Mitja Bitenc (Slovenia/Restaurant & Social entrepreneurship) and Vladimir Pavić (Croatia/Education & training services)

Vladimir Pavić (NE) & Mitja Bitenc (HE)

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Vladimir Pavić
Country: Croatia
Age: 56
Sector of activity: Education and training services
Did you already start your business? n
Name of business/website: Vallis Aurea Publishing & Education Center
What is your future business? VAEPC is a start-up youth center dedicated to sharing experience of self-transformation – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It would be the center for free-of-charge educational activities for youth.

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & surname: Mitja Bitenc
Country: Slovenia
Sector of activity: Hotel, restaurant, tourism, travel services
Experience in running a business (in years): 8
Name of business/website: Radha Govinda Restaurant
What is your business? A self-service vegetarian restaurant with affinity for social entrepreneurship, healthy cooking, specialised in vegan, organic, healthy and tasty cuisine.

Period of exchange: 05/10/2020 – 05/04/2021
Duration of exchange: 6 months

Can the innovative ideas of a New Entrepreneur provide support even during a global pandemic?

Vladimir Pavić (NE) made research in cooperation with Mitja Bitenc (HE) on plant-based menus and offers on market (restaurants, hotels, bars). Furthermore, Vladimir learned how to develop strategies in the food/catering industry, cuisine workshops/courses with a focus on healthy food as well as personal chef events in cooperation with restaurants and started the book reading club. Due to the extraordinary situation the NE and HE made special online events and action-calls, for example they started with special online events for fundraising for humanitarian projects. Both entrepreneurs also developed special doughnuts offers that helped with saving the restaurant in these difficult times in cooperation with a partner, “ehrana”. Vladimir has learned a lot about social entrepreneurship, which helped him with improving his business plan for his social enterprise in Croatia.

Under Mitja’s mentorship, Vladimir performed a number of activities. He was part of the team that distributed food surplus from the restaurant and co-organized distribution of free meals through the Covid Emergency Response for people in need with local partners in Šiška like Caritas Šiška, FFL, Slovenska Filantropija, etc. Vladimir also researched Ljubljana’s healthy restaurants market plant-based menus and offers on market (restaurants, hotels, bars), Slovenian spice and herbs market as well as the healthy vegetables industry. The NE learned a lot about green cuisine at Radha Govinda Restaurant directly from Mitja and Radha Govinda’s team. Vladimir also started a new project called the Reading Book Club at Radha Govinda Restaurant. His work can be also seen on Mitja’s online shop: where Vladimir added a range of spice mixtures to the Radha Govinda online shop. Due to the covid-19 epidemy, Mitja changed the system of cooperation and has focused on online orders and takeaway delivery in line with standards of health and safety of NIJZ. Vladimir has learned to use Mitja’s customer relations management tools and has used the web applications that have helped both NE and HE’s company.

Vladimir gained a set of valuable soft and hard skills which are nowadays required to manage a small business efficiently. He started a successful Reading club, which was done mainly online. Together, both combined new spices range for Mitja’s online shop by utilizing new customer relations management tools for that purpose. Mitja’s project response to Covid-19, with free takeaway lunches for persons in need in Ljubljana, where he used the principle of food surplus – zero waste will be incorporated into NE’s business plan. Together, Vladimir and Mitja have started a special online event for fundraising for humanitarian projects, which is available here: Also, Vladimir helped Mitja with the special doughnuts offers that helped to save the restaurant in Covid-19 times in cooperation with “ehrana”:

Mitja Bitenc (HE): “As with hosting my previous NEs I wanted to offer to Vladimir the best of my entrepreneurial knowledge and know-how gained during all my years of being an entrepreneur. In this difficult COVID-19 period I had to survive as my restaurant was closed. So, Vladimir witnessed from me dos and do nots of running a restaurant in extraordinary circumstances and starting other business services like pasta production and sale. On the other hand, Vladimir was at that time of great support to me and I benefited from his resourcefulness, diligence, reliability and jovial spirit.”

Vladimir Pavić (NE): I am glad to say that my cooperation with my HE, Mr. Mitja Bitenc, the owner of two vegetarian restaurants in Ljubljana, was a win-win relationship due to supportive guidance of Act group and University of Primorska as Erasmus IOs. Our cooperation run smoothly despite the emergency situation caused by Covid-19 crisis. I have gained valuable insight into how complex restaurant management is. I am comforted that my mini-restaurant project will be smaller and easier to manage. I have learned some good ideas for marketing and attracting potential customers. I learned a dozen great recipes. Also, I learned how to decorate the interior to make guests feel comfortable and come back as customers.

It seems that the corona crisis was the best time to bring the best out of the HE and his creativity, from which I have learned a lot. I have got a good insight into various aspects of marketing, goods purchasing, staff management, dealing with customers, innovative ideas and cooking a few types of food. Since the beginning of our cooperation, I have acquired significant experience about overall skills necessary to run a restaurant in regular and irregular circumstances.”