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.