Los Angeles – 09, October 2018 – Our CEO, Peter Looker did an interesting interview in LiderMedia, the leading business magazine in CEE and we bring you the full interview.
American Investor Looker: “Arriving in Croatia is one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
Although they come from a small country, Croatian startups do not lag behind at all. This was also noticed by American entrepreneur Peter Looker, the founder of TransAssist, who has spent the last few weeks in Croatia looking for promising tech startup projects to help them enter the US market. The Include company, owned by Ivan Mrvos, the inventor of the first smart bench, who could one day get on the streets and squares across the United States, immediately caught his eye. We used his stay in Croatia to talk about the local startup scene and the factors he uses to choose companies to evaluate.
1. Considering that you are actively looking for tech start-ups from the region to help them enter the USA market, can you tell our readers what exactly are you doing?
We are looking for startups who want to introduce their products to the United States, or elsewhere, with an emphasis on their needs for finances, regulatory issues, logistics, and so on. With my resources and experience, I help them save time, energy and money throughout the entire process, and I help them in various areas – from logistics, management, marketing, and sales. In short, I am their eyes and ears in America. I live in California and in my own career have established branches in foreign markets, so I know very well how difficult it is to start something new in a foreign country where you do not have many contacts and whose language you do not know.
2. What is the criteria by whom you choose the start-ups for partnership?
Startups I want to work with must have the potential to be first or second in their industry, not in the middle. First and foremost, if you have a start-up with a single employee, you can’t expect it to first or second. On other hand, it does not have to be someone who has already been established, but if there are indicators that this start-up can become a leader in their industry, then I’m interested.
3. In Croatia we fell that we have a strong start-up scene and we are especially proud of the tech start-ups. You spent couple of weeks in Croatia so what do you think about this statement? Is there a potential for partnerships with your company?
I agree that the climate in Croatia is very favorable for startups but also for the business as a whole. We started looking for projects in April, so I’ve spent the last six months meeting people. I am very impressed with the people I’ve met, and every conversation with them has motivated me. I’m glad that I decided to invest my time, energy and efforts to create contacts and start working with Croatia. All in all, what I have seen so far encouraged me very much.
4. Overall, how do you feel about tech start-ups in the region?
Frankly, I haven’t had enough time yet to see how it is outside of Croatia, but I believe we will create more contacts in the future. In November we will attend a tech summit in Portugal to visit and meet more companies and technology startups. We are currently in the early stages and presenting ourselves to the local scene, but what I have seen so far has impressed me. Coming to Croatia is one of the best decisions I’ve made.
5. Why did you choose Croatia exactly?
For thirty-three years I’ve been working at a family business in Los Angeles founded by my father, and last summer I hired Tatyana Rašić as a sales representative for Europe. When I began TransAssit I asked her to be a partner in the company. Our company has good contacts in Europe, but we are relatively weak in this region. Without anyone from Croatia I couldn’t come here and try to do business, so I rely heavily on Tatjana and so far, we have progressed faster and better than I imagined. Americans know little about Croatia and this region overall, but I’m sure this will change. That is why I’m happy to be one of the first Americans who has come to Croatia for these reasons.
6. At the moment you co-operate with the Include, the company from Solin that produces smart-benches. Can you tell us more about it?
Include was one of the first startups that got my attention. Before I got their contact, I didn’t know what a smart-bench was all about. The story of Ivan Mrvoš, who founded his company as a teenager, impressed me, so I decided to visit their factory and after only five minutes, realized that it was a company that interested me. For Mister Mrvoš to be the leader in his field at such a young age got my attention because I have kids his age. Then when we talked to him and his associates, I immediately knew that these were people I would love to work with because we share many of the same values. Besides having a long-term perspective, they are focused on innovation rather than imitation, and this is the kind of company I want to cooperate with. Altogether, I want to help them in every possible way to create growth plans for America.
7. How do you currently work with them and what exactly are you doing with Include?
So far, they are very successful and I think that entering to new markets could be very profitable for them. We are currently in the process of negotiating various possibilities of potential partnerships with them.
8. Is this your first visit to Croatia and what is your overall opinion about Croatia?
This year I have visited Croatia many times to various parts, from Zagreb, to continental Croatia, and all the way to the coast. The language is very difficult, but I like Croatia. It reminds me very much of California 50 years ago, not just geographically, but because of its family orientation and values. I was lucky enough to attend the Davis Cup final match on Sunday and watched the American tennis player lose to the Croatian. For a country whose population is as large as half the population of Los Angeles, this is a remarkable success. The same thing is true for the World Cup finals after which Croatia entered the map of desirable destinations. It is not difficult to conclude why this is so, so many positive things happen here. In my next life I may be a Croat, so I will be able to learn the language.
Transassist provides business support and partnership opportunities for innovative tech and high-tech start-ups which want to establish its presence in USA. With its management experience and visionary approach, Transassist searches for the next big industry shifters and unicorns who can establish serious business operations in USA.
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