Zagreb – The City To Found Your Startup In

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Are you interested in how the startup community in Croatia works? This guide will give you an insight on how to start a business in Zagreb, one of the most vibrant cities in southeast Europe.

For years now Zagreb has grabbed the attention from a lot of startup people worldwide. It’s located in the heart of Europe, yet living here is cheaper than in other major startup cities like London or Berlin. The startup ecosystem is young and thriving, new players rehubnstantly disrupt the community. At the same time there is little access to capital. That is why a lot of great startups and winners of many global startup competitions have to go an extra mile to find investment.

Zagreb is a city with a rich history dating back from Roman times to the present day. It’s the most important hub in Croatia regarding transportation – it connects roads, rail and air traffic. The city is known for its diverse economy, high quality of living, museums, sporting and entertainment offers. Its main sectors of economy are high-tech industries and the service sector. With a tradition of almost one thousand years Zagreb celebrated its 900th birthday in 1994. The city’s University was founded in the 17th century, and is one of the oldest in Europe. Nine hundred year old Zagreb has a rich cultural life, with more than 20 theatres, three concert halls and around 60 museums and art galleries.

Zagreb’s State Of The Art

Why Zagreb?

  • Low living expenses compared to major European startup cities like London, Berlin, Paris or Amsterdam.
  • Welcoming startup ecosystem – the community is supportive, there are plenty of startup events – and that number is increasing!
  • Lots of well educated specialists in almost any field.
  • Possibility to start a one-person company.
  • There is an option to start a simplified form of a LLC faster, and a lot cheaper: it’s called JDOO (160$ – about 5 days to register).

You Should Consider:

  • Very high VAT (25%).
  • High taxes on employee wages.
  • Not easy or cheap to start a company. The procedure of founding a LLC is quite complicated. You need about $4500 of start capital and the bureaucratic procedures of registering will take between 15 and 45 days.
  • There are still only few great opportunities to get investments.

Zagreb’s Startup Community

Zagreb’s startup community is welcoming, thus there are a lot of events and opportunities to network.

Facebook Groups & Other Sources For Constant Updates About Current Events & Meetups:

  • Startups Croatia – the biggest Facebook group dedicated to startups in Croatia, with over around three thousand group members.
  • Startup Croatia – the second largest Facebook startup group.
  • Startup Digest Croatia – a calendar of upcoming startup events, and a weekly newsletter that introduces a Croatian startup every week, tells you what startup events take place where and when.

In the groups mentioned above you can usually find all information about upcoming events and workshops. Thus the best way to become a part of community is to go and visit them as well as meeting the members.

Regular & Semi-regular Startup Events & Meetups In Zagreb:

  • Startup Wednesday – Startup Wednesday (Startup Srijeda) the oldest startup event in Zagreb, a monthly startup event with speakers who talk about startups and entrepreneurship.
  • Startup Grind Zagreb – Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs.
  • ZIP MasterClass – ZIP MasterClass series is a program of guest lectures by experienced entrepreneurs from all over the world, who will come to Croatia to speak about startups and entrepreneurship, therefore actively engaging in the development of the regional startup ecosystem.
  • Lean Startup Meetup – Lean Startup Zagreb is a local group of Lean Startup Circle where fellow entrepreneurs meet, drink beer, share ideas, critique each other and share knowledge on how to make their visions become reality.
  • Startup Mixer Zagreb – The aim of this event is to pair entrepreneurs(to-be), startups, freelancers, creatives and companies interest by using short but efficient methodologies at the right and adequate space. The event consists of short modules: the check in, the speed-dating (1.5 min to pitch who they are, what they do and what they are looking for) and the open mingling to continue networking.
  • Fuckup Nights – Fuckup Nights is a global movement born in Mexico in 2012 to share business failure stories publicly. People attend to hear three to four entrepreneurs share their failure stories. Each speaker is given 7 minutes and is able to use 10 images.
  • Startup Founder 101 – At Startup Founder 101, aspiring and early-stage startup founders meet once a month to hear candid talks by successful local entrepreneurs. Learn the best practices, strategies, and mistakes to avoid from those who have been there, done that. Then, if you’d like, you can share your ideas and plans in a relaxed setting to get personal and professional feedback.
  • Zagreb Expat – This group is for all English speaking expats in Zagreb, be they American, Brits, Canadians, French, Spanish, Austrians, Germans, Dutch(ies), Aussies, Kiwies or any other nationality.
  • Startup Sauna helps local early stage startups by providing honest feedback and advice from coaches, who are experienced serial entrepreneurs and investors. By impressing the coaches attending startups have the opportunity to be shortlisted for the Startup Sauna acceleration program in Helsinki, Finland.
  • TEDxMaksimir – TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. TEDxMaksimir is the oldest active TEDx team in Croatia.
  • StartupBlink – StartupBlink is an interactive global startup ecosystem map with tens of thousands of entities listed including startups, co-working spaces and accelerators. StartupBlink’s meetups are focused on helping startups grow their business by supplying them with insightful information from startup leaders in the local community, and facilitating connection with other entrepreneurs to create and discover potential synergies.

