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Top 10 Best Unicorns In Croatia

Top 10 Unicorns In Croatia

Unicorns: It isn’t the typical location for a big technology company. Vodnjan has an old-world charm on Croatia’s Istrian coast. As early as the 9th century, there were little more than 10,000 inhabitants in the town during its peak. There are a lot of youth emigrating to seek employment in this quiet tourist destination.

The most common images most people have when they think of Croatia are its crystal clear water, scenic islands, and delicious food. Its stunning coastline and relaxed atmosphere are complemented by an active startup and tech scene, both fair and growing. Croats can now take advantage of all the benefits of the European tech scene and Croatia’s ecosystem, which boasts successful startups like Infobip, PhotoMath, Agrivi, and government funding regional tech networks and VCs like SC Ventures.

  1. Infobip 

In addition to being the headquarters of the messaging company Infobip, Vodnjan hosts nearly all of the world’s telecom companies.

The name Infobip may not be familiar to you – but you have most clearly come into contact with the company. You have to deal with Infobip if you have received a text message telling you that a product you have ordered is in your local store or if you have subscribed to receive account updates from your bank on your mobile phone. Infobip estimates that 4.7 billion people interacted with Infobip services last year, including Uber, Oracle, WhatsApp, Strava, Virgin Megastore, Zendesk, and Costco.

Businesses can access the platform through email, SMS, and chatbots. Its main competitors are Twilio, whose messaging, Uber, and Amsterdam-based MessageBird have used call-center solutions.

Despite a slow bureaucracy and draconian laws that impede entrepreneurs, Croatia can create a tech ecosystem with Infobip, one of its surprising success stories. Some 314 administrative procedures, for example, require entrepreneurs to pay, submit documents, and queue in many government offices, anyway the Ministry of Economy announced streamlining of the process earlier this year. As a result, the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business ranks Croatia 58th out of 190 countries, the ninth-lowest in Europe.

The brand Rimac Automobili, whose electric cars made Richard Hammond famous while filming The Grand Tour, is another Croatian startup that is starting to make a name for itself. It’s no wonder that Mate Rimac has been nicknamed Europe’s Elon Musk because of his uncompromising outlook on travel and how it needs to become electric. Rimac has a high-powered electric powertrain, which most of the world’s carmakers use. 

With their robotic brains, the Gideon Brothers of Zagreb have developed autonomous robots for warehouses and factories that use stereo vision and machine learning to make bots more capable of working with humans. Taavet Hinrikus, the co-founder of TransferWise, joined the company’s recent funding round of $765,000.

Other companies to watch are Sentinel Marine and PhotoMath, both from Croatia, which creates location tracking software for recreational boats, and Smart Farming Solution company Agrivi, which raised a $6 million Series-A round about a year ago. 

The availability of funding is improving. Jure Mikuž says things were pretty slow when he founded South Central Ventures 12 years ago. The first €18.4m fund raised by the company in 2008, which the government partly funded, wasn’t accessible.

Mikuž laughs now that he would not have entered the venture business if he had known how difficult the start would be.

Mikuž says foreign investors are now showing more interest in the area following the launch of a second $40 million fund in 2015. However, I believe we still have a long way to go in getting others on board. Getting co-investors in on sales is our biggest challenge,” he says. 

It is an exotic ingredient in many funds’ portfolios, but many struggle to differentiate themselves. As the company moves from “exotic” to the mainstream, Mikuž says there must be more funding commitments. Croatian startups still find it hard to raise larger rounds if they don’t move to London or Silicon Valley.

Croatia could benefit from Infobip’s investment promotion efforts. In the past few years, the company grew without taking any money from investors. At first, it lacked investors, and later it became so cash-generative that it didn’t need external funding, says co-founder and CEO Silvio Kutic.

Kutic, is looking to step up his game. He says he wants to reinvest in the company and acquire technologies he wants to pursue. AI and augmented reality are the technologies of interest.

To take the following steps, we need to do this as a global company,” Kutic explains. Anyway , he says, the company would like to go public. Several of his US competitors are listed on the stock market. The value of Twilio exceeds $18 billion. A record-breaking $60 million was raised by MessageBird in 2017.

