Spreading the Entrepreneurial Mindset in Croatian Society: Next Steps

Total Croatia News


A week has passed since the first Entrepreneurial Mindset conference in Zagreb on September 12, 2019. And preparations are being made to build on its initial success. 

I have been to many conferences in the last few years in Croatia. Many end with a feel-good factor, but as soon as the conference is over and the next day’s news stories are consumed, that is often the end of the story and of the initiative. 

Last week was different. 

There is a new kid on the block in Croatian society, and it is a kid which is much more interesting than tourism and with the potential (that word which one always seems to apply to Croatia) to generate more income than tourism itself – the dedicated and driven Croatian entrepreneur. 

Last week’s conference in Zagreb brought together some of the very top names in Croatian entrepreneurship, as well as heavyweights from the diplomatic world, for the start of a new initiative to share the success of Croatia’s entrepreneurs and to tell their stories – and their failures – in a big to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the younger generation of Croats. TCN caught up with Mr. Positive himself, Ognjen Bagatin, conference co-organiser and CEO of Bagatin Clinic to find out how the conference went and what happens next. 

  1. Firstly congratulations on a very successful Entrepreneurial Mindset conference, which was very inspirational for all who attended. How would you sum up the conference now that you have had time to reflect on it for a few days?

Thank you for your kind words. It was a really inspirational day with top entrepreneurs in Croatia inspiring and sharing their experiences so we all can grow. Sum of the conference is that we have successful stories in Croatia, that you can succeed in Croatia if you work hard, if you are persistent, if you have a vision, courage, if you celebrate other’s success and you are not afraid of making mistakes. I think we planted a seed of a new hope for Croatia and presented the new leaders and role models of the country that we all can be proud of, leaders like: Mate Rimac, Silvijo Kutić, Nenad Bakić, Alan Sumina, Aleksandra Dojčinović, Matija Žulj, Ivan Mrvoš and many many others. We thank them all for their commitment.

  1. As an outside observer, one of the nicest aspects of the conference was seeing the special young guests in the front row of the audience. Tell us a little about them.

I appreciate your question, because the main idea of this conference was to influence the young people. This is why, together with EY Croatia and HUP (CEA – Croatian Employers Association), we made possible for the kids who won top prizes in their contest „Poduzetnici Budućnosti“ (Entrepreneurs of the Future), which involved more than 50 high schools from all over Croatia, have a chance to be a part of the conference and watch their role models from the first row as our VIP guests. 23 young, future entrepreneurs were delighted to be there and our responsibility is to make sure they succeed.

  1. The conference finished with an award for Vladimir Mihajlović. Tell us a little about him and his contribution.

It was very touching and I am glad that we as the organizing committee acknowledged the work Vladimir did for the past 13 years in Slavonia where he brought more than a hundred entrepreneurs, managers and business people to give inspirational speeches to elementary school and high school pupils. He is one of true silent leaders in Croatia and an example for all of us. He is a driving force in promoting entrepreneurial mindset amongst our kids which is why we gave him this prize and awarded him with the lifetime award for promoting entrepreneurship with Magazine Poduzetnik and spreading the entrepreneurial mindset. We are really grateful to have people like Vladimir here in Croatia.


  1. During the conference, you announced 4 more regional conferences over the next 12 months. Tell us a little about those and what the focus will be.

Our plan is to continue Entrepreneurial Mindset events but for students and high school pupils in Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb. We think the best investment in our future is for the students to hear future leaders like Mate Rimac, Alan Sumina, Ivan Mrvoš, Matija Žulj etc. We want to share the entrepreneurial mindset and values with them and help them succeed in Croatia. The goal is to break the paradigm that you can`t succeed in Croatia, because you can, as our speakers have proved that.

  1. Two of the key themes I noticed during the day were the need to share success stories (including the failures on the way to success), and the need to improve education for the next generation. What initiatives are being taken in that regard?

Interesting question, thank you. From Nenad Bakić we have heard what is the impact of a great project he and his wife started which influences more than 100.000 Croatian kids, the „STEM revolution“ and IRIM – Croatian makers are definitely one of the top initiatives and we all support them. Stjepan Orešković (who is a Harvard Professor and entrepreneur) mentioned that we can make Croatia a student hub of Europe and bring top world teachers and a lot of foreign students if we put focus on that. Initiative for sharing success stories are many, from this conference, to Business cafe, to AmCham, AHK, HUP and other organizations that organize business talks with successful entrepreneurs and managers, but we need more media coverage for the successful stories we already have. In „Poduzetnik“Magazine we are focused on sharing these successful stories every day through video, print and web platforms and will not stop until we make entrepreneurs, the leaders of our society.

  1. The conference high-level international support in the form of both the Israeli and American ambassadors as speakers. What role does the international community have to play in developing the Croatian entrepreneurial sector?

Yes, we had ambassador Kohorst from USA and ambassador Mor from Israel as key notes because we wanted them to share stories from their countries that can help our entrepreneurs and business people get more ideas and inspiration.

Ambassador Kohorst is an entrepreneur and he shared with us his big successes but also his big failure. In one business he lost 4 mil. $, but it was a huge learning opportunity for him and we appreciate him sharing that, because it just shows that failures are just bumps on the road to success.

Ambassador Mor’s role was to share how Israel became one of world’s top Start-up nations, and there is a lot to learn from them.

The international community is important for Croatian entrepreneurial sector for investments, know-how, franchising and so on and we need to keep our eyes open for these opportunities.


  1. A successful working partnership with the relevant ministries will help Croatian entrepreneurs. What are the key issues you would like to see worked on to improve the entrepreneurial environment?

I think the biggest help will be with lowering taxes on salaries, but also to do more campaigns which would celebrate our entrepreneurs` success so they have a better perception in the public, because small and medium companies are those that benefit Croatian economy the most. Help entrepreneurs grow, so we all can grow. The goal for all of us together should be the growth of Croatian GDP overall and GDP per capita – this is something everyone in Croatia will sense in their salaries.

You can learn more about the first Entrepreneurial Mindset conference and meet some of its key speakers in the dedicated TCN section


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