurants and cafes nearby, so you don't have to go far to enjoy a coffee or lunch with a view of the Nin lagoon and of the imposing Velebit mountain range.

The only problem with this particular Nin beach will be the lack of shade on offer, but for those who want to take advantage of the long, hot summer days and replenish their vitamin D stocks, this will only go hand in hand with their plans. For everyone else, there are umbrellas and sunbeds which offer an escape from the harsh rays.

For those who love activities, the Nin wind is suitable for windsurfing, and you can rent pedal boats or enjoy flying kites.

Near this stunning Nin beach is the largest known locality of naturally occurring healing mud in all of Croatia.

The healing mud was used by tens of thousands of visitors on summer mornings, and it was also used way back during Roman times. Queen Jelena herself allegedly used it.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 13 June 2022

USA Swimming Team Training at Rijeka Kantrida Pools

June the 13th, 2022 - The USA swimming representation is preparing and training for the world championships at no less than the Rijeka Kantrida pools - and for the third time.

As Morski writes, the much loved Rijeka Kantrida pools, from where a gorgeous view of the Kvarner Bay can be seen, has caught the eye of the American swimming team, which arrived in Rijeka on the eve of the World Swimming Championships for their final preparations.

The USA national swimming team consists of 41 swimmers and 30 staff members, and preparations are underway at the Rijeka Kantrida Pools for the World Swimming Championships, which will be held in the Hungarian capital of Budapest from June the 8th to the 25th. The American national team chose the Rijeka Kantrida Pools for their preparations for the third time - they have already held their training camps in the City of Rijeka in both 2015 and 2017.

Olympic champions Ryan Murphey and Leah Smith, who are preparing at Rijeka's famous pools for the third time now, are also preparing for the World Championships. Ryan Murphey is one of the best backstroke swimmers in the world: he is a multiple-time Olympic winner (Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021) and a multiple winner of gold medals at world championships, while Leah Smtih is a multiple winner of Olympic and world medals.

''The Rijeka Kantrida Pools, the construction of which was completed ten years ago, were specifically planned with the aim of providing quality conditions for training and competitions of athletes, as well as the recreation of non professionals, and the location of the swimming pool complex near the Adriatic Sea makes it one of the most beautiful in the entire Mediterranean,'' Rijeka Mayor Marko Filipovic said at a press conference.

He stressed that the pool complex was primarily planned to provide quality conditions for people to play sport, swim and enjoy some recreation time, but also has its commercial note, especially in preparation for important international swimming competitions, which greatly contributes to the promotion of Rijeka and Croatia as a whole as tourist destinations.

In addition to the Americans, the Rijeka Kantrida Pools have so far been used by the national teams of Norway, Denmark and Austria, Japan, Estonia, Germany, Sweden, Latvia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. In a recreational sense, the pools have been used by about 3.5 million users, or almost a thousand a day. The Singapore national team and the long-distance swimming team from Great Britain are also currently training in Rijeka. Rijeka as a city has continued to record some very good numbers in terms of water sports - in the first five months of this year, the city recorded 5% more reservations from different groups compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

For more, check out our sport section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Two Black Hawk Helicopters, Donated by USA, Presented at Pleso Airbase

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - Two multi-purpose Black Hawk (UH-60M) helicopters, donated to Croatia by the USA, were presented at the Pleso military airbase on Wednesday, with Defence Minister Mario Banožić participating in the first test flight.

The two Black Hawk helicopters and their equipment are valued at $138 million, with $53 million provided by the US government and $85 million by the Defence Ministry.

The helicopters will primarily be used to transport people and equipment. They can transport up to 11 passengers and two technical pilots.

They can develop a speed of up to 360 kilometres per hour, their ceiling altitude is six kilometres and the maximum flying distance 511 kilometres.

US envoy, Commanding General, Special Operations Command-Europe Major General David Tabor underscored that with the US donation, Croatia has strengthened its capabilities and security as a country and as a member of NATO.

After the test flight, Minister Banožić said that the helicopters are equipped with excellent equipment.

He said that the plan is for the other Black Hawks to arrive by the end of the year.

With regard to the training of Croatian pilots, Banožić said that "enough of them have undergone training until now" but he didn't want to reveal how many.

