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Our Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship has one main goal: to celebrate the local tech and entrepreneurial community in Split and the region. Many see Split, and even Dalmatia, as a place primarily reserved for tourism. And while its beauty, history, and charm that draw in people from all over the world have their merits, Split is by no means just a city for a short-term vacation. As it was proven by many members of our community native to the region, as well as our “local internationals”, Split and Dalmatia have a lot more to offer.
This was especially evident throughout the two days of our Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship. With over two hundred and fifty visitors in attendance who all varied in age and experience, but had one goal in common – to come together as a community to be inspired and learn from one another, this festival showed that Split is much more than what meets the eye.
The festival was opened with welcoming words from Toni Trivković, founder and president of Split Tech City, and Split’s mayor Ivica Puljak. We are thankful for the mayor’s support and recognition of the work we do to bring our city to the future it deserves.
And while we have kept things as simple as possible this year and all the festival content was in Croatian, we are bringing you a short overview of all the lectures and panel discussions so that you can get the feel of what to expect next year when we plan to make the Festival a three-day event and add content in English.
We would like to see the Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship turn into a regular yearly event from now on. That also includes the international part of Split’s community – internationals who live here and digital nomads. Therefore, without further ado – sit back and strap down your seatbelt because we are about to launch this rocket!
We launched our festival rocket with style – by celebrating what went wrong and all the lessons learned from it!
Our panelists were Ante Dagelić (GetByBus), Damir Seferović (Include), and Marko Smoljo (Parklio). They have shared some mistakes they, as well as their companies, have made on their business journey. The panel discussion was full of interesting stories that are funny now, but certainly were not at the time they were happening.
However, what we would like to share with all of you are some of the pearls of wisdom we have heard during the panel:
Andrej Boboš, CTO of SeekandHit, started his lecture like this: “In 2008 the tech scene in Split did not seem promising. And look where we are now!” He then pointed at the gathered festival crowd.
Through his lecture, he told us how he came to Split on a one-way ticket and ended up staying here and having a successful career. Andrej told us about his journey, but also that of SeekandHit, as well. One big lesson for him and the team came from the 11 months of negotiations they went through before their big break. Andrej says those months were the worst thing in his life: “I often thought that, even if nothing comes out of it, I just want this torture to end.”
In the end, they were successful – selling their technology, but with one important condition: to keep the development in Split. The most important lessons they learned from this growth were how to work and how things are done in the real world. In Andrej’s point of view, no school can teach you that.
He finished the tale of his journey with these words: “Split is a brilliant city to live in!”
KozIT is a bit of a mythical project here in Split. For some, it brought more questions than answers. For others, it is solid proof of the bright future ahead. Toni Boban, whose architecture studio is tasked with the realization of the project, was interviewed recently regarding his work on KozIT and the behind-the-scenes story about this extraordinary investment.
Split Tech City managed to get their hands on the copy of this video and also get permission to broadcast the interview during the Festival. And while Toni Boban and his team of architects are bound by the NDA to keep some parts of the KozIT project under wraps, what we found out from the interview – by reading between the lines, mind you – is that the project is still very much alive.
Ivana Burić, a psychologist, an interdisciplinary scientist, and mindfulness instructor, as well as the founder of Mindfulness Center Split, used her insightful lecture to shine a light on the fact that often no one teaches us how to properly cope with negative emotions and thoughts. This results in us learning erroneous coping mechanisms using bad examples that only enable the build-up of stress in the body. Mindfulness practice can help with this tremendously.
Ivana also corrected one misconception about mindfulness. It is not related to meditation or religion in any way. Completely secular and rooted in science, mindfulness focuses on techniques that allow us to practice focusing our thoughts and being present in the moment. After giving us an overview of what mindfulness is and how it differs from meditation, Ivana led us all through a short practical application of one mindfulness exercise. It looks like its relaxing effects were felt throughout the audience!
Petar Vukašinović, the founder and CEO of Agilno, told us the story of a high schooler so in love with programming that he did not let anything stop him from learning how to code and doing it for the rest of his life. Many told him to give it up, especially because his educational background had nothing to do with it, but he did not listen.
From these initial difficult times he has one piece of wisdom for us all: “Do not underestimate the people around you and be their support!”
For Petar, there is no time to wait, nor time for excuses – if you want to do something, just get to it! He also stressed that there is no progress without sacrifices and taking risks and that no one should fear change and leaving their comfort zone if they want to better themselves.