Zagreb Also Hosts Major Annual Events:

  • ZagrebConnect – a pitch and investing event, bringing together startups and investors. The City of Zagreb in co-operation with the Embassy of the State of Israel, the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovation and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO) and Zagreb Fair, proudly presents Zagreb Connect, a startup conference aimed at promoting the startup community in the region. The City of Zagreb recognizes the importance of a growing startup community and wants to help young entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into successful companies and provide them with an opportunity to present their innovative projects to potential investors. By creating a network of startups, business angels, institutions, mentors and students, they want to promote a positive entrepreneurial environment in the City of Zagreb.
  • WebCamp Zagreb – WebCamp Zagreb is a tech conference built by the community for the community. With nearly 800 web developers & designers attending last year’s conference, the concept of sharing experiences and knowledge across different communities in South East Europe becomes even more apparent.
  • Startup Weekend – a 54-hours event that helps teams to build a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business.
  • OMGcommerce – Southeastern Europe’s Biggest Ecommerce Conference. OMGcommerce is the leading regional conference about ecommerce, the digital economy and just how to sell products and services online! While some will wait to see what the digital economy, you’re smarter than that and want to learn how to sell more online, where the digital economy is going in 2016 as well as how to develop your ecommerce strategy
  • Startup Europe Week – The aim of Startup Europe Week is to bring regional officers, entrepreneurs and local leaders to build momentum on how EU regions can successfully impact entrepreneurs. From 1st to 5th February 2016 the SEW will put a spotlight on everything the regions are doing (and can do) to support European entrepreneurs.

The startup ecosystem is still young, but thriving. As you can see there are many startup events and conferences, their number is increasing annually. Make sure to constantly check the Facebook groups and Startup Digest for further updates.

Find An Office In Zagreb

There is a growing demand for co-working spaces in Zagreb as the community expands constantly.

Nevertheless there are currently only a few co-working spaces for startups:

