From mice to gazelles: the people dimension


…or how to scale your organization from within.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that culture is self-explanatory. And that you’re boring people with talking over and over about it. It’s quite the opposite.


I read recently that more than 90% of startups fail. The main reason being taking wrong steps in the process, rather than competition impact. If you’re a startup founder or an entrepreneur, this must sound scary. 

As startups grow, they encounter challenges that prevent them from going forward. Or, in the best case, freeze them for a while. These factors are people, strategy, execution, and cash. When a company grows, complexity increases exponentially, and the company is accumulating its cognitive load (complex hierarchy, different roles, processes, etc.). It is called the paradox of complexity – the S curve.  And the huge milestone on that road is going from mice to gazelles.

Unfortunately, at this point, many founders and their teams feel stuck. Reluctant to take the next step. Fear to grow is fuelled by several factors: losing its unique personality and becoming just another “corporate” company—strict departments and processes, killing the employee’s motivation.  

Find answers: Who are you as a team, as a company? What is the strength that moves you forward? And what else do you need? Reflect on the real value of your brand, not only to consumers but also to your employees

Insight 1:  The people dimension

The truth is: it’s all about people: the relationships that you create, emotional and functional bonds with your employees, partners, and clients. The way you work and create and treat each other from CEO to team leaders and colleagues. It is all about culture.

Culture is crucial for a startup as it expands, but many times taken for granted. In the beginning, founders create the glue that keeps everyone together. The vision and work principles are clear and relatable to each employee and quickly increase each person’s motivation and productivity. One might say: it goes without saying!

People feel connected, motivated, and accountable for the success of your startup’s growth. 

Insight 2: Culture must be reinforced as the company grows

But things change as you grow! When everyone is working together in a single room, you don’t need to articulate culture explicitly. However, once you grow out of that room, you do. As soon as you add new employees (and lots of them) and different roles and structures emerge, you end up spending more and more time on coordination chores and less and less time doing the actual work.

The best approach is to define a mindset that you want (new) employees to buy into. Define and communicate the culture and your vision and enable common understanding and buy-in of it. Define your brand internally. It will guide people to take independent action in response to threats and opportunities without seeking constant clear guidance from you.  

Culture + employer brand are vital traction elements when scaling; they attract and keep the right people and enable them to do the right things and in the right way.

Insight 3: Don’t underestimate the power of communication

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that culture is self-explanatory. And that you’re boring people with talking over and over about it. It’s quite the opposite. Create an organizational narrative and share your story. Use storytelling as a great tool to connect, educate, engage, and inspire your team. It’s essential to communicate a lot internally to remind people why they want to emerge themselves in their jobs and be emotional about them. That’s how a dedicated and passionate mindset gets passed on as you grow.

Don’t forget:

  • Define culture in terms of clear & observable behaviors. 
  • Make it accessible & understandable & upgradable (create learning content, open two-way communication)
  • Ensure managers relentlessly reinforce target behaviors / empower culture guardians
  • Give recognition and show appreciation
  • Set clear expectations and give employees a vision to follow

The right culture and people are crucial elements in achieving your business results

Sanja Petek Mujačić, co-founder § organizational culture consultant




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Employer branding in the times of crisis


It is committed, creative and engaged people who care about their work, their company, and their customers and who are willing to give even more than what is required from them in order to help the company succeed.


If you are in Human Resources or Communications, you could be wondering how come employer branding landed on your desk so suddenly. How to connect and reshape all the activities you already run with employer branding principles? Where to start?

Strategy. Idea. Implementation.

Employer branding has been a hot topic for a few years now. Companies have realized that employer brand does not begin or end with recruitment or a campaign, but rather that it starts within a company. It starts with its current people, values they share, and business goals. However, to operate your human resources function, internal and external communication activities in line with employer branding principles is easier said than done.  It is a long-term process that needs a systematic and continuous approach.

Together with our partner from Safe Leap, Startaparat consultants have developed a simple and comprehensive overview of how to build an Employer branding strategy. It focuses on company values, personas, employer value proposition, and implementation activities through HR and comms.

Key elements of the strategy

This June, we held a workshop with clients from various industries – retail, finance, IT, and FMCG and tackled with them all the different aspects of employer branding.

We led them through the process and showed where to start, how to translate business goals into employer branding KPIs, and how to understand the needs of the people. What channels they will come from and why they eventually decide to leave. The key point was to find out the company’s unique value proposition and as well as its offering beyond material benefits.

Employer branding is not a standalone activity. It affects and is affected by various external and internal influences. Therefore, an important question has emerged: why a company should invest in employer branding, and especially in times of crisis and uncertainty?