He commented on the replacement of the Soviet-made Mi-8 and Mi-171 helicopter fleet whose resources expire in 2023, saying that talks were being held with the allies and partners regarding further steps. 

Talking about the construction of hangars for the new equipment, Banožić said that infrastructure development was launched in 2021, however, problems occurred with the public procurement procedure and it had to be cancelled.

Two hangars are currently subject to public procurement procedure. They should be built in six months' time after the procurement is signed, Banožić said, noting that two new hangars should be built by 2023.

Attending today's presentation of the US military donation was also President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Zoran Milanović.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

American Interest in Croatian Customs and Tourism Increasing Each Year

May the 16th, 2022 - It appears that the interest of American citizens for Croatian customs and tourism is growing year on year, with the number of people lining up outside the Massachusetts Avenue Croatian Embassy increasing.

As Morski writes, after a two year break caused by the unprecedented global coronavirus pandemic, which saw international travel, at least for tourism and leisure purposes, almost grind to a halt, embassies in Washington are now open to the public on Saturdays in an attempt to arouse US citizen interest in visiting various different countries across the globe.

This popular event is called "Passport DC'' and sees the many countries that have diplomatic missions located in the capital of the United States present themselves to people there in order to attract and interest them further when it comes to travel and tourism throughout 2022.

There are more than 175 foreign embassies and consulates in Washington alone, and European Union (EU) countries opened their doors to American visitors this Saturday.

Judging by the long line in front of the Croatian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, the interest of Americans in Croatia and as such Croatian customs and paying a visit to this country is growing every year, as reported by HRT.

In the first part of Saturday alone, the Croatian diplomatic mission was visited by more than a thousand US citizens who wanted to learn more about Croatian customs, cities, food, history and the country's very rich tourist offer.

For many people, a visit to the Croatian Embassy in Washington as part of the ''Passport DC" event is a prelude to going to the Republic of Croatia on holiday, so for a lot of those visiting, a decision has likely already been made to cross the ''pond'' and arrive in Croatia in the coming weeks and months.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Zagreb Startup Optimoroute Gains Impressive Results in USA

April the 13th, 2022 - The Zagreb startup Optimoroute has been gaining some truly excellent results across the pond on the American market.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, the recently held American-Croatian Forum in Zagreb raised questions from many domestic companies about what they can provide to Americans and Americans in business. The successful Zagreb startup Optimoroute was able to give them the answer and a hint at the direction in which they should go.

The Zagreb startup Optimoroute stated that Croatian enterprises should try to place an innovative product with expertise in its application and adaptation for different industries. The company run by the Saric brothers - Marin (Chief Executive Officer, CEO) and Frane (Chief Technical Officer, CTO), as co-owners (the third is their friend Goran Kukolj) has developed software, ie a platform for route optimisation and organisation and scheduling field work for the likes of deliverymen and drivers, which brings savings to companies.

With today's disrupted logistics-distribution-supply chains, any method that would reduce the consumption of both variables in the saying "time is money" is highly desirable, and this is best recognised by Americans, Optimoroute's most numerous customers, of which they have more than 2,500 worldwide.

"Our biggest market is America and it has the strongest growth (70 percent of all our revenue), and we have very good results in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Our sales team routinely deals in foreign markets without talking to them live or on the phone. How much we've grown is best shown by the fact that this year alone we sent several million SMS messages through which we informed our customers about the details of their deliveries or the arrival of their service technicians,'' the Zagreb startup Optimoroute's founders explained. There are also small florists and factories, distributors, and also sector leaders among their clients:

“Our client and fresh food supplier is Hardie’s whose 160 trucks make thousands of deliveries a day across the state of Texas. With the OptimoRoute platform, they reduced the distance travelled by 20 percent and increased their delivery capacity by 16 percent. The planning process has been accelerated 8 times, and now one person is doing what a team of people used to do,'' say the Saric brothers. Just how efficient and adaptable their innovative platform is for all SUVs is illustrated by yet another example:

"When a severe snowstorm hit the northeastern United States recently, some 16 million Americans were affected. The services involved in snow removal used our platform with which they could act in the field much faster. Given that with our software, one person does more work in half a day than a team of 8 logisticians would do in a month, it isn't surprising that we've reached a lot of clients,'' explained the men behind the Zagreb startup Optimoroute.

