Five high-growth tech companies are leading the way for a new – and very different – Croatia

2014 has been very good to Croatian startups. Ivo Spigel reports on five of the country's leaders as Rimac Automobili, Bellabeat, Repsly, Farmeron and Oradian are flush with investment and awards.
Five high-growth tech companies are leading the way for a new – and very different – Croatia

It's been almost 7 months since I published my profile of Mate Rimac and his company, Rimac Automobili, makers of the awesome Concept_One electric supercar, on At the time, I wrote that the company was "gearing up" for an 8 million euro investment.

If you're familiar with the concept of racing, where milliseconds make a world of difference, 7 months can be quite a long time.

The wait is now over, however, and Rimac Automobili has announced the completion of their Series A, 10 million euro investment round with investors from Asia and South America.

Rimac London Formula E
The Rimac Concept_One is the official "Director's car" for the Formula E electric formula racing competition

As happy as I am for Mate, it makes me even happier that this is only the latest in a series of investments and other good news for Croatian (or, more precisely, Croatia-based) high-growth tech startups in 2014.

To wit, the rounds and amounts may not be breaking news in London or Palo Alto, but for Croatia's small and fledgling ecosystem, this is a watershed moment. It's the first year that not one, but several high-growth companies, started and/or based here but with global ambitions, have raised seven-figure rounds.

First off the ground was Bellabeat, Croatia's first Y Combinator alumnus and winner of the Pioneers Festival Challenge in 2013. Bellabeat makes products that help expectant moms keep track of their babies' health and share that info with family and friends. Backed by the YC network, Bellabeat raised $4.5 million in late May.

Sandro Mur Urska Srsen Bellabeat
Sandro Mur (Croatia) and Urška Sršen (Slovenia), founders of Bellabeat

Less than a month later, mid-June, Repsly (formerly Salespod) secured $1.2 million in a round led by Boston-based Launchpad Venture Group. Repsly, simply stated, "simplifies field work" – it's a SaaS solution for companies that have many "reps" in the field.

Starting out with sales reps (thus "Salespod"), Repsly today supports many different roles and types of professionals doing business outside the corporate cubicle.

Next came Farmeron, about which I recently profiled on Farmeron is another SaaS solution helping dairy farmers manage their cows. If it sounds funny – don't laugh. Some of the largest dairy farms in the US are Farmeron's customers. Founder Matija Kopic and his team are extracting some very valuable big data from those herds.

Early July, practically a few days after their friends from Repsly, Farmeron closed a $2.6 million investment, bringing the total invested in the company to more than $4 million.

4M startup founders at ZIP
Four founders, from left to right: Mate Rimac (Rimac Automobili), Marko Linke (Repsly), Matija Kopić (Farmeron), Sandro Mur (Bellabeat) - photo by Ivan Lucev from ZIP

At this year's Pioneers Festival, Oradian, a company which came out of stealth mode on the very pages of, won the event's startup competition. I have to add a personal note – it was exciting to see Julian Oehrlein, Oradian's CTO, pouring the champagne on stage after I had broken the Oradian story back in January. A highly international team, with founders from the US, South Africa / Croatia, Nigeria and Germany establishing their HQ in Zagreb – no less.

Pioneers Festival 2014 50
Julian Oehrlein, Oradian CTO, extends the Formula 1 championship tradition to Pioneers Festival in Vienna after claiming 1st prize in the Pioneers Challenge - photo by Ivo Spigel

And finally, at the end of the year, comes the closing of the Rimac Atomobili Series A. When I first met Mate Rimac more than 2 years ago, Mate and his skeleton crew had an amazing dream and an awesome prototype in the garage - but not much else. Today, flush with funding and with their order books full, for both the Concept_One supercar and the Greyp high-tech electric bike, this is a different company. Sixty of Croatia's top electronics and mechanical engineers, manufacturing the current products and designing the new ones, are scheduled to swell to 150 by this time next year.

Mate Rimac, Sandro Mur (Bellabeat), Matija Kopić (Farmeron), Marko Kovač & Marko Linke (Repsly) and Antonio Separovic and Julian Oehrlein (Oradian) are leading a new generation of entrepreneurs in Croatia. Watch this space – there's more goodness in the pipeline in the EU's youngest member state.

Image credit: all photos property of the respective companies unless otherwise indicated.

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