Mitja Bitenc (Slovenia/Restaurant and Catering) and Milan Demin (Croatia/Crafts and furniture)

Milan Demin and Mitja Bitenc

Background information of NE
Name and Surname: Milan Demin
Country: Croatia
Sector: Crafts, furniture and accessories
Future business: Studio Tool

Background information of HE
Name & Surname: Mitja Bitenc
Country: Slovenia
Sector: Restaurant and Catering
Business / website: Rudra Simha d. o. o. /

Period of Relationship: 18/10/2020 – 17/04/2020
Duration of Relationship: 6 months

How was Mitja Bitenc able to make substantial improvements to his restaurant and catering services with regards to sustainability?

With the goal to develop a small business as a woodworker and carpenter, Milan Demin – a Croatian new entrepreneur – started a collaboration with his Slovenian host entrepreneur Mitja Bitenc who has experience with restaurants and catering. Mitja taught him several skills related to selling and marketing as well as skills related to online marketing with specific reference to recycling and ecological solutions in relevant sectors. This Success story shows us how important marketing tactics are nowadays: it is perhaps not an exaggeration to suggest that marketing tactics are essential to obtain success! As described below, through a number of entrepreneurial activities this cooperation between the two entrepreneurs generated important benefits for both of them.

The main activities performed during this exchange programme centred on developing new ideas for ecological and recycling packaging in the food and distribution sectors, getting to know the main customers, suppliers and business partners, and, finally, promoting the products by means of social media and relevant marketing strategies. In particular, Mitja and Milan worked together on activities aimed at securing an adequate promotion of new products and innovative solutions.

Applying the learning techniques of “job shadowing” and “the learn by doing” approach, Milan managed to collaborate with Mitja on activities focusing on the development of recycled, nature-friendly packaging (e.g. from wood). Mitja, on the other hand, got precious help from Milan in building some of the interior furniture for his new restaurant and received support in the development activity for wooden packaging designed specifically for food catering. In this way, the two entrepreneurs were also able to set the path for a potential future collaboration following the conclusion of the exchange programme.

Achievements have been defined as beneficial by both the Croatian NE and the Slovenian HE. First of all, Milan managed to gain new contacts with potential customers and business collaborators based in Slovenia. He upgraded his knowledge in contemporary marketing, particularly in the field of the so-called “marketing tactics” (with the use of social media, Instagram, Facebook etc.). Thanks to the improvements on his own business plan and the useful cooperation with Mitja throughout the whole exchange period, Milan got a valuable insight on how to develop an attractive website for his business – a powerful tool for the promotion of his products and services on the market.

On the other hand, Mitja improved his skills to deal with challenges in the domain of sustainable business with substantial improvements for his catering and restaurant services and products. Milan also helped Mitja to build some new ecological furniture for his restaurant and kitchen. Last but not least, the successful collaboration between the two entrepreneurs generated larger positive spillover effects such as an increased awareness among local target groups in terms of securing ecological and environmentally friendly services and products.

Mitja Bitenc (HE): “I started my own restaurant business back in 2008. Since then I matured a valuable experience in the sector. I was happy to share my knowledge with Milan since I know how important is to have the right persons around you when you start as a new entrepreneur. Milan is passionate about his work and is able to share his passion for ecology and wood working/carpentry. I wish him good luck for his activity and I am sure that we will soon meet again for a new collaboration in the framework of our respective businesses.” 

Milan Demin (NE): “Thanks to this important chance for improving my entrepreneurial skills under Mitja’s mentorship, I will be able to ameliorate the marketing of the custom made furniture, household accessories and handcrafted things produced by my small craft company. I would like to thank Mitja for sharing his business ideas with me and for teaching me the right marketing tactics and marketing moves. It was a pleasure to learn from him, and I hope we will continue to cooperate in the future!”