"We're currently in talks and we hope that some of those talks will result in some new customers as they're aware of the importance of modernising their logistics to become more competitive in the global market," said Frane and Marin Saric. An important piece of news for their business, aside from the fact that they have doubled their number of employees to 40 since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and that they have grown significantly when it comes to revenue, they also believe that they have attracted top managers. Although their entire engineering process is right here in Croatia, Optimoroute is, as they say, an international company that employs experts from the USA, as well as from the rest of Europe in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

"As energy prices continue to rise, companies are becoming more sensitive to fuel consumption, which is another reason why our platform is so useful to them," concluded Frane and Marin Saric from the Zagreb startup Optimoroute.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Croatian Companies to Find American Market Much Easier to Enter

April the 6th, 2022 - Croatian companies are set to have much easier access to the much desired and very demanding American market.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, in the shadow of the current war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion and potential threats to Europe, security dominated the topics of the recently held Croatian-American Business Forum, which began in the City of Zagreb on Monday, on the anniversary of the founding of NATO. Opening the meeting, President Zoran Milanovic pointed out that Croatia joined the North Atlantic Alliance because of the United States.

"Only because of American help and protection, Croatia is in NATO, not because of London, not even because of the constructive and friendly Berlin, but exclusively because of the United States," he said, thanking the United States for being the ''only country in the 1990s as a state to have provided support to Croatia''. Speaking on video, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent a strong message that "an attack on you is an attack on us", adding that the United States will "always have Croatia's back''.

Commenting on the recent NATO meeting, President Milanovic said that it didn't mention countries "that have a problem with their own identity, affiliations, and awareness of who is their friend and who is their enemy", especially emphasising the commonly problematic neighbouring Serbia as a country that Croatia wants as a "good neighbour". He told Belgrade to ask itself if it was a part of the West or not, and to declare where it felt it belonged and not to cause continued confusion. He criticised NATO for not talking about the Western Balkans, while discussing countries such as Georgia and Moldova. "Is now the time to root out the malignant Russian influence (in the region, op. cit.) that we've been hearing about for years?" Milanovic asked.

The security aspect is a key precondition for the development of business ties, and the abolition of the visa regime and the finalisation of agreements on the avoidance of double taxation will contribute to the strengthening of economic cooperation, providing a spring in the step of many Croatian companies. The head of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Andrea Doko Jelusic said that the agreement was "in process and that the Ministries of Finance in both nations are negotiating the terms of the agreement", but that it should happen "very soon" after which it must be confirmed by the Parliament and the Senate.

It is difficult to say exactly how many American companies operate in Croatia because many operate through European subsidiaries.

"I think at least a third of our chamber operates like that. If you look in the court register you'll see that the country of origin is the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. We've calculated that the volume of trade between companies connected to Croatia and the United States is approximately 9 percent of Croatia's GDP,'' said Doko Jelusic, noting that companies on both sides of the Atlantic employ about 20,000 workers. "With the entry into force of this contract, it will be much easier, especially for smaller Croatian companies. American companies usually work through large European headquarters, so it may not be so critical for them. It's to be expected that Croatian companies will be able to enter the American market in a much more easy way,'' she said.

How much can Croatia, a small European country with a chronic problem of non-competitiveness, provide to the huge American market with about 326 million inhabitants?

"Ireland is small, too. However, it's a question of focusing on certain industries, high added value where you can be competitive, where you can sell expensively, have expertise, so why wouldn't it have something to offer?'' asked Doko Jelusic.

Mihael Furjan, the leader of Pliva and HUP (Croatian Employers' Association) pointed out at the panel discussion that it is impossible to be a global player in business without a focus on the American market.

"It's crucial for the investor to be safe, so it's important that Croatia is part of NATO and the EU, and soon Schengen. It's important that investors see that there is a secure business climate, legal system and framework, otherwise they just won't come. There are many wonderful places around the world where a much better yield can be made than in Croatia, so it's important that as a small country we're part of a secure system,'' said Furjan, adding that he thinks Croatia could learn a lot from the United States.

“When it comes to where the US is best when compared to others, it's definitely in terms of innovation and education. We can debate a lot about education, but the fact is that the best business schools are in the US. We need to ''copy-paste'' that,'' added Furjan, emphasising that there needs to be a ''critical mass'' in order to penetrate the American market, and he sees the potential for strengthening economic ties in the IT segment, in energy, and in the pharmaceutical industry.