Apart from easier attraction and retention of people, in simple terms – understanding your people’s needs and creating an experience that increases satisfaction and engagement will boost productivity. In times of crisis, it is not your tools, processes, or organizational design that will get you out of it.

From branding to engagement

It is committed, creative and engaged people who care about their work, their company, and their customers and who are willing to give even more than what is required from them in order to help the company succeed.

And employer brand is the glue that will unite all your business, HR, and communications goals and activities. And enable your company deliver its results.

Learnings and impressions

Marina Regjo, Group Talent Manager, Jamnica plus

Đurđica and Sanja showed us how to begin establishing a successful employer branding strategy through various examples from modern business practices, including those from personal corporate experiences. Additionally, individual consultations are included as part of the training, giving you a sense of support while tackling this broad subject, which is truly amazing.

Petra Buljan, HR and Organizational Development Laed, Microblink

Employee Value Proposition workshop is definitely one of the best workshops I’ve ever had a chance to attend! We all know our own companies, our brands, and values that we offer to employees, but Sanja and Đurđica helped me understand that there are new ways to give value to employees. Value designed specifically for them. The workshop was intensive and project-oriented, which was great since we all left with loads of ideas on how to apply gained knowledge in our work. I recommend this workshop to anyone who wants to build their EVP and company culture.

If you would like to learn more about how to create your employer brand, jump on the next workshop happening on-site or virtually. Or work hands-on with our team of experts.

Workshop employer branding
Sanja Petek Mujačić employer branding
Employer Value Proposition
Đurđica Preočanin Korica employer branding workshop
Startaparat employer branding

STARTAPARAT/SAFE LEAP are experts in employer branding. We help companies shape their employer branding strategy, HR processes, and internal and external communications to create and support the development of a strong, authentic, and relevant employer brand.




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Workshops in the digital realm


Forward-thinking businesses see the value of shared digital and visual workspaces for some time now. It is possible to enable online collaboration in real-time, using existing frameworks and innovating in the approach.


Taking highly customized and interactive client workshops online can be a tough switch to flip — particularly for workshops that haven’t generally included a distance collaboration component. This week Startaparat has launched its Digital Workshops Project, taking all of its workshop consulting services online, facilitating remotely. It’s one of the vital resources developed by the company to help clients (startups and corporates) sharpen the response to the Coronavirus’s impact on the way of doing business.

Forward-thinking businesses see the value of shared digital and visual workspaces for some time now. It is possible to enable online collaboration in real-time, using existing frameworks and innovating in the approach.

“Two things were clear to us, first – that our clients are very resilient, and second that we have very resourceful and fast thinking consultants on our team. But we didn’t take this task lightly. Only with the appropriate support, and the preparation process we have made in the past three weeks, we were ready. We are confident we can help each client make “work-from-home” as efficient as “real – life”– says Sanja Petek Mujacic, co-founder and culture expert. “We wanted to make sure our clients will have quality learning experiences but also understand how the experience will always be different based on what the situation is.” – she continues.

The online workshop can simulate the feeling of togetherness – ideas flowing and evolving. Encouraged by Startaparat consultants who have unique meeting facilitation techniques, clients can rest assured to get maximum from the remote work experience.

So how does Startaparat’s Digital Workshop Project Work?

Digital workshops are crated to maximize engagement for remote teams and individuals. In Startaparat, we use visual workspace combined with a video conferencing setup, in some cases interactive touch screens for the co-located team. Consultant and client experts are seamlessly integrated on-demand, the workspace can be rapidly scaled, and offer full transparency and customization of work. A visual, innovative workspace contains design thinking and agile templates, different frameworks, methods, and visual elements crafted by Startaparat’s consultants based on the best offline practices. These elements can also represent an innovation platform for clients’ teams, enabling repeatable innovation processes after workshops experience.

“Now that we understand better how our clients, and the whole world, are adapting to online life, we’ll continue growing online workshops. Of course, we are getting ready for the moment everyone is waiting for: when coronavirus emergency ceases, and in-person socialization resumes. Real-life workshops will be our priority, but a mix of virtual and real-life workshops is definitely a way we’ll continue exploring – Helena Rosandic Sepic, one of the co-founders, concludes.

If you want to learn more about the Digital Workshop Project, or book your the session for your team, please contact




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Need to Rethink “Employer Brand”?


Do you know why employees chose you as their employer? Do you keep track of how they feel about working for you? What they like and dislike? And would they recommend you to someone else?


Do you know why employees chose you as their employer? Do you keep track of how they feel about working for you? What they like and dislike? And would they recommend you to someone else?


