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For the past 5 years, Croatian startups have recorded the highest value growth in all of Europe

(Editor’s note: This post on Croatian startups is part of Dispatches Tech Tuesday series. Dispatches covers tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers and entrepreneurs.)

Croatia’s transformation from Mediterranean tourist gem to startup spring has been not only interesting but thoroughly surprising to watch unfold. I’ve said it a few times. But if someone had told me a decade ago (or less, if I’m being honest), that Croatia would end up being recognised at an international level for its startups, innovation and impressive tech, I’d have asked you for the name of the drugs you’re on.

I’ve written fairly extensively about the process that took Croatia from the land of hotels and beach concessions (a story for another time) to one of independent startups and apparently constant technological metamorphosis.

More surprising yet, is that Croatian startups have recorded the highest value growth in all of Europe over the last half a decade. Impressive doesn’t even begin to cover that.

Rapid growth

Dealroom’s calculations show that in 2023, this growth was 7.4 times higher than it was back during 2019. Let’s compare this wildly encouraging Croatian figure for those who are none the wiser, and we’ll do that by turning our attention to the startup value in other countries located within Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Their startups grew by an average of 2.4 times, and at the European level – by 2.1 times.

I think that highlights just how incredibly Croatia has performed in this regard, and this will come as quite the shock for many who aren’t yet aware of the sheer potential of this small Adriatic nation.

Despite the many ups and downs and economic woes caused by coming off the back of the pandemic and then a multitude of geopolitical factors, the blooming Croatian startup scene managed to continue growing. It ended up carrying a massive value of 6 billion euros, according to Business Diary.

Dealroom’s very extensive analysis of the startup ecosystem across Central and Eastern Europe provides another extremely positive indicator for the Republic of Croatia – it shows that Croatian startups which have received investments of more than one million euros at the European level have the highest possible chances of becoming unicorns going forward – 7.1 percent versus 3.2 percent in CEE countries, and 2.1 percent across Europe as a whole.

Big exits

Croatia recorded two very significant sales last year. In the first half of 2023:

• Damir Sabol’s remarkable Photomath app was purchased by Google.

Amodo, an InsureTech startup, was sold to the world’s strongest player in the field of telematics – the American company Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT).

The amounts of these huge transactions weren’t publicly disclosed, but speculations circulating at the time were talking figures anywhere up to 50 million euros.

Tourism still makes up a huge 20 percent of Croatia’s GDP. It’s by far its strongest economic branch and that is unlikely to alter anytime soon. Old habits die hard, and old mentalities even harder.

That said, newer generations of inventive and futuristic minds are slowly but surely changing Croatia and the global perception of it, and the international investment community is beginning to not only take notice, but put its money where its mouth is.

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Read more about Croatia here in Dispatches archives.

See more from Lauren here.

Lauren Simmonds
+ posts

Lauren Simmonds is the editor of Total Croatia News, the largest English language portal in Croatia. She lives in Zagreb, Croatia, and is a translator, content writer, interpreter and the co-author of "Croatia - A Survival Kit for Foreigners," which was published in 2022.

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