Meet Croatia’s Successful Entrepreneurs: Andrija Colak, Surf’n’Fries and Kisha

Total Croatia News

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After our successful feature on the foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in Croatia (read their stories here), a new series looking at Croatian businessmen who are making a success of things, despite the difficult business climate. We begin on 18 February, 2018 with Andrija Colak, whose Surf’n’Fries franchise is now all over Croatia and in 50 locations worldwide, including Russia, Iran, Vietnam and South Africa (with India and Kuwait just two of the 2018 confirmed new countries). And if it rains, the clever people are using Andrija’s smart umbrella, Kisha. 


1. For our international readers who perhaps do not know you, quickly introduce yourself and what you do.

“What do you do?”, the question I get a lot…. my answer is: I sell potatoes… love to see peoples faces when I say that, it’s the kind of face where they do not want to look surprised and stay interested in my job, but they actually have no idea what to ask next hahaha! … Now the way I sell those potatoes is a different story.

2. I remember writing some time ago about the Croatian businessman who took his fries franchise into Iran before McDonald’s… How did Surf’n’Fries start, and how did you expand it so successfully to most parts of the globe?

Haha yes! Well, Surf’n’Fries started with an idea in 2008 where we wanted to “reinvent” fries. Steve Jobs was reinventing the phone…we decided to reinvent potatoes! At the beginning of 2009, we launched our first Surf’n’Fries store in Rijeka. It turned out to be a big success, we averaged 1000 transactions in our first year. Then, the first prospects started showing up and asking how they could open the same concept in their own city. This is where we got into the franchising business model. Global development happened because Croatia is a tourist country. So, people came for holidays to Croatia, came across Surf’n’Fries, liked it, googled us, contacted us… and voila! Your brand is international! Thus, Croatia is like a hub for promoting internationally, a great location to promote the concept to many internationals in one place. For us, it truly happened organically.


{Surf’n’Fries in Vietnam)

3. People have told me on many occasions that the perfect combination in life is to live in Croatia and to make your money abroad. Do you agree?

Yeah, I would agree. Croatia is safe, clean, beautiful, connected, laid back, charismatic etc. If you have enough money you can have a really nice life in Croatia. And the Dollar in Croatia can go a lot further than in some other countries.

4. Let’s talk about the business climate in Croatia, which does not have the best reputation. Give us some positives and some negatives.

In terms of positives… well if you are up for an adventure you have come to the right place 🙂 Or… if you really want to test your concept and it survives in Croatia, you can conquer the world! hahah! Actually, I’m not joking.


{Surf’n’Fries at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow)

The Croatian economy is really bad, and if Croatia had no tourism we would be worse than Albania. Croatia has had generations of politicians who had no idea about economy, the free market, entrepreneurship etc. The politicians are corrupt at the same time, and when you combine corruption with poor knowledge and low skills, this is what you get. Anyways, lots of bureaucracy, high taxes, low skilled workforce etc. It should be much better, this is buls*#it economy compared to its potential. Croatia really can be Switzerland by the sea, but people have been stupid enough to compromise longterm prosperity with short-term gains. I hope it will change – it would be better for everyone.


{Surf’n’Fries on the move in Ireland}

5. If there are three things which you could change to improve things dramatically, what would they be?

Laws that are enforced.

Lower taxes and more liberal government.

Better education.

{Following the success of Surf’n’Fries, next came the smart umbrella – Kisha, named after the Croatian word for rain. Check out the promo video above)

6. Your advice to foreign entrepreneurs interested in investing in Croatia? And to young local businessmen who want to try?

Well, go into tourism, or find a way to do something that will support tourism. Do not depend only on the Croatian market, see it as a testing ground. For the local businessman, educate yourself as much a possible, then just start, do not wait and do your best and do not stop reading. Build projects in Croatia for the global market not only for Croatia.

7. How do you think the business climate will look in 10 years in Croatia?

Honestly, I have no idea… I hope a more liberal climate will come, less state involvement, but more law enforcement.


{Surf’n’Fries FryDay in Austria – photo credit Jahan Saber)

8. How has 2013 EU entry changed business in Croatia?

From my perspective, it did change for the better. Much less bureaucracy when exporting which is great for anybody who wants to do business internationally. I think it’s a great opportunity, I like to be challenged and I feel claustrophobic when I have to do business only in one country.

9. You are based in Rijeka. Does that make a difference with most of the business being done in Zagreb?

Well, Zagreb is much more developed then Rijeka, but Rijeka used to be ahead of Zagreb in many aspects but Rijeka has been stuck in a status quo for decades, unfortunately. Business wise in terms of contacts, networking etc., Zagreb is a better place to be. However, I feel Rijeka has this huge potential that will explode at some point. Also, living in Rijeka is much better, being by the sea, surrounded by the mountains, 45 min from Italy. Also, there is this energy and heritage, Rijeka was the number one city in Croatia and former Yugoslavia when it came to innovation, avant-garde, open-minded thinking etc.

To learn more about Surf’n’Fries, and to apply for a franchise of your own, visit the official website.

If you are a successful Croatian businessman and would like to be feautred in this series, please contact us at [email protected] 



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