Catalyze CROATIA
CONFERENCEMarch 28th 2019Croatian National Theatre Varaždin

Voogle conference is a one day event at Varaždin national theatre where you will have a chance to listen to inspiring presentations, meet new business partners and win an entry into a 10k€ accelerator program in a pitching competition!

Voogle talks

  • Humans. Robots. Hubots
  • Building bridges, not just painting them
  • EU funds beyond the horizon
  • Fast forwarding business ventures
  • Catalyzing the Balkans
  • Catapult to global scale
  • Impact investing: hype or not?

Voogle startup battle

  • 3 minute pitches
  • 6 minutes Q&As
  • "Voogle startup of the year" award
  • 10k€ up for grabs

Voogle B2Bs

  • Business speed dating


  • Trisha Degg

    Trisha Degg


    Trisha is the VP of Talent Programs and Operations for Illinois Technology Association - a business services organization focused on helping great tech companies scale. Trisha helps ITA’s 500-plus member companies navigate Chicago’s talent pool to find the best of the best. With almost 10 years of corporate recruiting, campus recruitment, and HR experience, Trisha excels at finding new ways to locate talent, and is passionate about networking. She works with the heads of HR/Talent at ITA companies to help develop and refine their procedures and processes. Trisha’s specialties are talent attraction and retention, organizational development, manager training, interview skills/resume writing, building and refining internship programs, and employment branding.

    INTERESTING FACT: helps ITA’s 500-plus member companies navigate Chicago’s talent pool

  • Caitlin Mcallister

    Caitlin Mcallister


    Caitlin is the Executive Director of Catapult Chicago, the only non-profit, peer-selected community for startups with business traction. With the bulk of her career based in hospitality at luxury-level resorts, her path to running a tech hub is an interesting one! No matter where that path has led, building great teams has always been at the core. In her current role, she helps 90+ startup founders do just that. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys exploring the world and has visited over 22 countries.

    INTERESTING FACT: runs a tech hub

  • Debra Giunta

    Debra is a social entrepreneur focusing on youth development through the arts. She is the Founder of Design Dance, an arts education company using dance to teach social-emotional skills to over 3000 Chicago students annually and Prismatic, an education organization teaching mission-driven leadership to middle and high-school students through in-school, after-school and community based programs. Debra is a TEDx speaker, recipient of the 2016 Goodcity Women's Innovation Fund Award and a founding board member of the Illinois Dance Education Organization.

  • Balaji Rajagopalan

    Balaji is dean of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) College of Business, which has been ranked in the U.S. for 34 consecutive years per the U.S. News & World Report annual survey.  He is an experienced dean with a demonstrated track record of success in higher education. He is passionate about, and accomplished in, inspiring innovation throughout all levels of the organization.  A proven leader, Balaji also possesses significant experience in the areas of strategic planning, curricular innovation, enrollment management, and external relations. His academic preparation and research has focused on the impact of technological innovations on business and society.

    INTERESTING FACT:  member of the WorldChicago Board of Directors

  • Roland Kulla

    Roland is an artist who specializes in urban landscapes, with an emphasis on bridge structures. His creative path to a career in fine art has not been a direct one. He spent ten years in the seminary before making a lateral career move into social work. This was his occupation for more than 30 years as a caseworker, administrator, researcher, teacher and consultant. In his artistic work he creates places and moods that invite the viewer to enter into the work and form their own relationship to it. For Roland art is essentially about communicating, which means sharing his visions with others.

    INTERESTING FACT: hosted 300+ people from 50+ countries through fellowship programs

  • Luisa Prista

    From May 2018 she is Head of department at EASME dealing with COSME, Horizon 2020 for SMEs and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Luisa Prista has a degree in Mechanical engineering, Applied Thermodynamics. She initiated her career as researcher and lecturer at university of Lisbon and moved to private sector dealing with manufacturing and construction in Portugal and Switzerland. In Switzerland she was also heading the InfoEnergie office at the Cantonal and Swiss Federal Government. In 1994 she joined in European Commission in Brussels where she had different management positions related to research, innovation and legislation in a  wide variety of industrial sectors including transport at DG Research and DG GROW.

  • Frank Saviane

    Frank is an entrepreneurial business engineer, who combines business and finance acumen with passion for technology and innovation within global contexts and markets. He defines himself as a team player, with organizational talent, who knows how to connect the dots and loves to make things happen. Frank works in innovation & growth topics since 2008, executes training, consulting and advisory on these topics in Europe, Asia and South America with an ever growing experience in emerging markets.

    INTERESTING FACT: His company has offices in Italy, Germany, Poland, Vietnam and Singapore

  • Corey Friedman

    Corey Friedman


    Corey is a financial professional, who has his own financial consulting business, has worked with companies in several countries and across industries in technology, government, community development nonprofits, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, entertainment, and music. This has included taking on various leadership roles in these companies. Prior to that he was a Director at Standard & Poor’s, where he was for 14 years and at Allstate Insurance prior to that. Corey has served on several boards and associations throughout Chicago, including WorldChicago currently.