If you do, then you probably realize the importance of managing your employer brand, through creating and communicating the value you give to the employees.

Every organization is a consumer brand but is also an employer brand. Employee experiences, perceptions of practices, values of the company, and overall reputation acquired throughout the years all build your employer brand.
Today, when talents can choose between multiple options and create their conditions, employers – more than ever – need to present the companies in a way that will attract the right talent, and keep their employees happy and engaged.

Working on your employer brand consciously, rather than letting it be self-created, helps you attract the right people and guide employee experience and engagement. Your most influential brand ambassadors will be your employees: happy and proud to tell people about their work environment.

Our team of experienced communications and HR consultants helps clients to build unique and relevant employer brands, whether it’s through internal workshops, creating employer brand strategies or executing projects.




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Storytelling is a powerful tool


Stories create emotions.

Emotions are driving people.

This is the power of Storytelling.


Once again, the Adriatic Innovation Island conference in Rovinj, Croatia gathered experts and professionals from around the world, to share ideas and insights regarding digital transformation and human resources.

Keynote speakers from Coca Cola, Renault Nissan Mitsubishi, Raiffeisenbank, and many more, shared their experiences with barriers they have encountered in driving cultural change processes in international companies and how they initiated the change. 

Sanja Petek Mujačić, partner and organizational culture consultant from our Zagreb office, held a workshop on how Storytelling can help leaders to engage employees and lead the change. 

Why is Storytelling such a powerful tool in today’s complex world?

Today leaders need to create an environment that empowers their employees to be willing to change, in order to transform their companies and create a seamless transition into the digital age. 

By using the Storytelling technique, you create awareness, interest, engagement, and commitment, so the idea of the change you are trying to implement spreads organically and you achieve a sense of belonging and safety.



Stories are in the center of the culture change. Do you agree?



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How to build business resilience through communication and HR?


How to build business resilience and create strong brands and organizations? Customized online interactive workshops and collaboration.


In only a few weeks, the pace of change has moved at an unprecedented rate, with an overnight shift to “the new normal.” Therefore, it is fair to say that all types of businesses are affected, but everyone is affected differently. The complexity of your industry, market demands and the current state of your own organization are all implying the need for individual, strategic approach to the situation, and for setting a clear focus and goals.

Are you questioning how to move forward in this current situation?

Brands and leaders (managers) are at the forefront of the change process. However, they need to be empowered to lead and grow your business in the new world. Both brands and leaders need to provide consumers and/or team members with security and a clear direction. Employing a strong narrative to educate, engage, and connect people on the journey ahead

How can we support you?

Startaparat’s consultants and experts can help you move your organization, your brand, or team to accelerate the change and transform your business performance. We co-create and facilitate the process, and we support you in developing action plans for your situation. You can choose from step-by-step and hands-on collaboration or facilitation of workshops on different topics. You will gain clarity, develop a strategy, and move fast from ideas and concepts into realization.

Depending on your pressing issue, you can choose diverse themes:


Who is it for?

All topics are adjustable for startups and corporates. Likewise, for those who want to sharpen the response to the Coronavirus’s impact and agilely adapt to “the new normal”. Consultants and experts are seamlessly integrated on-demand and in online collaboration in real-time. Digital collaboration processes and workshops are created to maximize engagement for remote teams and individuals. The workspace can be rapidly scaled, and offer full transparency and customization of work. Furthermore, it contains different frameworks and templates, methods, and visual elements crafted by Startaparat’s consultants based on the best offline practices. We combine visual workspace with an interactive video conferencing setup.

Contact us

Finally, if you want to learn more about the Digital Collaboration and Workshops approach, book a session for your team, or just have a chat with us, please contact



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Startups Forum


It was a pleasure mentoring great ideas that really change the world for people with disabilities.


The Zero Project Conference 2019 has its focus once again on Independent Living and Political Participation. After dealing with it in 2015 for the first time, it has returned once again, to this important issue. Zero Project Conference 2019, centered around the solutions and methodologies they offer, connected invitees from many different sectors of society so that they could share and discuss ideas and concepts that really work. And, thereby, in a joint effort, help support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, worldwide. nIt is our honor that 1MillionStartups supports this project.

Helena Rosandic, co-founder of 1MillionStartups and Startaparat participated at “Startups and Social Business Forum” together with Mohamed Ba, Head of Innovation – ITU, Roos van Kleef, Program Manager – Kahane Foundation, Christopher Lee, Chief Learning Officer, G3ict and Managing Director IAAP. It was a pleasure hearing great ideas that really change the world for people with disabilities Mr. Vogelauer (Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs), Mr. Neate (Neatebox Ltd), Mr. Garcia Bahamonde (AccessibilityOz), and Mr. Nikitovic (Social Skills Animation).

