5 years ago seems like an incredibly long time in StartupLand. Companies are built and burned in less time. This little event in Zagreb, looking back at the pictures, reveals itself to be a true nucleus of some really interesting stuff that would develop over the next few years.
Here’s Reshma leading the event, chanting and cheering for Central and Eastern European startups to join the forefront of the entrepreneurial battle.
Stefan Glaenzer is on hand – at the time, Passion Capital was a long way from being founded, Stefan was “merely” an angel investor looking for high potential projects to bring into what was already a burgeoning small community at White Bear Yard. He was also in town to talk with Groupon clone Kolektiva, which would eventually become part of the Rebate Networks empire, only to be sold several years later at not such a favourable valuation.
In the room are Saša Cvetojević and Damir Sabol – two of my friends with whom I co-founded ZIP some two years later, along with our fourth partner Mihovil Barančić. I had known Damir since early 2000 but not Saša or Mihovil – we were only to meet much later to ponder what could be done to boost the fledgling startup community in Zagreb. Today we are super proud that the result of those ponderings (many of them over some delicious Croatian barbecue dishes) became ZIP – Croatia’s premier startup program!
Viktor Marohnić and Saša Šarunić were there, still partners in Five Minutes and the early days of Shout’Em. The very vocal and outspoken Hrvoje Bujas was all about his real estate search engine GoHome – only some time later would he refocus on another Groupon clone, “Crno Jaje” (“Black Egg”), with which he was really smart to partner with a TV station and thus gain an edge on the numerous group buying (remember how popular it was then?) competitors.
Marko Kovač was in the room. His company was called Salespod – it would take 4 years of hard work to get a major investment from the US, rebranding from Salespod to Repsly and for the startup to really take off, with the usual sacrifice of Marko relocating (mostly) to Boston.
The “speakers and sponsors” dinner was organized on the previous evening. I couldn’t make ti because I was too busy protesting against a controversial real estate development in the heart of Zagreb. The protests galvanized many in Zagreb but were ultimately unsuccessful and the hated shopping center was built. It’s a bit comforting, but not too much, to hear that most of the shops there are empty and dying. But I digress 🙂