Croatian Tech Company Produces Award-Winning EVOO for Gifting

Infobip, the first Croatian startup to be valued at $1 billion, produces its own olive oil to give to clients and employees.

Left to right: Erwin Rotta, Marita Berlekovic, Milan Radolovic, Monika Berecic, Aurora Volarevic
Jun. 8, 2022
By Daniel Dawson
Left to right: Erwin Rotta, Marita Berlekovic, Milan Radolovic, Monika Berecic, Aurora Volarevic

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Corporate gift­ing, long seen as a rou­tine cost of doing busi­ness, has grown into a €226 bil­lion indus­try, and this trend has only accel­er­ated dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic.

A recent study from Coresight Research, a mar­ket research firm, sur­veyed 300 cor­po­rate gift buy­ers at com­pa­nies pro­duc­ing up to €28 bil­lion in rev­enue.

The idea was to have the olive oils to share with our employ­ees and busi­ness part­ners. It’s a big thing in Istria.- Aurora Volarević, vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate affairs, Infobip

The study found that cor­po­rate gift­ing improved rela­tion­ships with employ­ees and clients, and improved employee reten­tion and cus­tomer loy­alty. It also con­cluded that unique, high-qual­ity gifts are the most appre­ci­ated.

Croatia’s first uni­corn – a pri­vately-held startup val­ued at more than $1 bil­lion (€930 mil­lion) – has taken this advice to heart.

See Also:Students and Teachers at Croatian Elementary School Celebrate NYIOOC Success

Infobip, an infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firm, demon­strates the impor­tance of its employ­ees and clients by gift­ing them award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced from the trees in front of its main head­quar­ters.

Based in Vodnjan, a town located on the south­west­ern edge of the olive oil-soaked Istrian penin­sula, Infobip has been pro­duc­ing olive oil since 2020 under the Oila brand, and earned a Gold Award at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

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At first, the idea was to have the olive trees because this is a tra­di­tion in Istria,” Aurora Volarević, Infobip’s vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate affairs and an award-win­ning pro­ducer at Turinela Farms, told Olive Oil Times.

In its first har­vest, the com­pany pro­duced 60 bot­tles of extra vir­gin olive oil. This year, that total increased to 80, and Volarević said there are plans to expand.

We are keep­ing it as a unique gift for the most impor­tant per­son­nel and cus­tomers,” Andrej Mendaš, the company’s head of pub­lic rela­tions, told Olive Oil Times. We want to cre­ate some­thing that is not so com­mon. We always dis­rupt things, and this is a fun way to do that.”

The idea was to have the olive oils to share with our employ­ees and busi­ness part­ners,” Volarević added. It’s a big thing in Istria.”

When the com­pany opened its Vodnjan cam­pus in 2017, 30 Leccino and Pendolino olive trees were planted in front of the build­ing, along with a range of aro­matic herbs and other Mediterranean plants.

business-europe-production-croatian-tech-company-produces-awardwinning-evoo-for-gifting-olive-oil-times

When Volarević joined Infobip a cou­ple of years later, she entered a small team at the firm that had to decide what to do with the newly-devel­op­ing olives.

At this point, Volarević already had a decade of olive oil-pro­duc­ing expe­ri­ence and saw that the land­scaper, Milan Radolovic, also fol­lowed sim­i­lar har­vest­ing and main­te­nance best prac­tices in the company’s grove.

After men­tion­ing that she sent her own extra vir­gin olive oil sam­ples to New York in 2021, the com­pany thought they would do the same with Oila to see what would hap­pen.

I knew that the whole process and the results should be sim­i­lar to what I’m doing [at Turinela Farms],” Volarević said I was sure that we would receive some award, but was­n’t sure which one.”

Sure enough, Oila earned a Gold Award at the com­pe­ti­tion. Volarević was thrilled and sent the link of the announce­ment to other peo­ple in the com­pany.

Since the oils had been sent to New York in secret, plenty of her col­leagues thought this was a joke until they saw the offi­cial announce­ment pub­lished a few days later.

No one knew about it,” Mendaš con­firmed. I remem­ber I was sit­ting at a cafe and my friend sent me a link say­ing oh my gosh, you guys won the olive oil award.’ I was shocked.”

Olive oil cul­ture, which is nearly ubiq­ui­tous in Istria, had already per­me­ated Infobip. Volarević said that many peo­ple work­ing at the com­pany have fam­ily farms with olive trees. However, now olive oil is seep­ing into the cor­po­rate cul­ture.

business-europe-production-croatian-tech-company-produces-awardwinning-evoo-for-gifting-olive-oil-times

In the pre­vi­ous har­vest, employ­ees hand-har­vested olives from the com­pa­ny’s trees together as part of a team-build­ing exer­cise. Future plant­ing and har­vest­ing will also likely be done in a sim­i­lar fash­ion.

The olives are then taken to a local mill, run by another peren­nial NYIOOC win­ner, OPG Chiavalon.

Along with olives, the com­pany has also planted 60 other fruit trees and is in the process of expand­ing its olive groves. Infobip recently rented two hectares of land nearby and will plant a few hun­dred trees next year.

We expect a sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion, prob­a­bly 10 years from now after the newly-planted trees mature and yield a larger amount of olive oil,” Volarević said.

However, pro­duc­ing the olive oil is just a small part of the rea­son to grow the olive trees at Infobip for Volarević.

It’s impor­tant for every­body to find some bal­ance with nature,” she said. We are a very fast-grow­ing com­pany. The work is very intense and it’s impor­tant to find some bal­ance.”


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