We hoped we shared some valuable advice. Good luck!




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Talk with Marissa Mayer


Inspiring, insightful, motivational.


Ambassador Traina hosted an exclusive group of Austrian entrepreneurs at his residence for a meet up with former Yahoo! CEO and Google icon, Marissa Mayer.
1MillionStartups and Staraparat; Selma Prodanovic and Helena Rosandic were part of that informal event. We are supporting Ambassador Train in continuing with the series of events he initiated, aiming at bringing top U.S. business, tech, and cultural personalities to Austria to meet with Austrians and exchange ideas.




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PIONEERS: Strategic Storytelling and Innovation Workshop


Pioneers Ventures Retreat for the selected Pioneers’ startups happens during Pioneers Festival. This year program consisted of several workshops and Startapart prepared one of them.


“The purpose of the workshop is to help leaders re-discover what their brand stands for to influence people and lead the market. After this workshop, we want startups not to think only about the next six months, but to think about the next couple of years. Adopt the mindset and reap great returns in 2017 and beyond.” – said Tanja Skoric and Helena Rosandic, co-founders of Startaparat.

Startups often find the most difficult part of building a business is being able to get the right marketing plan in place to acquire early adopters at scale. Being able to gain traction with customers is what makes or breaks the majority of startups. To survive in the startup world today, it’s essential to know how the marketing landscape is changing but it is crucial to have the story told in the proper unique way and to know how to take it down through all channels in the most effective way.




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Mentoring at Founders Institute Accelerator


Startaparat has been mentoring at accelerator programs during 2017 in 3 cities, some of which were very interesting and unexpected.


The Founder Institute is the world’s premier idea-stage accelerator and startup launch program founded in Silicon Valley. They provide aspiring entrepreneurs with structure, mentorship, and a network to start an enduring company. Through a challenging curriculum and strong post-program support.

Startaparat has been mentoring at accelerator programs during 2017 in 3 cities, some of which were very interesting and unexpected. In Zagreb, Chisinau, and Yerevan we were helping startups by sharing their experience in branding and communication and providing critical feedback.

We love to support startups and share the knowledge empowering them to go out and make the difference. And it was our utmost pleasure to see that in every corner of the world today, great ideas are born and entrepreneurs create.




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Webster’s Alumni Symposium – The Digital Transformation Panel


This year’s topic “The Digital Transformation – How Innovation in Technology is changing the World” featured a diverse panel of speakers from AI start-ups, established industry leaders (Microsoft), international organizations and the public sector (Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development).


Webster Vienna University has been connecting business leaders, alumni, students and guests of since 2008 with yearly Alumni Symposium. This year, they have invited experts and top managers onto the stage at Palais Eschenbach, and provided a platform that fosters debate and dialogue on key issues in business, technology, management, and the entrepreneurial environment.

Startapart supported the event and one of our founders,Helena Rosandic, has been invited as one of the panellists among other respectable experts:

Patricia Neumann, General Director of IBM Austria

Biljana Weber, General Manager of Microsoft Czech Republic and Slovakia

Ludovit Garzik, Managing Director, Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development

Massimiliano Falcinelli, Professor, Webster Vienna University, Head of Security   Infrastructure, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Gregor Jarisch, Chatbot Enthusiast, Entrepreneur & Innovation Developer, Chatbot Lea




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At the first global UNLEASH Innovation Lab


UNLEASH is a global innovation lab that brings together people from all over the world to transform 1,000 personal insights into hundreds of ideas, and build lasting global networks around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 1millionstartups as a proud knowledge and talent partner was part of the first Innovation Lab 2017 in Denmark Aarchus.


The inaugural event was held when talents from all over the world came to Denmark for nine days to create real, scalable solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Talents took part in case challenges with innovative companies, experts, and start-ups. They went through a facilitated process of innovation, uniquely tailored by UNLEASH and Deloitte.

The culmination of the UNLEASH Innovation Lab took place across 3 days in Aarhus, the European Capital of Culture 2017. In Aarhus, all talents gathered before the final sprint on their SDG solutions. The twelve top solutions advanced to present their solutions to investors and experts. 1MillionStartups, represented by Helena Rosandic, was part of the expert team.




On Monday, August 21st, all talents and UNLEASH partners came together for the “UNLEASH Award Show – Presented by BESTSELLER” at Musikhuset, where innovators and thought leaders celebrated their work and launched the global UNLEASH movement.




