Infobip: The First Croatian Unicorn

Have you ever forgotten your Facebook password? You probably changed it via SMS confirmation using the service created by Infobip. How did this Croatian start-up become a unicorn in digital communication?

Cyber security in two-step verification, multi-factor authentication, information security and encryption, secure access to user's personal information, secure Internet access, and cybersecurity. stock photo
Photo: iStock.com / tsingha25

You probably already guessed that Infobip started in a garage, like many other IT companies in America and around the world. Maybe you also assume that the founder dropped out of college to dedicate himself to the company à la Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Alas, in this case, the story is a little different.

The founder of Infobip, Silvio Kutić, graduated from one of the most prestigious Croatian universities for computer science and landed a good job in the electrical industry in Zagreb. However, on his first day on the job, he quit and bought a one-way ticket back to his native city, Vodnjan. His parents were furious and wondered why he would leave a secure position in the capital city to return to his village. Silvio said he realized that he wanted to start his own company, not be someone’s employee for life.

This is where the story enters the “garage” phase. However, in this case, it’s a room in the family home where Silvio created a “Virtual Municipalityapplication for the town of Vodnjan in 2001. The application failed within 5 months because it was too revolutionary for its citizens. However, this did not discourage Silvio. He started working actively in the field of communication applications and worked in individual customer services for several companies in Croatia.

Silvio did not have a permanent job for almost five years after graduating from college until he founded Infobip in Pula with Izabel Jelenić in 2006. His parents lent him the initial capital required to establish a start-up.

Infobip: a millionaire in one year

This question is best answered by “Infobip,” which has steadily earned five million euros on its Application Programming Interface in just one year. In the second year of its existence, the headquarters moved to London and began international business success. They are experiencing the greatest success with the mGate program, which in 2010 enabled more direct messaging between companies and their users. Today, this software is implemented in almost all social networks through a system of “push” notifications, SMS account confirmation, double identity confirmation, etc.

You are probably unaware that you use services invented by a Croatian company at least once a day, with its brains still based in Vodnjan. The company has over 4000 employees and offices in over 70 countries. The peak of the success of Infobip came in 2020 when the company collected more than 200 million dollars from the investment fund One Equity Partners. Then it became a company not listed on the stock exchange but valued at one billion dollars, becoming the first Croatian unicorn.

Has Croatia recognized the value and importance of Infobip? It must be said that the other Croatian unicorn, Rimac Automobili, still receives more public attention because they produce physical products, while the products of Infobip are mostly virtual. There is no doubt that Infobip brought a revolution in digital communication between numerous companies and their users, and it is to be expected that their most tremendous success is still yet to come. By opening new scientific campuses in Zagreb and Vodnjan, they are attracting the best European IT experts while, at the same time, they are positioning themselves firmly in the American market.

Danijel Bačan

is a final year master's student in geography at the University of Zagreb. His specialization is political geography and regional geography of Europe, he is the author of several scientific articles on geopolitics and tourism. He grew up and lives in Zagreb and is an active member of the Zagreb County Youth Council, the national representative of YATA Croatia and a young European ambassador in the EU Eastern Partnership.

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