From Dubrovnik to Dublin to Cool Zagreb Mediatoolkit Startup

Total Croatia News

Continuing our look at Croatian diaspora experiences on February 28, 2017, and a first for this series – a young Croat who, like many others, left Croatia for Ireland, made a success of his move working for global companies – and then returned to live in Zagreb as he was enthused about the potential of a Croatian IT startup in Zagreb. Looking for inspiration and the potential of the new Croatia? Meet Antun Lucic. 

Life as a blogger can be a little lonely. While a blogger’s medium of contact is words, posted on the web, physical interaction with other humans can be a lot more restricted, with many blogs written in bed or on desks in otherwise empty rooms.

I like it that way, and one of the joys of laptop living is that you get to pick and choose your environment, and you can be as social as you want. No office restrictions, and no office politics to drain your creativity. I would not swap the working environment for anything, although yesterday…

I felt a little bit of envy shortly after arriving at the office of Zagreb startup Mediatoolkit, where I had an appointment to inteview a rather inspirational young man who is doing the diaspora story the wrong way round, and in the process, has become – for me at least – a symbol of the terrific potential of the new Croatia, if only he could share his positivity and outlook throughout the country. As inspirational as it was to meet Antun Lucic, it was just as exciting to spend time with the Mediatoolkit team, with their trendy office culture, strong team spirit, great humour and supreme confidence and dedication to the product they are developing, which is sure to be widely talked about and used on a global scale shortly. We will be doing a full feature on Mediatoolkit shortly, but in order to understand a product, it helps to meet the people helping to create it and to marvel at their passion. Meet Antun.

Tell us a little about your journey from where you started to you now working in Zagreb.

I was born in Switzerland, but moved to Croatia when I was 8 to Pozega in Slavonia. I studied in Dubrovnik, then spent a year travelling around the States, then came back to Dubrovnik, where my wife and I had good jobs. After some time, we decided we wanted a different experience and decided to try our luck in Ireland, where we both found good jobs. After just over a year in Dublin, I read about a really cool tech startup in Zagreb, so cool that we decided to move back to Croatia. 

Why Ireland? So many Croats have moved there, more than 10,000 since EU entry in 2013. I recently spoke to the Irish Ambassador in Zagreb, who told me that about ten Croats a day are emigrating there. Why Ireland for you and how was the experience?

It is an English-speaking country in the EU, with no restrictions for us, thereby giving easy access to us for work in the EU. I did some online research and organised my job before I even left Croatia. How was it? Absolutely great. A lot of people think Ireland is the land of milk and honey, but of course that is nonsense. But if you do work hard, there is opportunity. My first job was in Dundalk, an hour from Dublin, where I knew literally nobody, but the initial help from the company was outstanding, from a week in a hotel organised by the company, to help opening bank accounts and health insurance. I have not a bad word to say about Ireland, the people were friendly and helpful, and also aware that they needed people to come to fill positions. 

How integrated were you with the Croatian community?

We tried not to be, as we had come to Ireland for the experience, not to hang out with people like we could back home. In Dublin, it is getting harder to avoid though, and you hear a LOT of Croatian spoken walking down O’Connell Street, for example. Our year in Dublin was great. It is such as multi-cultural city with the Irish base obviously, but a city full of energy and diversity. And despite all that, there was no racial tension at all. We lived in a rough neighbourhood, but only had positive experiences. 

How did your pre-conceptions about moving to Ireland differ from reality?

I thought it would be much harder to change jobs. My initial position was for three months only, but I found that if you were willing to take the time and search, and you are prepared to work hard, it is really easy to find work, and you can almost cherry pick your opportunities. There is great potential. 

On the other hand, I came across a lot of people who thought the Ireland was just the promised land, and they just needed to turn up to be successful. There IS opportunity, but you have to work hard. 

How were the Croatians you met doing overall? Successful or struggling?

I would say that the majority are happy enough and with no intention to return to live in Croatia. They now see Croatia more as a holiday destination. There were of course stories of some who returned, having failed, perhaps because they came with the wrong mindset. 

So life sounds perfect, but after just over a year, here you are back in Croatia. What happened?