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Helena Rosandic speaker at the CROMAR congress


Panel discussion: Challenges in the Marketing Practice Today, held during the 24th CROMAR Congress held at the Faculty of Economy, Split, Crotia.


Helena Rosandic, founder and managing director of Startaparat was a guest speaker at the roundtable panel discussion Challenges in the Marketing Practice Today, held during the 24th CROMAR Congress held at the Faculty of Economy, Split, Croatia.

The participants were discussing the top challenges marketers are facing today, from organizational culture, B2B marketing, and shopper marketing. Guest speakers also debated challenges from advances in technology and nonlinear customer journey.




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4YFN: Which technologies will we be using in 4 years


I was scrolling down my app on the way to the airport, completely bewildered; standard hotel rates starting at 1560 Euros, 1870 Euros, 2300 Euros, 3100 Euros!!, then went back to check the dates – 2 nights I tagged, I’m sure of that – Barcelona, 2 nights, Feb 27 to March 1, all correct.


Is there something wrong with my app, I thought? Wait, I’ll check on my phone, I always get better deals than you – my husband goes. I was certain there was a mistake. But no, his app displays the same results with the slight price increase. Obviously, I was completely unprepared for my first Barcelona visit during the world’s largest mobile conference – Mobile World Congress, and my first 4 Years From Now.

No wonder hotel prices skyrocketed. During those days, more than 108, 000 people flocked to Barcelona. Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, organized by the GSMA and held in the Mobile World Capital Barcelona. It spanned across nine halls and eleven outdoor spaces at Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc.

Everything from connected cars, virtual reality, new handsets and ingenious app ideas to 3D printing, privacy protection, and backend solutions were on display here. Is 5G our future? What’s the hype around Nokia’s legendary 3310 remake? Who’s the man behind the Pokémon Go? – these were just some of the highlights of what was buzzing during 4-day MWC conference.

Early morning I headed towards my arena – 4 Years From Now. 4YFN is one of the conferences within the MWC platform that enables startups, investors, corporations and public institutions to discover, create and launch new ideas together.  This year’s 4YFN conference was the 4th in a row and attracted more than 19,000 visitors from 160 countries. 700 investors met up with 600 startups from all over the world. 245 impressive speakers on eight stages, altogether 150 hours of quality content to be experienced.


An outstanding program was created, and the only regret I have is being unable to participate in all of the events, which was impossible. So in between phone calls and emails, I managed to see some. What helped a great deal in terms of connecting and not missing out was the 4YFN Matchmaking App for all attendees. It seems everyone was there – from Mike Butcher, the editor of Techcrunch; Ravi Mattu of the Financial Times; Facebook and Google execs; Michael Speigelman of Netflix; Terry von Bibra of Alibaba; Fernando Fanton of Just Eat; Sir Martin Sorrell of the WPP Group to the auto industry’s giants discussing the Future of mobility, and major mobile operators hosting panels and holding workshops.


VR experience was the hottest topic – the Seat VR Experience’s line would form every morning and wouldn’t get any shorter as the day progressed. But it was sure worth the wait, as it was probably my favorite VR experience so far – although I heard Samsung’s VR experience in the main arena was the best at the MWC17.

Written by: Helena Rosandic, co-founder




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Startaparat – a new agency to jump-start startups in the region


One of the biggest digital agencies in Austria, Netural, and the international award-winning advertising agency Bruketa&Zinic&Grey
are launching a new agency exclusively for startups – Startaparat.


Selma Prodanovic, the well- known Austrian business angelina, founder of Brainswork and 1millionstartups, will support Startaparat as a member of the Advisory Board.

The intention of Startaparat is to meet the needs of startups with customized high quality services, combining extensive knowledge and experience in digital business and new technologies with out-of-the box creative communication solutions. With several special startup packages and tailor-made business models adjusted to startup budgets, Startaparat offers a range of services such as naming, visual identity, roll-out campaigns, product design or online sales testing platforms.




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Talking at Catch Pitch Challenge


Too Much Money on the Markets but it was never harder to get it. What is the key?


Catch Pitch Challenge, Belgrade organized by Foundcenter Investment is the first investor-related event in Serbia, which gathered the top European experts, investors, and most promising worldwide startups. Of the 853 submitted projects from 32 countries, 43 have entered the final.

One Startaparat’s founders, Helena Rosandic, was participating in a panel discussion: Too Much Money on the Markets but it was never harder to get it. What is the key? – together with Daniel Shenk, Lothar Eckstein, Stefan Rind, and Dejan Nikolic.

Startaparat has also been one of the sponsors; we had awarded the great startup FriendRecap with 3000 euros start head prize.




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