(Editor’s note: This post on startups in Croatia is part of our Tech Tuesdays series. Dispatches covers startups because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers and entrepreneurs.)
If someone had told me about a decade ago that Croatia would end up making waves out of the Adriatic Sea and in the startup world, I’ll be honest; I’d have laughed. This little country known for tourism and – well, not much else until recently – has made strides in tech and innovation.
In 2022, Croatia-based startups raised about $846 million including investments from top American VCs such as Index Ventures and Goldman Sachs.
Here are five Croatian tech startups worth keeping an eye on in 2024:
The world is grappling with the positive and negative sides of artificial intelligence. With the European Union having been the first to rubber stamp a comprehensive law on AI and with others rushing to keep it under control, the time has come to harness the good and make sure humanity comes first.
This is precisely where Mindsmiths comes in, as their human-centric applications seek to advance AI in a way that we can all get on board with. Mindsmith has developed autonomous support system (ASS) platform that allows autonomous systems to deliver information in various industries, from healthcare for chronic patients to financial advice for clients in the banking sector.
This AI startup is on a mission to “bridge the gap between organic and synthetic intelligence,” according to EU-Startups. The focus is on linking technology and human behaviour, using tools from the field of AI to deliver a human level of care and attention to millions of people, according to that post.
What separates AI and humans above all? Emotions.
Mindsmiths is a pioneer in what they’re doing in precisely this regard. In short, they took their funding (about 1.2 million euros so far) and set about making AI more in tune with the human need for empathy, as well as different inherently human behaviours and emotions.
Founded in 2019, Mindsmiths was one of the many Croatian startups to come face to face with the unprecedented turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic. It focuses on creating harmony between AI and humans – a bold move in an increasingly roboticized, dare I say false world.
For better or worse, AI is already in place across an array of sectors. Making it more in touch with humanity will help these advanced tools in their ever-expanding roles alongside humans.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll hear the words”software development” and wonder how anyone manages to do all that programming. Tedious, time consuming and complex, Codemap slots in perfectly to bridge the gap. This startup reduces timelines and has pioneered increasingly popular low-code and no-code development.
In fact, this remarkable Croatian enterprise is not only the world’s first, but also the largest no-code marketplace. Their pool of low-code and no-code experts expedite the time consuming processes typical of software development, accelerating the entire task.
In 2022, Codemap received a cash injection of $250,000. Those funds were poured into furthering this groundbreaking venture which brings together no-code experts and software development. Costeffective and helpful for a wide array of businesses, particularly other startups that simply don’t have the cash to throw at typically complex processes, Codema has deservedly made a name for itself and for Croatian innovation.
I’ve talked about PitchSee before, and it’s one of those ideas that is so seamless and simple that it leaves you with that age-old thought; Why didn’t I think of that?
Founded in 2021, when businesses were struggling with the pandemic’s economic consequences, PitchSee acts as an international showcase of pitches and a platform which facilitates not only quick connections between investor and investee, but the removal of the barriers startups might expect.
Coming across funding isn’t easy as a startup wanting to turn an idea into something tangible. When it comes to such processes, it pays to have as few middle men as possible. The same is true for would-be investors on the hunt for opportunities they deem safe enough to pump their cash into. This Croatian startup acts as a hassle-free marketplace for investors and startups alike.
Investors don’t need to waste their time when using this platform, as PitchSee has videos explaining what the projects seeking funding are. There are no fees involved for startups, and communication with investors is facilitated by the PitchSee platform. For investors, PitchSee claims that it has shortened long processes to 120 seconds, and the projects you’re shown will fit your indicated interests.
Orqa hails from the cultural and economic centre of eastern Croatia – Osijek. It isn’t a case of just having headquarters in Osijek, but this company’s entire production and development is also based in that city, meaning that this company is doing its bit to keep Croatia’s negative demographic trends at bay.
Coming from a city that few outside of Croatia and the immediate region have heard of, Orqa deals in a field you might not expect – first person view, or FPV, drones. That isn’t all, this company’s proclaimed goal is to become the number one global provider of tech for FPV and recursive reward (RR) applications – an ambitious feat indeed.
Its FPV racing and freestyle goggle flagship debuted in the United States in 2019, and a couple of years of development followed. Orqa successfully released their first connectivity add-on one year later in 2020, which enabled the user access to digital video recording as well as real time flight live streaming.
Dominated by fields, tractors and a reliance on the weather, agriculture might strike you as a sector that tech and the modern world can have little effect on.
You’d be wrong.
Agrivi, founded in the year Croatia joined the EU (2013), provides state of the art farm management software. As they state, Agrivi empowers food growers with real-time insights. That isn’t all; in combining a centuries-old tradition and the “modern way,” it provides data exchanges, farm analytics, field operations and traceability to its users.
Using data driven solutions, Agrivi assists farmers and other players in the agricultural sector in getting the best results. Farming decisions made by this farm management software are implemented for varying lengths of time, and according to Agrivi itself – anywhere between five and 10 years. This allows farmers to plan accordingly, correctly prioritise, and monitor their activities.
This Croatian startup has come a long way since 2013, having secured significant amounts of capital to expand outside of Croatian borders, even hopping across the pond to the USA. Such is the level of investor faith in this revolutionary agritech enterprise.
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.