Through Split Tech City, you can support, collaborate, but most of all, hire talent and have access to highly skilled professionals.
A community of startups, associations, initiatives, institutions and individuals creates a network that encourages and develops the local IT industry.
If you are a digital nomad or just an enthusiastic traveller, you might become curious about what the Roman Emperor’s Palace and tech have in common or if you just hired an international employee, you might want advice on how to help them feel more connected and welcomed.
Driven by selfless enthusiasm, a love for technology and his home town Split, Toni Trivković shared with us the story about Split Tech City.
We would love to learn about your story; what motivated you to start Split Tech City, and how you conceptualised it?
The experience of organising the OpenCoffee Split meetup led me to found the Split Tech City Association.
In 2008, I left college and decided to start my own company, which still operates successfully today. I worked from my bedroom and I had no way to meet the local tech community, connect with colleagues from the industry, and share experiences.
I grew up in Split3, a neighbourhood in the city of Split that was designed with the intention of encouraging community interactions. As a child, I enjoyed interacting with both young and old people so working from home without being able to interact with colleagues in the industry was a kind of prison for me.
Luckily, I discovered the OpenCoffee concept that was initially started in London by Saul Klein, one of the co-founders of Skype. The intention of OpenCoffee is to merge the tech community face-to-face and when I found out about this concept, I decided to start OpenCoffee Split.
Being open as a person, I love people, and coffee is an integral part of the culture so that was it. The meetup has grown gradually, so far I have organised 130 and gathered a community of over 1000 developers, designers, marketers, project managers, entrepreneurs and investors.
I’m inviting leaders from the world of the tech industry to come and share their knowledge and experience. The audience has the opportunity to ask questions and after the formal part, mutual interaction, i.e. networking, begins.
Midway through the organisation of the OpenCoffee meetup, I decided to challenge myself and raise the level of contribution I give to the community.
OpenCoffee grew steadily, the community connected and I felt it was time for the next challenge, and that was the challenge of how to connect all stakeholders of the local technology ecosystem and implement activities that will contribute to the further development of the ecosystem.
In 2015, I founded Split Tech City, a non-profit organisation that brings together the local technology sector.
Today, our work is supported by 50 companies and I employ two people who carry out activities every day with the aim of making our community better and more advanced.
We organise lectures, workshops, podcasts, conferences and follow the development of the community through our portal. I volunteer to play the role of president and I like to follow the development of Split, which is closer to its potential every year.
You recently held a Festival of Technology and Entrepreneurship. Can you share a few highlights?
During the year we organise many smaller events, lectures and workshops. Through the organisation of the festival, we decided to gather our community in the beautiful ambience of the Bačvice Open Air Cinema and celebrate local successes and encourage the community to interact and network.
This year’s festival talked about failures, mindfulness, mindset, and the importance of building a community, and the feedback from the audience was extremely positive, which confirmed that we lack such content, not strictly being technical.
Although the first edition took place just three weeks ago, we have already started planning the next one.
With everything we do, we actively contribute to making Split a better and more prosperous city, and the Festival will be the crown of that work once a year.
The Fuck up Panel is probably the most refreshing and original topic I’ve seen on the internet lately; a stark contrast to our traditional mentality, which is that it’s not okay to fail. How do we learn from those real-life stories?
It’s always easier to learn from the mistakes of others than from your own.
The mentality we promote through everything we do is that mistakes are an integral part of success.
Mistakes lead us to success if we learn lessons from them and take responsibility.
Throughout the festival, we celebrated mistakes and symbolically opened it with a FuckUp Panel Discussion where three entrepreneurs talked about their mistakes.
Toni, Split Tech City
What are the five most important milestones for the Split startup ecosystem that happened in the last few years?
Several companies in Split were recently sold, such as GetByBus, which was taken over by the Israeli Bookaway Group, Shift Conference, which was acquired by the Croatian unicorn Infobip, and the world’s leading digital agency DEPT, which took over the local agency BlazingEdge.
The founders of these companies have capital that they partially return to the community by investing in startup companies and are happy to share their experience and knowledge through various events we organise, such as the FuckUp Panel.
The Student Entrepreneurship Incubator, which operates within the Faculty of Economics in Split, is one of the key players that encourages students to create startups and provides them with education and mentoring support to come up with an idea that is marketable.
Recently, the Spinit Technology park was launched by the University of Split with the aim of developing and managing entrepreneurial infrastructure and supporting students and other enthusiasts in independently launching their entrepreneurial high technology ideas.
At the level of the whole of Croatia, there are more opportunities to get capital, VC funds are coming to the market and that is a big plus for our startup community.
The regional government also has various programs to provide greater support to the growing startup and technology ecosystem with various programs and facilities.
You also feature Locals’n’Nomads meetup. How many digital nomads do you think are located in the Split area now, and do you have any stats for Croatia?
We do not have the exact number, but they are certainly counted in the hundreds. We started to gather a community of nomads and through these events, we encourage them to get to know locals.
It is noticeable that more and more people are moving to Split permanently. We recently launched a Split Tech City podcast through which we profile people who came from different countries to live and work in Split.
One of our volunteers at Split Tech City is a marketing expert from Warsaw, Poland. He moved to Split with his family two years ago. His initial intention was to try living in Split for 6 months, however he liked it so much that he decided to stay, and maybe one of the reasons is that he joined my football team! 🙂
Toni, Split Tech City
If you could magically improve three things related to the Split or, in general, the Croatian startup scene, what would they be?
I would like to see a quality startup accelerator that does not currently exist in Split. It would be an accelerator where excellent education and concrete investment would be obtained. That accelerator would generate 5 companies with global potential per year.
Despite the fact that it is easier than ever to start your own startup company, few people dare to go that route, especially younger generations.
Salaries in the IT sector are good, beginners get super starting conditions and few decide to take risks, create something of their own. The experience gained this way is invaluable, even if the startup has failed.
If I could magically change things, I would encourage more students to go in the direction of entrepreneurship and build an enterprising mindset.
This is one of the reasons why through Split Tech City we actively promote entrepreneurship and contribute to the situation changing for the better every year.
Two years ago we organised a conference Live Locally, Work Globally. We invited 9 entrepreneurs who talked about how they built global companies. Hundreds of young people attended the lectures, which shows us that they are hungry for such content.
What’s the most significant shift in the talent market you noticed recently?
Remote work has become standard, and more and more well established global companies are looking for development partners in Croatia.
The flexibility of choosing the location of work definitely benefits Croatia, especially Split. This is one of the reasons why people from different parts of the world have been moving here lately.
The situation with the virus has accelerated digitalisation, and there is so much work to be done.
In one of your blogs, you state, ‘No company or country is perfect’ (we agree), so what would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of the ‘well known’ Croatian culture of openness and being straightforward?
A culture of openness and honesty can help you in business and other areas of life. As for the quote you mentioned – it’s our way of recognising that there are areas of our society that we still have to work on while drawing attention to those areas that are absolutely amazing.
Valuable time can be wasted when someone is not open and clear about their needs, or things that need to be done or something that bothers them. However, the downside of this direct way of communicating is that they may be considered rude or too brave. It’s all up to the individual: whether you want to sort things out or you want to please absolutely everyone.