    INTERESTING FACT: Corey enjoys traveling, writing, and is an avid sports fan (including his Cubs)

  • Heather Johnston

    Heather Johnston


    Heather is chief operating officer of Moonrise, a corporate venture backed by American Family Insurance that she had the privilege to design. Moonrise helps millions of people reach or maintain financial stability by connecting them with supplementary income. Heather is a Mechanical Engineer and earned an MBA from The Univ. of Chicago Booth School of Business. In her previous life, she co-founded a real estate startup, moved around the country while in a leadership program at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, and led a team in a corporate innovation lab.

    INTERESTING FACT: Heather programmed robots at Harley-Davidson and was on the team that created the first International motorcycle.

  • Abigail Ingram

    Abigail Ingram


    Abigail is the inaugural Director of the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University, designed to support women founders through programming and actionable research. Abigail worked with the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center team for three years before taking this role, connecting the DePaul community to the greater entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chicago and beyond.

    INTERESTING FACT: Abigail cofounded and bootstrapped a music studio in Denver, Colorado.

  • Marc Rolfes

    Marc is a partner and Board Director of Social Venture Partners. About a decade ago, he shifted from a corporate focus to one supporting the U.S. social impact sector. His background includes management and business development positions in various technology fields including wireless telecom, high-temperature superconductors and nuclear power. Marc provides strategic advisory consulting support mainly in the areas of mergers, acquisitions and Board governance.

    Interesting Fact:  was a stay at home dad to 3 kids for 6 years

  • Jonathan Fritz

    Jonathan Fritz


    Jonathan is the Executive Director of CHIME Innovation. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is a global organization of senior healthcare IT and innovation executives, with 2,800 members in 51 countries and 150 business partners. Jonathan has been focused on innovation throughout his career, including more than a decade as a practicing patent and start-up business attorney. He has advised countless emerging companies, the founder of a health and wellness startup, and judged more than 14 business plan competitions.

    INTERESTING FACT: Bright Star, an early stage venture capital investment fund


TimeBiz stage
08:30 - 09:30 Registration
09:30 - 10:00
Voogle intro - Host: Pedja Bajović
Opening talks:
Karlo Kukec, TECH_PARK, managing director
Peggy Parfenoff, President of WorldChicago
Zlatan Avar, Deputy mayor of Varaždin
Robert Kohorst, US Ambassador to Croatia
10:00 - 11:30
Voogle talks 1

Balaji Rajagopalan - Humans. Robots. Hubots
Roland Kulla - Building bridges, not just painting them
Trisha Degg - Building a community within a tech community
Alja Gajšek - Catalyzing the Balkans
Caitlin McAllister - Catapult Chicago: The Power of Peers
Luisa Prista - EU funds beyond the horizon
Tanja Madžarević - IT Girls

11:30 - 12:00 Coffee break
12:00 - 13:30
Voogle talks 2
Abigail Ingram - Creative Entrepreneurs in a Tech World
Frank Saviane - Fast forwarding business ventures
Debra Giunta - Why social emotional competencies are crucial for a thriving career
Corey Friedman - Finding Your Financing Comfort Zone
Heather Johnston - Creating Corporate Ventures
Jonathan Fritz - Digital health innovation
Marc Rolfes - Impact investing: hype or not?
13:30 - 14:15 Lunch
14:15 - 15:30 Voogle startup battle powered by Voogle Accelerator
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee break
16:00 - 17:30 Voogle B2Bs
17:30 - 18:00 Closing - awards for Startup battle winners
19:00 - 21:00 Reception and party


Startup Battle 2019 is a competition for the best entrepreneurial idea which can be in a stage of a concept, development, MVP or commercialization. The competition is organized by Voogle Accelerator. 10k€ is up for grabs. *Voogle Accelerator offers an intensive 3-month training, mentoring and global networking program accompanied by 10k€ of non-equity investment.


  • Small and medium-sized enterprises, individuals


  • Taking part in a pitch preparation workshop lead by Technology park Varaždin and Voogle Accelerator experts
  • Opportunity for a personal presentation in front of the evaluation commitee composed of successful businessmen and investors
  • Expanding the network of international business contacts
  • Increasing visibility - leading local and national media will be reporting about the finalists and winner
  • Acquiring new knowledge and skills in the field of entrepreneurship
  • A chance to become "Voogle startup of the year 2019" and receive a winner's trophy


  • Direct entry into Voogle accelerator program (10k€, non equity)
  • Technology park Varaždin - 1 participation fee for the 3-day "Fast track to Chicagoland (FT2C)" workshop
  • Technology park Varazdin - 3 months office space of up to 20m2
  • Geek design Ltd - Voogle startup of the year statue


  • Innovation (20%)
  • Market potential (20%)
  • Business model (20%)
  • Team (20%)
  • Elaboration and realization of the idea(20%)


  • 3 minute presentation in English with or without ppt slides - focus on 5 key elements: Innovation, Market potential, Business model, Team, Elaboration and realization of the idea
  • 6 minutes for Q&A by the expert comittee


  • March 20th 2019


Ul. Augusta Cesarca 1, 42000, Varaždin, Croatia



Nearest and most convenient parking: A near-by underground garage

For directions, copy-paste the following into Google maps: Podzemna garaža, Kapucinski trg, Varaždin

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