First Croatian VC Fund Could Push Investments Forward

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 13th of June, 2020, the very first Croatian VC fund, the Feelsgood Social Impact Investment Fund, has received the final green light to start working and can start things up as far as investments are concerned. The domestic startup fund, worth 30 million euros or a little less than a quarter of a billion kuna, has been collecting all the necessary permits for three years now.

Not only will the first Croatian VC fund help startups and their innovations with capital, but it has also become an innovation on the domestic financial market. The Croatian VC fund is also the first domestic “social impact” fund. The VC fund project was first given the green light back in March last year by the European Investment Fund. Then, at the beginning of August 2019, Hanfa approved the work of the Zagreb company Feelsgood Capital Partners, and now it has allowed it to establish the Croatian VC fund itself.

Renata Brkic, co-founder of the fund, says that the process was demanding, but that they are very satisfied with the result.

”The process was extremely demanding, but we’re proud because the Croatian team managed to establish both a fund and a management company in their own country.

“We’re extremely proud that we managed to establish a fund and a management company in our country as a Croatian team,” says Brkic. In addition to Brkic, who is the High Commissioner of the World Business Angel Investment Forum (WBAF) for Croatia, the first Croatian VC fund will be managed by four other managers who are also the fund’s co-founders.

Srdja Ivekovic, a VC fund manager with many years of experience in the industry in the markets of the Middle East, Egypt and the CIS, Dinko Novoselac, the former CEO of the largest pension fund in Croatia, AZ, and Peter-Pierre Matek, the former President of the Hanfa.

The fifth partner in the company and the fund is Tilen Sarlah, a financier from Slovenia, who also runs a trading board in Ljubljana’s Geoplin and is an advisor in the startup Fintech Factory EU.

Renata Brkic says that they went through a complex process of coordination with the main investor, EIF, and the national regulator Hanfa.

“We hope that with this pioneering endeavor, we’ve encouraged others and paved the way for teams that think in the same way we do, and contributed to Croatia positioning itself one step higher in the European financial industry,” says Brkic.

22.7 million kuna or 3 million euros will be the largest investment that the Croatian VC fund will be able to make according to the decision on the matter made by Hanfa. It should be noted that they are also ready to take their first step which comes in the shape of a sensitive topic in Croatia – investments.

Brkic states that in parallel with the process of designing the first Croatian VC fund and its main strategy, they held talks not only with potential investors in the fund but also with startups and other entrepreneurs whose projects are candidates for investment.

”Since we announced our intention to establish the Feelsgood fund at our conference on social impact investing in Zagreb last October, we’ve been contacted by numerous entrepreneurial teams from Croatia and Slovenia with the desire to present their projects, and we’re now in a position to start talking concretely,” says Brkic. She hasn’t provided any details on that yet, however, she did point out that the most important thing is that the entrepreneurial scene is alive and kicking here in Croatia and that teams are thinking about how to achieve a positive social effect in addition to making profit.

Feelsgood is a Croatian VC fund that invests in startups here at home in Croatia. Five years ago, the VC fund South Central Ventures, worth a massive 40 million euros, started operating. Although it was entirely realised abroad, it is the very first VC fund with an office in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb.

It is also the first in which the Republic of Croatia has actually invested. Fil Rouge Capital, which is currently the largest VC fund in Croatia worth 45 million euros, also took a step forward last year. HBOR entered it as an investor, meaning that once again, such a promising step was taken here in the Republic of Croatia. Fil Rouge is also the first VC fund to invest exclusively in startups registered in Croatia.

Feelsgood, the third in a row, is the first to be fully incorporated in Croatia, meaning that it is the first VC fund that can be decorated with the title “100% Made in Croatia”. As Hanfa’s decision revealed, Feelsgood will invest in startups in Croatia and Slovenia. Although it will be open to all social SMEs, it will still be the most sought after instrument for startups or companies in their very early stages of development.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.


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