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In Zagreb, Croatia, a young woman named Slavica presented an idea for an eco-friendly bag that would not only focus on employing women in Croatia, but also help sustain the local resources by using 100% recycled materials.  The now-running startup employs eight women and receives recycled materials from schools and local organizations.

Slavica’s idea, Torbak, won Startup Weekend Zagreb during Global Startup Battle.  The following is her guest post about her experience. 


The Idea of Torbak

For many years, organization ‘Prospero’ is working on educating women and young people about traditional crafts, such as working with ceramic or wool and weaving.

On our workshop of weaving we were using various materials like weft, which we put on weaving loom. Then we were trying to make some prototype products out of it. The main purpose of prototype products was to try to use resources from our community, that’s how we started with usage of plastic bags that is free material and collectable in huge amounts.

Organization ‘Prospero’ is located in Lika, part of Croatia that is not contaminated, so we feel responsible to keep it this way and our contribution to the nature is this usage of plastic bags. So, with the help of weaving looms we turn the plastic waste into cool bags that we named Torbak. Torbak presents creativity, handicraft and environmental awareness and among all of that looks really cool.

Various organizations, kindergartens, schools and citizens support our work, so they are collecting and sending us plastic bags, what is conformation that we are doing some good work.

Torbak and Startup Weekend Zagreb

I found out about Startup Weekend Zagreb through National Foundation for Civil Society Development, which have had competition to give free tickets for the best innovation for community. How they liked our prototype product Torbak, they paid my application fee to have an opportunity to work more on this idea. 

On November 16th I came to the venue of Startup Weekend Zagreb where I needed to pitch my idea. I got really nervous and insecure that I won’t be able to present Torbak good enough in just 60 seconds. Luckily, I brought a prototype product with me, what was my advantage to other people who pitched ideas. The same day I got together a team with people who were willing to work on Torbak idea during SW Zagreb. I was really lucky to be surrounded with young and ambitious people who worked really hard to develop idea and we made a great presentation in the end that got us the first place.

Also, I need to mention that mentors helped us a lot. How mentors were experts in special fields, each of them gave us useful advises and opinions. I appreciate that they were very supportive and encouraged the work of my team what was huge help for final presentation, which judges liked. 

Experience on Startup Weekend Zagreb opened new perspectives for me. I learned a lot and I am already using new knowledge to develop this idea even further. Also, I met a lot of people who are helping at this point in developing Torbak and some of them were mentors and judges during the event.

Our plan is to open the company which will try to succeed on the market and that wouldn’t be possible without Startup Weekend Zagreb were we won some useful prizes (for making business plan and marketing campaign) and made connections. Me, my team and organization Prospero believe in project Torbak through which we plan to employ women and young people and keep our environment a little bit better place to live.  

Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian