German Agricultural Giant Copies Croatian Start-Up

Total Croatia News

It is impossible for small Croatian companies to compete on equal terms with global giants.

There are many start-up stars in Croatia: Mate Rimac, who has developed the fastest electric car in the world; Sandro Mur and Urška Sršen, who have developed world-renowned smart jewellery Bellabeat; Marin Maržić and Nikola Škorić, who lead the currently fastest growing Croatian start-up Electrocoin; Alan Sumina and Zoran Vučinić, who have developed the largest Croatian producer of computer games Nanobit. Of course, there are many other similar stars in Croatia as well. But, without any doubt, Croatia’s brightest start-up star at the moment is Matija Žulj, the founder and director of Agrivi, reports on November 23, 2017.

Agrivi is software which helps agricultural producers, from small family farms to the biggest industry players, to run their farms. It plans everything, from sowing to placement on the market. It started received global recognition three years ago when it was named the world’s best start-up at the World Start-Up Competition in Seoul. Two years ago, it was named the best Croatian start-up at the Central European Start-Up Awards. Still, all these awards were dwarfed by the acknowledgement the company received recently.

There are many Croatian companies which copy ideas from American, French, German and Japanese businesses. But, when it comes to Agrivi, the situation is reversed. Maybe for the first time in the Croatian business history, a German company has copied a Croatian one.

Matija Žulj has released on his LinkedIn profile a screenshot which shows that his German competitor, FarmFacts, used the Agrivi name to draw potential users to its website and lure them to use its services. The link leading to the FarmFact site reads: “Agrivi – Software, Service & Beratung –”. In his post, Žulj wrote it was not wise to advertise a company by misleading potential clients. It is a lousy start for developing a fair business relationship with your future users, and it is unethical. On the other hand, this is one of the most significant acknowledgements that a single Croatian start-up has ever gained at an international level.

The fact that a competitor for the most powerful European economy is using the name of the Croatian start-up as a keyword for the entire category of “farming software” is highly flattering. The most influential brands in particular categories are the synonyms for these categories. Corporations invest millions in advertising budgets to make it happen. They spend years and decades trying to achieve that, employing marketing companies, using various tools, adjusting the overall corporate culture, and all that just so their brand might one day become synonymous with the product category.

And now, a small start-up from Kutina, which has so far received just over one million euros in investments, has reached the top. It has become synonymous with its category. But, it is even more interesting to see who exactly put Agrivi at the top.

FarmFacts is not some unknown, anonymous market player. It is a company which is part of the German agricultural giant BayWa Group. The corporation is the largest German agricultural business in many segments. The BayWa Group is based in Munich and, according to its financial report, concluded 2016 with the revenues of 15.4 billion euros, which is one-third of Croatian GDP. But, while Croatia is struggling with revenues, BayWa grew nearly half a billion euros last year.

There are no similar companies in Croatia. You would have to add up the ten largest companies to be able to make a comparison, and even then the German giant would be at least twice the size of all these Croatian corporations put together.

And yet one of the companies within this giant believes that its future depends on the market success of the Croatian start-up Agrivi from Kutina, currently led by the brightest Croatian start-up star Matija Žulj. Which leads us to one of the main problems of the Croatian economy.

Which state institution or an industrial association in Croatia should Žulj and his Agrivi turn to in order to protect their rights? A small Croatian start-up company cannot fight long-term against a competitor who can be supplied with as much money as needed by its owners. It will never reach its maximum potential. If the government and political parties are looking for reforms, here is their chance!

Translated from


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