Our 1st Founders Dinner: Sharing Food and Startup Stories

Franka Čule
4 min read
Our 1st Founders Dinner: Sharing Food and Startup Stories

With the growing local community of startups, we wanted to launch this event for a while now.

Being founders ourselves, we know how important sharing experience and insights are for business, as well as personal growth. That’s why we organized Founder's Dinner - an event where we welcomed founders of the most successful Croatian startups for some delicious food and some food for thought.

Before we give you a wrap-up of the night, we wanted to thank all of our guests for joining us and making this a special event. Thanks to: Bernard Ivezić (Startup Report), Ivor Bihar (Mediatoolkit), Mirna Marović (VentureXchange), Ivan Roje (Aestus), Davorin Cetto (Syntio), Ivan Andabak (Recommend), Nikola Stolnik (Good Game Global), Jan Jilek (Dotmetrics), Filip Stipančić (Lean Startup Croatia), Nika Pintrar (Cidrani), Bruno Balen (Ani Biome) and Marko Pavlović (Robin).

The main purpose behind the event

In the startup industry, everything changes fast, and you will hit more than just a couple of bumps in the road. Everyone has their own way of dealing with challenges, but listening to the stories of other visionaries can open your eyes to a new perspective. Besides (re)connecting, we also gathered around a common topic, or so to say, a challenge: What could be done to make a better basis for the Croatian startup ecosystem?

Talking to like-minded founders throughout the evening, I’ve concluded that we all share a common viewpoint towards the Croatian startup ecosystem. To strengthen it, strong and empowering politics towards businesses and infrastructure need to be promoted, while founders should be able to access necessary funding beyond the accelerator/seed stage. Some promising signals are already emerging at this level, and we remain optimistic that the infrastructural setup will be less painful. Where we need to focus a lot more, and where M&M will directly try to influence the ecosystem, is by connecting founders, and creating a positive buzz, highlighting the vast, partly untapped potential of this region and its people. - Marko Bosiljkov, event host and co-founder of Martian&Machine

What was discussed

Our wheels are still turning from all the amazing insights. So, let’s dig in while it’s hot.

The evening began with a round of drinks, starters to whet the appetite, and an exchange of experiences with people from the local startup scene in different stages of development.

As the evening progressed, the main topic behind the event emerged naturally - the current state of the Croatian startup scene.

Issues such as the lack of early-stage financing in Croatia were discussed, alongside general challenges European founders face in comparison with the US ecosystem, the quality of the investors, and the vast untapped potential many Croatian startups and founders have.

‘It was a great pleasure to share experiences in this round of upcoming and accomplished entrepreneurs and startup scene experts. A Croatian startup ecosystem is at a crossroads, and we all need to collaborate to make it into one of the most flourishing in Europe!’ - Jerolim Dragojević, event host and co-founder of Martian&Machine

Key Takeaways

As you could tell, there was a lot of talking. But here are the top insights from the night:

  • The Croatian startup ecosystem is growing but needs to realize its potential

  • One of the main challenges is access to high-quality early-stage investors and the mindset of the people that sometimes prefer comfort over significant impact and risk

  • A challenging macro situation could be an advantage for still-undervalued Croatian tech companies

  • As many more initiatives, scale-ups, and local VC funds emerge, the ecosystem will produce more talented founders that will set success cases for others. We see this positive trend to be continued next year - as one of the famous angel and VC investors, Jason Calacanis, said, “Fortunes are built during the down market and collected in the upmarket.”

What’s next?

We’re looking forward to hosting more dinners like this - and are already making plans for next year. Proving how insightful the first dinner one was, we intend to make it a regular event on the calendar. This way, we want to connect the local community of entrepreneurs, innovators, and founders with one another, working on empowering the Croatian tech scene and changing the mindset, and expanding the network.

If you want to be a part of it or have an idea to discuss, contact us at or keep in touch by subscribing to our newsletter below.

Until the next one. Cheers!

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