How you can get the most from the hub community as an entrepreneur

07 Sep 2021 Allan Mulrooney By Allan Mulrooney

Meet Hrvoje Smolic (Harvey) the founder and CEO at Qualia Data Sciences LTD (Ireland) and Qualia d.o.o. (Croatia) who is based in RDI Hub Killarney.

Originally from Croatia, Hrvoje has a degree in physics and started his career path with software development and business intelligence systems. He developed Qualia with the aim of putting efforts into data science and data visualization in order to improve the way people are doing business. As part of Our Rural Future by the Department of Rural and Community Development, The Connected Hubs network is a key action in the development of entrepreneurship across Ireland. Connected Hubs offers a space for entrepreneurs to connect with a community of experts and working professionals through enterprise hubs across Ireland. Hubs can offer entrepreneurs and start-ups the resources, facilities and the assistance they need to succeed, from idea generation right up to the marketing stage.

Here is what Hrvoje had to say about his decision to move his business to a hub.

Q- How did you find out about the RDI hub?
I was lucky enough to get to know Liam Cronin, CEO at the RDI Hub, when it was still an idea in development. When the hub finally opened, I was delighted to join the community in RDI Hub.

Q- Why did you choose to locate in Ireland and Kerry more specifically?
It was a decision driven by both business and personal reasons. I’ve always felt that moving from Croatia to a western EU country will be a new era for me as an entrepreneur. Better network, more opportunities, more startup-friendly. On the other hand, at that time I just turned 40 and was yearning for some more life-work balance. With my family, I did an intro trip 3 years ago, from Dublin, Wexford, Cork to Killarney – in order to decide where we wanted to live. There was something magical when we saw Killarney, the mountains around, the lake. When we took a short trip to the Inch beach the day after, we really felt like “Yes, I can live here, I feel like at home here”. The RDI hub has given me the perfect work life balance that I was looking for.

Q- What makes a hub different to any other work space?
Well, first, it is an ultra-modern building and when you are part of it, when you work there, especially on some deep tech stuff, it just resonates well. I find the space itself motivates you, gives you some kind of extra push. Unlike a “normal” office, there are different experts sitting around you at the hub, eager to share their experiences, opinions, ready to hear you out and to challenge you in a positive way to sharpen your thinking process. My point is, it is very easy within the hub to get a validation of some new idea, no matter how small or big it is, in a safe space, within your peers.

Q- What facilities or resources have you availed of at the hub?
I have desk space at the hub, but the most important resource would be the access to information. The RDI hub has an incredibly passionate team that is there for us, and being able to connect with the various mentors who have been-there done-that.

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Q- How has the hub benefited you as an entrepreneur?
At the same time when I moved to the hub, I formed my 3rd startup, here in Ireland. For that one, my idea is not to bootstrap a company, but to move faster and to seek investment. That was a pretty new thing for me and hub helped me a lot to articulate my idea, my pitch deck, connected me to a number of great mentors and business contacts – some of those things will be simply impossible or very hard without the hub.

Q-How has the hub transformed your workday?
Before the hub I was working from my home office almost exclusively, and that can be very challenging sometimes, at least for me. Also, the good thing about my workday in the hub is that it pushes me from my comfort zone, in a positive way. It is so easy to get distracted when working from home. But in RDI Hub, my mind is set for work, and then when I get home in the evening, I don’t work, I spend my free time with my family.

Q- What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?
Think again. If you are sure it is not just a whim, if you find that determination inside, then stop thinking and do it. Sharpen your perseverance, hard-working attitude and patience. That journey alone will shape a better human being out of you, no matter if your business idea will be a success or not. So, you can not lose, not really.

Now connecting over 130 hubs and enterprise centres across Ireland, Connected Hubs can be the perfect solution for you when starting up or scaling your business. Connected Hubs have the resources, connections and professional workspace for you to take control of the way you work, develop your ideas and to Transform Your Workday.