Why did you set up your company?
Balmaris company was established almost unintentionally. After finishing my doctoral studies in Environmental Protection at the University of Ljubljana, I applied my project for the competition held by one of the largest Croatian banks, Zagrebacka banka. Quite unexpectedly, the project won the main award and the condition for receiving this award was to establish my own company. It was a breakthrough, a sort of a transition from the science world to the business world. The Balmaris company was born.
Why was your idea successful?
It is an eco-friendly, non-chemical, energy effective and simple solution for ballast water treatment on ships. We have developed an innovative (patent pending) and highly effective technology which uses only mechanical and physical processes for the treatment of different fluids.
Other than ballast water treatment, the technology can also be used in many other areas with purification or sterilisation of fluids as their goal (e.g. waste water treatment, swimming pool water treatment, food industry, medicine, prevention of fouling in the heating and cooling systems, etc.).
Which EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives helped you set up or grow?
Initial financial support for establishing the company came from one of the biggest Croatian banks. Support in providing business information and contacts stems from collaborations with different technology parks, incubators and business consultants.
What should the EU do to create a ‘culture of enterprise’?
The EU should continue to give their support to young and ambitious people. From my own experience, I can see that there is a need for stronger links between science and business. Many brilliant ideas are born in science, but never get the opportunity to be launched as a product. This is mainly due to the lack of right information, opportunities, financial and mentoring support.
What will be the key trends/disruptors/opportunities for entrepreneurs in 2018?
In my opinion, 2018 will follow the trends that were present in the last few years: sustainable development, new technologies, growing trend of the start-up community.
Rapid Fire Round
Which is better: partners or go it alone?
Partners. Not only for financial support, but also for wider knowledge, a larger network of contacts, etc.
Hip Hop or Mozart?
Both. I am very passionate about good music. Other than being a scientist, I am also a musician.
Who would you rather have as a mentor: Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandberg?
Although they both deserve the praise in business history, I would choose Sheryl Sandberg as a symbol of female success, ambition and power.
“A fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing". Which would you prefer to be, a fox or a hedgehog?
I see myself as a fox. Perhaps because so far I went through different jobs, gained various knowledge and experienced many situations. Moreover, I’m always seeking to find out and learn something new.
Which is best: getting investment from the bank or from a successful VC?
From a successful VC. It’s not all about money. There are many ways in which a venture capitalist could help and contribute to a growing business.
Monopoly or chess?
Definitively Monopoly. It's the game of my childhood.