However, Kutic has just begun speaking with potential investors, so he has not set the amount he hopes to raise.

Infobip has offices in more than 800 telecom companies in the world, 60 offices already, and has interacted with two-thirds of the world’s population . But according to Kutic, connecting every linked item on the earth is the stretch goal.

If Infobip is successful, it will be able to boost Croatia’s emerging IT sector.

Since these businesses are fostering a domino effect that benefits everyone in the ecosystem, Miku says, “I wish them much success.”

The practically perfect cure for a slow bureaucracy is Kutic. After graduating from college, he worked as a civil servant for a state-owned electronics company for less than four hours.

In search of the most forgiving phrase he can think of, he remarks, “The culture was a touch… sluggish.” I couldn’t fit in. Therefore, it wasn’t appropriate for me. Kutic left for lunch but never returned because he choose to go back to Vodnjan, where he had graduated in electronics, and start his own business there with his brother Robert and friend Izabel Jeleni.

Startups in Croatia benefit from a particular brand of DIY attitude. Mate Rimac quickly pointed out that the company had to manufacture everything from door handles to spotlights because it was frequently difficult or prohibitively expensive to obtain even commoditized parts. That offered the business to rethink everything completely.

The Infobip staff was also trained from the beginning. Vodnjan lacked such skills. Another guy worked for a local beer company as a sales representative. It was a learning experience for us all,” Kutic says.

A two-week intensive induction program for all Kutic’s new staff has evolved into the “Infobip academy” at the new headquarters on the outskirts of Vodnjan. A grassy field dominated the site three years ago. It plans to open other campuses in Zagreb and Sarajevo, as well as turn medieval Vodnjan into a tech city in the next five years by bringing 370 engineering professionals from all over the world to work on innovative projects there.

According to Kutic, operating a digital company in Croatia has become simpler in recent years. Nenad Baki, another prominent entrepreneur in the nation, has been successful in his effort to introduce computer programming to all primary schools in the country. He is now extending the initiative to the rest of the Balkans. He has the government’s ear, according to Miku.

If something Nenad Baki says in Croatia gets heard, he says.

But, according to Kutic, there is still work to be done. “Government officials are working together considerably more than they did in the past, but we still need open two-way communication.”

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Company overview

Legal Name

infobip

Industries

Enterprise Software, Internet of Things, Messaging, Mobile Apps, SaaS, Telecommunications

Founder(s)

Izabel Jelenic, Roberto Kutic, Silvio Kutic

Founded Date

2006

Total Funding Amount

$800M

Investors

BlackRock and Ares Management are the most recent investors.

  1. Gideon Brothers

With a focus on logistics, distribution, and manufacturing, Gideon Brothers provides robotics and artificial intelligence technology solutions. It is one of the few companies worldwide that develop fully autonomous mobile robots that rely on visual perception to navigate and operate safely.

Regarding mobile autonomy, we are pushing the limits with vision-based freedom incorporating proprietary stereoscopic cameras and artificial intelligence. Manufacturing and logistics environments are no match for our flexible self-driving machines. A full range of industrial environments has been validated by Gideon Brothers’ AI-powered autonomy technology.

Several international awards have been won by the company, including Start-up! In addition, as part of London’s Founders Forum, the company was honored for its excellence in logistics and mobility and as an AI Rising Star.

A $31 million Series A round was raised by Croatian company Gideon Brothers. As the venture arm of Koch Industries’ largest private company, Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) led the round. Aside from DB Schenker, the world’s third-biggest third-party logistics company, Gideon Brothers was supported by Prologis Ventures, the world’s largest industrial real estate company. Likewise, the American company Rite-Hite was part of Series A. 

The Series A round for Gideon Brothers marks an important milestone. In the wake of the pandemic, intelligent automation has become more mainstream, and we are prepared to meet unprecedented market demand. Through this new round of funding, we will open offices in Munich, Germany, and Boston, Massachusetts, to expand across critical EU and USA markets. In addition, Gideon Brothers told The Recursive that the company planned to expand its R&D, Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success groups to meet the growing demand for their products.