"Croatia is home to less than 1 percent of the EU's population, we can't export large volumes to the United States because we can't meet their demand. We have to find a niche to be a big player because we can't go to the US market with small volumes, which is important to be efficient,'' he said.

Koncar CEO Gordan Kolak agrees that security is paramount. 

"Many investors when asked about investing in Croatia mention the safrty aspect,'' said Kolak, adding that in the last two years, Koncar has been forced to withdraw teams from Africa and Scandinavia and to stop talks with partners in Ukraine. "Without security, you can't count on business prosperity," he said. Koncar concentrates on renewable energy sources and digital solutions in the energy sector, counting on several decades of experience in hydro and wind energy. "We have the knowledge and the technology, we're counting on that when we talk about expanding our business in the American market, where we have several projects," noted the head of Koncar.

Silvio Kutic from Vodnjan's Infobip, the first Croatian unicorn, commented on the fact that his company, which today employs 2,600 workers, is in the acquisition phase. He said that with a good idea, a company can cause a disruption in the market, especially emphasising the advantage of the American market in the form of abundant capital available for financing innovative ideas.

"Everything that can facilitate the mobility of companies to the United States is important, I urge everyone, especially in the IT sector, not to look at it (the absence of a double taxation agreement, opa.a.) as an obstacle. We're counting on it to make the situation easier for us in the future,'' stated Kutic.

Ruza Tomic Fontana, President of the Management Board of Coca-Cola HBC Adria, pointed out that Croatia as a country should strengthen its education system according to the needs of the business environment, but that employers must also contribute.

“We need more dialogue between the business and private sectors about the business environment, anything that can help when it comes to creating a more stable environment. I would focus on the amount of the total tax burden and solve the problem of labour shortages,'' she said.

For more on Croatian companies, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Croatian Company Teams Provoke Interest from Global Giants in Las Vegas

January the 11th, 2022 - Croatian company teams have impressed some truly global giants in Las Vegas recently. From Amazon to Microsoft and Apple, huge names have shown interest in what these Croatian company teams have to offer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the winners of Idea Knockout - Sportreact, Codelab, Iron Bull and Orqa - presented their innovationd at the world's largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which took place in Las Vegas for the 55th time from January the 5th to the 8th, 2022.

They were joined by the Croatian startup Zuluhood, which was among the ten most promising startups at this year's CES, highlighting a number of innovations for home security.

For the current winner of Idea Knockout, the startup Sportreact, going to Las Vegas was an opportunity to present itsself to international technology journalists, investors and distributors, and among the potential investors was no less than the global giant Amazon.

Croatian company teams presented their innovative products among 800 startups from around the world that exhibited at Eureka Park, for which more than 3,000 new companies applied. In doing so, they attracted the attention of representatives of technology giants such as Apple and Microsoft.

Croatian innovation in Las Vegas

Sportreact is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) device intended for the development of the motor and cognitive abilities of users, intended for both recreational and professional athletes. It is connected by a mobile application (app) that measures and analyses numerous parametres during the individual's physical training.

Codelab introduced the electronic board game Clockwork Briefcase in Vegas, in which the goal is to deactivate a fake explosive hidden in a suitcase.

Iron Bull is an indie-studio for developing highly-realistic robotic tank models with real-tank operational capabilities, including their launch, plastic missile firing capability, and a system for detecting received missiles and any incurred damage. The tank is equipped with a wide-angle camera and is controlled by two players.

The Osijek startup Orqa developed Orqa FPV, which are goggles for the management of drone races and other professional (industrial and civil) drone applications. They also presented a new model of drone goggles while in the USA, a 5G module and a learning controller on a simulator at CES.

The general sponsorship of Idea Knockout, the largest regional competition of technological ideas organised by the Bug magazine, is part of the long-term strategy of Hrvatski Telekom (Croatian Telecom), which is establishing itself as the largest startup accelerator in all of the Republic of Croatia.

In addition to these five startups and Croatian company teams, two more from the PISMO Business Incubator - Grow and Hiroma Design - exhibited their respective products.

