Software

Meet A Founder Who Started A Successful Software Company Thirty Years Ago. In Croatia.

European tech pioneer Ivo Spiegel co-based software and services agency Perpetuum Mobile again in 1989. It might not look like a big deal; however, permit’s put matters in angle – the commercialization of the internet handiest commenced inside the early Nineties.
Europe has caught up or even passed the U.S. In a few regions, like Fintech, but the area has traditionally lagged at the back of. In phrases of startups, the small Balkan Croatia has stored a snail’s tempo amid political instabilities and domestic and local conflicts, making accomplishments even greater noteworthy.
In 1997, Spiegel and his team conducted the first e-commerce transaction by chance. They were selling e-trade answers to businesses, so that they installation a web store featuring computer products like hardware and printers, to showcase for B2B clients what they may do. The hardware e-trade website took off and became worthwhile in its own proper.
Spiegel became energetic in Croatia’s startup scene in 2007 when there was no scene, no environment, only some human beings trying different things. He co-founded Tech. European, a platform for European tech information and co-based local incubator ZIP, which in the end merged with a local university. In 2016, Spiegel posted European Startup Revolution, proposing his interviews with 28 of the maximum hit startups, including TransferWise.
I was in Zagreb recently to talk about entrepreneurship and storytelling at Leap Summit and sat down with Ivo to research more about Croatia’s surroundings.

Amy Guttman: How are Croatian startups exceptional or similar to their European friends?
Ivo Spiegel: If you’re a startup in Zagreb, you have plenty greater in common with a startup in London than you do with a one-of-a-kind type of commercial enterprise in Zagreb. Capital is an undertaking. However, it’s less difficult than ever to get the right of entry to traders. All of the startups right here have gotten a few shapes of international funding. If you do your homework, you realize who’s willing to make investments right here and in different places. The range of traders broadening they attain growing immensely.
In Zagreb, you’ve got higher get entry to pinnacle skills. However, it’s no longer as cheap as it used to be. Still, the cost of salaries and the price of residing and doing enterprise right here is a great deal less expensive than large towns like London and Paris. And, in case you have been born here, you’ve got a precious community of people to tap. Many startups see it as an aggressive benefit over their friends in London. They can build sturdy groups. However, regulations here are not as desirable. For example, it’s nearly not possible to create an inventory choice for employees. All the things that are preferred in London are either complicated or not viable here. But, people are locating approaches around it. Some are registering groups in Estonia to take benefit of the guidelines that allow those things.
Guttman: Many towns and nations are actively recruiting overseas startups to assist grow the ecosystem. Is Croatia appealing to foreign startups?
Spiegel: Croatia isn’t attracting overseas startups. Our president is a debatable figure. He set an approach of being very isolationist. He’s traveled nearly nowhere, and nearly no overseas politicians got here right here. The isolationist difficulty and the truth that we virtually don’t have startup-friendly regulations make it tough. Add to that the University of Zagreb, which you could generally see as a feeder for the ecosystem, isn’t worldwide and gives very few classes taught in English. But, there are more modern, private universities that are doing better at attracting international students. On the plus facet, as a small business owner, I’m relieved a massive London startup isn’t coming here to snap up three hundred superhuman beings due to the fact then I’d be left seeking to update my group of workers, so it’s now not always a hassle.
Guttman: What’s the dominant sector in Croatia’s tech scene?
Spiegel: We get requested that question plenty, but there are none. The scene is so small; there’s nobody dominant quarter. Gaming is doing nicely here. We have a few Fintech, AI, robotics, blockchain, agri-tech, tourism tech – however, we’re speaking about some right examples of those – now not masses of them.
Guttman: Does Croatia’s size deliver it a bonus or drawback?
Spiegel: Croatia isn’t always its personal marketplace. Croatia is the size of Brooklyn – about 4M humans. This is a not unusual topic for all small countries, and it’s the type of a competitors’ advantage if they can understand it. I’ve seen organizations in different, larger markets become a hit of their domestic markets, which impedes them from growing large or across the world. But, if you’re in any individual of the small countries from Estonia to Greece, you start with worldwide ambition from day one because nobody’s content material to, without a doubt, triumph over the Croatian marketplace.
Guttman: Which local startups are the ones to look at?
Spiegel: Rimac Automobile – The guy each person’s speaking about is Mate Rimac. He’s built the fastest electric-powered supercar. He’s considered by using a few, the organization holding the keys to the worldwide car market. They took minority funding from Porsche’s past due closing year. It turned into the first, if not the only external investment for Porsche. They’re our outlier. You can’t say success tale but the most a successful business enterprise, thus far through some distance. Croatia is one of the few international locations within the area that has 0 vehicle heritage. Each of the previous Yugoslav countries had a car manufacturing presence. So, this guy becomes actually beginning from not anything – no professionals to consult. They now have their 2d-generation automobiles being built.
Microblink – It’s speedy, wise facts capture through AI. You hold your cellphone above an equation, and it spits out now not simply the answer, but additionally all the vital steps. This has repeatedly been number one at the app shop for Apple’s education apps. They additionally have PhotoPay, which integrates with cell banking apps to improve usability. Microblink has plenty of different programs; for example, American police departments use it to experiment and study driver’s license facts mechanically.
Memgraph – They constructed a completely new, from scratch graph database platform with a couple of programs. For instance, retail may provide actual-time fraud detection, cybersecurity, and personalized guidelines. Facebook has its own internal tech to attain these graphs, and there is someone outside agencies working ever; Memgraph is quicker than most.

Johnny J. Hernandez
Zombie aficionado. Beer practitioner. Coffee geek. Total alcohol maven. Freelance reader. Spent the better part of the 90's creating marketing channels for trumpets in Jacksonville, FL. Spent a weekend working on chess sets in Mexico. Spent a weekend creating marketing channels for Magic 8-Balls in Hanford, CA. Spoke at an international conference about developing inflatable dolls in Las Vegas, NV. Had some great experience importing muffins in the UK. Had a brief career getting my feet wet with crayon art in Pensacola, FL.