In 2017, Edin Kočo, Kruno Stražanac, Josip Ćesić, and Matija Kopić founded Gideon Brothers with the support of many Croatian entrepreneurs. Leading American market advisory firm ABI rated the company as the world’s fifth-most successful autonomous robot manufacturer. Gideon Brothers offer both horizontal and vertical handling equipment, in addition to technology solutions. They predominantly serve the logistics and delivery industries. 

To collect large amounts of data about the environment they are situated in, the company’s AI-based mobile robots use 3D cameras and deep learning algorithms. 

The machines will then use this data to self-localize, map their surroundings, navigate, measure weight and lift, and transport different goods on their own. Additional work requires the development of a robot that uses advanced visual perception to follow a person. The robot is called “Follow Me.” The system can also direct people around a facility depending on how integrated it is with the warehouse system. Robotics is to be added to the company’s portfolio. In addition to expanding internationally, Gideon Brothers are doubling its staff by the end of 2021 to have around 200 employees.

Following the creation of Croatia’s first unicorn, Infobip, in 2020, the ecosystem has remained active. According to Novac.hr, the first three months of 2021 saw the local tech sector attract over $170M. Porsche invested 70M euros into Croatia’s Rimac Automobili, making electric hypercars. Photomath, an edtech startup founded in Croatia, raised a $23 million Series B round from US investor Menlo Ventures. Finally, Endava acquired Croatian digital agency FIVE and its US subsidiary to exit the ecosystem.

“We think Croatia has what it takes to be the next big thing in robotics powered by AI. Starting with extremely productive and welcoming research labs throughout our universities and a respectable local/regional component supplier network, we have all the elements necessary to create what may become a big ecosystem. Let’s not forget about a flourishing unicorn playground and a digital nomad lifestyle in one of the most stunning regions on the planet. The Gideon Brothers team concluded that mobile robots will do much more for humanity, particularly those employed in the busiest industrial settings on earth.

Company overview

Legal Name

Gideon Brothers

Industries

Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles, Machine Learning, Robotics, Software

Founder(s)

Edin Kočo, Josip Ćesić, Kruno Stražanac, Matija Kopić, Milan Račić

Founded Date

Feb 2017

Total Funding Amount

$37.5M

Investors

Pentland Ventures and Peaksjah are the most recent investors.

  1. Worcon 

An emerging generation of young entrepreneurs in Croatia today is developing new products and tools for the global market. They are one of the most exciting and dynamic things happening in the country. People are no longer involved in politics; many were only born after the Homeland War ended in 1995. So rather than think about how to implement their ideas in a fast-moving world of technology and venture capital, they focus on how to actually realize them. 

The company came up with MachineDesk, a project management software for CNC machines that is about to launch. From ordering materials and tracking prices to estimating preparation time and hours, MachineDesk assists clients every step of the way. After entering the project details and deadline, the system calculates how much time and material is required, the pressure points for additional staff, automatic ordering of parts, and the cost of commodities. Steel, for example, has vastly different pricing in March and September, so workers will be able to track it on tablets. These are the losses that companies are experiencing. 

In addition to calculating the material the client will need, the software also includes time calculations for going to the warehouse, taking measurements, etc. So, for example, the accuracy will be better if a 1,000-hour job requires 150 more hours the next time. 

Providing clients and suppliers with the ability to track progress in real-time is one of the critical benefits of Machine Desk. For example, Croatia is no different than other countries when it comes to workplace theft. Each item is tracked through the system, and if an item is reported broken, they will consider the physical appearance. 

A German customer can track an order processed by a Croatian supplier, including how many units were produced at a specific location on a given day. It should also be more efficient, ensure deadlines are met, and provide the client more peace of mind. They can also use charts and spreadsheets for boardroom presentations to show progress. 

The exciting plans for the Worcon portfolio expansion is Machine Desk, which is the focus for 99% of the company. 

If we succeed, we will revolutionize the industry. You know your margins because we work with AI, which focuses on prototypes and companies that require something fast. We can sell this AI technology to companies that need complex calculations, increasing sophistication every day.”