Grow unveiled their smart glasses for the deaf that should make life easier for the 72 million people in the world who suffer with various types of hearing problems, while Hiroma Design developed the Moopies educational app in which children connect with characters and become teachers, not just students, while their time spent in front of the screen is controlled by their parents.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Vodnjan Infobip's Taking Over of American Rival is Step Closer to Wall Street

November the 4th, 2021 - The Vodnjan Infobip company has gone from strength to strength over recent years, and now, with its most recent take over of an American rival, this remarkable Croatian company is edging ever closer to Wall Street.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the first, and so far the only Croatian ''unicorn'', the Vodnjan Infobip, is continuing with its ambitious expansion. After a financial injection of half a billion dollars last month, this company acquired the American Peerless Network, a global provider of VoIP (Voice over IP) services.

Although the value of the transaction remains a secret for now, it is on the trail of plans to go public in New York in late next year, or in early 2023. This latest acquisition comes after the Vodnjan Infobip company realised a 500 million US dollar loan last month with the main investors being credit funds managed by Ares Management Corporation and those managed by BlackRock, under the advisory baton of Morgan Stanley.

''This new financing places Infobip in an exclusive group of renowned high-growth and high-value technology companies, which have used a similar form of financing. This is Infobip's second round of external financing, after a significant strategic investment by the capital investment company One Equity Partners (OEP) in the total amount of 300 million euros from the second half of last year,'' the company said in a statement.

They don't want to talk too much about the details of the transaction, stating only that the payment was made with a combination of money and shares from Infobip, as well as the fact that the management of Peerless will invest parts of its ownership shares in the Vodnjan Infobip company. The conclusion itself depends on the green light of the regulator.

By stepping into the US market, Infobip is set to inherit a lucrative piece of cake of the ''voice over IT'' services market as Peerless is a leader in this segment covering over 93 percent of the US population. It has more than 4,500 interconnections in 49 (US) states and a turnover of nine billion minutes per month across more than 200 markets.

''By taking over the Peerless Network, we're accelerating our international strategy. This is a very positive thing for Infobip from a financial, strategic and operational point of view. It enables us to grow our business even more strongly over in the USA, which is in line with the strategy of the Peerless Network,'' said Silvio Kutic, the CEO and co-owner of Infobip.

“Together, we'll offer companies and people around the world our services through a truly global network supported by local teams. Of course, the goal is to provide the best user experience on the market. We have an exciting period ahead of us and big things are just starting to happen for Infobip,'' he added.

“We're very excited about all the possibilities that the combination of Infobip and Peerless will bring. It will allowsus to scalably expand our services, capabilities and offers to our customers. By combining our market-leading voice offering and Infobip's global messaging capabilities, we're creating a strong foundation to become a leader in the fast-growing cloud communications market,'' said John Barnicle, CEO of Peerless Network.

"This acquisition will, among other things, enable Peerless Network to provide comprehensive support to its customers who have business needs outside of the United States," he added.

The range of services boasted by the Vodnjan Infobip company enables companies to communicate with a large number of their customers via messages, e-mail or chatbots. Among their clients are massive world names such as Uber, LG, Sberbank, and their services are also used (among recreational athletes) by the very popular Strava application. Peerless, on the other hand, brings a narrower segment of communication, VoIP, under the umbrella of Infobip.

Thus, the joint solutions of the two companies would ultimately be able to process more than 30 billion monthly user interactions across a full range of communication channels in more than 190 countries around the world.

When asked whether the acquisition of Peerless completely exhausted the aforementioned financial injection, Infobip didn't want to specify. It is to be assumed that this is not the case since it was previously announced that they would consider several acquisitions before going public, and it was confirmed to Bloomberg that "the takeover cycle isn't over".

Plans for an initial public offering of shares on the New York Stock Exchange are in full swing, and if we briefly recall, the CEO and co-owner Silvio Kutic told Bloomberg back in May that after the completion of funding (the latest rounds) the company could be ready for an IPO in the next 18 to 20 months.

In the first quarter of the year, the Vodnjan Infobip company's revenue grew 57 percent compared to the same quarter last year thanks to the acquisition of OpenMarkets, after which the valuation exceeded 1 billion US dollars, seeing Infobip crowned with the prestigious status of a unicorn. This year, they also took over the Croatian Shift franchise and the world's leading SMS firewall service provider, Anam Technologies from Ireland.