    • ZIP (Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator) was founded in 2012 with the goal of helping aspiring entrepreneurs from the region of Southeastern Europe to build their companies, ZIP has established itself as the strongest startup incubator in the region. ZIP is primarily an startup incubator, but also offers very affordable co-working spaces where you can work alongside their startup teams and other co-workers (mostly freelancers). ZIP is also a place where various events related to startups and freelancers take place.
    • Impact Hub Zagreb – Impact Hubs are where change happens. Part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community center they offer members a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration and collaboration opportunities to grow impact. The Impact Hub Zagreb focuses on Social Innovation projects, helping freelancers and it also hosts various startup related events like Fuckup Nights, Startup Mixer and others.
    • HUB385 – The biggest coworking space in Zagreb. Opening in February 2016. Housed on four floors of a renovated textile factory, HUB385 will be a fresh and creative home for freelancers, startups, early stage founders, remote teams, small & medium businesses, professionals, developers, creatives, and great ideas. It will host startup events.
    • WorkUp – Business incubator, focuses on green projects, and self sustaining development, offers offices, virtual office service as well as help with setting up a company, accounting and different educational seminars.
    • BIZkoshnica is a new co-working space in Zagreb – a place to share space, knowledge and ideas. BIZkoshnica is a platform where you can develop business ventures and projects, meet your clients and customers as well as make successful partnerships.
    • CoreHUB – The co-working space is free to use for any startup founder or startup team. The space was funded by Core Incubator and their sponsors which are some of the biggest companies in Croatia. Also offered for the users of CoreHUB Zagreb is a diverse network of mentors and a a lot of educational events, meetups and workshops.
    • TPZ-RAZA (Technology Park Zagreb – Development Agency of Zagreb). The primary business activity of the Development Agency Zagreb is counseling support to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the making. On a daily basis, they update measures and activities focusing on entrepreneurial incentives by such competent institutions as ministries, the City of Zagreb, EU institutions and EU programs so as to match them with your needs.
    • Co-working Croatia – strongly believes that joining material, professional and social resources returns and multiplies to the benefit of all parties involved. They are striving to unite local independent professionals into a Croatian national co-working community. Their mission is to position the independent work as an entrepreneurial choice, to advocate independents’ rights and to support professional self-sustainability. Encouraging the opening of co-working spaces across Croatia, where independents will find ‘their own’ professional place, and thus be able to fulfill their regular or temporary work commitments. Co-working Croatia plans to realize this by providing support, necessary information, knowledge and skills required for opening and managing a co-working space and granting access to our community.

Where To Get Funding In Zagreb

Government Grants & Support:

  • Blueoffice is the source for all the information you need for starting a company in Croatia. They can also inform you about grant and investment possibilities.
  • HITRO.HR is a service of the Government of Republic of Croatia intended for quick communication of citizens and business subjects with the state administration. It provides faster and easier access to information and services in one place for citizens and business entities. As HITRO.HR counters within the Financial Agency (FINA) it can be the easiest and fastest way to establish a company or open a business. HITRO.HR provides web services that are available from your own (home)office, 24/7 to find a time that suits you best.

Angel Investors:

  • Croatian Angel Investors Network (CRANE) is a Croatian network of business angels who are interested in investing in innovative companies, in the early stages of their business development.
  • StartUs provides profiles of Angel Investors based around Europe.

Incubators & Accelerators:

  • Founder Institute is an early-stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies. The best way to learn is by doing. Through a structured, 4-month curriculum of weekly training courses and business-building assignments, you graduate the Founder Institute as the founder of an enduring company. Plus, sessions are held at night, so you can keep your day job. The Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies. Based in Silicon Valley with chapters across 58 countries, Founder Institute has helped launch over 1,850 companies in 6 years. The company’s mission is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and build sustainable startup ecosystems that will create one million new jobs worldwide.
  • ZIP (Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator) – was founded in 2012 with the goal of helping aspiring entrepreneurs from the region of Southeastern Europe to build their companies. ZIP has established itself as the strongest startup incubator in the region. Awarded as the best entrepreneurship support institution in Croatia in 2014. by the Ministry of entrepreneurship and crafts, and also awarded as the “Best Entrepreneurial Incubator” in Croatia in 2015 by Poslovni dnevnik (Croatian business media).
    The ZIP Startup program is based on lean startup methodology and the expertise of mentors. It’s an intense 4 months long experience during which teams go through a total of 24 educational workshops with bi-weekly reports all taking place in the late afternoon hours. Recently, ZIP pre-accelerator program has been formed for seed investments of up to €15,000 in ZIP startups after they finish the startup program. ZIP, as the leading startup incubator and a co-working place, where also many startup events take place, offers opportunities to approach many local startups, investors and mentors on a daily basis.
  • The Inkubator of the Impact Hub Zagreb is focusing on the ideas in the field of social innovation, ecology innovation, creative industries, high and new technologies. It helps the participants use business as a force for initiating positive changes. They especially encourage ideas and projects that help (self) employment of women, employment of marginalized social groups and those that are eligible for existing governmental subsidies or governmental financial schemes.
  • Core Incubator – Founded in early 2013, it is a subsidiary of Core Commercial Investments, a VC investment fund based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. They offer angel funding and mentorship to startups in Southeastern Europe active in various fields with a strong expansion potential and innovation on the market.