What has been your biggest success? Being able to raise both rounds of funding. 

When the first round of 50,000 euros arrived in June 2019, they had a chance to continue to live off nothing for maybe 2-3 months longer. It was just last year that he received the second round of 400k at the age of 24. 

What was the biggest disappointment for you?

I promised my parents we had a unique concept that would conquer the world. That was a setback, but we beat it. We also found two great investors, which gave us great results and promised nothing and remained silent for weeks.”

unicorns

Company overview

Legal Name

Worcon 

Industries

Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, Machine Learning, Manufacturing, Marketing, Product Management, Professional Services, SaaS, Software

Founder(s)

Gordan Razumic

Founded Date

Jul 18, 2019

Total Funding Amount

$544.1K

Investors

Worcon is funded by Fil Rouge Capital (FRC).

  1. Orqa FPV 

The company’s name refers to First Person View, a technology founded in 2017. Its offices are in Croatia, Ireland, and the US, and it provides FPV for autonomous and remotely controlled vehicles. After two years of prototyping, they sold over 600 goggles for FPV racing and freestyle through Orqa’s Kickstarter campaign.

Company overview

Legal Name

Orqa FPV.One

Industries

Consumer Goods, Drones, Software

Founder(s)

Ivan Jelusic, Srdjan Kovacevic, Vlatko Matijevic

Founded Date

Jan 2017

Total Funding Amount

€1.7M

Investors

Orqa FPV.One is funded by Day One Capital.

  1. Dynamic Division

Oleksander and Vyacheslav Iurkin founded Dynamic Division d.o.o. in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2019 as a young, innovation-driven company.

Innovation, functionality, and comprehensive solutions in roboticization are the company’s main areas of development.

In the future, we will work side-by-side with robots, believing they can be affordable, functional, attractive, and safe.

We aim to develop solutions that can be implemented immediately and at the lowest costs in production processes. The existing production infrastructure is adapted to our products.

To comply with our Zero Waste philosophy, we are always seeking solutions to reduce the need for recycling by using remanufactured components. Having a zero-waste policy also helps us to reduce natural resource consumption.

The Heavy Cleaner is the company’s main Product.

Customers will only pay for the square meters cleaned under the Product as a Service model. Every day of the week, 24 hours a day, cleaning is available on demand. Overtime and nighttime work are not charged extra.

A mobile app makes it easy to monitor the entire process.

Company overview

Legal Name

Dynamic Division

Industries

Hardware, Industrial Automation, Information Technology, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Machinery Manufacturing, Robotics, SaaS, Sharing Economy

Founder(s)

Oleksandr Iurkin

Founded Date

Sep 3, 2019

Total Funding Amount

€400K

Investors

Dynamic Division is funded by Fil Rouge Capital (FRC).

  1. Node Factory

A blockchain development company, Node Factory was established in 2018 to turn ideas into trustworthy services. In addition to ChainGuardian, Hactar, Allianceblock, NovoProtocol, Lodestar client, and others, the team has created a portfolio of solutions for modern businesses. 

Node Factory, a Croatian blockchain partner, has been acquired by ChainSafe, a Toronto-based blockchain research and development company.

ChainSafe Buys a Node Factory

Chainsafe is in the world’s leading companies in developing blockchain solutions and engineering services.

In addition to Ethereum 2.0 (“Lodestar”), Polkadot (“Gossamer”), Filecoin (“Forest”), and a Rust version of the Mina Protocol, the company is developing a Rust client implementation for many other cryptocurrencies.

A wide range of ChainSafe’s platforms, for example ChainSafe Files, ChainSafe Gaming SDK, and ChainBridge, complete their Web 3.0 portfolio.

In this field, they acquired a competitor, Node Factory, today.

Node Factory has joined the ChainSafe family with great pleasure. More than a year ago, they played an essential role in our efforts to build Lodestar.

They have consistently high quality, reliable work, and their employees are always pleasant. In addition, we are adding to our chainsafe team talented developers with blockchain experience.

