Split: Dalmatian Pearl And Growing IT Hub In One

Published on:

The Croatian city of Split has been a major tourists destination for years. It also serves as an important travel hub as it is located at the Adriatic Coast, from where it's just a step away from amazing Dalmatian Islands. But things are changing there, with a fast growing community of startup enthusiasts and many new opportunities to be seized.

Split is a city quite different from most of its other growing European startup counterparts. As Croatia’s second largest city perfectly positioned on the glorious Adriatic coast, none would disagree that Split is one of the most appealing feel-good cities in Croatia. Intriguingly, in recent years Split has witnessed a massive welcomed boost from the IT industry. It’s also fair to say, until now Split has so often been neglected on the global startup map due to far more opportunities and the more versatile market found in the capital Zagreb. However, there’s good news. Things are finally changing in Split’s favour.

Split has a steadily growing number of active small, private IT companies mainly thanks to outsourcing. Equally, various global corporations have set up shop on the sunny Adriatic opening their offices here enjoying the benefits Split has to offer. Judging by the rising number of IT-orientated individuals who are hungry and eager to firmly position this Adriatic beauty “out there on the map”, the future’s looking good with a strong sense of optimism.

As you can imagine, the tourism industry plays a significant role in how the city breathes and develops. Its rich cultural and historical heritage, the mild and appealing climate conditions complimented by one of the clearest seas in the world – in a tremendous geographical location are all factors which invitingly draw people to the this colourful Adriatic city.

Over the past couple of years, Split has transformed from the capital naval port sending tourists on their way towards mid-Dalmatian islands to a crown jewel of Croatia’s tourism income. The main reason for this is simple – The Diocletian’s Palace. A unique Roman fortress built by Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century. Built and developed as an emperor’s retirement residence, it’s now an integral part of the city centre and it’s more alive than ever thanks to thousands of delighted tourists. It’s even preserved as a unique monument by UNESCO.

As for the younger, party-oriented population, Split really hit the spot by becoming the host of Ultra Music, a globally acclaimed music festival held in mid-July at the city’s stadium. And for those who are fond of cultural heritage, you’ll find over 30 museums and galleries, 5 cinemas and a 120-year-old national theatre which provide more than enough reasons to visit.

At The Adriatic Coast

Advantages Of Starting A Business In Split:

  • Lower living costs than in Western Europe and other highly developed countries
  • Young potential – Split houses a number of public and private institutions educating future experts in fields such as electrical engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, economics and many more
  • A rising trend of increasing investments in the IT sector and similar projects creates an encouraging environment for those who wish to choose Split as a basepoint for their company
  • Simple and fast solutions for establishing small LLC
  • Croatia is a full member of the European Union, so the laws are fully compliant with EU directives. Equally, one can open their business via branches.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • VAT up to 25%
  • Over 50% of employee’s gross are health and pension contributions (salary taxes are progressive depending on the total gross income, starting at 30%)
  • Complicated procedures for defining a company’s official name as well as penalties for closing a company down that can be as high as 1500$ and can last as much as 10 months.
  • Split is beginning its transformation as a hi-tech, urban city. This process is still ongoing – it’s very hard to get much-needed funds from local authorities, so don’t be surprised if your idea gets rejected pretty fast

Taking everything into account, Split still manages to tick all the boxes as a highly desirable location for setting up your new company. Clearly, the city itself is already recognized globally as one of the key tourist hotspots on the Adriatic coast. Why can’t it be recognized as the region’s most prominent IT city? Join us and become one of the pioneers of Split’s startup revolution!

#1 – Discover Split’s Local Startup Community

Split_guide_community

Split’s ecosystem is still fairly undeveloped in terms of startups. Nevertheless, over the last 2 years the general startup community has been growing steadily, gathering momentum. There are certain events and meetups that would certainly benefit potential entrepreneurs and IT enthusiasts who have their eye on Split, whether it’s just for a simple vacation or alternatively starting a company here.

  • Startups Croatia – the strongest startup-oriented Facebook group in Croatia posting daily updates about events covering the country
  • Startup Croatia – the second largest Facebook group for the startup community
  • Startup Digest Croatia – calendar and aggregator of useful information about startup events in Croatia
  • Startup.hr – Dalmatia’s most active startup association. This web portal features news, insights and a calendar of upcoming events

