We talked to Ivana Šoljan about how Hub385 is the center of knowledge, creativity, and innovation, and she had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ivana Šoljan: Living and having a business in Croatia is currently very similar to all of the European countries. My family and I are trying to protect our older members. We are as responsible as we can be – wearing masks and gloves when going out, socializing in limited numbers – keeping everything clean. Not much more we can do.
But we have been lucky for now, for all are healthy and happy. Besides everything bad related to COVID-19 – there are some good things as well. We went back to some things we never could find time for – like helping neighbors, cleaning closets, and giving away all the things we realized we don’t use, spending more time with people we love and care about, taking trips to nature parks, spending more time outside. Basically, nothing original :), but I find it relaxing even. But I am known for looking at things on the bright side.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hub385.
Ivana Šoljan: I am over 55, and my career has been eclectic, to say the least. I spent a lot of years working, managing, and consulting big corporates in media and telecommunications, to starting my own businesses. In those years, I met many talented young people and always enjoyed their spirit and optimism. Eventually, that led to small or less small investing into few Croatian start-ups – with decent success – which then led to the concept of creating HUB385 – which was founded by three of us – all experienced managers – one of my old bosses Ivica Mudrinić (ex CEO of Croatian telecom ) and my long-time friend, designer and entrepreneur Ante Magzan.
How does Hub385 innovate?
Ivana Šoljan: HUB385 was founded as a place that small companies, start-ups, and young entrepreneurs would see as a kind of their second home. It is a coworking space but also a centre of creativity and innovation. By organizing events, education, festivals – we help people grow and test their projects, enabling the cooperation and exchange that would not be possible if all these people would not be together, as neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We do our best to offer a lot of free workshops and events to get people more drawn to technology and innovation because we believe it is the future. Mostly, we like to educate our youngsters so they can learn from a small age and be better prepared for the things that are coming.
We as ourselves are not innovators – but we help others innovate. We mentor them and help them find things they need – from advice, consulting, support to financing. We offer young talents the wind in their backs, you could say, that fist push everybody needs to enter the world of business and show their idea to the world – and maybe, change it someday.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ivana Šoljan: Our business – as most other businesses – has been seriously hit by the measures we all had to apply. Events are currently non-existent, people meet less, and that, of course, influences our space and our tenants…we do things online, but as we know, it is not always good enough and definitely not as exciting for our tenants. Financially on us as founders, this is a very difficult time, and we are struggling, but we try to keep all our staff and space in operation. But on the bright side – the tenants are not leaving, and we hope to be back in full speed once COVID-19 is out of our life.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ivana Šoljan: In any business at any time- we must make difficult choices – we behave as we always did – we try to be correct. The most important lesson I learned a long time ago and confirmed throughout my career is that businesses come and go. They succeed and fail. What is relevant are only people! Good people make things grow, and if we take care of people – business will come.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Ivana Šoljan: I laugh a lot, play cards, read, watch movies, listen to music, I run and walk, take care of my family and friends, and I am waiting for my granddaughter to grow up a bit more so I can take her traveling around the beautiful places in the world.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ivana Šoljan: Croatia is a small country – in all businesses, most of the competitors know each other. There are a few coworking spaces and even more business centers that have some of our services. We try to stay different, more relaxed, and less corporate.
Your final thoughts?
Ivana Šoljan: Very simple and not original: Life is good, and we should enjoy every second of it and never worry too much but appreciate what we have and respect and love other people.