The collaboration with Node Factory will enable us to create even better things in our multichain future that we’ve been anticipating since the beginning. The CEO and co-founder of ChainSafe, Aidan Hyman, says this.

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Company overview

Legal Name

Node Factory

Industries

Blockchain, Computer

Founder(s)

 

Founded Date

2018

Total Funding Amount

 

Investors

 
  1. Lili 

In addition to scouting new clients, doing service work, and managing their back office, freelancers must handle things like health benefits, taxes, and invoicing. By not efficiently separating a personal expense from a business expense, freelancing is time-consuming, confusing, difficult, and a significant waste of money. Nevertheless, 35 million freelancers in the United States work in fields ranging from e-commerce to construction to beauty.

Ili makes life significantly easier while saving money for freelancers by providing them with a comprehensive banking app designed especially for them. Co-Founders Lilac Bar David and Liran Zelkha have the expertise to support this audience. Liran is a former freelancer who deeply understands the challenges independent workers face and wants to help them. In addition, they founded Pepper, Israel’s first and largest challenger bank, more than 20 years ago.

Our firm believes that the future of challenger banks will be segment-based hyper verticalization, with the most successful ones recognizing specific, optimized customer segments and designing digital products which address their unique needs. Lilac and Liran have been delighted to see so far as they have recruited a team with skill, willingness to experiment, and a high execution level.

The Primary team is excited to have Lili join the family and looks forward to her future success. We’ve already shared some key facts about the company, but here are some key points to note:

A banking app that is designed exclusively for freelancers, at its core

Provide tools and services for freelancers that will improve their work, lives, and balance.

This online banking and expense management service have an ever-expanding offering of tools, including a free checking account, Visa business debit card, expense statements, tax sorting, and financial insight.

As Americans earn nearly $1.4 trillion annually, almost 60MM freelancers have difficulty managing their expenses, managing their cash flow, handling their taxes, handling their bookkeeping, and a host of other tasks.

With 200 employees and a product designed from scratch, Pepper founders Lilac Bar David and Liran Zelkha founded the first and largest challenger bank in Israel with a track record of success.

Company overview

Legal Name

Lili 

Industries

Artificial Intelligence, Health Care, Machine Learning, Wellness

Founder(s)

Luka Tavcer, Zan Cmeresek

Founded Date

Nov 2020

Total Funding Amount

€75K

Investors

Lili is funded by Fil Rouge Capital (FRC).

  1. 3 minutes job

Through 3minutesjob.com, a tech startup that connects employers with 18-25-year-olds seeking jobs abroad via short online videos, 3minutesjob.com is now used in over 100 countries worldwide.

Founded in April 2017 by Andrea Adamo, a successful Italian entrepreneur and Founder of 3minutesjob, the company has grown by 315% in just four months, reaching 14,500 users at the end of April 2021, compared to just 3,500 at the end of 2020.

Recruiters and HR professionals can use 3 Minutes Job to find international and national candidates. Employers can search more quickly for candidates when they can upload a video CV, pictures, and location.

3minutesjob has experienced accelerated growth in 2021 thanks to a proactive marketing strategy involving social media and direct sales. According to 3minutesjob data, of 2,000 daily visitors, 12% become users.

We believe that diversity is a treasure that has been acquired through years of travel and living abroad. Those who are looking for work should have equal opportunities. We employ 50% of women; we hire parents and first-time workers, and all workers work flexible shifts (6 hours a day) to give them time to enjoy their families and hobbies. In addition, the company donates at least 1% of its profits to non-governmental organizations. Andrea Adamo, the entrepreneur who built 3minutesjob.com based in Brasov, explained that today’s labor market is global, and his mission is to connect workers worldwide with the best employers.

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Company overview

Legal Name

3minutesjob.com

Industries

Human Resources, Information Technology, Recruiting

Founder(s)

Andrea Adamo, Gabriel Lupu

Founded Date

2019

Total Funding Amount

$55.6K

Investors

InnovX-BCR and Fil Rouge Capital (FRC) are the most recent investors.