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • Mobile Monday Split – this monthly meetup organized by a group of mobile developers and enthusiasts, aims to tap into fresh ideas and knowledge. The Split branch is a part of a decade-old global community conceived in Finland, working with local and global mobile industry visionaries. It develops strong bonds between individuals through virtual and live events. Interesting topics, moderators and presenters who have first-hand experience in the industry combined with networking always result in new friendships, partnerships or even job opportunities.
  • Hardware Unity Split – the first meetup of hardware enthusiasts in Split tends to connect people who share the same passion in order to increase cooperation and mutual friendships with a number of community members on a regional scale. One of the goals includes promotion and encouragement of entrepreneurship, as well as forming a strong startup community with a focus on hardware.
  • WordPress Split Meetup – a group for WordPress enthusiasts gathering together to learn from each other. The meetup’s aim is to increase the existing community of WordPress users, promote it as an all-round tool for designing and managing websites, and educate new users through a series of resourceful workshops.
  • Level Up Development – a monthly meetup hosted by a group of development enthusiasts. These events enable attendees to learn more about the latest web trends and technologies. Open to all who have the curiosity and drive to explore new concepts, from students right through to experienced developers. It’s a good chance to get to know other experienced developers in Split.
  • Internet Marketing Meetup Split – a group for everyone who’s into internet marketing within the Spit region. This group welcomes agency-based professionals, those who create internet marketing campaigns, freelancers and just about everyone who wishes to take their knowledge to the next level. Monthly meetups are held in various coffee bars where attendees discuss new trends and exchange their experiences.
  • OpenCoffee Split – a casual group with the purpose of uniting people who share similar interests connected to the IT industry. It’s encouraging members to hang out, exchange ideas and co-operate on various projects. Meetups are held every second Saturday of the month, usually in one of many relaxed coffee bars in Split.
  • Language Exchange Split – a meetup for people with passion to practice, learn and upgrade new languages (Croatian, English, German, Spanish, French etc.) as well as learning about customs and culture from different countries. Members are able to brush up their language skills by practicing with native speakers and people with similar interests. The great thing is – it doesn’t matter what level you’ve grasped – everyone’s welcome!

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Shift Conference – an established yearly event since 2011, Shift is a productive four-day developer event notably the largest in Southeast Europe. It consists of the Shift Hackathon, developer competition, and Shift Development Conference. Within the elegance and grandeur of the Croatian National Theatre, developer teams pitch for a main prize, while world-class experts discuss new trends and projects presented in the exhibitory part of the theatre. All of this takes place in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
  • Reboot Develop – this annual conference is strictly dedicated to gaming industry professionals such as game developers, artists, audio artists (both seniors and indie), PR, marketing experts, or sales and publishing representatives. It’s set to become one of the premier and most exclusive games industry and game developer conferences in Europe and will once again gather industry professionals, developers, artists and publishers in sharing experience during this truly unique games industry event in Split.

Volunteering Possibilities:

Split also offers various options for investing your free time for the greater good. There’s a number of general volunteering possibilities in the city, but some are strictly bonded to the growing IT sector:

  • dUMP – an abbreviation for the Association of Young Developers. This association was established in 2008 by a group of enthusiastic students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture. These students simply wanted to share their knowledge to their colleagues. Today, dUMP has become the strongest group of young developers in the city. They organize regular workshops and constantly strive on developing the IT community in Split. A gathering is held once a year, but anyone can contact their representatives for advice. And if you’re a good candidate, who knows – they might be interested in you!
  • Startup.hr – a group of startup enthusiasts that aims to transform Split into the “Croatian Silicon Valley”. This group focuses all the important information about the startup community in Split, and members often organize various events and meetups. Virtually anyone is able to join this vibrant community – all you need is a goal you want to achieve and some free time. Startup.hr also features a calendar with all upcoming events, talks and meetups regarding the startup community. Feel free to check it out – it’s updated daily!

#2 – Get Started At Co-working Space In Split

Split-_guide_coworking

Coworking is a buzzword steadily becoming more and more recognizable within Split community. There are few coworking spaces currently operating in Split, and the way things are developing – this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Co-working Spaces In Split:

  • Amosfera Coworking – situated near the beautiful Trstenik beach and dynamic University Campus, this place offers reasonable prices, spacious shared rooms with an option of desk reservations, a conference room, hard work room, event organizing services, various discounts and much, much more. An ongoing project by CEDRA Split, this coworking space is a must for every digital nomad, freelance professional or any regular IT enthusiast.
  • CoCreative Coworking – just outside the famous city core, it features 24 desks, 24/7 access, a conference space, dedicated and drop-in workspace, printing services and lots more. Various prices for a multitude of packages, student discounts and an accent on startup communities are big pluses.

#3 – Boost Your Finances In Split

Split_guide_financing.

