(Editor’s note: This post on startups in eastern Croatia is part of Dispatches’ Tech Tuesdays series. Dispatches covers tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals work in startups, or are entrepreneurs.)
When you hear “Slavonia,” you’ll think of one of two things; 1). “Where’s that?” and “Don’t you mean
Slovenia?” Or 2). “There’s nothing there.”
The promising startup scene emerging from Slavonia, the easternmost region and by far the most criminally overlooked and forgotten part of Croatia, is changing both of those narratives.
Formerly known as the breadbasket of Croatia, and before that of the now defunct Yugoslavia, Slavonia could easily have one fooled into thinking it’s nothing but fields, old people, rakija and devastating war stories from which the region has never recovered.
For a long time, that could have been accepted as at least partly true.
In recent years, however, Croatia’s blossoming IT and tech scene has gradually begun to alter the perception of Slavonia on both a domestic and European scale.
Here’s a look at five startups from Croatia’s most arguably ‘lost’ region that are changing how people view it:
This promising startup hails from a Slavonian town called Valpovo, which is situated close to the Drava River. Founded by Ivan Rajkovic, this startup deals with virtual, augmented and mixed reality tech. It claims that it was “founded with one goal” and that is to develop mobile apps and apps for holographic computers based on the aforementioned technologies.
“The vision and mission of the company is to create innovative solutions with the soul purpose of making everyday life easier for their end-users.”
This impressive company also states that growth and improvement is an aim, along with the desire to expand to other markets and widen their service offer. They have already impressed with their amazing OctoXR tool, in which they invested 350,000 euros and attracted the attention of payment company Crunchfish, based in Malmö, and Silicon Valley-based VR startup Ultraleap.
Headquartered in Osijek, the cultural and economic heart of Slavonia, Orqa has been a name on the lips of people on the tech scene since 2018. Its aim perhaps isn’t what you’d quite expect – this startup wants to innovate products across the FPV drones industry.
Its FPV (first-person view) racing and freestyle goggle flagship was first presented to the world in Las Vegas in 2019, with two years of prototyping and development to follow. By the time pandemic-dominated 2020 rolled around, Orqa had successfully released their first connectivity add-on, which enabled the user access to digital video recording as well as real time flight live streaming.
In addition to having its headquarters in Osijek, all of its development and production is based there, with the company’s aim being to become the world’s number one provider of tech for FPV and recursive reward (RR) applications.
Another Osijek-based startup, Store4 was founded back in 2017 and is an online business cloud platform which offers not only management solutions but also sales automation in one place. The cloud platform allows users to manage everything they need to simply and easily, from ordering to shipping and billing.
All of this can be done on any permitted device.
This easy-to-use cloud based application has proven popular as the “ultimate sales automation system.”
Gideon Brothers, or just Gideon, is by far the most well known startup from eastern Croatia. They have firmly placed not only Osijek, but Croatia as a whole on the robotics map. This startup has many achievements under its belt, but it’s perhaps best known for having developed the very first Croatian industrial robot which involves autonomous robotic platforms for cargo transport.
Gideon Brothers stands behind the “warehouse of the future” concept, which is being used by enormous companies such as Amazon, and growing rapidly in popularity with other merchants and logistics companies globally.
Gideon Brothers’ initial creation can work without any interruption for 24 hours, every day. Its battery allows it to withstand a solid shift of six hours, and then when the discharged battery is replaced with a
new full one, the job can be smoothly picked up from where it was left.
Last but by absolutely no means least comes the fantastic Osijek Software City. Founded back in 2012 by local IT companies with the primary aim of making an impact on the local community and arousing an entrepreneurial spirit, OSC has withstood the test of time and is now basking in eastern Croatia’s quite remarkable tech awakening.
Officially formed as an association in 2013, OSC showcases and nurtures eastern Croatian expertise and
competitiveness, which is now strong enough to rival historically far more advanced regions. OSC can in many ways be thanked for the rapid growth and ongoing development of the IT scene across Slavonia, as well as the fact that swathes of highly educated, talented “homegrown” Croatian IT experts that would have otherwise left Croatia for employment abroad have remained in their homeland.
Read more about Croatia here in Dispatches’ archives.
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.