  1. AMPnet 

With its white-label, all-in-one platform, AMPnet, an energy company based in Croatia, caters to energy cooperatives and energy communities. A power exchange that sells excess electricity on regulated electricity exchanges and leverages licensed brokers to manage trades comprises AMPnet’s electricity exchange and an investment platform for crowdfunding renewable energy projects.

Aeternity blockchain enables AMPnet to support each cooperative independent business while maintaining seamless interactions with partner cooperatives. To connect to the Aeternity ecosystem, they have selected Arkane as their technology provider. Our Aeternity-based wallets and blockchain infrastructure let them focus on their core business while we handle all security and infrastructure issues.

They can run crowd investing and crowdlending campaigns through AMPnet’s web, iOS, and Android apps. In addition, it can be integrated into an existing website and runs under your custom branding (your logo, domain name).

AMPnet APX, a central portal for co-funding, trading, and exchanging files, is accessible to all platform users.

Investors from the AMPnet ecosystem can buy and sell shares of a project in AMPnet-powered investment communities. You can build an integrated trading platform using AMPnet that runs on blockchains – in minutes.

We are very excited to offer AMPnet’s tokenization services to CryptoTask products.

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Company overview

Legal Name

AMPnet

Industries

Computer, Hardware

Founder(s)

Mislav Javor

Founded Date

2018

Total Funding Amount

$714K

Investors

InnoEnergy and InnoEnergy are the most recent investors.

  1. MIRET

Miret makes 97% natural materials eco sneakers for men and women. With great excitement, we announce the release of their second sneaker collection!

Shoes can have tremendous adverse effects on the environment. Plastic and leather dyed with chemicals found in most pairs of shoes cannot be recycled, which means they will end up in landfills. Count how many shoes you have worn in your lifetime, then multiply that number by millions – that’s a lot. So what’s the point of choosing an eco-friendly option?

These eco-friendly sneakers from Miret are designed with your feet in mind and are kind to the environment. Besides being eco-friendly, these sneakers are also soft, cozy, and lightweight.

MIRET is a brand that crafts sneakers with natural fibers that are as kind to your feet as they are to our planet. In many ways, they are superior to plastic, not only because they can substitute synthetic materials. MIRET sneakers are made of 97% ecological materials: hemp, kenaf, linen, cork tree, wood, corn, jute, eucalyptus, rubber tree, and new Zealand wool.

When we were in our 20s, our father inherited a factory from us. in our clients are some of the world’s biggest high-end brands. Unfortunately, the materials used to make shoes are horrible, which is why the footwear industry is so toxic to nature.

The environmental impact of footwear is negative. Just in 2019, 20.000.000.000 pairs of leather and plastic shoes were manufactured. Polyester and rubber are oil derivatives that contribute to microplastic pollution in our water, soil, air, and waterways. Leather contains highly toxic chemicals, which most people do not realize. There is an 85% chromium concentration in leather, the world’s fourth-worst pollutant. We discard sneakers when trends fade, burdening Earth’s ecosystems to an unbearable degree.

From the ground up, we’ve redesigned sneakers to be eco-friendly. As an industry and ourselves, we wanted to change.

Our search for new materials has taken us around the world. The journey was filled with ups and downs, tears and joy for five years.

MIRET super natural materials are the result of our quest. As well as being able to replace synthetic materials, they are far superior to plastic in many ways. As part of our 97% ecological sneaker manufacturing process, we use ten unique plants: hemp, kenaf, linen, cork tree, wood, corn, jute, eucalyptus, rubber tree, and New Zealand wool.

Almost all-natural materials are used in their construction, which means they are safe and healthy for the environment. Polyester thread and synthetic glue make up the remaining 3%. This 3% will be addressed as soon as possible. MIRET sneakers are getting closer to our vision of creating an eco-friendly, compostable sneaker with each new generation.

Company overview

Legal Name

MIRET

Industries

Consulting, Fashion, Green Consumer Goods, Sustainability

Founder(s)

Domagoj Boljar, Hrvoje Boljar

Founded Date

Jan 12, 2018

Total Funding Amount

$1.2M

Investors

Funderbeam and Fil Rouge Capital (FRC) are the most recent investors.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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