Ivana Šoljan, co-founder of HUB385, a home to developers, creatives, innovators, and entrepreneurs. HUB385 aims to promote innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded HUB385.
Ivana Šoljan: It all started with studying Theater Directing & Radio Broadcasting. However, I started to interest myself in business, startups and funding somewhere along the way.
After many years in high-level corporate business (mostly ICT), the startup world of technology caught my eye, so I decided to open a space where we can give all startups the needed opportunities, mentoring, and investment. Together with Ivica Mudrinić and Ante Magzan, we opened an incubator for IT enthusiasts that need the first push to make their ideas come to life. And this is how we founded HUB385 (https://hub385.com/) – the most famous coworking space in Zagreb today, with more than 5 years of experience and more than a thousand different users, past and current.
Together with Ivica Mudrinic, I also founded Zaklada Luka, a charitable foundation that finances university tuition for talented female students without economic means.
It’s really just about giving the community something back.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Ivana Šoljan: I could say I’m a passionate reader, and I enjoy running a lot, and of course, both activities help to maintain a healthy balance between private and business life.
And, of course, 2 of my cats make my work much easier since they participate in every relevant decision.
How does HUB385 market its product/services online?
Ivana Šoljan: As per usual, we use Google and Facebook ads to stay on the high advertising online point. However, even more, advertising comes from mount to mouth. Our current consumers recommend the space to their partners, clients, or friends, and this is one more way how our community grows. Sometimes you don’t need an online marketing tool but a happy customer that tells the story of his experience with your service.
Of course, we use the official website, social media, and newsletters to stay in touch with our community, as well.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Ivana Šoljan: Just the regular SEO copywriting and a pinch of creativity.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Ivana Šoljan: We go through basic HR procedures when it comes to hiring policy because it’s a specific surrounding, and it involves a lot of work with other people (mostly young and ambitious individuals), and we always give the opportunity for an individual to show his full potential, so it’s not so uncommon to start at the basic position in our organization and end up leading the projects, etc.
How are you funding your growth?
Ivana Šoljan: In the beginning, we financed all with private capital. Today we do it through income and partnerships.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ivana Šoljan: Well, we wouldn’t call them our competitors because we have the same goal, and this is to give the young startups and entrepreneurs the space, necessities, and conditions to grow their ideas and business. But you can say that all the coworking spaces could be seen as our competitors. However, we always do our best to make our customers feel welcome, respected, heard, and seen. Give them a feeling that we are here for them, and this is something that holds us in the game and will, hopefully, in the future.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Ivana Šoljan: It’s hard to highlight just one, but if I must, it would definitely be Ivan’s Mrvoš Include (https://include.eu/), a young Croatian startup whose success story has been heard all over Europe and the States.
I had the privilege to be Ivan’s mentor. Soon, I realized how passionate and ambitious he is, so there was no doubt when I decided to invest my time and financial aid into this successful young team of people.
Your final thoughts?
Ivana Šoljan: Keep pursuing your dreams and ambition, always find new ways of stepping out of your comfort zone, and even though you are not sure how to do something, just try, and you will manage it somehow. Life is too short to be afraid of trying out new things and experiences.