  • South Central Ventures – With offices in Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje, South Central Ventures (SCV), with its Enterprise Innovation Fund (ENIF) is focused on tech companies in the Balkans.
    The €40 million fund is dedicated primarily to early stage and growth investments, but a smaller portion of the funds is allocated for seed investments of up to €100.000 per company.
  • StartLabs – US based fund investing in startups from Southeast Europe.

At the same time in the StartUs Ecosystem you can search for investment companies, incubators and accelerators all over Europe.

Get Advice In Zagreb

There are several places where you can go to seek advice, and people who you can approach. The easiest way to seek advice is to go to startup events, there is always someone there who might know something you need to know, and who is happy to help you. Follow Netokracija for great articles and news, check out the startup event calendar on Startup Digest Croatia, and you can also contact the Blueoffice for information about many things described below.

Netokracija (Netocratic – TechCrunch of the CEE) is the leading Southeastern European media brand dedicated to digital business and technology, reporting on the latest and greatest startup happenings in the region.

Startup Digest Croatia provides an event calendar and a weekly newsletter that not only announces startup related events, but also presents one Croatian startup every week.

Blueoffice – first business center offering free expert support in Zagreb. The first ever business centre, amongst other things, provides free professional support to entrepreneurs in various areas of business.

  • The business centre, named ‘Plavi Ured’ (Blue Office), will help entrepreneurs and business people, who often face the problem of a lack of information or not knowing where to turn when they have a question or a problem.
  • At the Blue Office – Zagreb Business Center entrepreneurs will be able to get specific and accurate information on all issues that concern them. They will be able to be educated or get advice. It will be a place for networking, exchange of ideas and the like. It is envisaged that the centre will be a one-stop shop for those wanting information about entering the business world. Information will also be accessible to students, foreign students and the unemployed.

The City of Zagreb also plans to expand the activities to foreign investors who are interested in doing business in the Zagreb region. All services at the business centre, located at Vodnikova 12 in downtown Zagreb, will be free of charge.

Startup Academy is intended for beginners in entrepreneurship within the area of the City of Zagreb and those who want to become entrepreneurs.

  • The program is designed for the beginners who use microloans, non-refundable loans and other incentives of the HAMAG-BICRO (Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO)) agency.
  • The aim of the program is to provide entrepreneurs with the basic knowledge necessary for the successful management of their company and its survival on the market, as well as to increase the number of successful startup companies in Croatia.
  • Participation at the seminars of the Startup Academy is free.
  • The users of the measures offered by the Raza development agency in cooperation with the City of Zagreb or other supporting institutions join the program directly.

Development Agency Zagreb (aka Razvojna Agencija Zagreb – RAZA) – Primary business activity of the RAZA is provision of comprehensive support to SMEs and would-be entrepreneurs, as well as development and implementation of projects funded by the EU and national funding opportunities, with an aim to improve and strengthen entrepreneurial environment and opportunities.

There are a lot of things happening in the Zagreb startup ecosystem, even more are planned for this year: new startup related events, new startup co-working places, new startup resources are to become available to everyone. There are more than a few people working on adding something new, or fixing an old problem in their startup community in Croatia, so come to Zagreb and experience it for yourself.



Special thanks to: Iryna Bursuk, Ines Idzakovic, Matija Raos, Ivan Brezak Brkan,
Mia Biberović, Ana Kolarevic, Hermes Arriaga, Luka Sucic, Domagoj Delimar, Mirela Marović Omerzu,
Frane Sesnic, Nera Pavić and Bruno Radojica for helping the Zagreb startup ecosystem
and contributing to the Startup City Guide – Zagreb.

Last updated: Feb. 17th, 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!

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