Invento Summit Sees Leaders of Croatian Startup World Come Together

Lauren Simmonds

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As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the last decade or so, the Croatian startup ecosystem has changed an enormous amount, and while young entrepreneurs used to depend on themselves and themselves only, they can now count on advice, mentorship and even money from those who have succeeded, and there are no longer so few of those here in Croatia.

Damir Sabol, currently the most talked about entrepreneur in the entire country, who is waiting for regulatory approval of the sale of his third company – Photomath – to the global giant Google, said from the Invento Summit that after the sale, the approval process of which is quite arduous, he plans to help others.

“I see myself helping other people achieve what they want,” Sabol said, noting that everyone expects him to do something, and contrary to expectations, he believes that the time has come to dedicate himself to others. The power of giving back was also the motto of the Invento Summit regional conference, which gathered more than 200 experts in technology, business development and investments in Zagreb on Friday.

Sabol, one of the conference panelists, certainly has an awful lot of skill to pass on. He has been in the world of entrepreneurship practically since his student days, and as he recalled, when he told his colleagues from FER that he was going to found his own company, nobody believed him.

“The prevailing attitude was that you can get a job and work for others, but not that you can found your own company. We have to change that,” emphasised the founder of Photomath. He also noted that we must work on better communication. “Americans know how to communicate well, which is very important and that’s their advantage. In this country, on the other hand, neither the education system nor employers insist on having proper communication skills,” stated Sabol, who continued in his belief that ideas should be shared and not merely kept to oneself.

Although the idea itself doesn’t have to be crucial for success, it was not so in the case of Albert Gajsak, the well known 24-year-old founder of CircuitMess.

“He had an idea, but no plan on how to realise it,” Tomislav Car, the co-founder of Infinum, and today the director of Productive, recalled the beginnings of this young and successful entrepreneur. Car is otherwise the only investor in Gajsak’s idea, as well as the mentor of the business, which turned out to be a good and smart move, because CircuitMess currently generates revenues of 2.3 million dUD ollars and cooperates with Walmart, the largest retail chain in the entire world. This collaboration began when Car decided to pay for a plane ticket for a then young high school student, Albert Gajsak to go to a European robotics competition.

“My parents didn’t have money for that ticket, so I sent emails to all the IT companies I knew, asking them to help me out,” recalled Gajsak, who was bored with school because there weren’t enough practical exercises for him to engage in. That was also his motive to start a private business, the product of which is STEM toys.

In addition to CircuitMess, Car also invested money and time in Rentlio, he said at the Invento Summit. It is important, he believes, that young people have a role model and that they understand that a lot can be achieved with a bit of hard work.

“I have a nice car, so when children stop me and ask how I got it, I tell them that they have to study and go to school, and they don’t believe me. In Croatia, the prevailing opinion is that only politicians and thieves can drive a nice car,” stated Car.

Sharing knowledge, and then money, was also the motive of the entrepreneurs who founded the Slovenian VC fund Silicon Gardens. Gregor Rebolj said that it is in their interest to help young entrepreneurs out. “When we help, we don’t ask for anything in return except that they also help themselves and don’t turn their backs on their ideas,” he stated.

For more, check out our business section.


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