Lately the Split tech scene has been thriving, offering its members a wide spectrum of opportunities for educating themselves and socialising at various lectures, conferences and meetups; something one could only have dreamt about ten years ago. At that time technological events were a rare occurrence and the meetup concept was something that could only be read about in foreign media. That is precisely how the story of the most longevous Split meetup, one launched by the founder of our association and this web portal, began.
Shortly after learning about the Open Coffee Meetup concept which had been launched in London and then spread to numerous other cities, 20-year-old IT company founder Toni Trivković decided to use the same approach to bring together the Split tech community of that time. At meetup.com he started the OpenCoffee Split group and thus set in motion a series of monthly social gatherings of local developers, designers, IT professionals and other interested parties. At the beginning there were only a dozen of attendees per meetup but each was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Sometimes he would even fear if anyone would show up. Over time this community grew; new connections and collaborations were forged, business deals were made and new companies were founded. These inspirational gatherings where participants can exchange experiences and ideas have encouraged many to take the necessary steps that would steer them towards entrepreneurship.
What we have in store for July is the 120th edition of this meetup. It was this impressive number indicating continuity and quality that prompted us to persuade Toni to reflect on all that has happened in this field but also to introduce the new look of the OpenCoffee Meetup website.
“The meetup presentation options on the Meetup platform are limited so I decided to create a separate page that would make the whole experience better. Just by watching the video in the header of the page you can experience the atmosphere at our gatherings and now you will have the opportunity to watch the videos from previous OpenCoffee lectures on the newly launched website. What is new in regards to the meetup itself, which is also reflected on the website, is that you can sign up to pitch your startup to the OpenCoffee community. There are a few entrepreneurs, developers, designers and marketing experts at our meetups and their feedback could be of great value to the founders of startup companies”, explains Toni emphasising that the new website should contribute to a more authentic experience of the event as well as motivate young people to engage in the OpenCoffee community.
The OpenCoffee Split community has been constantly growing since 2008 and, if it weren’t for the returning participants, it would have been difficult not only to bring about the 120th edition of the OpenCoffee event but also to maintain the community of 750 people on the meetup.com platform, Toni states.
Over the course of the past ten years OpenCoffee has been held at numerous locations. “We never bind ourselves to just one location and, since the whole OpenCoffee community is quite laid back, I always strive to find a location that would reflect that. I have an excellent collaboration with WIP Coworking and PlanB Pub”, explains Toni.
At the end of last summer a novelty of this meetup was introduced: these social gatherings were upgraded with lectures by domestic and foreign entrepreneurs. These are the speakers who have given lectures so far: Luka Sučić (“On Giants’ Shoulders or How to Breed Success Despite an Unfavourable Environment”), Marko Kovač (“The Development of Startups – Repsly (Case Study): Vision and Pivots, Phases of Development, Culture and Organisation”), Michael Anderson (“From Programmer to CEO: How to Become an Effective Leader in the Tech World”), Nebojša Veron and Ivan Aras (“Dobartek.hr – Developing a Startup without External Financing”), Morten Smalby (“Lessons Learned from Building a GetByBus.com Platform”) and Toni Boban (“A Creative Company for a Creative Industry”).
Tony says that this novelty was a complete success because the audience reacts best to a combination of lectures and networking: “Through these lectures that I organise, I am trying to provide the community with interesting content that motivates and improves them. I usually invite the founders of companies who talk about their business ventures, their ups and downs. There are no songs of praise, just a completely down-to-earth approach. I’ve got no problems attracting an audience for such events which serves as an indicator that this community really appreciates it.”
We can also be the ones to confirm that the atmosphere at these events is indeed relaxed (if you’re still suspicious, just take a look at this snippet of the 100th edition) with the constant interaction between the lecturers and their audiences. If you are interested in giving a lecture at this meetup, you can apply on the updated website, just go ahead! ☺
Since he is approaching a certain age when he could experience a crisis (☺), we couldn’t have gone on without asking Toni whether he thinks he could eventually lose interest in organising this meetup and leave it to someone else or simply cancel it altogether.
“I am losing interest so I will probably end it in the near future”, Toni confided in us.
“All jokes aside, I am not losing interest in hosting such an event and I can imagine myself still organising OpenCoffee Split in ten years’ time. OpenCoffee was built on a solid foundation so I do not feel that this event is consuming me; instead it is actively improving my community and me alongside with it.”
Ah well, hearing this calms us!
We hope you will also partake in the upcoming events where you can expect content relevant to the community of creative people, developers, marketing experts, entrepreneurs and investors. You can already mark the date of the next lecture on your calendar: July 12 when we will have the opportunity to learn from the founder of Software Sauna who moved to Croatia from Finland.
See you there!
Translation of the original text: Ana Vidić