Empowered by the love of his family as well as his love for programming, Petar’s journey led him from Split to Canada and back again to Split. During this journey, he learned two valuable lessons he shared with all of us at the Festival:
“Persistence and constant investment in oneself are the habits of winners. Your worth is measured by your knowledge and the community that surrounds you.”
Damir Znaor and Jure Trivković, the two co-founders of sport and rehabilitation center Motus Natura, talked about health and managing that old issue all people in tech have – sedentary jobs that require sitting for extended periods. Through their lecture, Damir and Jure tried to stress the importance of movement: for overall health, as well as for the prevention of burnout.
While the topic of health and all that we should do to maintain it can be difficult to summarize in an hour-long lecture, Damir and Jure managed to deliver a fantastic lecture giving all of us a clear overview of all that is necessary for a healthy individual: the balanced combination of spiritual, mental, and physical health, with the added focus on the determination of one’s priorities.
Ena Melvan (Metabelly), Stipe Režić (Mushroom Cups), and Josip Marasović (Sailboat RC) were our startup panelists. They shared their startup journeys with us, as well as some insights they have gathered along the way.
One of the insights all of them agreed upon is the fact that, while funding is a great thing for a startup, what you need to focus on more is your market – as that is what will make your startup a success: having a product or service that solves a real-life problem for people that are your market.
For all of them, a community like ours – where the ideas and support in the form of advice are free-flowing – is of utmost importance for a startup. An idea without realization is worthless and you need to be able to bounce the idea off of someone and get some feedback, especially in the beginning.
Ena, Stipe, and Josip also agreed that true passion and dedication are key for success and that sometimes the best way to learn is to just start doing. We wish all three startups (and all others out there) success on their journey forward!
Toni Trivković (Split Tech City – Split), Vice Božić (VVIT – Vinkovci), and Rene Brakus (IT community – Rijeka) gathered together at this panel to shine a light on the path one goes through while trying to build a local tech community. With all three communities being at different stages of their networking and development, it was interesting to get varied points of view of this path on trying to achieve the same goal – improve their local tech communities.
No matter what stage the local communities of Vinkovci, Rijeka, and Split are in, what all of these three initiators have in common is their desire to connect the members of their respective communities and facilitate sharing of knowledge and skills.
They have stressed the importance of patience in this venture as communities are not built overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to gain recognition, as well as build trust for this type of work. But as we’ve seen from the example of our community, this persistence pays off!
Therefore, we cannot wait to see the communities in Vinkovci and Rijeka arrive at the point where Split is now. We are also looking forward to continuing collaboration and mutual growth together with these tech communities!
An entrepreneur for 18 years already, Đulijano Nola, who co-founded CrnoJaje, GoHome, OsigurajMe, as well as GammaChef and Bots&Pots with his partner Dražen Drnas, started his lecture with the logos of all his companies on display. He ended the lecture with all logos of his failed companies for comparison.
If you ask Đulijano, entrepreneurship is a huge emotional rollercoaster. However, if you love what you do, you will never be bored. He also stressed the importance of persistence and never giving up as something that makes the distinction between success and failure, as perceived by society. According to societal definitions, he is a successful entrepreneur, that is the reason why he also showed us all his failed ideas.
We feel like every single word he said carried substantial importance for anyone who is considering becoming an entrepreneur, but we will sum it up with one particular quote from the lecture:
“Do not have blind faith in luck, but trust your own knowledge, work, and persistence instead.”
We have created the Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship as an event for the community and, as such, it would not have been possible without it. Therefore, we would like to thank all the festival-goers for their support. It was fabulous seeing them all and in such a large number, no less. The positive vibe they have brought with them was the cherry on top of our work on the content of this festival.
We would also like to thank our sponsors: AGILO, BitcoinStore, FEG, GetByBus, and RaST. Their recognition of the importance of our work was what made this festival possible. Special thanks also go to all our speakers and panelists for their willingness to dedicate their time and effort, as well as their contribution to the quality of the festival’s content.
May their advice and stories inspire you to achieve your own greatness!
You may think that, after organizing this event during the past few months and making it a reality throughout these two days, we might be exhausted and without energy. However, that is not the case. The two festival days filled the entire Split Tech City team to the brim with strength and enthusiasm for more – more ideas, more desire, and more drive. We have filled our creative batteries not just for the year ahead, but for the second edition of the Festival next year!
We might have given a lot of our energy to this event, but the return for every single one of our team members was tenfold. That is exactly what happens when the power of a community comes together as it did during the Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship.
We will continue our work for Split’s tech community filled with this vivacity and positivity, so – watch this space!
Photos by: Bruno Dubravec and Ivan Gracin