As part of the Empowering Women in Agrifood program, a TeamUp x AgriFood meetup was held on September 26th at the Bornfight premises. The TeamUp concept aims to connect startups in their earliest stages with potential co-founders, collaborators, or employees. The meetup brought together over 50 participants, 5 panelists, and 3 early-stage startups. Panelists touched on various topics and shared the challenges they faced.
Brankica Borović, one of the panelists, swapped her life in Rome for running a family agricultural business in Radučić, transitioning from a computer to a hoe. As the founder of the natural cosmetics brand Viktoria, she reflected on the early days when the business operated from the attic of her house, highlighting the challenges faced in Croatia. Despite describing the entire process as demanding, Borović emphasized that the results have been rewarding. Edo Mujkić, co-founder and CEO of Bite Me Nutrition, is currently facing challenges in foreign markets but views his work as a calling integral to his daily life. Tino Prosenik from Gruntek shared that he often discovers new talents at such events and advised young founders not to miss opportunities for recruiting talented team members through similar occasions. Entrepreneurs highlighted various challenges they face, often involving a lack of workforce and resources for development, an unforgiving market, and a discouraging environment. Ivana Radojčić Redovniković, a professor at the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, explained how her team was fortunate to have an “unfair” advantage in accessing a laboratory for experiments provided by the Faculty. Matija Bubmak, the Executive Director of DIH Agrifood Croatia, concluded by stating that he believes Croatia has great potential for developing this sector at the European level, considering its geographical position, a sentiment with which everyone agreed.
How familiar Croatians are with startups in the agricultural and food sector is evident from a survey conducted among participants. Gruntek and Bite Me emerged as among the most popular. Inspired by their success, participants of this year’s EWA program, Monika Gvozdić, and Magdalena Kovačić, took the microphone and presented the projects they are working on.
Monika Gvozdić, the founder of RoomHarvest, began by introducing the project and an open position within her team. RoomHarvest aims to eliminate the use of harmful substances for vegetable cultivation and reduce excessive water usage by developing an aeroponic system for growing various crops. They are currently in the testing phase, expecting the first lettuce heads in 3 weeks. In the future, they plan to expand their cultivation to include herbs and cherry tomatoes. Currently, their team consists of 3 members, but they are in need of someone with knowledge of inorganic chemistry and hope to find the right person soon.
After Monika, Magdalena Kovačić, a student at the Faculty of Agriculture and a music school student, introduced her team. She decided to combine her two passions in a project called Pjev Majke Prirode,” with the aim of creating a destination where plants are educated and grown using sound technology. In collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, she is developing a prototype and conducting research. Her team consists of 4 members, and they are currently in search of new talent to assist them with business development.
After the formal part of the TeamUp x AgriFood event, networking ensued with the support of Bornfight. Open positions can be viewed on the TeamUp website.
For those who missed this event, Smion, in collaboration with Polygon Balkan Hub, is organizing the TeamUp x Web3 meetup. More information coming soon.
About the EIT Food initiative
EIT Food is the largest and most active global community for food innovation, dedicated to fostering innovation to build a food system that produces healthy and sustainable food.
With the backing of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an EU institution, the EIT Food initiative invests in projects, organizations, and individuals who share their goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. Simultaneously, by unlocking innovation in both businesses and universities, they encourage startups in the agricultural and food sectors to pioneer new technologies and products. Empowering entrepreneurs and experts with the skills required for transforming the food system, they place consumers at the core of their mission, fostering trust in the origins of their food.
EIT Food is one of the nine innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body founded in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Europe.