December 11, 2017 – Connecting entrepreneurs in a hostile business environment – meet Kristina Ercegovic and Business Cafe.
1. Business Cafe – a concept to bring entrepreneurs together in a social environment to grow their business. Sounds fascinating. Tell us more about it and how it started.
I have been an entrepreneur for the past 15 years, and I have built 3 and sold 2 of my businesses.
Business Cafe started 7 years ago spontaneously after people finished my ‘Be Your Own Boss’ workshop and started inviting me for coffee, as they needed motivation, support, guidance, and as I could not handle that due to a lack of time, I saw market research results showing 57% of all business is done over a cup of coffee in Croatia, and immediately I thought of business, coffee and bam – Business Cafe idea was born.
In the past seven years I sold a franchise to 12 colleagues, in 7 countries and more than 25 cities. Besides running Business Cafe I help companies starting out with advice for them to grow and sell their business. I also write blogs and books, but Business Cafe connects all of that.
Business Cafe started as a networking event but it grew into a movement, a new way of doing business. Everyone speaks about our atmosphere and energy. One of our mottos is – Find your tribe and grow your business, and the two main messages are – You are not alone, when you start and run your business, everybody deals with the same stuff, and you can make it anywhere in spite of all the difficult circumstances.
2. Describe a typical event for us.
We invite 3 guest entrepreneurs who have succeeded and talk with them informally about their entrepreneurial journey. They share information, advice, personal and business wisdom. After that we give presents from sponsors to our audience, and then we encourage formal and informal networking. Benefits for guests – support, advice, networking, new business opportunities, and the sense that we are not alone and crazy…
3. Can you cite some examples of success that entrepreneurs have had through the Business Cafe?
Numerous friendships, business partnerships, we cannot count them or follow. Business Cafe has multiple synergy effects not only in Croatia but throughout the whole region. 18 months ago we estimated using a survey that more than 20 million euro of business has been conducted directly via Business Cafe.
3. Croatia is not noted as being the best environment for entrepreneurs. How would you summarise the business climate in Croatia, and have you seen much change in the last ten years?
What business climate?!? I have seen some change, yes, at least every government says small entrepreneurs matter to them the most but they do not act that way. There is some change. I would summarise it like this – people here succeed despite everyone and everything. And you have to be especially crazy to start and run the business here.
4. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur thinking of starting out in Croatia?
Don’t think, just start. Croatia is one of the top places to live in when we look at the whole quality of life. And the whole world is our market.
5. Expansion plans? Is there enough of an international community in the region to move Business Cafe in that direction?
In Zagreb we plan to start an additional 4 Business Cafe events annually. In addition to the regular 6 events, those 4 will be for the international community in Zagreb/Croatia. Some Embassy representatives have already shown their interest.
I am a passionate connector.
Regular BC Zagreb events will be kid/mum/parent-friendly from 2018. – those who have small children will be able to bring them along and they will be taken care of and using different games we will encourage the kids’ entrepreneurial spirit.
Additionally we plan to open Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria.