For the past eight years, the Young Entrepreneur Institute chooses a promising young business enthusiast, who carries the torch for the best one of the year, proving that hard work and a little bit of risk pays off. The winner of the 2018 title is Rok Starič, who convinced the jury with the development of his own company, Rok’s nut butter. The gourmet food industry is a hot field for young Slovene entrepreneurs since Rok is already the third in three years from the sector to receive the title. Last year’s winner was Pelicon craft brewery.
Rok: the name and face of the brand
Rok Starič from Domžale, Slovenia, the new young entrepreneur of the year, named the company after himself – Rok’s nut butter – because he believes in the brand and his products. He recently expanded the rich variety of products with 100% almond butter and ice cream made completely out of peanut butter. He sells his products in his online store, in selected food stores in Ljubljana and its surroundings, as well as in Gorenjska and Štajerska region. The brand Rok’s nut butter can also be found in some of the bigger supermarket chains in Slovenia.
One foot across the border
He wishes to expand his business outside the borders as well. For now, doors to the Austrian market have been opened. He also wishes the expansion to eventually include Germany, Croatia, and Baltic countries. At the same time, his online sales are skyrocketing. With a 15.000 EUR financial push from an Austrian investor, the company has enough capital in stock to increase its market share. After successful negotiations, collaboration with one of the bigger chain stores in Austria is on the horizon, while one of the options is also a merger with a Slovak company from the same branch. In the first quarter of 2018, Rok’s nut butter created 120.000 EUR in revenue and 21.000 in profit. Until the end of the year, sales are expected to exceed 200.000 EUR. If everything goes according to plan, the company with a strengthened sales team could mark around 500.000 EUR of traffic over the next couple of years.
Gourmet delicacies, healthy snacks, and high-tech solutions
The other contestants for the title of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 were Matic Vizjak – Kmetija Vizjak with his Chilli Wine and sources
Čili frik, Uroš Požgan, Alen Velcer, Maja Lukas and Špela Lukas – Kokica, d.o.o., with their air-popped popcorn Pokica
, Blaž Grah, Urban Kodela, Žan Menart, Matic Ozebek, Matic Vogrič – Smart optometry, d.o.o., with their application amblyoplay
, that enables vision therapy for children with vision symptoms, and Iztok Smolič, Marko Bahor and Boštjan Kovač – Agiledrop, d.o.o., with their advanced web solutions
The nominees are from various industries, all breaking new ground with their products and solutions (Photo: Jernej Kokol )
“Successful, innovative and propulsive individuals”
“Every year, we wish to choose a young entrepreneur whose work in a company thus far turned out to be incredibly successful, innovative and propulsive. It’s important for the person to be more or less a self-grown entrepreneur, working in an ethical industry that’s interesting to future young entrepreneurs and as accessible to them as possible. We want the winner to be a successful entrepreneur who’s a role model to others,” explained Borut Borštnik, director of the Young Entrepreneur Institute. The winner received practical prizes and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs in the joint value of 20.000 EUR, including an unforgettable intense business weekend in one of the European capitals with many startups, led by Dr. Jure Knez from the golden gazelle Dewesoft, which is also the main sponsor of the contest.
Read the full story on Dnevnik.si (in Slovene).
(Title photo: Jernej Kokol )