Many Emigrate, Some Start Croatian Businesses: Meet LinArs in Varazdin

Total Croatia News

Photo credit Total Croatia News

August 9, 2019 – Not everyone is emigrating. Meet LinArs, a Varazdin startup trying to build something at home rather than abroad. 

I met a REALLY lovely man in a shop in Varazdin last week who gave me excellent customer service, really very impressive. He was also very personable, and we got talking a little after we had concluded the transaction. I told him I ran a news portal in English about Croatia, and his reaction was very endearing. 

“My daughter and son-in-law have just started a business in Varazdin, if that might be of interest to you and if you think there might be a way to help them with some advice.”

A father thinking of his daughter and how to help her through chance acquaintances doing his job. I come across this a lot in Croatia – the family bond is strong. I told him that I would be happy to help and left him my card. 

Daughter Sara got in touch the following day and agreed to do an interview with TCN, which you can read below. Apart from being happy to return the favour to my new friend in the shop for his excellent customer service, I was curious about a young couple starting a business in Croatia in 2019, while so many people are emigrating. Perhaps even more so in Varazdin, which is just 20 kilometres from the Slovenian border and a relatively short drive to Austria and Germany, where the wages are much higher. 

It turned out to be a very nice and inspiring interview with Sara, which you can read below (all photos from the LinArs website).


You have recently opened a new business with your husband – congratulations! Tell us first a little about the business.

Well thank you on the congrats, Paul! We are a duo of creative people that tries to help everybody that has a particular artistic idea and needs someone to make it real. What we’ve primarily focused on is photography in all its various forms, be it wedding photography (that is of the utmost importance to us; those kinds of events are full of emotions, so they allow you to unleash all the creativity kept within yourself in order to perfectly capture a moment of care and devotion), industrial photography, portraits, architecture-related photography. In addition to photography there’s graphic design (designing company and event-posters, creative, not-before seen visit-cards, wedding invitations, logos and so on). The other area of our work that we are currently getting better at day-by-day are voice-overs – Dominik tries to use his voice to its’ best potential (his singing “uses” it per se, though not as much as we both would like).

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So many young people are leaving Croatia for jobs in other EU countries, and you live just 20km from the border. Did you also think of emigrating, and why did you decide to stay and start a business?

That’s right – even some of our closest friends at some point decided to try and seek their lucky stars out in the West. We did think about emigrating, but in the end came to a conclusion that if all of us who are somewhat creative and willing to embark into the unknown, were to leave, then who would be left to bring any kind of prosperity and perspective? In the end, since there was a lot going on in terms of incentives for new start-ups coming up, we decided to take that route and do our best in the areas that we are specialized in.

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So let’s look at starting a new business in Croatia in 2019. How easy was the process, and what were the biggest challenges?

The process itself is quite a bit simpler than you might have heard from the stories of those that have nothing to do with conducting business. The biggest challenge was definitely properly planning and organizing our first year, since we have to think broadly in terms of the market that we are providing services in. Once you have all that figured out, it’s literally a matter of you going to a specific counter at a specific office and bringing the exact paper. No more, no less. You probably have to deal a bit more with bureaucracy here than let’s say in Ireland (our friend started her own business there and was blown away by the speed that everything was carried out), but hey, you do get to be your own boss in your motherland, after all.

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Croatia is famous for its bureaucracy – how are you finding it?

It all depends upon your expectations – if you’re serious about the whole story of a start-up that you’re trying to realise, then if somewhat stubborn and lazy bureaucracy is the only obstacle, you have nothing to worry about. The process of starting a business itself took no more than a month from the get-go to working on our first project.

Are there any incentives for young people/new businesses?

Incentives? Yes, one big, massive yes. That is the very reason we decided to take a risk and try something on our own. Although EU membership definitely has its’ caveats (as your fellow-citizens have already spoken some time ago), one of its greatest advantages is that it encourages their people (and has means to do so, if in no other way, then by financing great ideas) to do business in the area that they love the most. Just imagine gathering a specific amount of money in a short period of time, while trying to live a somewhat normal middle-class life. Right, it’s impossible (at least in Croatia) in your 20s. Incentives allow you to get whatever it is you might need to realise the very ideas that lit up the idea-sparkles in your mind. Since we were both involved in starting our own business (Dominik just quit his day-job prior to applying for one of the incentives that our Employment Institute is providing through EU Funds), we got enough wind in our sails to work and provide services that are at the level that we planned.

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What is your most popular service?

Our most popular service is wedding photography. That is what we’ve been doing over the past few years out of curiosity, out of goodwill and as a hobby for our friends and families.

Tell us a little about life in Varazdin these days? It is a gorgeous town and I love living here. But tell us from a local perspective. Has it changed in the last 10 years, and if so, how? Has emigration been a problem here too?

Among many of our locals, there is a somewhat negative narrative on life here, but we see our town as rather progressing towards a kind of modern Baroque town that definitely has something to offer. It has changed quite a bit over the past 10 years, especially in its social aspect – it was at its lowest ebb some five years ago. That all started to change recently – the Tourist Board is doing its best to provide and engage locals, as well as potentially interested neighbours with new and interesting upcoming events. Emigration has been a problem here since many people of our generation have a very simple logic – “if I can get paid several times more elsewhere for the same amount of work that I am doing here, then it must be quite foolish not to grab the chance of better life out there somewhere”.

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Good luck with your business – where do you hope to be in 5 years?

Thank you! Today’s world tempo of living (be it personal, or business) is so quick that it doesn’t make sense to plan too far in advance. Who knows, in five years’ time, we might be happily waking up to a cuppa tea, bacon and eggs in the heart of the ole’ lovely and great ship called Britannia.

To learn more about Sara and Dominik’s business, check out the LinArs website.


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