Cro Startup: Croatian Startups Finally Get Their Own Association

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the Republic of Croatia is the only European Union (EU) member state that doesn’t, at least until now, have a proper startup association. Heidi Chenan, the co-founder and director of the airt startup, was aware of this when she represented Croatia at the Startup Nations Standard of Excellence Declaration.

Therefore, at the initiative of CISEx, important stakeholders of the Croatian startup community gathered and launched the first umbrella national startup association, Cro Startup, which was proudly presented recently at the Bird Incubator, with the aim of improving the Croatian startup ecosystem as a whole.

The exact number of Croatian startups is actually unknown

They say from the newly formed Cro Startup association that they want to help anyone who already has a startup or wants to do so through tips and experiences and connecting them here on the the domestic market as well as abroad.

“None of the existing associations is focused exclusively on startups, nor do they really include startups from across all areas and industries. The Croatian startup scene is experiencing a kind of momentum. In less than two years, we’ve become a country with two unicorns (Infobip and Rimac Automobili), we’re witnessing a large number of startups that are stringing together ”overnight” successes and the almost daily emergence of even more new startups. However, everyone works and succeeds not because of the supportive environment in Croatia, but in spite of it. The goal of the EU is to position itself as a driving force for startups, so that we can reach the levels of America and Asia. That is why we concluded that Croatian startups deserve such an association,” said Cenan.

Although it isn’t known exactly how many startups there are operating here in Croatia at the moment, the new Cro Startup association pointed out that the goal is to attract the entire ecosystem, not just technology companies and a number of companies and institutions such as incubators, accelerators and of course investment funds.

Davor Runje, president of CISEx, emphasised that startups aren’t just all about software companies and that not all technology companies are necessarily startups, which is one of the reasons why he supported the Cro Startup initiative in the first place.

A brand new VC fund and larger assets

Removing regulatory barriers, pooling resources and knowledge, strengthening the startup community through promotion, connecting and exchanging knowledge and experiences, and international positioning through mapping and promoting the Croatian startup scene to foreign investors and global events are some of the key areas and focuses of the Cro Startup association.

The Board of Directors consists of Hajdi Cenan (airt), President of the Association, Srdjan Kovacevic (Orqa), Nikola Pavesic (Infobip), Bozidar Pavlovic (Jackie agency), Maja Brkljacic (AlgebraLAB), Mario Francesevic (CISEx/SeekandHit), Darko Jovisic (Robotiq. ai), Marijana Sarolic Robic (MSR Law Office).

“A Croatian startup is equally a global startup. Startups are scalable companies that can replicate business models without any problems almost anywhere, globally, and their headquarters is less important,” said Sarolic Robic.

The event was also attended by Vedran Blagus and Stevica Kuharski from the leading regional VC fund – South Central Ventures – which announced recently that it is launching a new SCV Technology Fund III and increasing its assets by 70 million euros. Institutional and private investors have also invested in the new fund, the largest being the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Triglav Osiguranje (Insurance) and BTC, while the Croatian investors include Five and Nenad Bakic.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.


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