Infobip's expected revenues this year should amount to 1.2 billion euros, repesenting very rapid growth compared to last year's level of about 720 million euros, or about 600 million euros achieved back in pre-pandemic 2019.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Tasks from Zagreb Kids Escape Room to be Solved in United States

October the 13th, 2021 - Tasks from the Zagreb kids Escape Room are set to be solved across the pond in the world's strongest economy, the United States of America.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, entering the United States of America, the world's strongest economy, is an unfulfilled dream for many Croatian citizens, let alone entrepreneurs and business owners, which will in some ways be much easier to achieve when the needs for visas is revoked on December the 1st, 2021.

Kruna Josimovic is from Zagreb, she's an author and the initiator of the Zagreb kids Escape Room, a playroom at the Zagreb Fair (Velesajam) for children aged 8 to 12. She's looking forward to heading across the pond, because she has managed to export her concept, the only one of its kind in Croatia and all of Europe. Her escape room will find a home in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Variations on the topic of solving tasks in space and time are part of the entertainment and tourism repertoire in many cities, including Zagreb, and this has been the case for years, but it's all mostly been for adults.

The peculiarity of this lies in the name - for children, from those who have just started school to the "preteen" generation, which is an increasingly lucrative category of consumers whose appetites, especially in America, are challenging to satisfy. Josimovic started this business, which will open franchises through the Bright Entertainment Group.

The first already exists in Podgorica, Montenegro.

"I accidentally discovered escape rooms in Zagreb, I did them all all and the concept delighted me. That sort of thing only appeared in this country five or six years ago and the target audience was adults, so the tasks, the elements, the "time limits" and the fact that you were left to work things out for yourself weren't adequate for younger children,'' says the entrepreneur, who has a wealth of experience with children to boast of. She therefore wanted to "translate" the model of decipherment through play, with an educational note, into the language of children, then came the proverbial birth of the Zagreb kids Escape Room.

"Researching the market, I saw that there's something similar in Slovenia, but they gave up with the idea, so everything was up to me. We started with 80 square metres of space in Maksimirska, in the first year, I created three new themed rooms and due to great interest I moved to the current larger space we have now,'' explained Josimovic.

Each room includes 10-15 tasks to be completed by a group of up to 9-10 children, which takes an hour, and the work is based on three things - the gamemasters (leaders) are with the children, they help guide them in solving the tasks, there are no limits and there is nothing intimidating in the rooms.

The current setup proves it - The Land of Sweets (on the theme of fairy tales, more specifically The Nutcracker), Aliens (exploring the planets and escaping from aliens) and Professor B. (a detective on the hunt for a miracle drink). A treasure hunt for 20 children will be introduced soon.

Unlike museums, theatres, exhibitions and the like where children have to be quiet, calm and not touch anything, here they have full freedom, everything is available to them and they can and must touch and open, view, explore, and use their brains,'' the creator of the first Zagreb kids Escape Room explained.

Such a description also attracted Americans, more specifically the Bright Entertainment Group, which is present here in the Republic of Croatia with the Museum of Illusions, also an original Zagreb product that has expanded globally through franchises.

“As franchise expansion partners, they were thrilled with the content, they got in touch with Lol Entertainment, which operates predominantly in Chicago and Philadelphia, and presented the concept to them. Negotiations lasted for three years, they were slowed down by the pandemic, and no matter how much explanations were provided by emails and Zoom, they had to physically see what it looked like and we finally met just now, back in September,'' Kruna explained, recalling the beginnings with the Americans.

They confirmed to her that they didn't have anything of the sort, and that in examining the market for children aged 8-12, they concluded that it would "fit" them. In her project, she says, they recognised originality, innovation, play and education. Money was, of course, also a very important factor in it all.

"The whole story is also profitable, the ratio of what's invested and what is returned is excellent. I can’t yet say how much they're willing to invest. We called the franchise project the Cluville Kids Escape Room and the plan is to have at least one of them in Chicago by the spring, maybe two, and then two more in Philadelphia,'' points out Josimovic.

Oman, Riyadh, Dubai, and Tel Aviv were all to follow, all on reconnaissance in Zagreb, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the expansion of this Croatian product into the Middle East, so, what does Kruna actually expect from America?

