Innovatrs crowd member, Berislav ?ižmek, is the founder and CEO of CBBS Ltd, as well as a lobbyist, entrepreneurship coach, teacher and lecturer on the MICE industry. CBBS – Management Consulting & Business Building Co. Ltd, based in Zagreb, is a boutique-type consulting, lobbying and new business development company focused on Central & Eastern Europe. The company is also involved in EU lobbying & EU funding, monitoring pre-accession activities in Croatia and SE European countries. What made you do it? Why did you become an entrepreneur? I was born in Croatia and started work in the 80′s. In the era of socialism there were no entrepreneurs- companies were owned by the workers (i.e. state owned companies). Handcrafters, doctors and lawyers were the only possible private professions or initiatives available. In 1990 private entrepreneurship was allowed and many people started their own companies. I wasn’t part of this trend because I had a very interesting job as an Exhibition Manager and just started my career at one the most attractive companies in Croatia at that time, exhibition and trade fair organizer – Zagreb Fair,a public company owned by the City of Zagreb. From the start of the war in 1991 until the end of the 90′ s, there were a lot of changes and different events taking place – new states was born, then there was a war going on in Croatia and the Balkan area and business dropped dramatically. We (Zagreb Fair) had a very important role – to promote our economy worldwide and to be a gateway for the international companies making business in Croatia and the rest of SE Europe. It was challenging and exciting at the same time. Very soon I became one of the Board members at the company. W were doing our jobs but also building our new country. Business was growing again and we were about to start the new developments at Zagreb Fair, reconstruction of the old venue and the new state of the art one. Everything was leading to a nice career in a good public company; I launched some new ideas and developed some good projects at Zagreb Fair. I was very active in international and national associations, in 1998 we organized the first presentation of Croatia at EXPO 98 in Lisbon. Nothing was happening to make me think about any change but in 1999 I had my first experience with entrepreneurship, when I enrolled on a course on entrepreneurship organized by our Ministry of Economy. I became Coach for Entrepreneurship, together with other 70 colleagues from all parts of Croatia. We were able to learn from Dutch, Slovenian and Croatian experts about entrepreneurship, its role and about the profile of one successful entrepreneur. I got a lot of ideas about being an entrepreneur but I liked my job at Zagreb Fair very much and it seemed that the best part, new developments of our venue and the company, was in the front of us. However the situation changed and in just in a few years, instead developing, we were in the situation that there was no next step to be recognized in the company’s development. I could not fulfil my personal goals and expectations and all the challenge and excitment had gone. There were two possibilities in front of me- to work for someone else or to start something on my own. I decided to start my own company. I had enough skills, experience and an excellent network in Croatia and worldwide to start my own business. More importantly I had strong support from my wife and my family, who understood that it was time for a big change for all of us. I quit my old job at the end of 2006, started my company CBBS – Management Consulting and Business Building Company in 2007 and specialized in strategic partnerships, new developments and also focused on the accession of Croatia to the EU. Now I’m enjoying every minute of life as an entrepreneur and being on my own. I am able to test my ideas and skills every day, in a very competitive international environment.
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