The second Business Cafe International took place on June 10, 2019 at Cafe Lateral in Zagreb, featuring successful entrepreneurs from Jan de Jong Born from Holland, Mara Vitols Hrgetić from Latvia and Mirela Rus from Romania. It was an inspiring evening.
Among several positive initiatives to promote networking and the entrepreneurial spirit in Croatia, the recent expansion of Business Cafe to its international version has given the opportunity for Croatia’s entrepreneurs to hear the experiences and success stories of foreigners who have moved to Croatia and succeeded, despite the challenging business climate. The first one was a great success a few weeks ago, with some very solid contacts made, and the second edition was no different, with three great speakers.
Jan de Jong Born is from the Netherlands. He moved to Croatia in September 2006 at the age of 22, and within 10 months built a call centre with 30 full-time employees. Over the past 13 years, he co-founded several companies. At the end of 2015, he made a successful exit from the call centre he had founded. Today, he is the owner of M+ Agency (a full-service digital marketing agency) and Webpower Adria (an email marketing service provider).
Mara Vitols Hrgetić, a Latvian born in Venezuela, moved to Zagreb with her husband, a Croatian Venezuelan. She co-founded and today runs Forum event centre. She also organizes G2 meetings – conferences connecting the Croatian diaspora with local entrepreneurs.
I am probably a little biased because we are friends, but the star of the evening was the first speaker, Mirela Rus from Romania, a very popular expat in Split who radiates positivity and determination to succeed. I had never heard Mirela speak publicly before, but it did not take long for the room to learn the secrets of her success in Croatia – the determination to succeed and unwillingness to take no for an answer.
Having fallen in love with a little Dalmatian slice of Paradise in Vinisce over a number of years, she decided that she wanted to swap life in Romania for a little Adriatic tranquility. Together with her husband Ionut, they engaged a real estate agent to find them the perfect piece of land. Eventually, she found the land herself, but then agreed to pay the agency the full commission if the agency would check the papers and guarantee all was in order. And so the problems began. Having taken the commission, it then appeared that it was not going to be possible to build on the land after all, at least for the forseeable future.
Determined to stay by the coast, she and Ionut started an online business selling nautical bracelets that Ionut designed and made himself, with Mirela doing all the marketing and online sales, something she had never done before.
She thought about opening a small store in Split, and having seen a few places in and around Diocletian’s Palace, they decided to take one and open right at the end of the season, in November. Selling just bracelets. People thought they were crazy, but the shop soon became a huge hit, all the more so after an article in Slobodna Dalmacija seemingly had the whole city popping in with their fresh fish after visiting the famous Split fish market. One store became two, became five, and Break Time Croatia now has outlets in Split (two), Dubrovnik, Rovinj and, most recently, Zagreb. You can learn more about this wonderful startup on the official Break Time Croatia website.
And there were plenty of entrepreneurs waiting to learn more when the formal presentations had finished. Mirela in her prime.
A good idea, absolute determination, and the refusal to take no for an answer. Simple ingredients which also work in Croatia, it seems.
And it seems that there is finally some progress on the building plot which has been stuck for so many years, and so finally they may be able to build their Dalmatian dream, from where they can continue their successful Croatian business.
To learn more about Business Cafe and future events featuring both Croatian and international speakers, visit the official website.
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