Haha. Nothing bad, but we are the young generation (I am 28) willing to change. We went to Ireland for the experience. We had jobs in Dubrovnik, and so we were not pushed out of Croatia, and we also had good jobs in Ireland (I was working for Indeed), and we were not forced out, but I came across an article online on about a rather cool startup in Zagreb called Mediatoolkit. I liked an article on their LinkedIn page, started researching the company – there were doing some seriously cool stuff – and then Marko from Mediatoolkit, who had seen my activity and checked me out – messaged me to say that there were some openings if I was interested in applying.

That is incredibly proactive for a company to find employees.

Yes it was, and that, along with so many details along the way, convinced me that this was the right move. I spoke to my wife about how cool the company was, and that it really could be the next best thing. Once I decided to apply, Marko stopped all communications, leaving that to the appropriate channels. Very professional. Very proactive. And such a cool product. It was an easy decision. I really believe that Mediatoolkit has global potential, and I have not regretted the decision one bit so far. 

Ireland is known as a major IT hub in Europe. What was it about this little Croatian startup which brought you home?

I am a communicator, and I love to showcase products. I immediately saw the benefits of the tool – allowing people to save time by following the right info at the right time. It was very user friendly and easy to implement, and with massive potential. I wanted to be part of the story. 

(Check out the official Mediatoolkit intro video below)

So for example, let’s imagine you are a highly known brand, and you want to track the social aspects of your brand – what are people thinking, what are the crises appearing online? The tool gives you real time alerts, so when a viral Facebook comment about your brand takes off, you get instant notification, allowing you to react accordingly. We have some competition of course, but our tool is excellent and very user-friendly. Mediatoolkit is a small team of just 28 people doing great work. I am focused on the DACH region (Germany, Austria and particularly Switzerland, as I speak Swiss German), but as a startup, that could change. We are small but growing every minute. 

A major attraction to working here is the instant implementation of ideas. I can knock on Marko’s door, pitch an idea which we can then work on and implement the following day. I have worked at Indeed and Facebook where processes take time, and that accessibility and flexibility is very refreshing and exciting. I know it will change as we grow, but it is a great feeling. 

Where will Mediatoolkit be in a year?

Good question. Well, at the moment we are 28 people. I would like that next year I have 28 people working in my department. At the moment, it is just me. 

You mentioned you are from Slavonia, a source of much of the emigration to Ireland. It must break your heart seeing what is happening?

Well the President is coming to Pozega this week, so that is something… But yes it is terrible. I am the youngest of four, and only my older sister is still there, due to lack of opportunities. It is particularly sad to see so many of those fields not taken care of. There is so much potential, we just need to figure out a way to give young people opportunity. 

I guess it was a surprise for people that know you that you returned to Croatia so quickly, that you must have failed?

Oh yes! People were laughing at me for my failure, telling me that Mediatoolkit was a cute story I was telling them, but I obviously only returned as I failed. That is the mindset we have to fight against, only I don’t want to fight it, I want to change it. If you fail in Croatia, you are nothing, but in places like Ireland, if you fail as an entrepreneur, you learn from your mistakes and succeed the next time. 

How does Zagreb rate as an IT capital in Europe in your opinion?

Zagreb does not have the big corporations here, but the city is now well-known as a location where young individuals are doing interesting things. There are several entrepreneurs who love and feel comfortable living in Croatia, and they are not willing to relocate. I have friends who have offices in San Francisco and Dublin, but they will still have an office in Zagreb. 

Would you return to Dublin, perhaps to open the Mediatoolkit office?

If a heartbeat, if the company asked me to – my Irish experience was extremely positive. But as much as I returned to Croatia for the opportunity with Mediatoolkit, Croatia has so much to offer, from great rakija to great weather. I felt no pressure in Ireland at any point – I worked hard and I played hard – but there is something about the lifestyle in Croatia. Yes, you can have a pint in a great Irish pub but never on the terrace in the warm Dalmatian sun in February, for example. With the right attitude and willingness to work hard, there are great opportunities to be had for young Croatians in this country. And my wife is now 5 months pregnant, so I look forward to great Croatian opportunities for my child. 

To learn more about Mediatoolkit, visit their website here, or check out the demo video below. We will be feature the company in much more depth shortly.  You can also follow them on Facebook



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