"My expectations aren't small, it's a great success to be able to sell something at all, let alone to someone who invented the entertainment and edutainment industry, but it's very difficult to make something original and experience success like that here in Croatia," she said.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

American-Croatian Entrepreneur Boris Miksic Makes €7 Million Investment

October the 12th, 2021 - American-Croatian entrepreneur Boris Miksic has made an enormous seven million euro investment, and although the Croatian public still thinks of him in a political light, there's much more to this businessman than many notice, unless you're from Slavonia...

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, a very long time has passed since businessman Boris Miksic was a rival to politicians Stjepan Mesic and Jadranka Kosor back in the 2005 presidential election, becoming a sensation in the number of votes won, behind these two the third of thirteen candidates, but even today this episode seems to be the first association with him the public has.

For many people, on the other hand, in Eastern Croatia, he was and remains above all, an entrepreneur, innovator, and an employer, which he became known as with the beginning of his business development in Croatia way back in the early 2000s.

In Beli Manastir, Boris Miksic has had a Ecocortec polymer processing plant for about fifteen years now, which boasts anti-corrosion protection technology, which he patented in 1977 over in the USA in the Cortec Group. At the end of the year, the construction of a new factory in the Business Zone of Beli Manastir is now set begin. Boris Miksic's own investment stands at more than seven million euros.

''As part of the new factory (which will stand on land covering 5,000 square metres, with the hall spanning 2000 square metres itself), there will be a modern line for recycling plastic packaging and a plastic processing plant for further extrusion in our existing factory and in the factories of our partners in Japan, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. Another three-layer extrusion line will also be installed in the existing hall and a new line for making plastic bags intended for industrial packaging will be there,'' explained the businessman.

Raw materials from renewable sources

After the construction of the plant in the Ecocortec production and logistics complex, about a hundred people will work there. According to Boris Miksic, Beli Manastir will be the largest factory with such an assortment in all of Europe and the second in the entire world, after the American Cortecs. It should be operational by the end of 2022 if there are no major delays in the supply chain. So far, Miksic has invested more than 20 million euros in the Republic of Croatia.

The entire Cortec Group is, by the way, still the world's largest manufacturer of so-called VCI packaging (which protects against corrosion) sold in hundreds of countries worldwide, and among the clients are some major players in the automotive and electronics industry (such as Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Bosch, IBM, GE, Airbus, ExxonMobil, and Croatia's very own Koncar).

"With a new range of patented products based on raw materials from renewable sources, such as PLA plastics, we're positioned as leaders in the circular economy," added Boris Miksic.

The need for anti-corrosion protection didn't abate even during the coronavirus pandemic, on the contrary, business results last year and so far in 2021 were, according to Miksic, solid, and "in Croatia, they were above expectations". Revenues in 2020, according to Poslovna Hrvatska (Business Croatia), amounted to close to 50 million kuna, with profits soaring to an impressive 5.78 million kuna.

"Ecocortec had sales growth of 25 percent, which is just proof that my investment in my homeland was well thought of and even better performed thanks to excellent management teams and the dedicated work of all employees," said Boris Miksic. 90 percent of everything done in Slavonia is exported - to the EU, USA, China, Indonesia, Turkey, and Russia. Due to the lockdowns of 2020, the supply was somewhat disrupted, but more than 98 percent of the deliveries to customers was still carried out properly and on time.

"Our competitive advantage is vertical integration, so we didn't really have any delays," added Boris Miksic.

Recently, he further strengthened his position, his company Cortecros took over the Crosca/INA logistics centre in Kastel Sucurac in Dalmatia. They have been using this facility since way back in 1998 but now it is completely theirs and they have some very ambitious plans for it.

"Over the past few years, we've started the production of ecological anti-corrosion products for the market of Southeastern Europe, which we're expanding to the EU, Russia and the Middle East, thus doubling our capacities,"  Miksic announced.

Although he has very much distanced himself from the often murky world of Croatian politics, at least actively, when asked about the assessment of the entrepreneurial climate in Croatia in relation to what he found upon arriving here, the owner of Ecocortec recalls the motto of his political activity: ''when the economy breathes, society flourishes''. He added that he'd like to see Croatia dragged up from being at the very bottom of the EU in many cases.

''I've always had a vision of Croatia as an ecological oasis in the heart of Europe,'' concluded Boris Miksic.

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