We spoke about rising stars in Croatian startup space with Ksenija Puskaric from Lider media, a Croatian leading business weekly newspaper. Read the whole article on the link or look at the excerpt below.
After the success of Infobip, the first Croatian startup whose valuation is estimated at more than a billion dollars, investors and B2B partners are looking for its successor. Predicting who this might be is not at all simple, but there are certain preconditions – global orientation and a scalable business model
Ever since Infobip reached a billion-dollar valuation and the status of the first Croatian unicorn, the Croatian business community has not stopped admiring this mythical creature, and everyone is asking only one thing:
“If the guys from Vodnjan could, who is next?”
This news brought the much-needed injection of optimism in a year marked by a pandemic and crisis and pushed startups and their ideas to the forefront, so that they are no longer closely monitored not only by investors and more foreign venture capital funds but also by us media and banks and marketing agencies as well as telecoms. Suddenly, everyone wants ‘their’ unicorn, which means that Croatian startups are a hot commodity on the market.
Today in Croatia there are more than a hundred startups and scaleups (fast-growing companies) that are potential candidates to join this club of founders worth a billion dollars. Of course, not everyone will come close to that, but the fact is that there are so many potential ones to get excited, especially in a country where about 50 new startups are started every year, of which only about five survive the first three years after launch. Sometimes it is very difficult to recognize which of those fifty will survive those three years, let alone which of them has the potential of a unicorn.
Scalability is the key
There is no easy way to determine, ‘This one will succeed and this one won’t’, nor is there a single tool that can be applied, but some variables are more important than others, so the basic rule is that the company thinks globally instead of locally. And that’s the basic difference between a young classic company and a startup; the latter has been ‘designed’ from the start for extremely dynamic growth and development involving the internationalization of business.
“Even after thirteen active years in venture capital, I cannot assess with 100% certainty who has the potential of a unicorn – but I can assess with almost 95% certainty who does not,”
– explains Jure Mikuž, Managing Partner in the South Central Ventures fund, which has already invested in several companies in Croatia, such as Agrivi and Sentinel. He is also one of the founders of RSG Capital, a Slovenian fund that once invested in Shoutem and Degordian, from which it later exited. Jure also adds that the most important thing and what they assess first in an idea is whether it has global potential.
“Croatia certainly has the potential for another unicorn,” continues Mikuž. “And it is best to look for them in our portfolio,” concludes with laughter. Berislav Horvat, the main partner for Croatia at EY, a consulting company that chooses ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ every year and awarded the title two years ago to Infobip’s owners and founders, agrees that the key is the scalability of the business on all markets and that only such companies have the potential to become huge.
Lider’s interviewees also agree that the idea, no matter how ingenious and global, has no potential unless a charismatic, persistent, stubborn founder with a vision is behind it. In Mikuž’s opinion, a good idea means only ten percent of chance for later success. An idea without a visionary and a top team, which is equally important, simply has no chance. He himself has heard many great ideas with very good potential, but whose teams were not at all able to put into action everything needed for ultimate success.
Read the entire discussion on Lider.media’s webpage (article is in the Croatian language).