Here comes the tricky part. Given the fact the startup community in Split is still in its early stages, it’s a challenge to get any investment at all. However, here are some helpful institutions that you can start with:

Incubators:

  • Studentski poduzetnički inkubator – or Student Business Incubator, based at the Faculty of Economics. This was launched for every proactive student, with the purpose of encouraging youth entrepreneurship and increasing the success of their ideas. It provides a workspace with the necessary equipment designed for idea development, a chance for sharing ideas with other students, as well as educations and workshops that provide insight in the process of developing the product.
  • Poduzetnički centar Solin – or Solin Business Centre, situated a couple of miles from Split. It was formed by a group of enthusiasts with the primary goal of improving the position of entrepreneurs in Dalmatia. This is the place where entrepreneurs can acquire much-needed information regarding the very inception of their companies. The centre offers counseling with company establishment, advice regarding marketing strategies, research and development of ideas and support with business plans. It also provides insight into actual programs of encouragement created by the City of Split or amenable Departments.
  • Poduzetnički inkubator Klis – or Klis Business Incubator, situated just 10 km from Split, offers clients a variety of services ranging from creating business plans and marketing promotions to writing project documentations and applications for various programs created by the European Union. The incubator organizes various seminars and supports entrepreneurship in all forms, and equally helps in establishing new companies.

Other Investment Opportunities:

  • Croatia offers up to 350,000 kn for patent acquiring and has an organization which educates you and assists you to obtain EU funds. You can check it here.
  • The Croatian government has a selection of amazing non-refundable cash incentives:

#4 – Seek More Advice In Split

Split_mentors

If you hit a barrier or need some advice at any point during your startup journey, there are several ways of finding help. By following startup.hr and Startups Croatia you’ll be able to stay up to date with everything relevant to Croatia – keeping track of the new trends. Equally, make sure you check out the Netokracija portal, as they always feature current news regarding the regional startup scene. Here’s a list of institutions and associations that you can ask for advice anytime, as well as portals to point you in the right direction:

  • HITRO.HR – a governmental service built for securing fast communication of citizens and business subjects with governing state administration. It contains all the vital information and laws regarding entrepreneurship, and also empowers users to quickly create a company by communicating with Croatian Financial Agency (FINA). Remember, if you need any feedback on your current development plan, feel free to contact them.
  • Microsoft Innovation Centre Split – the sole purpose of this centre is to provide help to independent software developers to develop and create original ideas, as well as transferring knowledge and education on new technologies that make up the business core. The centre’s initiatives are aimed towards specific groups in order to help them during job hunting with professional educations and support during product development. In this way, MIC is making a significant contribution to development for the whole society.
  • Info zona – this is the most prominent aggregator of events in Split, specifically designed for the proactive youth. Located in the very centre of Split, this association features an online news portal, a calendar of upcoming events, and a conference room that regularly hosts interesting talks, meetups and varied workshops. Furthermore, the association’s employees and volunteers are highly skilled in creating project documentation tailored for applying for EU structural funds, so this should be your point of call if you’ve got an interest in this type of funding.
  • Technology Transfer Office (TTO) – as part of the Centre for Science Technology Development at the University of Split, essentially this office aims to increase the commercialisation of the University’s intellectual property, as well as strengthening the bonds between the University and the economy. The office encourages entrepreneurship of students and scientists, and also serves as support in every phase of the technology implementation. From the idea and process of intellectual property protection, right through to setting up business and commercializing intellectual property.
  • HAMAG-BICRO – Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments was founded with the aim of supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, improving the innovation process and encouraging investment. During the 20 years of operation, HAMAG-BICRO has been consistently committed to the growth and development of SMEs and crafts in the Republic of Croatia by facilitating their access to finance. The Agency’s main objective is reflected in the strategic creation of a unique system that would provide support to entrepreneurs through all development stages of operation starting from research and development of an idea to commercialization and placement on the market.
  • Klub mladih Split – or Split Youth Club. This association of productive individuals is the central point of events, talks and workshops aimed towards the student population. As it shares the work space with Amosfera Coworking, there’s a constant flow of proactive students, freelancers and highly skilled professionals. It’s a great place for getting advice regarding virtually anything in Split. You can also become a member of the association and invest your spare time in the development of specific skills.

Although Split is still doing first steps on its journey towards an IT revolution, the evidence shows that this relatively overseen Adriatic beauty will soon be recognized as one of the top startup centres in the region. It’s becoming increasingly recognized among digital nomads who decide to continue working remotely from Split. Additionally, Ericsson and HR Cloud, globally recognized IT companies, have opened their development centres in Split and are in constant search for new talents.

Interestingly, startups such as AuThink, codeanywhere, InClude and getbybus.com all started their story right here in Split. Yes, the city has its flaws – but which city doesn’t? All in all, the benefits certainly outweigh everything else. Come on over to Split this summer and discover for yourself one of the strongest potentials Croatia has to offer – in both tourism and IT.

_____________________

Last updated: August 25th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!