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Include Ltd. was founded in 2014 by Ivan Mrvoš and is a company focused on the development and production of hardware and software smart city solutions. As a leading global manufacturer of solar-powered street benches, they created the Steora smart bench which provides device charging, Wi-Fi, sensors, and a Dashboard for data gathering and analysis.
The company currently has fifty-five employees, but it is continuously expanding as is evident in the number of open positions they have.
The original inspiration for the company came to Ivan way back during his high school days and the idea of LED chairs that could be lit up in different colors and charge cell phones. Everyone liked Ivan’s original idea, but unfortunately, it wasn’t profitable because of high manufacturing costs and the fact that the chairs had to be charged too often, so no one was interested in buying the product.
The results weren’t there with the LED chairs, but that wasn’t the reason to quit altogether.
This “failure” gave the drive for a pivot in a new direction in the form of a new idea that resolved the issues the original idea had: a bench with solar panels and cell phone chargers that had the potential to bring a tangible added value to public spaces.
This new idea became reality with Include’s first smart bench model. That first model was the basis for the development of the Steora smart bench. After the successful creation of Steora, Include’s overall concept of smart-city solutions started to develop, and now they are expanding their product range from smart benches to waste solutions and more.
With such great success comes the natural expansion of the business. While that is a great achievement, Ivan rightfully recognizes an issue that arose: scaling the company and how to properly manage that rapid growth while still providing a high-quality work environment for his employees.
“The fast growth from two employees to ten, from ten to fifty, and so on, presented the company with an organizational issue. Every leap forward we do as a company that increases the number of employees means that there are more people whose professional development and happiness the company needs to take into account.
So there was a need for reorganization of work and additional division of tasks, which necessitated the formation of different departments and teams within the company. This also changed our work culture and the already existing way how we did business. The solution we found for this issue was the formation of our Human Resources department whose task is to take care of our employees and the internal organization of the company.”
As a startup company, especially in Split whose startup ecosystem is in its early stages of development, they were sure to come upon obstacles and mistakes that needed to be dealt with and have learned valuable lessons from them.
Openly talking about mistakes is beneficial for everyone. One key aspect of any startup should be the acceptance of possible errors and minor failures that will happen along its journey. Include team has a very clear message about that topic:
“Mistakes happen every day. But what is important is that one learns something from each mistake made and that said lesson learned is then implemented in future work.”
It seems very logical and simple – and it is! But we need to be constantly reminded of this way of thinking if we wish to change our societally conditioned response to mistakes which is to be ashamed of making them and never talk about them again. Discussed openly and without shame, mistakes are just lessons that drive us towards improvement, and the Include team rightly recognized this fact.
But startups aren’t just mistakes and obstacles, there are many wonderful things one can experience while working to build a startup company. Dynamic work environment, speed, and continuous introduction of changes and improvements are some of the best characteristics of a startup company, and Include is no different:
“Sometimes only a few hours pass from making a decision to the beginning of realization of that same decision. And first results can already be visible after only a few days or weeks, depending on what you’re working on and what is the size of the project.”
Ivan also points out that a very interesting thing about startups is building a company from the ground up in alignment with your original idea. With Include being so successful, we asked him what advice he would give his past self:
“The best and the only advice I would give myself is – be patient!
With all that dynamic development and rapid work that characterizes startup companies which is also accompanied by the strong will and determination of individuals, some things still cannot happen overnight. Sometimes you simply need to let things develop at their own pace so that the work gets done properly and everything fits together where and when it is supposed to fit.”
With this pearl of wisdom from its founder, we conclude our story about Include. We would like to thank Ivan and his team for their time and the insider input they’ve shared with the community. We wish a lot of success to Include in the future and hope their story inspires someone else to start their startup journey here in Split!