ZIP Demo Day. It was kind of strange being in that bubble of talented founders, dreams becoming reality through tons of hard work and buckets of sweat. On the outside, a melancholic Europe, clueless politicians, our Presidentess – to – be deciding on which XVIII century piece of garment to wear at the comical ceremony which is the inauguration. Croatia in depression and recession, way behind on Europe’s tail end economically.
In the packed room, 120+ people from the ZIP ecosystem. Partners, sponsors, journalists, mentors, friends, designers, ZIP alumni. There is a super important handball game going on at the same time, Croatia – Poland in the World Cup quarterfinals. No one seems to know or care. Not that sports isn’t important. It is – to many. Someone on Twitter asks “who in their right mind would schedule this when there is a game going on?” My response: “You’re totally right, my friend, we are all crazy here.”
To the people in the conference room in Novi Zagreb, in the somewhat remote neighborhood called “Kajzerica”, however, sports has taken a back seat. As have the economic situation, Croatia’s position in the world, SDP vs HDZ vs ORaH vs Zivi Zid. ISIS, Ukraine, Boko Harum, even Charlie Hebdo are items from the mainstream media. For a few magical hours at ZIP, all of these items are floating far away, and the only thing that matters is the founders, pitching their dreams. They are truly The Men in the Arena, and, honestly, all of us – ZIP founders, mentors, team, audience, partners, supporters – we are only here in this small room because of them.
Many – perhaps most – will fail. And when they fail, they will start again, with a new project, or start a consulting company, or simply get a job, which is great. Some will go on to greatness, however. And it is for that small but palpable chance of greatness that we all got together to salute them.
Dear founders – I bow my head humbly to each and every one of you. Now go kick ass, you bitches!