• Bitcoin to the People

    In Croatia, a small startup project called Coinsulter aims to link the digital currency Bitcoin to the world of the consumer-market.

    When Luka Klancir comes home from his regular job as project manager in a digital agency in Zagreb, Croatia, he hardly ever calls it a day. His second job and primary passion, Coinsulter, still awaits. The app shall change people’s money matters and will allow them to use the highly talked-about digital currency Bitcoin. Moreover, a personal financial advisor is included in the service.

    Together with his former fellow students Filip Rafajec and Vinko Horvat, Klancir runs www.crobitcoin.com, a Croatian Bitcoin information portal. They founded Coinsulter in 2014 as an “extended arm of the portal, that is now in the project phase and will be launched in the summer of 2015.”

    Bitcoin or bit-what?

    Bitcoin is a digital currency not issued by a state. It operates by a “virtual ledger” called the blockchain. To use Bitcoin, e.g. to make payments or investments, you only need a key-phrase and an app on your mobile device or computer.

    Luka Klancir first got in contact with the idea when he lived in Graz as an exchange-student in 2013. “Back then, Austria already had a good community of digital currencies – unlike Croatia at that time,” remembers Klancir who returned to fill the gap.

    The three entrepreneurs financed Coinsulter by keeping their day-jobs and are still not looking for investors. “I think waiting until we have more things accomplished will make us more interesting to investors.” And while the young entrepreneur admits that working two jobs does take its toll on his private life, he says he is willing to make that sacrifice.

    Social Impact Rewarded

    Besides the prospect of financial success, Coinsulter proposes a financial and social revolution, as the founders are well aware. “By excluding the banks, digital currency gives people more freedom. In countries where the banking-system is underdeveloped, this can be a way of getting paid or financing your business.”

    Winning the Social Impact Awards in 2014 added to their insight into the business-world. “On the way to the SIA we attended workshops, learned about pitching and proper business-planning. If you propose an abstract topic like Bitcoin, you have to learn to speak plainly about it. And of course, winning the award boosted our motivation,” he adds.

    The next goal after launching the app is to establish a company. The Coinsulter-app will only be the first in a line of a series of services. “We are already talking about possible applications and ideas around ‘the internet of things’, which I think is going to be the next big trend.”

    Whereas Klancir does not believe Bitcoin will replace the euros one day, he thinks that digital currencies will become increasingly important for international online-payments and for professional currency-investors.

    What would you say to others like you?

    Do not think starting a business will be an easy ride. It is going to take some sacrifices, but these can pay off nicely and maybe make the world a better place.

  • Successful Business creating a Better Life for Others

    Blitab is a tablet-computer specially designed for blind and visually impaired people. Although it is not yet on the market, it has already attracted a lot of attention and won an impressive number of international awards.

    How to make the world a better place for some 285 million people? Take a display of small physical bubbles forming Braille alphabet, add to it a so-called Perkins keyboard, which is a keyboard specially designed for typing Braille. Stir innovative technology and and accessible design into the mix, and voila: You have the invented first tactile tablet-computer for blind and visually impaired people.

    Kristina Tsvetanova, Slavi Slavev and Stanislav Slavev, co-founders of Blitab, have done exactly that and met with huge success. Their idea was born in Bulgaria in 2012, and the founders moved to Austria to turn it into reality. The company was finally established in August 2014. Blitab, with its potential to bring mobile computing  and digital experience to a group of people that was until now excluded from that kind of modern communication, should go on sale in 2016. It is now in the prototyping phase.

    Among the awards and grants the project already won are not only the Social Impact Award, but also many other Austrian, European and even one Mexican Award. Among those who hailed Blitab are also the Austrian Social Ministry and aid foundations for the blind.

    Who is Blitab for?

    According to the World Health Organization, there are 285 million people on the planet who are blind or visually impaired. Blitab says that 150 million people use the Braille alphabet and are potential primary customers for Blitab. “And there are secondary customers as well”, states Tsvetanova. “Think of offices which have blind and visually impaired people coming in as customers. With Blitab, you can hand them sales material to read or contracts to go through. And of course there are companies that employ blind or visually impaired persons.”

    As Tsvetanova and Slavev are well aware, their product can help improve the lives of their customers immensely. But of course they also have business success in mind, or, as Tsvetanova put it: “We think of ourselves as a hybrid social company – we are convinced of the global social impact of Blitab, but we also do it because we see in it the next successful business starting from Austria.”