Born and raised in the Netherlands, entrepreneur Jan de Jong moved to Croatia in 2006 at the age of 22. 16 years and a wife and four kids later, Jan is still here and couldn’t be happier.
“When I entered Croatia I very soon fell in love with the country, with the lifestyle and everything it has to offer. I met my girlfriend (now wife) so there were more reasons to stay longer but I realised there were business opportunities in Croatia,” Jan said on the All Things Croatia podcast.
One of those opportunities was in the call centre business.
In 2007 he started M+ Group, an independent business process technology outsourcing company which is now a market leader in the region and employs over 12,000 people.
After selling the company almost ten years later to work on other projects and be closer to his family in Split, Jan went on to found Webpower Adria – the first company in the region specialising in email marketing automation.
“I looked for products or services that people need in this region that are already well developed in countries like the Netherlands but not so much developed in our region and I came to email marketing. Today we are servicing over 130 clients, some really big companies like all the telcos, aviation companies, insurance companies, banks and credit card companies,” Jan explains, adding that around 400 people are employed in their call centre.
Apart from operating Webpower Adria, which were the first company in Croatia to introduce a four-day work week, Jan is also working on his latest venture CROP, which will develop a high-tech greenhouse infrastructure with the aim to make Croatia less dependant on food imports and into a food exporting nation again.
Jan is also the marketing director of Digital Nomad Association Croatia and lobbied for the digital nomad visa that Croatia has now implemented.
On the podcast Jan talks more about how he came to Croatia, some of the obstacles he faced in business and his path to the so called ‘Croatian Dream’ and changing Croatia for the better.
“They often say it is difficult to start a business in Croatia, but I think it is difficult to start a business in any place you do it. But it is hard for different reasons. In America or the Netherlands for example, these are very competitive markets. Whatever you do there is always somebody that is doing it and at a much larger scale and is having very deep pockets to make your life as a competitor miserable,” he says, before adding.
“In Croatia you might not have the competition in certain areas but you are dealing with very slow bureaucracy. But then again, if the biggest problem I would have is going to the public notary office to sign some papers once in a while, that is the easy part. I have a very good lawyer and very good accounting office and financial and tax advisors who are helping me with these kind of things.”
You can listen to the full interview by clicking play below.